NEW YORK -- Kaleb Cowart, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Angels' farm system, is having a rough first season in Double-A. And once again, it's batting from the left side of the plate against right-handed pitching that's giving him the most trouble.
But the Angels aren't ready for the 21-year-old third baseman to abandon switch-hitting.
"He's a switch-hitter," said Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais, who oversees scouting and player development. "He'd be just coming off the Draft right now, if you look at the fact he didn't go to college and signed out of high school. He's fine. I don't see anybody, at this point, taking the switch-hitting away from him."
Cowart, also ranked 82nd overall by MLB.com, was the Angels' Organizational Player of the Year last season, batting .276 with 16 homers, 103 RBIs and 14 steals in two Class A levels.
But he hasn't handled the big ballparks of Double-A very well, posting only a .213/.275/.294 slash line with five homers in 114 games for the Arkansas Travelers. He's batting .269 against lefties and .197 against righties, splits that are even more drastic than 2012 (.293 against lefties and .269 against righties).
"He's a natural right-handed hitter, so the left side of the plate is still a little bit of a struggle," Servais said of Cowart, taken 18th overall in 2010. "He's working at it, trying to make a few adjustments. He needs to do a better job of using the whole field. I think as a left-handed hitter, he tends to get a little bit too much pull in his swing at times. That happens with a lot of players, especially switch-hitters that are right-handed throwers. They tend to pull a little more as left-handed hitters."
Halos' Romine meets up with brother in NY
NEW YORK -- Andrew and Austin Romine haven't had much of an opportunity to share a baseball field together. When Andrew was a senior in high school, Austin was a freshman. And when both of them were in the Majors for a series at Angel Stadium in September 2011, Andrew didn't play.
Andrew was activated by the Angels on Wednesday, starting at shortstop and batting eighth while Erick Aybar recovers from cramping in his left calf. And though his brother, the 24-year-old Yankees backup catcher, didn't start behind the plate, Andrew's callup gave them a rare opportunity to actually see one another.
"I used to beat him at everything until he got bigger than me," said Andrew, two years and 11 months older than Austin. "We did everything together. We were close enough in age to where we just played baseball in the backyard, played baseball in the house, hung out on the weekends. We had the same friends and things like that."
Austin and Andrew are one of 11 brother combos to appear in at least one game in the Majors this season, according to STATS.
The only time Andrew and Austin actually got extended time against one another came in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. Besides that, they've taken two very different career routes.
Austin was drafted out of El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., and spent most of the next six years in the Yankees' system before getting some extended playing time in 2013, appearing in 44 games while batting .206/.257/.304 entering play Wednesday.
Andrew went from Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., to Arizona State University before the Angels took him in the fifth round in 2007 -- three rounds after his brother was selected by New York -- and has compiled 44 games from 2010-13.
Growing up, Andrew didn't really pick on Austin too much. And that was probably a good idea.
"As far as I know, from what my family and friends told me, it was more psychological warfare -- because he started to get bigger than me pretty quick," said Andrew, who batted .287/.367/.391 in 89 games for Triple-A Salt Lake. "We weren't really like that. We didn't really fight or wrestle or anything like that. We just wanted to go out and play. Plus, he would've taken me down because he got bigger than me in high school."
Bourjos expected to return to Angels on Friday
NEW YORK -- Peter Bourjos is expected to join the Angels from Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday for the start of a three-game home series against the Astros, and Erick Aybar figures to be the starting shortstop that day.
Aybar exited Wednesday's game with a sore left calf, which grabbed on him while trying to beat out a slow roller for the final out of the third inning. But the 29-year-old shortstop was on the field for pregame activities and expects to be back in the starting lineup for Thursday's 10:05 a.m. PT game.
To take his place on Wednesday, the Angels called up shortstop Andrew Romine from Triple-A and sent lefty reliever Nick Maronde to Double-A, giving them a four-man bench again.
"Everything's fine," Aybar said. "I'll play tomorrow."
Bourjos, out since June 29 with a fractured right wrist, has gone 5-for-26 in six games for Salt Lake, with a homer, three doubles, two walks and 10 strikeouts.
Mike Trout will mostly go back to left field when Bourjos is activated, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn't anticipate much of a platoon situation, which means J.B. Shuck will primarily be the club's designated hitter and Kole Calhoun or Collin Cowgill -- or both, if neither are optioned -- will be on the bench.
"We have some left-handed bats we definitely can match up with, but I don't think Peter is a platoon-type player," Scioscia said of Bourjos, with a .333/.392/.457 slash line in 40 games. "I mean, he was really playing well early. It's going to be nice to re-establish some depth."
• Maronde, optioned to Arkansas to clear a spot for Romine on Wednesday, struggled in his two-week stint with the Angels, giving up three runs (one earned) while walking five in three innings. "It's just like any young pitcher, trying to find that consistency in your delivery and release point," Scioscia said. "When he does, he's going to pitch in the Major Leagues. He has good stuff."
• Prior to Wednesday, the last time Howie Kendrick and Aybar were both out of the Angels' lineup together was Sept. 1, 2012. Aybar (left calf cramp) expects to return to the lineup on Thursday. Kendrick (left knee sprain) took batting practice on the field on Wednesday and could return when his disabled list stint is up next Wednesday.
• Dontrelle Willis, signed off independent ball, pitched six innings of shutout ball in his debut for Salt Lake on Tuesday, giving up three hits, walking one and striking out five. "He's a high-energy guy, great clubhouse guy, fun to be around," Romine said. "He started out the first inning a little shaky, picked it up and started striking guys out left and right."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.