When it comes to rookie ball, development has somewhat higher priority than winning, but this group of Arizona League Angels found ways to do both.
The Angels ended the first half of the season going 18-10, tied for the best record in the Arizona League, clinching a playoff berth. They finished the season going 30-25, tied for fifth best record in the league, and a second place finish in the overall standings for the AZL East Division.
The Angels offense was shut out just three times over the course of their 56 game season. The offense took bragging rights across the league as one of the best, finishing in the top four in the league in batting average, runs scored, run differential, doubles, triples, sacrifice hits, stolen bases, on base percentage, and the least runners left on base. Though the power didn't show, finishing last in home runs and seventh in slugging percentage, the Angels found ways to keep the bases busy with a .340 on base percentage, good enough for second in the league.
The Angels pitching staff stayed around league average in every statistical category and maintained a solid non statistical base to keep their teams in games. The Angels were the only team to not shutout an offense over the season, but also allowed the second least amount of home runs.
The Angels only lasted one playoff game, but it didn't go without saying they fought until the end. Going into the tenth inning of the Arizona League Quarterfinal match against the Texas Rangers AZL affiliate, they found themselves in a spot to tie the game on an error. However, the tying run was thrown out at the plate after trying to score from second for the second out. A pop fly ended the Angels season in a 6-5, 10-inning elimination.
G - Ayendy Perez, 48
PA - Ayendy Perez, 205
AB - Ayendy Perez, 183
R - Ayendy Perez, 35
H - Ayendy Perez, 51
2B - Juan Moreno, 10
3B - Ayendy Perez, 4
HR - Fran Whitten / Patrick Armstrong, 2
RBI - Steven Mateo, 26
SB - Ayendy Perez, 16
CS - Alex Abbott, 7
BB - Juan Moreno, 22
SO - Cody Lavalli, 49
BA - Fran Whitten, .321 (minimum 100 at bats)
OBP - Steven Mateo, .394 (mimimum 150 plate appearances)
SLG - Fran Whitten, .519 (minimum 100 at bats)
OPS - Steven Mateo, .815 (minimum 150 plate appearances)
TB - Steven Mateo / Ayendy Perez, 66
GDP - Steven Mateo, 7
HBP - Patrick Armstrong, 11
SAC - Ayendy Perez, 6
SF - Juan Moreno, 3
Steven Mateo, sixth in batting average (.306)
Steven Mateo, fifth in on base percentage (.394)
Ayendy Perez, fourth in runs scored (35)
Ayendy Perez, first in sacrifice hits (6)
Steven Mateo, First Baseman
Mateo reached base in 34 of the 44 games he had a plate appearance in and finished the season among leaders in both batting average (.306) and on base percentage (.394). Mateo added an eight game hit-streak to his season from July 31st to August 8th. He also had 12 multi-hit games. He lead the team in RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases for those who qualified. Mateo had a .346 average with runners in scoring position, his same average for the month of July. In the middle innings (fourth-seventh), Mateo had a .405 batting average.
Ayendy Perez, Center Fielder
Perez reached base in 40 of his 48 games with hits in 35 of them. Perez was among team leaders with his .279 batting average. Perez had a .350 average against lefties, and .318 average while leading off innings. Perez lead the team in games (48), plate appearances (205), at bats (183), runs scored (35), hits (51), triples (4), stolen bases (16), total bases (66), and lead the league in sacrifice hits (6).
Ryan Wiggins / Brandon Gildea, Catcher
Wiggins and Gildea worked their way up in the prospect list when it came to catchers. Wiggins (.282) and Gildea (.321) were among the batting average leaders in the Angels farm system for catchers. Wiggins (.396) and Gildea (.374) showed the promise of catchers reaching base in the future for the Angels. They had a total of four errors over the entire season from behind the plate and threw out 67% of base runners attempting to steal.
Fran Whitten, First Baseman
Before his call-up to Orem, Whitten put on a hitting clinic in Arizona, and possibly could have won the batting title as well as the triple crown of the league. Whitten had a slash of .343/.425/.519 during his AZL time, and his line drive swing helped give him 12 extra base hits out of his 37 total.
W - Jose Mendoza / Zak Miller / David Murillo / Dillon Ortman, 3
L - Jose Mendoza, 6
ERA - Dillon Ortman, 0.93 (minimum 15.0 IP)
G - Josh Frye, 17
SV - Austin Young, 4
IP - Jose Mendoza, 55.0
BB - Eduar Lopez, 25
SO - Eduar Lopez, 53
WHIP - Austin Young, 0.714 (minimum 15.0 IP)
H/9 - Adam McCreery, 5.5
BB/9 - Austin Young, 0.4
K/9 - Nick Wagner, 14.6
K/BB - Austin Young, 17.0
Nick Wagner, first in K/9 (14.60)
Tyler Watson, second in K/9 (12.71)
David Murillo, third in baserunners/9 (7.15)
Austin Young, third in saves (4)
Eric Alonzo, Right-Handed Reliever
The Angels last draft pick turned into someone who looked like he belonged as one of the first. With a very strong start to the season, Alonzo finished just as strong, posting a 2.01 earned run average and .252 against average. His sinker and slider helped lead to a lot of groundouts, helping his 1.91 GO/AO. Alonzo kept batters to a .190 average with runners in scoring position.
Jake Jewell, Right-Handed Starter
Jewell dominated the Arizona League, posting near league leaders with his 1.48 earned run average, .213 against average and 1.15 WHIP. Jewell's strength came as a starter with his 0.78 ERA as a starting pitcher. Right-handed bats struggled against Jewell with his .207 against average, but found ways to the base paths still, drawing nine of Jewell's 12 walks. Batters went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position with two outs against Jewell.
David Murillo, Right-Handed Reliever
About as solid as they come, Murillo picked up three big wins for the Angels over the season. His 2.38 earned run average was among team leaders and 0.764 was second on the team. Murillo shut down bats with his .178 against average, best on the team.
Dillon Ortman, Right-Handed Reliever
Ortman earned a call-up to High-A before the season was over, but still put up respective numbers in large situations in Arizona. Despite small samples, Ortman had some of the best numbers not only on the team, but in the league (0.93 ERA).
Ricardo Sanchez, Left-Handed Starter
Sanchez showed how good he really is at the prime age of 16. His 3.49 ERA and 1.60 WHIP weren't something to boast about, but if you take away his worst start, those numbers drop dramatically (2.59 ERA, 1.52 WHIP). The number that stands out when it comes to Sanchez was his .097 (3-for-31) against average, while leading off innings.
Nick Wagner, Right-Handed Reliever
Another great surprise from the 2014 draft came in the form of Nick Wagner. His 14.6 strikeouts per nine lead the league, and 2.75 earned run average 0.915 WHIP drop drastically if you take away his worst performance of 2014 (1.44 ERA, 0.750 WHIP). Bats were shut down all season by Wagner, but particularly against left-handed bats (.161), and with runners on with two outs (.091), particularly on that note, with runners in scoring position with two outs, 0-for-9 (.000).
Austin Young, Right-Handed Reliever
It's always nice to have a closing pitcher this early in his career, and that's what Austin Young brings to the table. An undrafted free agent shined with his four saves and 2.14 earned run average. Every number was a standout for Young, such as his 0.714 WHIP and .179 against average, but my favorite was his one walk over 21 innings of work. Right-handed bats could not touch Young with their .132 against average, and when it came to situational batting scenarios, no statistic had an against average above .200 (scoring position).
InsideTheHalos Players of the Year from Arizona League Angels:
Most Valuable Player : Steven Mateo
Batter of the Year : Fran Whitten
Clutch Batter of the Year : Juan Moreno
Pitcher of the Year : Nick Wagner / Eric Alonzo
Starter of the Year : Jake Jewell
Reliever of the Year : Dillon Ortman
Surprise of the Year : Austin Young