Prepare yourselves, Angels fans: this is not a great system. There are a couple of high upside players, but mostly, this system is stacked with relievers and average bats. However, it is also filled with players who should contribute at the Major League level. Those types of players have to be developed also. Still, the Angels have to get some more stars into their system as the best players they had, have all filtered into the Bigs at this point.
The Angels’ inability to develop impact players has been the biggest reason they’ve not had the playoffs success recently that they were known for last decade. Mike Trout is soon going to become very expensive and lose the value he currently has of producing so much for so little money. The only way to replace that is with more cheap impact players but you won’t find many below. However, there are a couple of players in this system who, if everything goes right, could help to turn around the Angels’ fortunes. Continue reading to find out who those talents are.
1. Kaleb Cowart, 3B 6/2/1992 H: 6’3″ W: 195 – 2013 was a really bad year for Kaleb Cowart. After really progressing as a hitter and starting to unlock his power in 2012, Cowart did more than take a step back at AA in 2013. He struck out nearly 23% of the time, posted a .580 OPS, a .080 IsoP, and a .266 wOBA. Any hitting stat you like, Cowart looks really ugly by its measure. Cowart’s issues primarily come from pitch recognition. Offspeed stuff just eats him up. Cowart clearly was a player who needs to conquer a level before moving on. In 2012, handled Low-A and stumbled at High-A. The bump to Double-A in 2013 was not in his best interest and the damage is done.
However, the former two-way player has the athleticism to conquer those issues and be a good hitter. At only 22, 2014 isn’t a make-or-break season for Cowart. But a full repeat of Double-A until he can revert that .280 BABIP and learn to control his hitting zone better should be where the 2014 season leads him.
Our Instinct: As bad as 2013 was, it’s too early to give up on Cowart but his season was really discouraging on the surface. And yet, we still believe in Cowart. The tools are there and it was clear Cowart was a project when he was drafted. Yeah, he gave some hope that he might progress a little quicker than he expected, but the fact remains that he was a 21-year-old in AA and may have been pushed too far too fast by the Angels. I’m willing to bet that his athleticism wins out and Cowart bounces back in 2014. ETA: 2016
2. Hunter Green, LHP 7/12/1995 H: 6’4″ W: 175 – The Angels were fortunate enough to pick up the Bowling Green, Kentucky prep pitcher with the 59th pick in the 2013 draft, though our own Thomas Belmont graded Green as a first rounder. However, in his professional debut, Green showed why teams were hesitant to spend a high pick on him: as we noted before the draft, he is a real project. In the Arizona League, Green walked 16 hitters in only 16 2/3 IP. And he wasn’t a victim of a small sample size, Green just has no command as of yet. Here’s what Tom said about him prior to the draft:
Green has a low 90s fastball that touches 95 and with a projectable frame he has an uptick in velocity in his near future. There are a few mechanical tweaks that should be easy to iron out and with added strength in his lower half he could sit mid 90s with regularity. He pairs the premium fastball with a curveball and changeup; both offerings just need time to be average or better.
The curveball could morph into a wipeout slider because Green comes from a 3/4 slot. The slot should also lend itself to solid changeup fade if he can maintain arm speed.
As suggested, Green’s mechanics are leading to the command issues he showed in his debut. So now we watch to see if Green and the Angels are able to harness his delivery and turn the project into a pitcher.
Our Instinct: Green will likely take another shot at short-season ball in 2014. He is such a talent that there is no reason for the Angels to rush Green. They will smartly let him develop, even though it is going to take awhile. But when all is said and done, Green has the raw talent to be a special pitcher. ETA: 2017
3. Taylor Lindsey, 2B 12/2/1991 H: 6’0″ W: 195 – In 2012, Lindsey did not follow up on the previous year’s monster Pioneer League debut, which saw him put up a .213 IsoP and .418 wOBA. Instead, he posted a relatively disappointing .119 IsoP and .326 wOBA in the California League, though not completely disappointing for a kid who skipped from rookie ball to High-A. Still, the question coming into 2013 was whether Lindsey could get some of that Pioneer League power back. The answer was… kinda. For AA Arkansas, Lindsey hit .274/.339/.441, improving his IsoP to .167 and wOBA to .346. He also continued to show passable enough defense at 2B and should be able to be average there going forward.
Our Instinct: The Pioneer League version of Lindsey had a chance to be something special. The Lindsey that we have in reality is still going to be a good Major League player. We always knew he would hit enough to start for a contender but now it looks safe to say, after he has settled into what he is, that he also has enough power to start for a contender. He probably won’t displace Howie Kendrick this season. But in 2015, or sooner if the Angels move Kendrick, Lindsey will be the Angels’ every day 2B. ETA: 2014
4. C.J. Cron, 1B 1/5/1990, H: 6’4″ W: 235 – And here we have another Angels hitting prospect who regressed in 2013. Cron is also another Angels hitting prospect whose struggles are a product of his lack of patience and pitch recognition skills. Cron wants to hit fastballs for home runs and doesn’t seem interested in much else. The bat-only 1B posted a .154 IsoP with 14 HR at AA Arkansas, which isn’t quite enough bat for someone with the rest of his skill set. In his defense, however, Cron made the most of his trip to the Arizona Fall League this offseason, where he finished with a 1.167 OPS through 20 games and won the batting title with a .413 AVG.
Our Instinct: Cron should spend a full season at AAA in 2014. The Angels have to find out if he can develop the patience to hit for enough power to have value. I’m pessimistic, at least as far as Cron being someone the Angels can rely on in the short term when they are trying to compete for World Series titles. Cron should have no problem carving out a Major League career but if he wants to be any better than a second-division starter, he has to take a big leap with his approach this season to get the most out of the power. Expect a bounceback in IsoP short term. ETA: 2015
5. Jose Rondon, SS 3/3/1994, H: 6’1″ W: 160 – Aside from Hunter Green, there is no player in the Angels’ organization with more upside than Jose Rondon. Rondon, a 2011 International Free Agent signing out of Venezuela, spent another season in short-season ball in 2013, where he showed he is more than ready for the challenge of full-season baseball. As a 19-year-old in the Pioneer League, Rondon posted a .293/.359/.399 line, walked 9.5% of the time and struck out only 9.8% of the time. While the power isn’t there yet, it is improving each season, and is generally the last tool to fully develop. That is especially true with a kid like Rondon who weighed about 150 lbs. when he was signed and still has lots of room to fill out as he matures. Moreover, when you watch Rondon’s swing, you can see the natural ability to use his hips to generate power. Once he has some heft to put behind that swing, he should develop at least average power for a shortstop.
Our Instinct: Rondon has the chance to be an excellent Major League player. He already projects to be a plus defender and if his talent can be harnessed throughout the remainder of his development, he has the ability to be a truly excellent hitter. We are talking about a 19-year-old who walks as much as he strikes out. The Angels seem to be taking it particularly slow with Rondon, who was probably ready to go to Low-A last season. However, he still has plenty of time to get where he needs to be. I expect the Angels to start Rondon in Low-A, though he could finish out the season in High-A. If there’s a player who can really jump up these rankings for next year, it’s Rondon. ETA: 2017
6. R.J. Alvarez, RHP 6/8/1991, H: 6’1″ W: 200 – Alvarez is a West Palm Beach, Florida native who was drafted in the 3rd round out of Florida Atlantic in 2012. Alvarez spent his entire 2013 season in the Cal League, where he flat out dominated out of the bullpen. Alvarez allowed only 34 hits in 48.2 IP and registered a fantastic 38 K%. The negative, statistically, was that Alvarez also had problems with the free pass, putting up an alarming 13 BB%. The Angels sent Alvarez to the Arizona Fall League, another hitter’s paradise, where he continued to dominate and walked much fewer batters, though over only 10 IP. Alvarez’s control problems seem to stem from a couple of issues: one, he has a high effort delivery and a low arm slot, both of which are difficult to repeat; and two, though he has a plus fastball, his slider is still an average pitch that he cannot rely on. As a result of the difficulty of repeating and having to rely primarily on one pitch, Alvarez sometimes struggles to find the strike zone.
Our Instinct: It all comes down to the development of the slider. If the slider, which flashes at least above-average, becomes an above-average pitch, Alvarez could become a 9th inning guy. If the slider remains inconsistent, the fastball should at least be enough to carry him to a productive bullpen role. Alvarez’s most likely home is in the 7th or 8th inning, where he will certainly be valuable to the Angels. ETA: 2015
7. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP 4/11/1997, H: 5’11” W: 160 – Sanchez signed with the Angels in 2013 as an International Free Agent out of Venezuela for a reported $580,000. Going into the 2013 July 2 period, we ranked Sanchez as the #20 available IFA. Here is what we said at the time:
Ricardo Sanchez is diminutive, measuring 5’11″ and 160 pounds, but has already gotten it done on the biggest stage of his career, the 15-and-under World Championships. The lefty has a fastball that touches the low 90s and pairs that with a put away curveball. He also features a changeup though that offering currently lags behind. Some added size would be helpful but he will have the stuff to be a successful pitcher regardless. He has struggled with control but he is athletic enough to overcome those issues and repeat his delivery consistently.
And we’ve yet to see Sanchez in the minors so that report still concisely sums up what everyone knows about Sanchez.
Our Instinct: Apparently, the Angels intend to bring Sanchez stateside this year to pitch in the Arizona League. That’s a relatively aggressive move. Most teams take these kids to the Venezuelan Summer League or the Dominican Summer League before bringing them to the states. However, Sanchez is advanced for a 17-year-old, as seen in his World Championships performance. And perhaps teams have taken notice of the Dodgers’ approach with Julio Urias, who pitched in, and dominated, the Midwest League as a 16-year-old. Sanchez isn’t Urias, of course, but the Angels seem to have seen enough to be aggressive with him. He’s up there with Green and Middleton as far as upside arms go in this system so the Angels would be wise to be careful but he has shown the ability to perform on the biggest stages he’s been placed on. ETA: 2020
8. Alex Yarbrough, 2B 8/3/1991, H: 5’11″ W: 180 – Yarbrough’s prospect status improved significantly with his 2013 season, in which he posted a .313/.341/.459 line in the Cal League. However, that “in the Cal League” part is an important modifier. Yarbrough finished the season with a .364 BABIP. It is also worth mentioning that the Angels’ High-A ballpark isn’t as hitter-friendly as the rest of the Cal League and that Yarbrough had a .120 IsoP at home inflated by a .170 IsoP on the road. Adding to that, Yarbrough features a free-swinging approach, which saw him walk in only 4.4% of his ABs while striking out over 17% of the time. All of this is to say that even though Yarbrough displays an advanced hit tool, no doubt refined during his career at Ole Miss, Yarbrough is going to have to prove himself at AA Arkansas this season to become any more than an average Major League prospect.
Our Instinct: If 2013 was real, Yarbrough may have the hitting prowess to allow the Angels to overlook his average power and overly aggressive approach. Assuming that the truth is somewhere between 2013 and the baseline you would have expected coming into that season, Yarbrough is likely a borderline Major League regular but not at the championship level. Yarbrough’s defense is also average at best, which detracts from his ability to add value outside of his bat. But if you can get Major League regulars in the 4th round of the draft, things aren’t all that bad. His long term outlook is as a utility type. ETA: 2015
9. Natanael Delgado, OF 10/23/1995, H: 6’1″ W: 170 – There’s only one thing about Delgado’s 2013 that allows him to end up on a list of top organizational prospects: he was only 17. The Angels signed Delgado out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 for $280k and, strangely, sent him stateside immediately to play in the Arizona League. Delgado held his own there and ended up with a .271/.311/.422 line. He struck out a ton but a .151 IsoP at 17 in your first taste of American professional baseball is nothing to be ashamed about. Delgado is all tools at this point but his fluid swing, projectable frame, and reported work ethic all point to Delgado getting a lot out of those tools.
Our Instinct: I would let Delgado try the Arizona League again. The Angels have all the time in the world to develop this kid. They also shouldn’t discount the fact that there is a substantial amount of cultural development and simply growing up that the young man needs to do so there is nothing wrong with letting him go back to something familiar for 2014. If everything goes right for Delgado, he projects to be a corner OF who can hit for the kind of power that position demands. We are a long way from seeing any of that. Still, in a system bereft of impact talent, Delgado’s upside is exciting. ETA: 2018
10. Mark Sappington, RHP 11/17/1990, H: 6’5″ W: 210 – The conversation about Mark Sappington as a prospect pretty much has to being with this control issues: in 2013, Sappington walked nearly five hitters per 9 IP, while walking over seven (!) hitters per 9 IP during his 25.2 IP stint in AA. Sappington’s issues with control generate from his overly complicated delivery. As Sappington begins to drive toward the plate, he leans forward, starting a series of completely unnecessary motions. As is usually the case, these unnecessary motions simply make the delivery hard to repeat and make it very difficult for the pitcher to find the same arm slot on each pitch. Without that consistency, it is very hard to throw strikes. Despite that, Sappington has so far been able to consistently allow less than a hit per inning and notch more than a strikeout per inning with his mid-90s fastball that he pairs with a slider and change.
Our Instinct: Sappington has the perfect size and repertoire to be a mid-rotation innings eater. However, if he doesn’t put a dent in his control problem this season, I fear the Angels will want to eliminate his windup issues and cast him out to the bullpen. That would be disappointing because Sappington should be a No. 3 in the bigs. The Angels are likely to let him start where he finished 2013, AA Arkansas, and see if he can begin to iron out his delivery issues. If he does, he could be in the Major League rotation relatively quickly. ETA: 2015
11. Michael Morin, RHP 5/3/1991, H: 6’4″ W: 220 – Morin is a Kansas kid who was originally drafted out of high school by the Royals in the 40th round but instead went to the University of North Carolina. After three years at Chapel Hill, Morin was drafted in the 13th round by the Angels. Morin is a relief pitcher who features a fastball and changeup. He has used that repertoire to great effect to this point, baffling hitters all the way through AA, where in 2013 he allowed less than a hit an inning, struck out more than a batter an inning, and walked just more than one batter per nine innings.
Our Instinct: Morin doesn’t have the stuff to end up at the back of the bullpen but he will contribute for the Angels and do so soon. Morin didn’t appear particularly challenged at any level in 2013, though as he ascended from High-A to AA, he was just slightly less dominant, as one would expect. He could start 2014 in AA or AAA but it seems likely that he will be in Los Angeles at some point this season. ETA: 2014
12. Zach Borenstein, OF 7/23/1990, H: 6’0″ W: 205 – Here we have another Angels prospect who put up big numbers in the Cal League and we simply have to wait and see if it was for real. Borenstein, a 2011 23rd round pick whose bat took a step back in 2012 punished the Cal League in 2013 to the tune of a .295 IsoP and .436 wOBA. In just over 100 more ABs, Borenstein hit slightly fewer 2Bs than in the 2012 campaign but 17 more HRs. Unfortunately, his splits show that most of the increased power came in hitter-friendly road ballparks. The splits further show that the lefty continued his career trend of succeeding primarily against right-handed pitchers. In the field, Borenstein is going to be an average at best left fielder. His bat will have to carry him to the bigs.
Our Instinct: Borenstein does have a pretty successful Arizona League debut in 2011 to point to for an argument that his 2013 wasn’t a fluke. However, for a college guy, it’s a little late for the power to be showing up. Especially from a player who has never had more than average raw power. As we’ve seen with a lot of these guys, Borenstein’s trip to AA in 2014 will make or break his prospect status. I expect him to settle back in somewhere between his 2011 and 2012 and be on the path to being a 4th OF or second-division starter. ETA: 2015
13. Cam Bedrosian, RHP 10/2/1991, H: 6’0″ W: 205 – After missing all of 2011 with Tommy John surgery, Bedrosian pitched only 82 innings in 2012, all in Low-A ball. In 2013, the Angels converted Bedrosian to a relief pitcher and he flourished. Yes, he pitched to a 5.30 ERA but that was within the context of a .362 BABIP and 3.11 FIP. Bedrosian features a plus fastball along with a future-plus cutter and a present-plus slider. Bedrosian’s problems generally stem from control issues but those have begun to improve since his move to the bullpen. His 9.1 BB% was a career low but one that still needs improvement.
Our Instinct: Bedrosian will start 2014 in High-A ball. He has a chance to start ascending rapidly now that he’s settled in the bullpen. Bedrosian still has the chance, based on his three plus pitches, of being a closer at the MLB level. He will need to have better control and will need to work on commanding his fastball down. He has been able to survive throwing his fastball up to this point but when he jumps to AA, the hitters are going to be substantially better. If it doesn’t all come together for Bedrosian, he’s still a 7th or 8th inning guy who will contribute for the Angels. ETA: 2016
14. Yency Almonte, RHP 6/4/1994, H: 6’3″ W: 185 – Almonte is a kid that our own Thomas Belmont picked out as a sleeper from the 2012 draft. He noted at the time:
Almonte is a big kid with a 6’3″ – 180lbs frame. He’s the younger brother of the Mariners’ Denny Almonte. His fastball sits in the low 90s already and he’s just growing into his frame. He also throws a fastball and slider combo which show potential. The Angels did well slipping him in down in the 17th round.
The slider has developed into an above-average pitch for the 19-year-old, though it has mostly been successful against right-handed hitters at this point due to its movement into the sweet spot for left handers. Almonte has also shown a changeup that is a fringe pitch now but has promise. His numbers have not been notable thus far, he shows good command with a low walk rate but gives up way too many hits and does not strike out enough hitters. However, Almonte is terribly athletic and strong. Further, he has a strong work ethic and good makeup. If you’re going to bet on someone to put it together, this kid is a good one to bet on.
Our Instinct: Almonte has to work on the slider to make it effect against lefties or develop the changeup for that purpose. He is so far away from what he could become that it is hard to pin down where he will end up. However, with his current repertoire, Almonte has established his floor and an effective reliever against righties. But he still has the ceiling to become an effective starter if the Angels want to go that way. Almonte will likely try his hand at the Pioneer League again this season while he works on developing his secondary pitches. ETA: 2018
15. Keynan Middleton, RHP 9/12/1993, H: 6’2″ W: 200 – Middleton is one of the very few high-upside prospects in the Angels system. The 2013 third round pick is notable for the fact that 2013 was the very first year he focused solely on pitching. Middleton was drafted out of community college in Oregon where he played baseball and basketball. To be sure, his 2013 debut was decidedly mediocre. Middleton split time between the Pioneer League and the Rookie League and wasn’t overly impressive at either place. He walks way too many and doesn’t strike out enough. Middleton’s issues derive from his inability to repeat his delivery and his very raw breaking pitches. Fortunately, he has a future-plus fastball that he can rely on while he works on the slider, change, and even the curveball that he has flashed.
Our Instinct: Middleton is all ceiling but it’s a pretty high one. His athleticism should easily allow him to simplify and solidify his delivery. So the roadblock in his way is refining his breaking pitches. If he can do that successfully, and I’m bullish on the prospect, Middleton has the ultimate ceiling of a middle-of-the-rotation starter. If the breaking pitches don’t come all the way around, he could still be a solid bullpen arm. But the Angels will have to take it very, very slow with the terribly raw righty. The Angels will likely send Middleton back to the Arizona League to start 2014, where he pitched only 5 2/3 IP last season. There is no reason to rush with this kid. ETA: 2017
16. Eric Stamets, SS 9/25/1991, H: 6’0″ W: 185 – Stamets makes this list as a result of his outstanding defensive ability. He is certainly the best defensive shortstop in the Angels system and one of the best in the minors. He is also exceptionally fast, though he attempts few stolen bases. At the plate, the nicest thing you can say is that he very rarely strikes out. However, Stamets also walks rarely and has no power to speak of. Even in the video game world that is the California League, Stamets managed only a .281/.335/.375 line with a .095 IsoP and .321 wOBA. There is no reason to believe he will develop anything above fringe power.
Our Instinct: Though we don’t do a lot of comps here, Stamets’ career to date bears a striking resemblance to that of New York Yankees’ shortstop Brendan Ryan. Ryan showed more power at the same age but not substantially more. I think it is fair to expect a similar career to Ryan’s for Stamets, that is, his defense may allow him to start in the perfect situation but he is more likely to be a utility player and defensive replacement. However, Stamets will head to AA this year and it remains to be seen if he can hit enough against advanced pitching to even have the career Ryan has had. Stamets could do himself a lot of favors by working on his base stealing acumen, considering his plus speed. ETA: 2016
17. Cal Towey, 3B 2/6/1990, H: 6’1″ W: 215 – Let’s start with the numbers: Towey debuted in the Pioneer League and put up a .317/.492/.543 line. Yes, a .492 OBP! For fun, he also had a .226 IsoP and a .468 wOBA. That is what we call abject domination. So why isn’t he way higher on this list? Well, Towey was drafted as a college senior in the 2013 draft and was 23-years-old in the 2013 season. So he was slightly old for the league. But that kind of hitting prowess cannot be ignored. On the defensive end, Towey was not mistaken for Cal Ripken. He really struggled at 3B. That puts the Angels in a tough spot. They could try to work on his defense and send him up a couple of leagues to really challenge his bat or they could move him to a new position but that will take time, and time is quickly running out for Towey.
Our Instinct: Personally, I don’t think the time is there to make Towey into a catcher as has been rumored. I would shoot Towey up a few levels and see if his bat plays. If it does, I would see if he can handle a corner outfield position. If he has to learn how to catch, by the time he’s Major League ready to catch, his usefulness to the Angels will have passed. I’m rooting for Towey and am interested to see what the Angels decide to do with him in 2014. ETA: 2016 (if he doesn’t change positions)
18. Mario Martinez, C 7/31/1996, H: 5’10” W: 185 – Martinez signed as an International Free Agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. He initially showed below-average arm strength but was very capable of throwing out would-be base stealers in 2013 in the Dominican Summer League. Martinez also held his own at the plate as a 16-year-old, posting a .247/.371/.346 line. The power is poor but that comes with time. I should also note that the OBP is due at least in part to freakish amount of hit-by-pitches. Still, he showed the tools at the plate to be a successful hitter going forward.
Our Instinct: The Angels are most likely to let Martinez continue to get his bearings in the Dominican Summer League. He would still get his first season stateside in his 18-year-old season. The Angels are smart to take it slow with Martinez, especially if they intend to keep him as a catcher. The ability he has already shown to hit for power portends well for the young catcher, as well as the relative discipline he has shown. The upside is definitely there for Martinez to be an impact Major Leaguer but he is obviously very, very far away. Regardless, he is one to watch. ETA: 2020
19. Reid Scoggins, RHP 7/18/1990, H: 6’3″ W: 210 – It was certainly an interesting choice for the Angels to turn Scoggins from a reliever to a starter in 2013. As a reliever in rookie ball in his 2012 season, Scoggins walked an almost unbelievable 18% of the hitters he faced. Of course, he also struck out 43.6% of the hitters he faced. However, Scoggins succeeded, relatively, as a starter in the Midwest League in 2013. He cut his BB rate to 12.5%, which is still bad of course, but better. His K% dropped too, though to a still excellent 27.2%. Scoggins features a fastball that regularly hits triple digits and as a starter he sat in the high-90s. Unfortunately, his slider and the changeup he debuted in 2013 are not yet consistently useful pitches.
Our Instinct: It’s unclear if the Angels actually believe Scoggins can cut it as a starter or if 2013 was just an experiment meant to work on Scoggins’ control issues. With his current secondary repertoire, it’s highly unlikely Scoggins could become a Major League starter. However if either the slider or change become average pitches, he could certainly be a useful reliever at the MLB level. If he can develop one into an above-average pitch and the other into an average pitch, he will have the ability to start or be a high-leverage reliever. Scoggins is getting a bit long in the tooth; this will be his 23-year-old season. He needs to breakout now if he’s going to. I like him improve on the walk rate and improve his secondary pitches but I don’t think he has enough time left to reach his ceiling. Still, Scoggins should become a useful bullpen arm for the Angels. ETA: 2016
20. Luis Jimenez, 3B 1/18/1991, H: 6’1″ W: 205 – Time is running out for Jimenez. The 23-year-old now seems stuck in AAA with David Freese occupying 3rd base for the big club. And Jimenez did himself no favors during his limited call-up in 2013. Every prospect-watcher’s Jimenez-related fear manifested itself in his MLB stint: Jimenez has always gotten a little bit of a pass for his terribly low walk rate because he rarely strikes out and makes a lot of contact. However, at the MLB level, pitchers took advantage of Jimenez’s complete lack of plate discipline, struck him out 25.5% of the time and held him to an embarrassing .058 IsoP. Jimenez spent the rest of the 2013 at AAA Salt Lake, where he generally struggled though he did deal with injuries. Positively, Jimenez showed in 2013 that he is an above-average 3B, which will be helpful in his quest to get another shot in the big leagues.
Our Instinct: Based on his age and performance to date, Jimenez is not likely a starting 3B in the Majors. However, his glove is strong and he is capable of streaks of good hitting. That is enough for him to carve out space on a Major League bench, especially if he could add a couple defensive positions to his repertoire. If I were Jimenez, I’d ask for some new and different gloves when I got to Spring Training this year and try to make myself a spot in the bigs. ETA: 2014
21. Victor Alcantara, RHP 4/3/1992 H:6’3″ W:190 – Signed in 2011 out of the DR, Alcantara has one of the wildest arms in all of the minor leagues. But when he flashes command he also flashes one of the best arms in the system. With a fastball in the mid 90s that touches 100 when his mechanics are in line, it flashes double plus.
His slider has hard tilt but is a long distance from being a put away pitch. Despite the dominant stuff his command and mechanics need a lot of work.
Our Instinct: Alcantara is a diamond in the rough and if there isn’t a focus starting in 2011 on reworking and simplifying his mechanics there is little chance he ever puts it together. But ofa top pitching coaches gets a whiff of him and takes on the project, he’ll shoot up the boards even if his future seems to be a bullpen arm at the back end. ETA: 2017
Players to watch
Nick Maronde, LHP 9/5/1989, H: 6’3″ W: 205 – Before the 2013 season, the Angels decided to turn Nick Maronde into a full-time reliever. The Angels, and we, expected Maronde to make a few relief appearances in the minors and get the call-up for good. Unfortunately, the Lexington, Kentucky native saw his velocity and control abandon him during his 2013 in AA Arkansas. The lefty’s low 90’s fastball was suddenly a high 80s fastball. And his BB%, which was generally in the 6s jumped to 15.1%. Both are pretty bizarre occurrences considering Maronde could now focus on shorter stints and scrapped the changeup that had never really developed. On the bright side, Maronde’s stuff allowed him to post a 6.6 H/9 and 10.1 K/9. And he was nearly as equally effective against righties as he was against lefties.
Our Instinct: Considering the Angels’ AAA park at Salt Lake is one of the great hitter’s environments, the Angels would be smart to let Maronde establish some confidence in AA Arkansas, though going there for the 3rd year in a row may be a bit dispiriting. If Maronde can quickly show that 2013 was just a result of arm and mechanics issues, as has been suggested, he could find himself in Los Angeles early in the season. Maronde’s season splits show that he definitely improved in the second half. I expect Maronde to bounce back and cement himself as a 7th or 8th inning guy. ETA: 2014
Michael Snyder, 1B; Austin Wood, RHP; Michael Clevinger, RHP; Chevy Clark, OF; Miguel Hermosillo, OF; Arjenis Fernandez, RHP; Elliot Morris, RHP; Michael Fish, OF; Jonah Wesley, LHP.
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