Bees Bullets: Previewing The Division Leading Las Vegas Aviators

Jul 11, 2022, 7:03 PM
Bees outfielder Dillon Thomas with catcher Matt Thaiss in a game at Smith's Ballpark on July 10, 2022.

SALT LAKE CITY – With six games remaining before the All-Star break, the Salt Lake Bees hope to get hot in the desert against the division leading Aviators.

The Las Vegas Aviators (47-36, 1st in PCL West) host the Salt Lake Bees (38-46, 3rd in PCL West, 9.5 GB) in a series set to begin on Tuesday, July 12 at 8:05 p.m. (MST).

This will be the third and final series between the teams this season, barring a playoff matchup. Salt Lake is 6-6, including four games in which the team scored 10 or more runs. These two teams split a six game series in Las Vegas in their most recent matchup May 10-15.

Las Vegas is 5-4 in July, 5-5 in their past 10 games and 26-16 at Las Vegas Ballpark.

In a baseball statistical oddity, Salt Lake has outscored their opponents by a PCL West best 29 runs but sit in third place. Las Vegas has scored an identical 490 runs to 490 runs allowed but sit 3.5 games in front of second place Reno and 9.5 games better than the Bees.

Las Vegas Aviators (Oakland Athletics affiliate)

For an Oakland Athletics franchise that is going through one of three phases depending on how you look at it; punting on the 2022 season (glass half full), embarking on a rebuild that could last 2-3 seasons or longer (glass half empty), or entering days that are so dark that the franchise could call Las Vegas home when the sun rises once again (there is no glass and the house is on fire), the Triple-A Aviators have seen their share of MLB talent come through the ranks already this season.

No. 26 prospect Jonah Bride, No. 21 prospect Adrian Martinez and No. 4 prospect Logan Allen have each received the call-up from Las Vegas to the show this year. With those players already up and the Athletics widely expected to be sending out major league talent and bringing in minor league prospects as the trade deadline approaches, these guys are next in line according to

No. 1 Shea Langeliers – Catcher

The No. 9 overall pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2019, Langeliers was acquired by Oakland in the trade that sent first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta. A stocky, 6’0 205 pound player with the consummate ‘catcher’s body’, Langeliers brings above average power and projects as a good defensive catcher behind the plate.

Slashing .272/.368/.502 for Las Vegas in 2022, Langeliers has jumped Tyler Soderstrom as the A’s top prospect in MLB’s estimation.

A big-time power threat, he hit 22 bombs in 2021 and already has 15 jacks this season to lead the team. His 72 hits and 41 RBI are each good for the current team lead and trail only Vimael Machin this year.

Unlike your typical power hitter that swings with abandon, Langeliers has shown good strike zone recognition in drawing 38 walks. He has drawn four walks and homered in the past three games, showing potential signs of breaking out of a recent mini-slump.

No. 19 Zach Logue – Starting Pitcher

Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth round of the 2017 draft, Logue joined the Oakland organization as part of the Matt Chapman trade over the winter. The left-hander mixes in a low-90’s fastball with a cutter, slider and above average changeup to stay ahead of batters.

Logue has appeared in seven games, six starts, for Oakland in 2022. In 29.2 innings, he has given up 32 hits, seven home runs and walked seven batters for an unflattering 5.16 earned run average.

Add a 5.22 earned run average in 10 starts for Las Vegas and 2022 hasn’t been kind to Logue by the numbers. Logue gave up four or more earned runs in three of four starts to close June before getting called up to make a spot start on July 9 against Houston. Logue delivered five innings of three hit baseball, allowing two runs in the process.

He was optioned back to Las Vegas following the start.

No. 28 Adam Oller – Starting Pitcher

Oller is a 6’4 right-handed reliever that was acquired by Oakland in a trade package that sent pitcher Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets.

Oller has a low 90’s fastball that occasional touches 96. He mixes in a low-80’s slider and a changeup that is considered average.

After spending parts of five seasons in the minor league systems of the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets, Oller realized a dream when appeared in nine games, starting four times, early in the 2022 season. The numbers weren’t pretty for Oller as he struggled to a 9.00 earned run average while allowing more than two hits/walks per inning. Opponents hit .309 against him in 23 innings.

Since being optioned to Las Vegas, Oller has a 3.69 earned run average in seven starts for the Aviators. In 31.2 innings pitched with Las Vegas he has yet to allow a home run.

No. 29 Garrett Acton – Relief Pitcher

One of the players impacted by the abbreviated 2020 MLB player draft, Acton signed with Oakland after going undrafted out of Illinois.

With a high 90’s fastball that tops out at 98 and an above average slider, Acton projects as a high-end bullpen arm.

Acton opened the season with Double-A Midland Empire where he allowed a 4.29 earned run average in 27.2 innings across 19 appearances. After being promoted to Las Vegas in mid-June, Acton has appeared in eight games with the Aviators. He has limited batters to a .179 batting average against while giving up just seven hits in 11 innings of work.

On Deck

Salt Lake looks to end the pre-All-Star break portion of their schedule on a high note as they head to Las Vegas for six games against the Las Vegas Aviators (47-36, 1st in PCL West). The series opens with a Tuesday night matchup with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. (MST).

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