Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — When the Los Angeles Angels signed Wade Leblanc and assigned him to Salt Lake, it marked the Bees' 112th transaction of the season.
Because of injuries to the big-league club, Double-A call-ups and midseason free agent signings, Salt Lake fans have grown accustomed to seeing new player after new player this season.
As a result of the rampant changes, the defending PCL Pacific Conference champion Bees have struggled at times to find their footing. Following Thursday night's 12-9 loss to Memphis, they sit a disappointing 30-45 on the year.
Even with the lowly record, however, the Angels organization is pleased with its Triple-A affiliate.
Los Angeles Angels assistant general manager and head of scouting and player development Scott Servais was in Salt Lake Thursday and shed some light on the Bees' struggles this season.
"The first half in the minor leagues we haven't played as well as we hoped," Servais said. "With all the up and down movement we have had in Salt Lake, we knew it would be a struggle to stay competitive here."
The Angels farm system has been much maligned by baseball publications, including a last-place ranking by baseballprospectus.com. The Angels' minor league clubs have been weakened by the loss of consecutive first-round draft picks when Los Angeles signed free agents Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in back-to-back offseasons. That farm system, however, has produced on the big-league level.
"The big thing when looking here at the Salt Lake club, the guys that we have called up to the big-league club have contributed right away," Servais said. "C.J. Cron, Grant Green, Efren Navarro — the minute they got there they have put the Angel uni on and have helped us win games. That really is what it's all about. As much as you would like to be the No. 1 farm system, we would rather be the No. 1 team in the American League."
The Bees currently have eight players on their roster that have seen time with the Angels this season.
"We want to stay competitive at (the minor league levels)," Servais said. "Maybe some guys that you thought were better than they actually were didn't perform up to expectations. Then we go get some other guys and give them a chance."
In order to fill the holes, the Angels have sent players to the Bees from all walks of baseball life — from signing Thursday's starting pitcher Anthony Lerew from the Independent Atlantic League to calling up undersized infielder Vance Albitz.
After the success of Cron, Green and others in the majors, they are in search of finding what else their farm system has to offer.
"We're a glass half full," Servais said."That's the way we look at it opposed to other people who may look at it at a glass half empty."
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