Los Angeles Angels 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Los Angeles Angels 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Jeff Reese: It is fortunate that the Angels landed a superstar when they drafted an under-scouted (primarily due to the weather in New Jersey that spring) Northern outfielder with the 25th overall pick in 2009. Not long into his professional debut, he was considered one of the best prospects in the minor leagues. He secured a starting role with the Angels in spring training last year; next, Mike Trout made the major leagues his bitch, posting an absurd 10.0 fWAR season as a rookie. He’s a legitimate candidate for title of “best player in the game.” It would be prudent to expect some regression in his numbers, but that doesn’t lessen the overall point. The system that Trout left behind is one of the worst in the minors. The top prospect doesn’t look out of place however. Kaleb Cowart has always been a favorite here at Bullpen Banter, and he took his production to a level where it’s no longer a controversial opinion. The switch-hitting third baseman was raw for a first rounder coming out of the draft but offered an exciting blend of power, athleticism, and defense at third base. He proved too lethal for the Midwest League in the first half and performed well in the California League during the second half. An assignment to AA seems to be on the horizon; with continued growth he may even make his major league debut.
After Cowart, we see a pretty steep diminution in talent. CJ Cron had a lethal bat in college but has not fully translated that ability to pro ball. Injuries could be a contributing factor as he had surgery on his shoulder in the offseason prior and injured his leg at the end of last season. He performed fairly well in the California League; the demand on his bat as someone who may not even be able to stick at first base just requires more. Nick Maronde struggled at times during his years at the University of Florida before finding a home in the back of the bullpen as a Junior. The conversion to a starting role has been a success, but his future will likely still be out of the bullpen. RJ Alvarez may follow a similar path. Primarily used as a starter at Florida Atlantic, his stuff played up out of the bullpen on the Cape and could be dominant in the role. Alex Yarbough was a tremendous college player with frequent hard line drive contact as a switch hitter while providing quality defense at second base. He’s more of an advanced player with good instincts and a polished bat than someone with standout tools however. A solid regular at second base is likely his absolute ceiling with a utility role more likely. Austin Wood will always draw interest as he owns a big, strong frame and a fastball that can peak in the mid to high 90s. I haven’t watched him pitch since his days at USC, but with that velocity also came with highly inconsistent secondaries, well below-average command, and difficulty pitching with runners on base. That last point is my biggest concern as it may make a conversion to the bullpen more difficult. Mark Sappington is similar with perhaps a touch less upside and a bit more safety. Clevinger has the best starting profile of the three thanks to a better array of pitches, but the command still needs to improve.
Given the resources at their disposal, it is not vital that the Angels keep their minor league system well stocked with talent. In fact, their resources to bring in the top free agents have diminished their ability to draft the best talent via draft pick compensation and forfeiture. The new draft rules make losing your first round pick even more pernicious as that’s where the majority of the money for the pool allotment is derived. They may not have to wait until the third round to make their first selection again this year, but the Josh Hamilton signing has negated their first round pick. Still, prospects can emerge from a variety of different crevices. A year from now, the Angels system may look much stouter than it does now.
Al Skorupa: The Angels farm system is obviously down in quality and depth. Its not a gigantic concern right now because they just produced arguably the best rookie season of all time from Mike Trout. Plus, when you go out and add an Albert Pujols and then a Josh Hamilton in back to back years in free agency… well, Angels fans will have other things on their mind rather than who’s pitching in Salt Lake City.
The shining star of this system is third baseman Kaleb Cowart. I’m a big Cowart fan and I think he’s going to be an above avergae third baseman in the big leagues. He’s an athletic defender with a strong arm. At the plate he’s a switch hitter with good pop and a strong approach. His swing mechanics and pitch recognition are both still works in progress. I still expect continued all around improvement in Cowart’s game as he only focused on being a full time position player a couple years back. My projection for Cowart is above average all around third baseman. C.J. Cron is a bat only player but that bat is not far away from helping the Halos (if they can find a spot for him). Cron was one of the few sure thing college hitters in the 2011 draft and while I thought the Angels did reach for him I liked the idea. On that subject, I’m not sure any other team has been hurt as much by the new signing rules as the Angels have. Signing Pujols, Wilson and Hamilton they really shot themselves in the foot in terms of what they could spend on amateurs. They had the smallest draft pool by far in 2012 – only $1.65 million. Giving up their first rounder again in 2013 will limit what they can do again. Of course, the major league tradeoff is probably worth the price – especially if they raise a banner in the next couple years.
Nick Maronde and R.J. Alvarez are two arms I saw as amateurs that impressed me. Ultimately, both guys will work best out of the pen but are capable of giving you some starters innings, too. Alvarez is reportedly throwing harder now than he was a couple years back when I saw him. If so, he could really be tough out of the pen. Kole Calhoun and Luis Jimenez are both guys who might be able to help soon in limited roles. I don’t really see either player as a major league regular. I like Calhoun’s game a lot but I just don’t know if there’s enough bat here for a starter. Jimenez is pretty limited and fits best on the bench despite crushing minor league pitching. I saw a bit of Alex Yarbrough on the Cape a couple summers back. While he’s not an exciting player from a tools perspective, he does have a knack for hitting and is a tough out. I’m sure you’ll find your share of scouts who don’t see him as a starter. I’m not confident that the profile will fit in a team’s long term plans but Yarbrough is a player who could take the right opportunity and run with it. I’m interested to see how Cam Bedrosian looks another winter removed from T.J. surgery. While he disappointed in 2012, he’s a talented arm that could quickly stand out in this system if he bounces all the way back.
There are some interesting guys in this org. The Angels don’t have a whole lot of excitement on the farm but things could look a bit better next year even without a 1st round pick. Just don’t expect another Mike Trout. Possibly ever!
3B Kaleb Cowart (Steve Fiorindo & Peter Wardell)
1B C.J. Cron (Steve Fiorindo)
LHP Nick Marone (Steve Fiorindo)
2B Taylor Lindsey (Steve Fiorindo)
R.J. Alvarez (Al Skorupa)
RHP Austin Wood (Steve Fiorindo)
OF Randal Grichuk (Steve Fiorindo)
OF Travis Witherspoon (Steve Fiorindo)