Angels' Young Stars Shine Bright before All-Star Break

travis proctorCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

PHOENIX - JUNE 27:  Mike Napoli #44 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on June 27, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Angels defeated the Diamondbacks 2-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's no secret that the Los Angeles Angels have been riddled with more injuries this year than any other team in baseball.

With Vladimir Guerrero heading back to the DL and first-half MVP Torii Hunter also heading to the DL, the Angels are now depending on their young talent to keep them in the division race.

While the Angels have consistently handled the New York Yankees, last weekend they did it without their major bats in the lineup. In three games, the Angels posted twenty nine runs en-route to sweeping the Yankees.

Mike Napoli, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, and even Brandon Wood gave the Yankees all they could handle.

With two key bats headed to the DL, the Angels will need to lean on players like Napoli and Kendry Morale, a player who is having a solid season in his first stint as the everyday first baseman.

For years we have been hearing about all this talent the Angels have down in their farm system, but have seen very little results. With the exception of the young pitching talent that has produced players like Wood, Kendrick, Aybar, and Morales, many have disappointed when called up.

While the young bats have shown moments of great potential, they have failed to remain consistent. With Kendrick being demoted earlier this season maybe this is the opportunity he needed to get back on track. While Napoli has shown improvement every season he is finally proving he is ready to take over the day-to-day catching responsibilities.

Aybar has had a very good season providing the speed and defense that the Angels have always needed from him. This season Aybar is hitting .292 with three triples and twelve doubles. Aybar has also managed to show a little bit of power with three home runs including a huge three-run bomb Friday night that put the Angels on top of the Yankees.

Brandon Wood also contributed with three hits over the weekend including a two-run shot Saturday to start the Angels seven run fifth inning. The Angels have been waiting for Wood to become the player he has shown the potential to be. Over the next two weeks he can prove he is ready to step into that major role.

The Angels entered the All-Star break with a one and a half game lead on the Texas Rangers. With Hunter and Vlad down for a few weeks, it's crucial that these young players find a way to not give up ground to a very talented Rangers' team.

This year's Rangers are not like Rangers' teams of the recent past and should be around until the end. Right now, it's up to the young rising stars in Anaheim to keep the division title in sight.