Los Angeles Angels: 10 Prospects Who Deserve a Shot This Spring
Spring training is not only a way for established major-leaguers to get back into the groove of baseball—it can be an opportunity for those who are looking to break out of the minor leagues and get closer to "the show."
Here are 10 players they shouldn't overlook when filling out those lineup cards.
Jeremy Moore is an outfielder who actually spent eight games with the Angels at the big-league level in 2011.
He's got power, speed, a good glove—a skill set that translates to a lot of future success. He's just missing one all-important thing.
Moore struggles mightily with plate discipline. He accumulated 114 strikeouts in 426 at-bats and only had 21 walks with Triple-A Salt Lake last year. Getting the experience of playing in spring games with guys like Albert Pujols there to help him out could provide a great benefit.
All indications are that Moore would be worth the investment, too. Even with all of the strikeouts, he he hit .298 with 15 home runs and 18 triples for the Bees last year.
Oh yeah, he also had 21 steals.
There is a lot of potential stacked up in Daniel Tillman, a relief pitcher out of Florida Southern. He throws hard and had a 2.04 ERA in 36 games in the Midwest League last season.
Tillman doesn't look to have the stuff of a future closer, but he deserves a chance in spring training. So far he has gotten it, pitching in two games already. He has allowed two hits, but no runs and no walks.
Mike Scioscia has spread around the innings a lot so far this spring, so it isn't unreasonable to think that Tillman won't find himself on the Tempe Diablo Stadium mound again soon.
Third baseman Luis Jimenez is a doubles machine who played in the All-Star Futures game in 2010.
His strengths include a good glove and a low strikeout rate. He struck out only 72 times in almost 500 at-bats hitting for Double-A Little Rock in 2011.
Jimenez also had 18 home runs and 94 RBIs last year and already has a home run for the Angels this spring. He is certainly getting some well-deserved playing time in the Cactus League.
Ariel Pena is one of those guys that is great when he finds the strike zone. He stuck out 180 batters in 151.2 innings as a starter for Double-A Inland Empire, but also walked 81 guys.
Despite being a strikeout pitcher, he had trouble getting out of jams, as he racked up a 4.45 ERA while only giving up 10 home runs all season.
If Pena reaches his potential, he could be a back-end starter or maybe even a closer. So far this spring, he has pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit, walking two and striking out two.
Fresh out of Florida, Nick Maronde has had minimal professional experience but has the potential to be a No. 2 starter in any rotation.
In eleven games at Rookie-league Orem last year, Maronde went 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA as a starter. Thus far in spring, he hasn't officially pitched any innings because he didn't get any outs, but he did face three batters and gave up one run.
Maronde won't be seeing the big leagues for a while, but it would be nice to give him another chance so that he can get an ERA that isn't the mathematical equivalent of infinity.
The Angels' first pick in the 2011 draft dominated rookie ball with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs in 34 games. Before he could finish the season, however, the first baseman dislocated his kneecap and had to get surgery.
How far along the rehab path he is at this point is unknown, but as early as January it appeared that he would be ready to go by spring. However, he hasn't played in any of the Angels' spring games thus far.
Blessed with great power, it would be interesting to see what Cron could do against tougher pitching. It's also important to know where he's at in the recovery process.
Another 2011 rookie-leaguer, 19-year old Kaleb Cowart is ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the Angels organization. Baseball America projects that he will be the Angels' starting third baseman by 2015.
Cowart is still at least those three years away from the show, however, as he compiled just a .283 batting average in rookie ball last year. That isn't what you're looking for out of your future starting third baseman.
The 2010 top draft pick of the Angels deserves his shot, though, and he should get it. Through the beginning of spring training, Cowart has appeared in one game and struck out in his only at-bat. More chances will certainly come along as we near the end of March.
Johnny Hellweg finally hit his stride when he transitioned from the bullpen to a starting role.
As a reliever, Hellweg averaged over a walk per inning, but something clicked once he joined the rotation at Double-A Inland Empire and cut that average in half. He obviously still needs work, but as a guy with a fastball that will touch the high 90s on the radar gun, Hellweg could be the real deal.
In two innings this spring training, control has still been an issue, however, as he has already walked three batters. The Angels will certainly want to see more of what he's capable—that should be enough to get him more innings before the conclusion of spring training.
Second baseman Taylor Lindsey is a hit machine, as evidenced by his five hits in seven at-bats for the Angels this spring. One of those hits was a double and another was a triple, so we know he doesn't just get lucky on ground balls.
Lindsey hit .362 at rookie-ball Orem in 2011 and was named the Pioneer League MVP. His performance in spring training thus far should prove that his 2011 numbers weren't just a result of facing easy pitching.
The Angels' second baseman of the future and his current .714 average deserve many more plate appearances before he starts the season back in the minors. A midseason call-up isn't out of the question either, if he continues to be a force at the plate.
Jean Segura was signed by the Angels as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2007 and he has wasted no time climbing prospect rankings.
The highest-ranked prospect yet to see time in the big leagues, Segura is making the most of his spring. Thus far, he is 5-for-9 and has three RBIs.
Like Taylor Lindsey, Segura should be given every chance possible to show what he can do. Once again, a midseason call-up isn't out of the question.