John Manuel of BA has a few AL West-related notes in his mid-season stock reports on prospects and farm systems:
• Blake Beavan, rhp, Rangers: The 17th overall pick in 2007, Beavan has added 40 pounds since being drafted and doesn't hit 96 mph anymore, as he did as a prep. Instead he sits in the 88-91 mph range— and scrapes better—with a changeup that has become his best secondary pitch, ahead of his slider. Most of all, Beavan understands pitching and commands his stuff, with just 12 walks in 110 innings at Double-A Frisco. He's mature enough to have handled the pressure of pitching close to home once in Frisco, and the Irving, Texas, native is one step closer to pitching at home in Arlington after a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"He can really pitch," one pro scout with an American League organization said."He doesn't need to throw hard to be effective. He has very good control, and it takes hitters one or two times through the order before they even start to get a feel for what he's doing. He's probably not an ace, but he's got average stuff with command. That's a fourth-starter profile."
• Robbie Erlin, lhp, Rangers: Erlin has average size and average fastball velocity, but nothing else about him is average. His fastball has solid life and he throws strikes with it, setting up his plus curveball and a changeup that some give 70 grades on a 20-80 scale. It's hard to get too excited, as he's thrown more than five innings just twice in low Class A Hickory's rotation. Of course, one of those was a six-inning outing with no hits or walks, one hit batsman and eight strikeouts. He'd given up more than one earned run in just three of his 18 outings and could move up quickly next year when he's not as restricted in terms of his workload.
• Los Angeles Angels: The Angels have fallen in our talent rankings for several consecutive years, but the presence of Mike Trout alone will reverse that trend. Solid seasons from the likes of Peter Bourjos and Hank Conger at Triple-A, as well as breakouts by second baseman Alexi Amarista, righthanders Fabio Martinez and Tyler Chatwood, and lefthander Patrick Corbin have provided more good news.
• Oakland Athletics: No one has broken through the way the A's would have liked in 2010. Last year's draft looks solid with Grant Green, Ian Krol and Max Stassi, but injuries have sidetracked Jemile Weeks, Sean Doolittle and Pedro Figueroa. And as farm director Keith Leippman predicted, replacing a significant talent such as outfielder Grant Desme—who retired to enter the priesthood in the offseason—has proved difficult.