At the Half – Arkansas

Nick Adenhart’s 3.44 ERA is fifth in the Texas League.

The Arkansas Travelers of North Little Rock (yes, that’s their name) began 2007 with only two top prospects, and an outfielder in the twilight of his career. As you might suspect, the team lived up to expectations, if the expectation was mediocrity.

The Travs were 31-39 in the first half, although they heated up in the last two weeks after reliever Jose Arredondo was first disciplined and then demoted for insubordination towards manager Bobby Magallanes and an altercation with veteran outfielder Curtis Pride. Since then, the team is 10-6, and have won seven of their last nine games.

Right-handed pitcher Nick Adenhart, 20, was listed the Angels’ #2 prospect this year by Baseball America. Although his numbers weren’t as dominant as last season, nonetheless Nick was one of the best pitchers in the Texas League. His 3.44 ERA was fifth best in the league, fifth in innings pitched (83.2 IP), and sixth in strikeouts (61). But he was more generous with walks; his 37 passes were second highest in the league. Nonetheless, he gave up only four homers, and his ratio of groundouts to all other outs (GO/AO) was an impressive 1.73. It’s important to remember he’s a 20-year old in a league where most legit prospects are three or four years older than him.

RHP Nick Green, who turns 23 in August, is considered a sleeper prospect by many. He has a “plus” changeup and perhaps room to grow his velocity consistently into the low 90s. Green actually worked more innings than Adenhart; his 89.0 IP was second-best in the league. Nick posted a 4.15 ERA in 14 starts. His SO:BB ratio was 58:14 and his GO/AO was 0.79, which along with the 8 HR he surrenders suggest he’ll be more of a fly-ball pitcher. Lefties have a better AVG/OBP/SLG line against him than righties — .272/.307/.414 vs. .223/.253/.358. If Nick can expand his repertoire, he might project as a major league starter, otherwise his changeup will get him a big-league relief role one day.

In the bullpen, RHP Jose Arredondo was moved to the bullpen to start the year and projected as another possible Francisco Rodriguez. But Arredondo, 23, had “issues” as detailed above and finds himself wedged quite firmly in the Angels doghouse. Before his demise, Jose had a 2.52 ERA in 23 relief appearances, notching 10 saves. In 25.0 IP, his SO:BB ratio was 28:12 and his GO/AO was 0.85. Opponents hit only .184 against him.

Aussie RHP Rich Thompson, 23 on July 1, has the potential to step into the Travs’ “hammer” role. Known as “Chopper” or just “Chop” for his biting curveball, Rich has a 2.27 ERA with a 43:10 SO:BB ratio in 39.2 IP. His OBA is .193 and his GO/AO is 0.63.

Sean Rodriguez has a .552 slugging percentage on the road but only .312 in pitcher-friendly Dickey-Stephens Park.

Among the position players, only infielder Sean Rodriguez appears on the Baseball America Top 10 list for Angels prospects, listed at #8. Projected as a major league utility player, Sean has played mostly at shortstop although he’s had a couple games in center field. His first-half AVG/OBP/SLG were .256/.352/.425. Last year at age 21, Sean hit 29 HR between Rancho Cucamonga (24) and Arkansas (5), but this year he had only 8 HR in the first half. The compensating factor is that all but one dinger was on the road, not surprising since the new Dickey-Stephens Park is quickly developing a reputation as a pitcher’s paradise. In fact, his SLG at home is .312, but .552 on the road. Talk about context.

Catcher Bobby Wilson, 24, was ranked #19 on the Angels’ prospect list by Baseball America. He finished the half with a respectable line of .284/.366/468. But a lower back injury kept Bobby out from May 5 through May 26.

Veteran outfielder Curtis Pride, 38, was sent to Arkansas to start 2007 because the Angels had young outfield talent at Triple-A Salt Lake they wanted to play every day. The thinking was that by sending Pride to Arkansas he could play every day too and keep his bat fresh. Pride had a miserable first half, with his AVG dropping to .202 on May 13. He finished the half at .239/.335/.358, and was sent to Salt Lake when Terry Evans was promoted to Anaheim and Tommy Murphy became ill.

Next time … we look at Salt Lake’s first half.

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