No team in the Pioneer League was as good in the first half as Dave Stapleton's bunch in the Orem Owlz. However, like their fellow Rookie Ball affiliate in Tempe, the second half couldn't prove as strong. However, fans in Orem, Utah were able to see some of the finest prospects the Los Angeles Angels have to offer.
The Owlz clinched a first half title after going 24-14, which was tops in the entire Pioneer League, but soon fell off. In the second half, an injury-ridden Orem went 17-21, finishing third in their division and second overall. In the playoffs, they fell in three games to Idaho Falls, despite a comeback game two, ending in a two-run walkoff force out.
Orem was lucky enough to see 10 of the Angels first 14 draft picks in 2015, but the best performance came from the Halos 21st-round pick. Michael Pierson had not only some of the best numbers in the Pioneer League, but had near the best numbers in all of Minor League Baseball. No 2015 draftee had a better batting average than Pierson (minimum 100 at bats), and he finished his first professional season with the second best batting average in all of Minor League Baseball (minimum 100 at bats). Pierson had his season come to a close after breaking his hand, but not before posting a .395/.467/.528 slash.
The Angels assigned their first-round pick, Taylor Ward, to Orem, where he excelled all the way to the beginning of August, posting a .349/.489/.459 slash with 29 walks and just eight strikeouts in 141 plate appearances. Ward went on to play in Single-A, but posted the best batting average of all first-round picks in 2015, with the third most total hits.
Possibly the most valuable and biggest surprise for Orem was outfielder, Kyle Survance. Survance played in just 29 games before being injured. Over the 29 games, Survance reached base in every single one, picking up hits 25, beginning his career with a 14-game hit-streak. Along with all his success came 15 multi-hit games, a .363 batting average, .917 OPS, and 17 stolen bases.
Orem, Utah will never be known for it's ability to protect pitchers, but some young prospects found ways to keep Orem in games, helping the team to the lowest walk totals in the Pioneer League (2.8 BB/9).
New Jersey has become a place to grab stars when it comes to the Angels (see: Trout, Mike), and Orem held a pair of Jersey prospects who could have a bright future. Opening Day starter and top prospect, Joe Gatto, finished the season with a 4.31 ERA and had seven of his 12 starts go for two earned runs or less. Aaron Cox, who has a connection to Trout's family, may not have the ceiling Gatto comes with, but he outmatched him statistically, holding a 3.08 ERA, which was near tops in hitter friendly the Pioneer League.
No prospect with Orem began their professional career as strong as southpaw, Ronnie Glenn. Glenn struck out 29 of the first 77 batters he faced in his first 10 games, and finished the season with a 3.73 ERA and 11.9 K/9 ratio.
Adam Hofacket went from being an ace starter at California Baptist University, to a stone cold closer in professional baseball. Aside from his second save attempt, Hofacket went 8-for-9 in save opporunities, not walking a single walk or earned run in the situation, while allowing just 11 hits. Hofacket ended his season with a 3.77 ERA and 1.129 WHIP.
G : Jeff Boehm, 65
R : Michael Pierson, 51
H : Michael Pierson, 77
2B : Brendon Sanger, 20
3B : David Fletcher / Hutton Moyer, 4
HR : Ranyelmy Alberto, 9
RBI : Jeff Boehm, 45
SB : Michael Pierson / Kyle Survance, 17
BB : Brendon Sanger, 45
SO : Ranyelmy Alberto, 52
BA : Michael Pierson, .395
OBP : Taylor Ward, .489
SLG : Michael Pierson, .528
OPS : Michael Pierson, .995
TB : Jeff Boehm, 108
HBP : Hutton Moyer, 8
G : Adam Hofacket, 26
W : Ronnie Glenn, 6
L : Tyler Watson / Jaime Barria, 4
ERA : Zach Varela, 1.69
SV : Adam Hofacket, 8
IP : Jose Rodriguez, 62.0
BB : Joe Gatto / Jeff Malm, 17
SO : Jose Rodriguez, 58
WHIP : Zach Varela, 0.812
H/9 : Zach Varela, 6.2
BB/9 : Zach Hartman / Adam Hofacket, 0.9
K/9 : Ronnie Glenn, 11.9
K/BB : Zach Hartman, 13.00
InsideTheHalos Players of the Year for Orem Owlz:
Most Valuable Player : Michael Pierson
Batter of the Year : Michael Pierson
Clutch Batter of the Year : David Fletcher
Pitcher of the Year : Aaron Cox
Starter of the Year : Joe Gatto
Reliever of the Year : Adam Hofacket
Surprise of the Year : Michael Pierson
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.