Sunday, April 23, 2006

Reggie Willits

The Angels placed Juan Rivera on the 15-day DL yesterday.

I clicked on the story for more detail to see who was recalled to take Rivera's place maore than half expecting it to be Kendry Morales because Casey Kotchman has been so disappointing this season.

It was not Morales but Reggie Willits, a player I had not heard of prior to reading his name at that point. However, I noted he was described as a speedster so I had to find out more.

Reggie Willits is 25-years-old. Speed or no, my first thought was a AAA veteran not worth much.

Then I noted he was drafted in 2003 out of the University of Oklahoma. A quick back-of-the-envelope progression from rookie/low A in 2003 to High A in 2004 to AA in 2005 assuaged my initally negative concerns about his age.

Now, I seriously can examine his past numbers. He stole 40 and 44 bases the past two years respectively and coupled that with 54 and 73 bases-on-balls. The plate discipline was not a concern while the stolen base totals whetted my appettite.

With AAA Salt Lake City, he is off to a .298/.353/.489 start and is 4-4 in stolen base attempts.

Given the Angels are aggressive on the bases and that Angels' manager Mike Scioscia uses his bench players, Reggie Willits passes my initial screens and seems to be a good short-term pick-up if only for 2 or 3 SBs in two weeks.

With an additional break or two, he could be a 2006 surprise 20-SB player.

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