Jeff Hyde

Hillcats Notes: Argenis Angulo Settling in as Lynchburg's Closer

The Hillcats are still alive in the first half divisional race sitting just three games out of first with over a week still left to play before the All-Star break. One reason why they're in this position is the solidifying presence of Argenis Angulo in the back of the bullpen. The IBI's Jake Dungan checks in on Lynchburg's playoff push.

With the first half of the 2017 campaign rapidly coming to a close in the Carolina League, the Hillcats still find themselves stuck in second place in their division three games behind Salem as they split their recent four-game set against first-place Salem while going just 3-4 this week overall. While they continue to get solid pitching performances from their top starters, such as Triston McKenzie, an inconsistent offense and bullpen have proven to be stumbling blocks for Lynchburg of late, even with a guy like Argenis Angulo locking down the ninth inning.

Here's what else happened this week with the Hillcats...

Week In Review

  • 6/2 - Lynchburg 0, Potomac 3: Reyes (W, 4-5), McKenzie (L, 3-3), Schepel (S, 2)
  • 6/3 - Lynchburg 1, Potomac 3: Skulina (1-0), Chiang (7-3), Mendez (S, 6)
  • 6/4 - *Game 1* Lynchburg 5, Salem 3: Lovegrove (W, 3-1), Lau (L, 2-4), Angulo (S, 8)
  • 6/4 - *Game 2* Lynchburg 3, Salem 2: Strode (W, 2-3), Brakeman (L, 0-1)
  • 6/6 - Lynchburg 3, Salem 7: Jimenez (W, 7-1), Bieber (L, 0-1), Kelley (S, 5)
  • 6/7 - Lynchburg 3, Salem 5: Kent (W, 4-2), Civale (L, 1-1), Brakeman (S, 1)
  • 6/8 - Frederick 1, Lynchburg 7: McKenzie (W, 4-3), Peralta (L, 0-4)

Player of the Week

Argenis Angulo, RHP

Last Week: 1 G, 1 SV, 1 IP, 0 R/ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0.00 ERA

Season to Date: 19 G, 2-1, 8 SV, 24.1 IP, 4 R/ER, 14 H, 12 BB, 26 K, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 1.48 ERA

When Angulo was selected in the 19th round of the 2014 draft out of Ranger College in Texas, not much was known about him at the time other than the fact that he could rack up strikeouts. Working as a starter in his sophomore year prior to being drafted, the Venezuelan right-hander fanned 83 batters in 63 innings. Cut to 2017 in Lynchburg where the now 23-year-old has settled in nicely as the Hillcats closer pitching to the tune of a 1.48 ERA in 19 appearances while racking up eight saves in 10 chances.

Coming out of college, Angulo threw primarily a fastball, cutter, changeup and slider. His fastball only sat in the upper 80s, so clearly pitch movement is the key to his ability to get swings and misses. That has indeed been the case in his pro career to this point as the right-hander has fanned 105 batters in 86.2 career innings since breaking in with Arizona Rookie League in 2014. Add that to his career 2.91 ERA, .186 opposing average and 1.13 WHIP and the Indians themselves a pretty good bullpen arm working his way up through the system.

Walks were an issue for Angulo as an amateur as, in addition to his impressive strikeout numbers in his final season at Ranger College, he also walked 42 in those 63 innings, adding up to an even six free passes per nine innings. So far with the Indians, while he is still walking a fair amount of batters, he has managed to cut that rate down to 4.3 per nine innings with 41 walks in 86.2 professional innings.

Pretty much what it comes down to with Angulo is whether the movement on his pitches can affect his ability to throw strikes consistently. If he can get ahead in the count, then it's a great asset as he can get the consistent swings and misses, but if he can't spot his pitches and he falls behind, then that's where the walks can come into play. So far, he's made it work far more often than not, so if he can continue to harness his stuff and pitch movement, he can be a solid big league reliever down the road.

Who's Hot

Triston McKenzie, SP

Last Week: 2 GS, 1-1, 14 IP, 6 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, 18 K, 1 HR, 1.29 ERA

Season to Date: 11 GS, 4-3, 64.2 IP, 34 H, 23 R, 18 ER, 24 BB, 84 K, 6 HR, 2.51 ERA

McKenzie couldn't pitch much better than he did last Friday allowing one run on four hits over seven innings, but unfortunately that one run was enough for Potomac as the Hillcats were shut out 3-0. He did manage to top himself this Thursday, however, pitching another seven innings of one-run ball while allowing just two hits and a walk while fanning 13. That 13-strikeout performance marks the most the left-hander has recorded in a game since he punched out 14 against Carolina on May 9th as well as his third career game with double-digit strikeouts.

Paul Hendrix, RP

Last Week: 2 G, 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 0.00 ERA 

Season to Date: 11 G, 0-1, 13 IP, 19 H, 15 R, 14 ER, 11 BB, 15 K, 1 HR, 9.69 ERA

Hendrix put together his best appearance of the season allowing only one hit and a walk in two shutout innings of work on Thursday while striking out five marking just the fourth time in 11 outings that the right-hander has kept opposing teams off the board since converting to the mound full time in the offseason. In 11 appearances overall, Hendrix has gone 0-1 with an 9.69 ERA while striking out 15 and posting a 2.31 WHIP in 13 innings.

Daniel Salters, C

Last Week: 4 G, 11 AB, 4 R, 6 H, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, .546 BA

Season to Date: 39 G, 137 AB, 17 R, 27 H, 2 HR, 5 2B, 14 RBI, 12 BB, 44 K, .197 BA

For really the first time this season, Salters has managed to put together a legitimate hot streak batting .546 this week thanks to three straight two-hit games. Over his last 10 contests, the 24-year-old is hitting .290 with a double and two RBI's while raising his season average from .157 to .197.

Sam Haggerty, 2B

Last Week: 7 G, 31 AB, 2 R, 9 H, 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 9 K, .290 BA

Season to Date: 46 G, 182 AB, 29 R, 50 H, 1 HR, 15 2B, 8 3B, 17 RBI, 22 BB, 43 K, 16 SB, 2 CS, .275 BA

After a quiet month of May at the plate, Haggerty appears to be turning up the heat again in June having hit .343 with a homer and six RBI's through seven games thus far. He has been especially locked in over his last five games going back to the doubleheader against Salem on Sunday where he recorded five hits in nine at-bats. In this recent five-game stretch, the 23-year-old has had a hit in each game and batted .391 with that homer and six RBI's.

Who's Not

Shane Bieber, SP

Last Week: 1 GS, 0-1, 5.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R/ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR, 11.82 ERA

Season to Date (Lake County and Lynchburg): 11 GS, 2-4, 66.1 IP, 85 H, 35 R, 29 ER, 4 BB, 58 K, 3 HR, 3.93 ERA

Bieber had, by far, his roughest outing of the season between both Lake County and Lynchburg as he allowed a season-high seven runs on 11 hits against Salem in his fourth loss of the year. Although the right-hander has put up solid numbers overall, hits have been an ongoing issue for him as he has allowed 85 in just 66.1 innings total, adding up to a .320 opposing average and 1.34 WHIP. Last season in Mahoning Valley, Bieber posted .122 and 0.50 marks in those respective categories.

Andrew Calica, OF

Last Week: 6 G, 22 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 1 2B, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 8 K, .136 BA

Season to Date: 51 G, 186 AB, 25 R, 44 H, 2 HR, 9 2B, 20 RBI, 24 BB, 41 K, 5 SB, 6 CS, .237 BA

It's just been a season-long battle with inconsistency for Andrew Calica as he has been unable to put together any kind of extended hot streak at the plate. With a .237 average and .663 OPS after now 51 games, there has to be some question as to whether starting him in Lynchburg this season was a little too aggressive for his development.


There were no transactions involving the Lynchburg Hillcats this week.

Coming Up...

The Hillcats will continue their eight-game homestand with three more against the Frederick Keys before welcoming in Wilmington for four games, including a doubleheader next Tuesday. Shao-Ching Chiang will take the ball on Friday as he looks to get back in the win column while Brock Hartson gets the nod on Saturday.

Jake Dungan is the Managing Editor for IBI and a podcast host on the Smoke Signals Network. Email him at or follow him on Twitter @JakeDBaseball.

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