With Christmas a week away, we thought we would bring to you baseball’s biggest holiday spender in our continuing series of top 10 prospects lists. Love or hate what the The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have done, there’s no denying that they have one of the most complete systems from top to bottom. Let’s take a closer look at the Halos.
The Angels took the position as top team in LA this winter by grabbing the biggest free agent this off-season. Albert Pujols the first baseman and once the darling of St. Louis Cardinals fans everywhere, he took the 10 year $254 million from Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno. While they were at it they solidified an already strong pitching staff and picked up to pitching free agent, C.J. Wilson. The team will still need to play an entire season but at the very least they have the best shot at beating the AL Champion Texas Rangers for an AL West Division Pennant in 2012.
You know the marque names already but in this article we will give you a taste of The Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Minor League Prospects. Plus, since it is the season of giving we’ll give you a Baseball Instinct’s top 21 “free-view” of a future Halo and give you a taste of the Top 21 Minor League Prospects series coming later this winter.
1. Mike Trout OF – 8/07/1991, H: 6’1″ W: 200 lbs. - Mike Trout was the 25th pick overall in the 2009 draft. He was having a pretty nice season at Double-A .324, 11 Triples, 28 stolen bases and .950 OPS. Well I guess you could call that something other than nice. Perhaps outstanding. In his Baseball Instinct; Prospect Instinct on Mike Trout, Thomas Belmont wrote, “The scouts throughout the league knew that he was a first round talent based on his speed and hit tools. What they didn’t know was how quickly he would rise through the ranks and how easily his compact stroke would translate to real production at the plate.” Check out more of the 2011 article here; Prospect Instinct| Mike Trout. The Angels noticed his performance and when Peter Bourjos ended up on the disabled list late last season, the young outfielder old showed flashes of why the Angels picked him but probably will start the season at Triple-A in 2012.
Our Instinct: Mike Trout is already seeing major league at bats. He’s still only 20 years old. So there is a slight chance that the Angels, currently stuck in a logjam for the 2012 outfield, could give him a little time in Triple-A. But I don’t think it’s needed and I think he gives them the best solution for one of the outfield spots. We said in our 2010 Prospect Instinct| Mike trout that “Trout’s ETA is late season 2011 as a 20-year-old and then full-time in 2012. At his peak he could be a 20 HR, 40+ SB threat and hit around .300-.315 for a long stretch.” While things are changing in L.A., we’ve been right so far and we don’t see any reason to change our opinion now.
2. Jean Segura SS – 3/17/1990, H: 5’10″ W: 185 lbs. - Jean Segura was selected in 2007 as an International Free Agent from his home in The Dominican Republic. He’s had the injury bug in his first few pro years with a broken ankle in 2008 and fracturing a finger in 2009. He did show in 2010 that he can hit and has plus speed in the Midwest League; .313 AVG, 24 doubles, 12 triples and 10 HR with 50 stolen bases. In his Prospect Instinct article on Jean Segura, Thomas Belmont wrote the following, “Segura has good bat speed and uses the entire field when he hits. His bat speed is good enough that he already has average power despite a smaller frame and his power could come on stronger as he gets older. ” Check out more of the article here; Prospect Instinct|Jean Segura. Segura lost some more time with a hamstring injury this season and was brought back to soon inuring his hamstring further. While he did progress when healthy you could call his 2011 performance his lost season.
Our Instinct: In our opinion the injury plagued 2011 season shouldn’t be a problem moving forward. He began the 2012 season in Double-A or at the very least repeat his domination of Single-A.
3. C.J. Cron 1B – 1/05/1990, H: 6’4″ W: 230 lbs. - C.J. Cron was The Angels first round pick in 2011 signed out of The University of Utah. He started his pro career well in The Pioneer League, hitting .308, 13 HR and 41 RBI with a 1.000 OPS in 34 games but suffered a knee injury that required surgery in September. According to a report in The Orange County Register, Cron also was suffering a slight torn labrum in his right shoulder but it is unlikely they’ll investigate that surgery at the time of this writing.
Our Instinct: The knee injury ended his season and off-season surgery should have him ready for spring training. Expect him to start the season with the High-A Inland Empire 66ers of the California League. At one point we assumed he would be on the fast track to the majors. Now we can’t help but wonder if he’s an appealing trade piece in the wake of the Albert Pujols signing. Mark Trumbo and Kendry Morales probably wonder where they fit in as well.
4. Kaleb Cowart 3B – 6/02/1992, H: 6’3″ W: 190 lbs. - Kaleb Cowart was LAA’s 2010 first round pick and since the contract wasn’t ironed out until late in the year. 2011 was really his first professional season. Cowart showed his power in The Pioneer League, .283, 7 HR, 12 Doubles with 40 RBI. He is very athletic and graduated as a pitcher at Cook County High in Adel, Georgia were he threw in the upper 90s. The strong-arm makes him a nice third base prospect.
Our Instinct: Good showing for his first taste of rookie league ball but we’ll see how he handles better pitching at Single-A in 2012. Cowart can be a free swinger so it will be crucial for him to learn how to read breaking pitches at the next level.
5. Taylor Lindsey 2B – 12/02/1991, H: 6’0″ W: 195 lbs. - Taylor Lindsey was The Angels first round pick of 2010. In an online fan chat with AngelsWin.com, former Angels Scouting Director Eddie Bane said, “Lindsey was the best pure hitter we had in Arizona. He is not bothered by velocity and always has his hands in the right place to hit. Premium kid and premium bat.” After his Arizona Fall League showing Lindsey was named the Pioneer League MVP his 2011 season. His stats with the Orem Owlz was .362 AVE, 9 HR, 46 RBI in 63 games.
Our Instinct: His 46/13 k/bb needs some improvement, but with a .987 OPS and a .231 IsoP with the Orem Owlz and playing stellar defense he’s ready to move up the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels and may get a shot with the High-A Inland Empire 66ers of the Cal League before 2012 is over.
6. John Hellweg, RHP – 10/29/1988, H: 6’9″ W: 210 lbs. - John Hellweg walked more batters than he pitched innings in his 2010 season(45 in 43 2/3 innings) playing for Cedar Rapids (Single-A). Despite that his power fastball was promoted to Inland Empire where the tall reliever was made a starter. He smoothed out his control problems walking 59 batters in 89 innings. But wait, you’re thinking that’s not worth praise. Well, it is if you go 6-4, 3.73 ERA, 113 K’s, in 14 Games as a starter and 14 in relief. It probably goes without saying that Hellweg throws gas in the upper 90s but he also possesses a hard slider and a decent change-up.
Our Instinct: It’s all about improvement with young John Hellweg. We like it thus far with the switch to starting pitcher. We’d like to see more improvement at Double-A or another stint in The California League before we see him in the rotation with Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
7. Garrett Richards , RHP – 5/27/1988, H: 6’3″ W: 215 lbs. - Garrett Richards was picked was a supplemental first round pick in 2009. In his Prospect Instinct profile of Garrett Richards, George Utter wrote the following, “The thing I heard back in 2009 is the same thing I keep hearing today; Garrett Richards has some of the best raw stuff that scouts have seen. Control was the issue for him in 2007 and 2008 out of the Sooners’ bullpen. The 2.23 whip and the 7.4 BB/9 along with the 6.97 era that he posted in 2008 should have been enough to put a rest to his college career. ” Catch more of the article here; Prospect Instinct|Garrett Richards. This year in the Double-A Texas League Richards was, 12-2, 3.15 ERA, 103 K, in 143 innings for the Arkansas Travelers.
8. Nick Maronde, LHP – 9/05/1989, H: 6’3″ W: 205 lbs. - Nick Maronde was the Angels 3rd round pick in this years amateur draft he came out of the University of Florida as a reliever but the Halos wanted to take a look at him as a starter. They weren’t disappointed in his first season, starting games instead of finishing them. Nick went 5-0 in 11 games for the Orem Owlz, posting a 2.14 ERA and a 1.10 whip in 46.1 innings. His pitch of choice is his fastball that lives in the mid 90s but he is working on a hard slider plus a change-up. If the experiment works he could become a nice compliment to the Angels rotation in the next few years.
Our Instinct: His developing slider is coming along nicely and if he can develop into a 3-pitch type of guy, there may be a spot in the Angels rotation in his future, otherwise he will be a setup guy with potential closer stuff down the line. The Cedar Rapids Kernels seem like his starting destination in 2012.
9. Alexi Amarista, 2B- 4/06/1989, H: 5’8″ W: 150 lbs. - Alexi Amarista is listed as a second baseman but, with his ability and sure hands, he could fit in at any infield position and would probably fit in all the outfield spots. That’s a rare and great problem to have. The 22-year-old has a .325 average and has averaged 23 steals a year in his five years in the minor leagues. At Triple-A Salt Lake, Amarista hit .292, 24 Doubles, 4 HR, 50 RBI along with 15 steals. This performance earned him a late season call-up to the Bigs.
10. Jett Bandy, C- 3/26/1990, H: 6’4″ W: 210 lbs. - Jett Bandy came across The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by way of the 31st round in the 2011 Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. He had the eye of the cross-town rival Dodgers in 2008 but decided to continue his education. The 21-year-old really rocketed around the Angels minor league system in his first season. Starting out in Arizona Rookie league he hit .307 in 42 Games with 18 Doubles, 4 HR and 29 RBI in 208 plate appearances. He had a limited number of games played in Double-A and Triple-A but just being called up for a look should tell you how the Halos feel about Bandy.
Baseball Instinct’s top 21 “free-view”
11. Fabio Martinez Mesa, RHP – 10/29/1989 H: 6’3″ W: 190 lbs. - Fabio Martinez Mesa has a nasty fastball that hits the mid-90s and has mastered a mean slider to going along with it. Unfortunately, he’s experienced wildness at times, losing control of the strike-zone. If you were looking for a report on him in 2011, you probably didn’t find too much due to his shoulder injury. Prior to this season, Mesa has a 3.37 ERA and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings in his first 4 seasons as a professional.