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Top prospect Newcomb promoted to Double-A

Angels pitcher advancing quickly in Minors

LOS ANGELES -- The Angels have promoted top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb to Double-A, making that the third level the 22-year-old left-hander will pitch at in his first full season in professional baseball.

Newcomb, drafted 15th overall last summer, has posted a 2.25 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 100 innings at both of the Angels' Class A levels, striking out 11.6 batters and walking 4.7 per nine innings. Newcomb has risen fast -- but not fast enough to compete for a spot in the Major League rotation at the start of next season.

"I don't see that happening," said assistant general manager Scott Servais, in charge of scouting and player development. "Things can happen, but he's a young player, and I think we have to be cautious. Even though his numbers are really good, he's had a hard time getting deep into games. The pitch count does run up on him, so there's plenty for him to work on."

Newcomb, ranked first in the Angels' system and 24th overall by, began the year with a 1.83 ERA in seven starts for Class A Burlington. That earned him a promotion to Class A Advanced Inland Empire, where he went 6-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 starts at the hitter-friendly California League.

Newcomb, who posted a 1.10 ERA in his last six outings, is built like an NFL tight end, at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds. He has a smooth, low-maintenance delivery that allows him to reach the mid-90s with relative ease. But his biggest improvements have come with his changeup.

"You're starting to see it become a pitch he can throw at any count, with good hand speed, not slowing down his arm or tipping it to the hitter or anything like that," Servais said of Newcomb, who will make his debut for Double-A Arkansas on Sunday. "The curveball has always been good with Sean, just kind of inconsistent with throwing it for a strike. I think that'll be the next challenge for him."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast.