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Minor League Monitor - AL West

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Oakland Athletics

Tony Thompson - A / 3B / 12-19-88

Thompson doesn't have the eye popping tools that make scouts stop and take notice but he does enough of everything to be a productive bat in the lineup. In 332 at bats this year he has 11 HR and a .277 AVG. His 33/42 BB/K ratio is quite nice and the low strikeout totals mean he should be able to transition to higher levels quickly. If he gets stronger he has the size to hit 20+ home runs a year and could be a nice source of AVG if he can add more line drives to his game. Whether he can stick at the hot corner remains to be seen but at least he has managed to cut down on his error total after fumbling 21 plays in 59 games last year.

Michael Choice - A+ / CF / 11-10-89

I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that Michael Choice is very good at hitting baseballs. In 99 July plate appearances the 21 year old hit .416/.475/.820. His lowest monthly ISO has been .234 and July's 9.1 BB% was his lowest total by over 2%. His mixture of on base skills and power are a deadly combination and if you're looking for an impact bat that will be a major contributor to your fantasy team a few years down the line then Choice is an easy decision.

Jai Miller - AAA / RF / 01-17-85

Miller is now in his 4th season at AAA and started with a .205 ISO the first year, only to see it rise each season after. In 366 plate appearances this year he has a .344 ISO. Unfortunately he has also struck out 35.8% of his times to the plate. Given that most batters see their strikeout rate rise when playing in the majors it doesn't look promising that Miller can have an impact in the majors. With so many whiffs he will be at risk of hitting below the Mendoza Line. The A's may decide to give him a chance and if he somehow manages to keep his K% in the 30-35 range he could be another Jack Cust type of player for the A's. It's not a flashy role but he served his purpose for a few good seasons.

Brandon Allen - AAA / 1B / 02-12-86

Not striking out more than 35% of the time is usually something major leaguers try not to do but it is proving to be a difficult task for Allen. In 209 MLB plate appearances he has gone down on strikes 73 times and his AVG is .213 as a result. In the minors he is striking out closer to 20% and the results have been impressive. His ISO has been over .260 each the past 3 years in AAA. He walks an awful lot so a high strikeout total won't be too detrimental to his OBP. If he can manage to strike out less than 30% of the time he could find himself with the A's starting 1B job after it has been vacated by the struggling Daric Barton. I still have faith that Allen can hit 30 home runs in a season but it may be difficult for him to be trusted with enough at bats to do it if he keeps failing to connect wood with leather.

Texas Rangers

Joseph Wieland - AA / SP / 01-21-90

The former 4th round pick threw a no hitter in his most recent outing on the 29th. He struck out 7 and walked 1. After 7 starts and 44 innings in AA he has a 1.23 ERA. This is after he walked only 4 in 85.2 High-A innings earlier this year. The Nevada native is one of 2011's breakouts and is looking like he could work his way into the back end of the Rangers rotation in a couple of years. He won't have no-hit stuff in the majors but his command could make him a nice contributor in WHIP and ERA.

Engel Beltre - AA / CF / 11-01-89

Beltre showed five-tool skills as a 17 year old and finished the year in short-season A ball. He made his full season debut at age 18 and finished the year with a 99 wOBA+ and 102 OPS+ meaning he was an average hitter. Given his youth and the fact that wOBA+ points could be gained if only he would draw more walks. 2.5% is below average for little league and keeps his speed off the bases. 3 years later he is in AA and after 365 plate appearances his wOBA+ is 78 and his OPS+ is 55. Those numbers were as high as 109 and 118 in 289 High-A plate appearances last year so it is a bit soon to write off the 21 year old. However, after 532 AA at bats he is hitting .241, 17 2B, 9 3B, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 19/7 SB/CS while walking in 4.3% of his plate appearances. His performance will likely keep him in AA into the start of next season and at 22 years of age we will get to see what he can do when he isn't one of the youngest players in the league.

Martin Perez - AAA / SP / 04-04-91

In 4 starts since being promoted to AAA the youngest thrower in the PCL has pitched about as well as a tee-ball pole. He has allowed 17.7 H/9 and sports a 7.85 ERA. The wiry lefty isn't a stranger to struggling at a new level. He had 13 bad months at AA before busting out with a 3.16 ERA in 88.1 IP earlier this year. The Rangers are strong in the rotation and have a few back-ups ready so Perez has plenty of time to work on things.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

C.J. Cron - RK / DH / 01-05-90

The Angels took no time to sign their first round pick and his bat has been just as quick to get going. His 11 home runs lead the league. His triple slash is .289/.352/.594 and he is striking out 21.1% of the time. 3 of those bombs came on tuesday. He is doing all of this hitting as a DH so he will need to be a masher if he can't find a home on the diamond.

Kaleb Cowart - RK / 3B / 06-02-92

The Angels first pick in 2010 has shown flashes of brilliance such as the 11 game hit streak in which he batted .431. His bat is in the middle of another hot stretch with multi-hit games in 4 of his last 6, including a multi-homer affair on the 1st. Cowart's 27.7 K% in July is a bit worrisome and can be to blame for the .255 AVG even with the hit streak, a .354 BABIP and 19% LD%. Cowart started his pro career by hitting .488 in June with 35% of his balls in play going for line drives. August will be an interesting month to see whether the strikeout happy Cowart shows up or if the contact-making line drive hitting Cowart emerges again. The former pitcher has the arm to stick at third so give him extra points there when considering him for your league.

Garrett Richards - AA / SP / 05-27-88

Richards is proving to be a workhorse and is working on a streak of 18 consecutive starts lasting 6 innings or more. His strikeouts have fallen off a cliff in AA  going from 9.4 K/9 last year to 6.5 this year. Still, even without fanning loads of batters he has grinded his way to a 12-1 record. If you are looking for someone who will give you big time inning totals with strong peripherals your search is over. He is still likely a year away from the majors but could be a part of the Angels stretch run this time next year.

Seattle Mariners

Guillermo Pimental - RK / LF / 10-05-92

Pimental has been advertised as having big time power potential and he has shown why this season. Still only 18 years old, he has 8 longballs in 152 at bats. He has managed to cut down the strikeouts compared to last year even if they are still at an obscene level. He has more than doubled his walk rate from last year. He clearly has a lot of kinks to work out in his game but the main thing is he is following through in the power department even with the plate discipline issues.