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January 6, 2011

Future Shock

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System in 20 Words or Less: Good drafts in the last two years and a few explosions move the Angels system up in a big way.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Mike Trout, OF
2. Jean Segura, 2B
Four-Star Prospects
3. Jordan Walden, RHP
4. Hank Conger, C
5. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
Three-Star Prospects
6. Garrett Richards, RHP
7. Fabio Martinez, RHP
8. Mark Trumbo, 1B
9. Tyler Chatwood, RHP
10. Trevor Reckling, LHP
11. Randal Grichuk, OF

Nine More:
12. Chevez Clarke, OF: The 30
th overall pick in the draft is switch-hitter with power and speed who needs significant refinement.
13. Cam Bedrosian, RHP: Steve's son is a short right-hander with plus velocity, who needs to develop a complete arsenal.
14. Alexei Amarista, 2B: The tiny second baseman can hit (career average of .320), but he has limited secondary skills and positional flexibility.
15. Taylor Lindsey, 2B: A supplemental first-rounder who is known more for bat than all-around tools, but he could have power for a middle infielder.
16. Jeremy Moore, OF: He does many things well, but nothing at a star level; scouts would like him more if convinced he could stick in center.
17. Michael Kohn, RHP: The stocky reliever got to the big leagues with bat-missing stuff, but also strike zone-missing stuff.
18. Daniel Tillman, RHP: A Second-round pick who could move quickly as a fastball/slider reliever; his ceiling ends short of late innings.
19. Ryan Bolden, OF: The 40th overall pick has outstanding frame and tools, but is raw like sushi.
20. John Hellweg, RHP: This 6-foot-9 closer intimidated Midwest League hitters both with his big fastball and his inability to control it.

1. Mike Trout, OF
DOB
: 8/7/91
Height/Weight: 6-1/217
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Millville HS (NJ)
2010 Stats: .362/.454/.526 at Low-A (81 G); .306/.388/.434 at High-A (50 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/arm

Year in Review: Trout, a late first-round pick, built on an outstanding pro debut with an explosive season that put himself among the top prospects in the game.
The Good: Scouts get downright giddy when discussing Trout, as his combination of tools and baseball aptitude is nearly unheard of for a teenager. He has a big league-ready approach to go with outstanding hands and bat speed. He makes consistent, hard contact to all fields, and talent evaluators are universal in seeing average-to-plus power come out of his broad, athletic frame. He's an pure 80 runner who eats up ground in center field, and he adds fantastic makeup to the overall package, with one scout saying, “He does it all, and does it with a smile on his face... he just seems to love playing the game.”
The Bad: Trout's arm prevents him from being a five-tool player, though it's just a tick below average. There are fair concerns about him remaining a burner, as 220-pound 80 runners are unheard of, but he'll always be at least a plus to plus-plus runner.
Ephemera: Trout reached base at least once in 76 of his 81 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids and reached three times or more in nearly one-third (25) of those games.
Perfect World Projection: A better-hitting Grady Sizemore, hopefully without the injury issues.
Fantasy Impact: How many words for huge can I come up with? How about brobdingnagian?
Path to the Big Leagues: Trout will begin the 2011 season back in the California League, but should be in Double-A at some point during the year. It's easy to see him reaching the majors before his 21st birthday.
ETA: 2012.

2. Jean Segura, 2B
DOB
: 3/17/90
Height/Weight: 5-11/155
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .313/.365/.464 at Low-A (130 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/power

Year in Review: This Dominican infielder was in Trout's shadow during the first half of the year, but he assumed the title of Midwest League's most exciting player once Trout was promoted.
The Good: There simply are no weaknesses to Segura's game. He identifies pitches fairly well and has electrifying bat speed with surprising power for his size and a projection of 12-18 home runs annually once he matures. He's a 60-65 runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale and an outstanding baserunner who swiped 50 bases in 60 attempts last year. He has excellent defensive fundamentals and turns the double play well.
The Bad: Segura has no glaring holes in his game. He's aggressive early in the count, and could be even more effective by forcing pitcher's hands. While he hits right-handed, he takes a contact-oriented swing against left-handers and rarely drives balls versus southpaws.
Ephemera: Seguara's late-season explosion came once he took on the leadoff role that Trout vacated. In 54 games batting first, he hit .353/.402/.563.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a .300-hitting second baseman with 60 walks, 15 home runs, and 30 stolen bases per year.
Fantasy Impact: It's even more valuable than his fantastic real-life ability.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Angels drool over the thought of Trout and Segura batting 1-2 or 2-3 in their future lineup, but they will be patient. Segura will begin 2011 at their new High-A affiliate in Inland Empire, and there has been some talk of trying him at shortstop.
ETA: 2013.

3. Jordan Walden, RHP
DOB
: 11/16/87
Height/Weight: 6-5/240
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 12th round, 2006, Mansfield HS (TX)
2010 Stats: 3.35 ERA (43.0-44-22-38) at Double-A (38 G); 4.05 ERA (6.2-8-2-3) at Triple-A (6 G); 2.35 ERA (15.1-13-7-23) at MLB (16 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: This power righty returned from 2009 elbow troubles and succeeded in a new bullpen role, reaching the big leagues by the end of the season.
The Good: Walden is a big, intimidating presence on the mound who can flat-out bring the heat, sitting in the upper 90s with a fastball that frequently gets into the triple-digits. He'll flash a solid slider, and seemed to thrive under the pressure of the late innings.
The Bad: Walden is still not quite a finished product. His slider can lose vertical depth and flatten out over the plate; he has a tendency to overthrow the pitch, which causes it to lose spin. He has a history of arm troubles, and his power arsenal comes with effort-filled mechanics and corresponding control issues.
Ephemera: While ten 12th-round picks from the 2005 draft have reached the big leagues, Walden is the only 12th-rounder from 2006 forward to reach the majors.
Perfect World Projection: A shut-down closer.
Fantasy Impact: For 2011, maybe just good strikeouts (for a reliever).
Path to the Big Leagues: Walden is expected to break camp with the Angels and could assume closing duties by 2012.
ETA: 2011.

4. Hank Conger, C
DOB
: 1/29/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/220
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2006, Huntington Beach HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .300/.385/.463 at Triple-A (108 G); .172/.294/.276 at MLB (13 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/glove

Year in Review: Conger was a first-round pick in 2006, hit well in his first taste of Triple-A, and made his big-league debut in September.
The Good: Conger has the ability to be well-above average offensively for a catcher. He displays very good plate discipline and quick hands that go with a contact-focused swing to produce contact to all fields with gap-to-average power. He's an intelligent player with good instincts, and pitchers like throwing to him.
The Bad: Conger's defense has improved, but it's still below average. While scouts generally he can stay behind the plate, it's unlikely he'll ever be good with the glove, as his footwork and receiving skills still need work and his arm is average at best. He's quite bulky, even for a catcher, and a very slow runner.
Ephemera: Conger teamed with Nationals right-hander Colin Balester at Huntington Beach High, which has produced a number a famous athletes across various sports, including 10-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez and former UFC champion Tito Ortiz.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an offense-oriented catcher with production in all three triple-slash categories.
Fantasy Impact: Since fantasy doesn't care about defense, he'll be even better in the shadow game.
Path to the Big Leagues: This is where things get interesting, as manager Mike Scioscia leans on defense when evaluating catchers, as evidenced by how many at-bats he's given to Jeff Mathis. Combine that with a full depth chart, and he'll likely have a repeat of 2010, starting at Triple-A with a September call-up.
ETA: 2011.

5. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
DOB
: 6/2/92
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Cook HS (GA)
2010 Stats: .143/./136/.143 at Rookie complex (6 G); .400/.500/1.000 at Rookie Pioneer (1 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/run

Year in Review: The best two-way high school player in the draft had many teams favoring his pitching ability, but he wanted to play every day and signed at the deadline for $2.3 million
The Good: Cowart has considerable offensive upside, and the Angels think he could take a big step forward now that he's focusing solely on being a position player. He combines speed and strength to his swing and has plus or more raw power from both sides of the plate. He touched the mid-90s as a pitcher in high school, so his arm is a true weapon at third base. 
The Bad: Cowart is not the athlete one might expect from a player who had first-round potential as both a pitcher and as a position player. He's a 40-45 runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, and he needs to improve his footwork and consistency at the hot corner. There is a sizable trigger to his swing, which could disrupt his timing against pro pitching.
Ephemera: Cook High School is located in the small town of Adel, deep in southern Georgia and just a county away from the Florida border. The town's original name was Puddleville.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a star-level, power-hitting third baseman know far more for the bat than the glove.
Fantasy Impact: He was given money to hit home runs, and will likely be merely good in the average department with no stolen bases.
Path to the Big Leagues: Cowart is ready for a full-season assignment and will begin 2011 at Low-A Cedar Rapids.
ETA: 2015.

6. Garrett Richards, RHP
DOB
: 5/27/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2009, University of Oklahoma
2010 Stats: 3.41 ERA (108.1-92-34-108) at Low-A (19 G); 3.89 ERA (34.2-38-9-41) at High-A (7 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup

Year in Review: He's a supplemental first-round pick and was outstanding at times, but some of the questions that plagued him throughout college remain unanswered.
The Good: Richards' combination of a power frame and big stuff has always excited scouts. He pounds the lower half of the strike zone with a well-above average fastball that sits at 92-95 mph with heavy movement, and his slider is a two-plane breaker with heavy tilt. He throws more strikes that your average power lefty and is a strong competitor.
The Bad: Richards' inconsistency was baffling during his college career, and he still had some bouts with it as a pro, with occasional starts where he scuffled mechanically and got pounded. His changeup is a below-average pitch that he doesn't throw with confidence. His delivery is a bit stiff, but has smoothed out a bit since his days at Oklahoma.
Ephemera: Richards might want to work on his pre-game routine, as he had a first inning ERA of 5.88 but just 3.00 afterward.
Perfect World Projection: A solid third starter.
Fantasy Impact: It's not special, but he'll be a good starter with strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: Richards could begin 2011 as high as Double-A, depending on how he pitches in the spring.
ETA: 2012.

7. Fabio Martinez, RHP
DOB: 10/29/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 3.92 ERA (103.1-80-76-141) at Low-A (20 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: He's a pure power arm, but Martinez was a mixed bag during his full-season debut; he mixed dominating starts with ones where he couldn't overcome a tendency to walk the ballpark.
The Good: Martinez brings the heat, sitting in the mid-90s with a fastball that consistently touches 97-98 mph every time out. His slider is a wipeout pitch when he stays on top of it and, during games where he even has a modicum of control, he can be unhittable.
The Bad: The overwhelming majority of scouts see Martinez as a reliever down the road, as he has two plus, power pitches, a poor changeup, and a violent delivery that may have played a role in shoulder soreness that ended his 2010 season early. He loses the strike zone by over-throwing, and his release point wavers as well.
Ephemera: Martinez walked or struck out 48 percent of the batters he faced in 2010, with an extreme example coming on May 10, when he walked five and struck out 10 over four innings, while facing only 21 batters.
Perfect World Projection: He'll most likely be a late-innings power reliever, but there's an outside shot at him being in the rotation.
Fantasy Impact: He'll rack up plenty of strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Angels are holding out hope for Martinez's ability to remain a starter, and he'll join the High-A rotation in 2011.
ETA: 2014.

8. Mark Trumbo, 1B
DOB
: 1/16/86
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 18th round, 2004, Villa Park HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .301/.368/.577 at Triple-A (139 G); .067/.125/.067 at MLB (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: The slugging first baseman tied for the minor-league lead with 36 home runs.
The Good: With plus-plus raw power, Trumbo is the biggest home-run threat in the system, and is capable of moon shots when he fully barrels a ball up. A career .294 hitter at the upper levels, he's also a fundamentally sound hitter who knows how to use his hands and go the other way. He's been slow to develop, but gets high grades for his work ethic and makeup.
The Bad: Trumbo's value lies solely in his bat. He's a slow runner and a below average defensively at both first base and in the outfield. He's an aggressive hitter who looks to drive fastballs early in the count and could benefit from a more patient approach.
Ephemera: Villa Park's most famous baseball alumni is Aaron Boone, but its most well-known graduate across the board is actor Kevin Costner.
Perfect World Projection: Power hitter.
Fantasy Impact: Home runs, but not much else.
Path to the Big Leagues: Like Conger, Trumbo is blocked on the depth chart, but has a shot at earning a bench job in the big leagues that gets him at-bats at first base, the corner outfield spots, and DH. If the Angels want him to play more consistently, he's heading back to Triple-A.
ETA: 2011.

9. Tyler Chatwood, RHP
DOB
: 12/16/89
Height/Weight: 6-0/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2008, Redlands East Valley HS (CA)
2010 Stats: 1.77 ERA (81.1-71-36-70) at High-A (14 G); 3.82 ERA (68.1-72-27-36) at Double-A (12 G); 6.35 ERA (5.2-9-0-3) at Triple-A (1 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: The second-round pick cruised through the California League, but stumbled a bit after a move up to Double-A.
The Good: Chatwood has two above-average fastballs with a 89-92 mph sinker and four-seam heater he can bump up to 95. He has an average-to-plus curveball that he'll throw at any point in the count, and a changeup that flashes average.
The Bad: Chatwood is generally thought to be under his listed height of six foot and has little physical projection remaining. The lack of angle on his fastball, as well as a lack of movement, makes it less effective than his velocity would suggest, and he had significant trouble missing bats in the Texas League. He has a tendency to tip his changeup with visibly slower arm action. While he's made progress in his command and control, it remains a troubling issue that often leaves him behind in the count.
Ephemera: On a baseball level, Redlands East Valley also produced Tommy Hanson and 2010 Toronto second-round pick Griffin Murphy, as well as US soccer star Landon Donovan.
Perfect World Projection: A third or fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: Usable starter, but nothing special.
Path to the Big Leagues: Chatwood still has to prove himself at the upper levels, but could begin 2011 as high as Triple-A.
ETA: 2012.

10. Trevor Reckling, LHP
DOB
: 5/22/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/205
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Eighth round, 2007, St. Benedict's Prep HS (NJ)
2010 Stats: 4.56 ERA (79.0-74-35-62) at Double-A (14 G); 8.53 (69.2-99-50-46) at Triple-A (14 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Changeup/control

Year in Review: The top lefty in the Angels' system got blasted at Triple-A before turning things around a bit following a demotion.
The Good: Recking is an athletic lefty with two plus secondary pitches. His changeup features good fade and arm-side deception, while his low-80s curveball is a highly effective offering with plenty of spin and break. While he's not a power arm, his fastball features average velocity at 89-91 mph.
The Bad: Reverse pitchers (with better secondary pitches than fastball) need above-average command and control to succeed, and Reckling's falls below average on the scouting scale. When he falls behind in the count, he's forced to throws his fastball, which makes him quite hittable.
Ephemera: Batters leading off an inning against Reckling at Triple-A had a .507 on-base percentage, going 21-for-58 with 13 walks and four hit by pitches.
Perfect World Projection: A third or fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: Nothing of note until he starts throwing more strikes.
Path to the Big Leagues: The good news is that Reckling was always young for his level, and he'll still be that as a 21-year-old returning to Triple-A to begin the year.
ETA: 2012.

11. Randal Grichuk, OF
DOB
: 8/13/91
Height/Weight: 6-1/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Lamar Consolidated HS (TX)
2010 Stats: .327/.365/.714 at Rookie (15 G); .292/.327/.530 at Low-A (52 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: Drafted one pick before Trout in 2010, Grichuk showed impressive power in an injury-plagued year.
The Good: While small for a power hitter, Grichuk has plenty of juice in his bat thanks to excellent bat speed, strong wrists, and a leverage-filled swing. While the power is his best tool, he also has a solid all-around package of tools with solid defense, an average arm, and speed that is average from first to third once he gets going.
The Bad: Grichuk needs to hone his approach. He's drawn just 21 walks in 487 at-bats, and his swing-and-everything approach will surely get exposed at the upper-levels. While he has some tools and athleticism, they're not up-the-middle quality, so his future value lies overwhelmingly in his bat.
Ephemera: Despite being a high pick, Rondell White (1990) is the only player selected with that pick to hit more than 50 big-league home runs (he finished his career with 198).
Perfect World Projection: A good-not-great everyday corner outfielder.
Fantasy Impact: Nothing special, but some average and some power.
Path to the Big Leagues: Grichuk needs at-bats to work on his pitch recognition, and the Angels may have him start the year by returning to Low-A to find consistent success.
ETA: 2014.

The Sleeper: A 12th-round pick in 2009, center fielder Travis Witherspoon hit .309/.365/.472 at Orem in 2010 and went a perfect 20-for-20 in the stolen-base department. He's an enticing power/speed package, but needs to hone his approach and cut down on his strikeouts.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Mike Trout, OF
2. Jean Segura, 2B
3. Jordan Walden, RHP
4. Peter Bourjos, OF
5. Hank Conger, C
6. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
7. Garrett Richards, RHP
8. Fabio Martinez, RHP
9. Mark Trumbo, 1B
10. Tyler Chatwood, RHP

Bourjos is a burner with outstanding center-field defense, but his 51-game big-league debut left plenty of questions about his offense. He has hitting skills, but his lack of plate discipline allowed big-league pitchers to tear him apart. As a fringy fifth starter and/or reliever, in the end, I decided I'd rather have Chatwood over Trevor Bell.

Summary: Mike Trout alone is almost enough to make the Angels a good system, but with plenty of power arms to join high-ceiling hitters, they frankly surprised me with a system that will easily rank among the top 10.

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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