Angels demote reliever Kevin Jepsen to Triple-A … again

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Kevin Jepsen spent 2009 and 2010 as a setup man for the Angels, throwing 114 innings with a 4.43 ERA and 109 strikeouts, but last night the 27-year-old right-hander was demoted to Triple-A for the second straight season.

This time around Jepsen earned the demotion by coughing up nine runs in seven innings, whereas last year he allowed 11 runs in 13 innings and wasn’t a whole lot better at Triple-A before undergoing knee surgery in September.

One of the main issues with his performance in 2011 was a drop in velocity, as Jepsen’s average fastball declined from 95.7 miles per hour to 93.7 mph, but that hasn’t been the problem this season as his velocity is back to 95.8 mph.

So what’s the problem, then? Mike Scioscia told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that “his command, his ability to pitch in, his ability to command a breaking ball for a strike, are all things that he needs to find.”

But other than that …

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.