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February 2, 2012

Future Shock

Angels Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System in 20 Words or Less: It’s a system with wading-pool depth and very little pitching. Mike Trout sure is good.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Mike Trout, OF
Four-Star Prospects
2. Jean Segura, SS/2B
Three-Star Prospects
3. John Hellweg, RHP
4. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
5. C.J. Cron, 1B
6. Taylor Lindsey, 2B
7. Garrett Richards, RHP
8. Nick Maronde, LHP
Two-Star Prospects
9. Jeremy Moore, OF
10. Ariel Pena, RHP
11. Fabio Martinez, RHP

Nine More
12. Luis Jimenez, 3B: He has impressive hitting skills, but a poor approach and limited tools.
13. Alexi Amarista, INF: His contact ability and positional flexibility could give him a utilityman career.
14. Dan Tillman, RHP: This power reliever had impressive numbers. He could move quickly, but doesn’t quite have closer stuff.
15. Carlos Ramirez, C: Ramirez is a doubles machine who needs to improve behind the plate.
16. Andrew Romine, SS: He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop who offers little with the bat.
17. Trevor Reckling, LHP: This lefty still impresses with his athleticism and changeup, but he has gone backward two years running.
18. Travis Witherspoon, OF: He has some of the best tools in the system, but he’s also far from harnessing them.
19. Randall Grichuk, OF: Grichuk’s raw power still impresses, but he can't stay healthy enough to tap into it.
20. David Carpenter, RHP: His numbers are insane, but his stuff isn't. He has a low-90s fastball with deception that still needs to prove itself.

1. Mike Trout, OF
DOB
: 8/7/91
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Millville HS (NJ)
2011 Stats: .326/.414/.544 at Double-A (91 G); .220/.281/.390 at MLB (40 G)
Tools Profile: Yes, he has plenty of them.

Year in Review: Trout beat up the Texas League at age 19. While his major-league numbers failed to impress, he was anything but a disappointment.
The Good: Trout is one of the best prospects in the game, and certainly one of the most exciting. He's an ultra-athletic burner with top-of-the-line speed that gives him the ability to steal bases and gobble up ground in center field. He works the count well, and is starting to transition his raw power into game situations. He projects to hit 18-25 home runs annually. Trout also earns praise for his makeup and max-effort style of play.
The Bad: There are few knocks on Trout's game. Big-league right-handers who can locate gave him some trouble, but that is certainly something he can adjust to. His arm is nothing special, but hardly a detriment.
Ephemera: Trout hit .348/.412/.565 as the Angels’ right fielder in 2011, but was just 11-for-77 (.143) in any other role.
Perfect World Projection: He’s an All-Star center fielder and MVP candidate in the mold of a pre-injury Grady Sizemore.
Fantasy Impact: He’s a potential first overall pick.
Path to the Big Leagues: Unless the Angels give up on Vernon Wells, Trout's path to everyday big-league play might not make itself clear. If that’s the case, he’s best-served playing daily at Triple-A Salt Lake.
ETA: Late 2012

2. Jean Segura, SS/2B
DOB
: 3/17/90
Height/Weight: 5-11/160
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
2011 Stats: .367/.367/.600 at Rookie (8 G); .281/.337/.422 at High-A (44 G)
Tools Profile: He has hitting ability and speed. Both play up if he can stay on the left side of the infield.

Year in Review: This exciting infielder missed much of the season due to hamstring issues.
The Good: Segura profiles as a force at, or toward the top, of a major-league order. He has a lightning-quick bat and outstanding hands. He projects to hit for a high average, and has enough strength in his swing to hit 15-18 home runs per year. He's a plus runner and a good basestealer. He moved from second base to shortstop in 2011, and showed good range and soft hands at the position.
The Bad: Segura has improved his plate discipline, but still looks for fastballs early in the count. He can get tied up by off-speed stuff from right-handers. While his trial on the left side of the infield created some optimism, his arm is average at best.
Ephemera: Only two players with the first name Jean have played in the majors, and both were of French-Canadian ancestry. Jean Debuc pitched in nine seasons from 1908-1919, and won 17 games for the Tigers twice. Right-hander Jean-Pierre Roy appeared in three games for the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an All-Star infielder at either up-the-middle position.
Fantasy Impact: He could be quite valuable if he provides batting average, stolen bases, and some pop.
Path to the Big Leagues: Segura is a breakout candidate if he stays healthy, and will begin the year at Double-A Arkansas.
ETA: 2013

3. John Hellweg, RHP
DOB
: 10/29/88
Height/Weight: 6-9/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 16th round, 2008, Florida Community College
2011 Stats: 3.73 ERA (89.1-75-59-113) at High-A (28 G)
Tools Profile: He’s the strongest arm in the system.

Year in Review: This closer prospect made a midseason move to the rotation and saw his prospect stock skyrocket.
The Good: One scout called Hellweg's potential, “terrifying.” Hellweg is huge, and gets a heavy downward plane on a plus-plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can touch 99 mph. His power breaking ball is another bat-misser. Hellweg impressed scouts by holding his stuff deep into games while pitching as a starter.
The Bad: Hellweg's size is a liability as much as it is an asset. His delivery is not troubling, but he still has trouble maintaining consistency, and his varying release points have led to significant command and control struggles. He has a changeup, but it's still well below average.
Ephemera: In Hellweg's 14 starts for Inland Empire, he had a 2.18 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a frontline starter.
Fantasy Impact: If he can stay in the rotation, he's going to make up for a so-so WHIP with truckloads of strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: While Hellweg needs refinement, he could be a more well-known name with a big year at Double-A.
ETA: 2013

4. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
DOB
: 6/2/92
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Cook HS (GA)
2011 Stats: .283/.345/.420 at Rookie (72 G)
Tools Profile: He has the hitting ability and the defensive chops to stay at third base.

Year in Review: This huge bonus recipient from the 2010 draft cooled off a bit after a huge start in the Pioneer League.
The Good: Cowart is a switch-hitter with a maturing approach and above-average power from both sides of the plate. He's an athletic third baseman with excellent reactions, good hands, and one of the strongest arms in the system.
The Bad: Cowart is far more slugger than hitter, comes with plenty of swing and miss in his game, and projects as just an average hitter. His arm is quite strong, but often inaccurate.
Ephemera: Cowart did not hit a home run in his first 16 games of the season. He then went deep in back-to-back games, did not hit a home run for 19 games, followed that with five home runs in 13 games, and finished the year by going 22 games without a home run.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a star-level third baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He could bring average and power, but he’s still very far away.
Path to the Big Leagues: Cowart will make his full-season debut at Low-A Cedar Rapids.
ETA: 2015

5. C.J. Cron, 1B
DOB
: 1/5/90
Height/Weight: 6-4/235
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011, University of Utah
2011 Stats: .308/.371/.629 at Rookie (34 G)
Tools Profile: Bat. We're done here.

Year in Review: He put up some of the best numbers in college baseball before being selected with the 17th overall pick in the draft.
The Good: Cron is a potential beast at the plate. He works the count well, has a good feel for contact considering his size and strength, and possesses well above-average raw power. He comes from a baseball family and is unfazed by any challenge.
The Bad: Cron is the definition of a bat-only prospect. He's slow enough to be labeled a base-clogger by some scouts, and is a well below-average defender. Some already project him as a future designated hitter.
Ephemera: Cron's younger brother, Kevin, was a third-round pick in 2011 by the Mariners, but chose not to sign. He will play at TCU this spring.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a middle-of-the-order run producer.
Fantasy Impact: He’ll have power, RBI, and a decent batting average.
Path to the Big Leagues: Cron could put up some terrifying numbers in the California League in 2012 and finish the year in Double-A. He should not need much time in the minors.
ETA: Late 2013

6. Taylor Lindsey, 2B
DOB: 2/2/91
Height/Weight: 6-0/195
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Desert Mountain HS (AZ)
2011 Stats: .362/.394/.593 at Rookie (63 G)
Tools Profile: He has plus-plus hitting ability, but the rest of his package falls a bit short.

Year in Review: The Angels take it slow with many prospects, Lindsey included. He excelled in extended spring training before tearing up the Pioneer League.
The Good: Despite Lindsey’s age and inexperience, some scouts have put plus-plus scores on his pure hitting tool. Lindsey combines bat speed with the ability to make in-pitch adjustments and projects to hit .300 all the way up the ladder. He uses all fields and laces balls consistently in the gap; he projects to be a doubles machine.
The Bad: Lindsey is neither big nor athletic. He has enough strength and hard contact ability to hit 10-plus home runs per year, but will never be a power hitter. He's not fast, nor especially rangy at second base, and needs to improve his footwork in the field. He's a very aggressive hitter who will need to develop a more prudent approach.
Ephemera: Lindsey hit .343 in 70 at-bats against left-handed pitching in 2011, but drew only one walk.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an offense-oriented second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He’ll have batting average and a bit of power.
Path to the Big Leagues: Lindsey will make his full-season debut at Low-A Cedar Rapids.
ETA: 2014

7. Garrett Richards, RHP
DOB: 5/27/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/215
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, University of Oklahoma
2011 Stats: 3.15 ERA (143-123-40-103) at Double-A (22 G); 5.79 ERA (14-16-7-9) at MLB (7 G)
Tools Profile: He has a plus fastball, but not much else.

Year in Review: Richards reached the majors in his second full season, but still shows more stuff than production.
The Good: Richards' best pitch is a heavy fastball that sits at 93-95 mph and touches 97. He's improved his command and control as a pro, and his combination of efficiency and size should allow him to handle a big-league workload. He'll flash a plus slider in the mid-80s, and has some feel for a changeup.
The Bad: Richards doesn't have a plus secondary pitch, which allows hitters to sit on the fastball and prevents him from racking up the kind of strikeout totals his velocity would suggest. He can overthrow both the slider and the changeup, and has a tendency to elevate his pitches—that led to four big-league homers in just 4 innings.
Ephemera: Richards struck out one-third (6 of 18) of the major-league batters he faced out of the Angels’ bullpen, but just three of the 39 he faced as a starting pitcher.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: He could be a late pick to get innings and not hurt the team.
Path to the Big Leagues: Richards will compete for the fifth-starter job this spring, but likely needs more seasoning at Triple-A Salt Lake.
ETA: Late 2012

8. Nick Maronde, LHP
DOB
: 9/5/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/205
Bats/Throws: S/L
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2011, University of Florida
2011 Stats: 2.14 ERA (46.1-36-15-50) at Rookie (11 G)
Tools Profile: He’s a pure power lefty.

Year in Review: This college reliever impressed as a starter in his pro debut.
The Good: Maronde's best pitch is a heavy low-90s sinker that can touch 94 and generates ground balls when it's not missing bats. His slider is a little soft in terms of velocity, but features excellent two-plane break.
The Bad: Maronde needs to deepen his arsenal to remain a starter. He has a changeup, but it's a fringy offering, and he needs to improve his pitch sequencing and get out of the short-burst mentality of relief work.
Ephemera: Maronde was a teammate of Twins outfielder Ben Revere at Lexington Catholic High School, where they won a Kentucky state title in 2006.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a third starter or a set-up man.
Fantasy Impact: Maronde will have little value as a reliever, so it will come down to his development.
Path to the Big Leagues: He'll remain a starter for now and could begin the year at Low-A to play in a friendlier environment.
ETA: 2014

9. Jeremy Moore, OF
DOB
: 6/29/87
Height/Weight: 6-1/190
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2005, North Caddo HS (LA)
2011 Stats: .298/.331/.545 at Triple-A (113 G); .125/.125/.125 at MLB (8 G)
Tools Profile: He has a little bit of everything.

Year in Review: Moore, a consistent, steady performer, put up the best numbers of his career at Triple-A and made his big-league debut.
The Good: Moore can do a little bit of everything. He's an impressive athlete with plenty of bat speed and nearly average power; he has reached double digits in triples in each of the last four seasons. He's an above-average runner who can steal bases, and a very good defensive outfielder in all three positions.
The Bad: Moore has always been an impatient hitter who gets into trouble when fed breaking balls early in the count. His arm is his lone below-average tool, but none of his tools are star-level, either.
Ephemera: In 34 first-inning plate appearances for Triple-A Salt Lake, Moore hit .452/.455/1.000 by going 14-for-31 with nine extra-base hits.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a second-division starter or an excellent fourth outfielder.
Fantasy Impact: As an everyday player, his fantasy value could be inflated due to his multi-category abilities.
Path to the Big Leagues: Moore's versatility, age, and upside could have him backing up all three outfield positions in the big leagues this season.
ETA: 2012

10. Ariel Pena, RHP
DOB
: 5/20/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/186
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007
2011 Stats: 4.45 ERA (151.2-154-81-180) at High-A (27 G); 2.25 ERA (4.0-7-4-3) at Triple-A (1 G)
Tools Profile: He has big stuff and big location issues.

Year in Review: This power arm finished second in the California League in strikeouts and walks.
The Good: Pena's stuff is hard to argue with. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s with movement, and his slider is a mid-80s wipeout pitch when it's on.
The Bad: Pena's unorthodox delivery is anything but pretty, and he has trouble commanding all of his pitches. His changeup is well below average, which makes putting left-handed hitters away difficult. Many project him as an average reliever because of the holes in his game.
Ephemera: Pena had as many or more strikeouts than innings pitched in 20 of his 27 California League starts, including an end-of-season run of 10 starts in a row.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a third starter, closer, or nothing if he can't throw more strikes.
Fantasy Impact: If he develops, he will be valuable in either role.
Path to the Big Leagues: Pena will move up to Double-A Arkansas in 2012 as a “boom or bust” candidate.
ETA: 2014

11. Fabio Martinez, RHP
DOB
: 10/29/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic
2011 Stats: 0.00 ERA (2.1-2-1-2) at Rookie (2 G)
Tools Profile: He throws hard. Very hard.

Year in Review: Martinez missed nearly the entire season with shoulder issues. He followed those up with a broken ankle.
The Good: When healthy and throwing strikes, Martinez is an unstoppable force. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, can touch 98, and has plenty of life. Some scouts have thrown plus-plus scores on his mid- to upper-80s wipeout slider.
The Bad: Martinez's 2010 season ended with shoulder problems, and combined with his max-effort delivery, his fate as a reliever is likely sealed. He’ll need to harness his stuff and throw more strikes to fit in the late innings; he's disturbingly wild at times.
Ephemera: Martinez is from San Cristobal, a town of nearly a quarter-million people on the southern coast of the Dominican Repthat is also the hometown of Angels starter Ervin Santana.
Perfect World Projection: He’s a closer.
Fantasy Impact: Saves are a good thing, but Martinez is some big refinements away from assuming any big-league role.
Path to the Big Leagues: A healthy Martinez could move quickly as a reliever, but for now he has an undetermined role at High-A in 2012.
ETA: 2014

The Sleeper: While he never lived up to expectations in college, 2011 sixth-round pick Austin Wood remains a physically imposing power right-hander who can touch the upper 90s.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/86 or later)
1. Mike Trout, OF
2. Peter Bourjos, OF
3. Jean Segura, SS/2B
4. Jordan Walden, RHP
5. John Hellweg, RHP
6. Hank Conger, C
7. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
8. C.J. Cron, 1B
9. Taylor Lindsey, 2B
10. Garrett Richards, RHP

There is no reason Bourjos can't repeat his 2011 performance, but it will take a much-improved approach at the plate for him to build on it. Walden only ranks fourth due to some inconsistency and the lower value of a player who throws 60 innings per year. Conger has been a big disappointment as an offense-oriented catcher with little offense. If he can't hit, he has little value.

Summary: The Angels were big players on the free-agent market this winter, and based on their system, they will need to continue that trend to compete. If Trout had lost his rookie eligibility, this would be a well below-average collection of minor-league talent.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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