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Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Los Angeles Angels' Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 16, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Los Angeles Angels' Farm System

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    As was the case with Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals last season, the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system became significantly weaker upon Mike Trout's graduation to the major leagues. Their system took another big hit when general manager Jerry Dipoto tapped into his prospect pool and traded shortstop Jean Segura, as well as right-handers Ariel Pena and John Hellweg, to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Zack Greinke.

    Furthermore, the Angels didn’t make their first pick in the 2012 draft until the third round. Their offseason signing of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson cost the organization their first and second-round picks. Considering all of aforementioned factors, it should come as no surprise that the Angels now boast one of the worst and more barren systems in the game.

    The lone standout is their top prospect, third baseman Kaleb Cowart, who made impressive strides while reaching High-A Inland Empire in his full-season debut. After Cowart, however, the system thins out in a hurry. They do have some intriguing high-upside but raw arms in Mike Celvinger and Austin Wood, as well as two infielders with a projectable hit tool in second basemen Taylor Lindsey and Alex Yarbrough. Their lone power-hitting prospect, first baseman C.J. Cron, could be a big-time run producer, but he’ll have to stay healthy and prove himself at higher levels.

    Luckily, the Angels have a monster payroll and one of the best assemblages of major league talent in the game. However, don’t expect any of their top prospects, except for possibly Nick Maronde (as a reliever), to make an impact until the 2014 season.

10. 2B Alex Yabrough

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 8/3/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 180

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2012 (Mississippi)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: The Angels had to wait until the fourth round to draft their first position player and selected an advanced switch hitter in Yarbrough; assigned to Low-A Cedar Rapids after signing, where he batted .287/.320/.419 with 12 doubles, nine triples and 20/10 K/BB in 58 games; received late-season promotion to Double-A Arkansas and collected two hits in 18 plate appearances.

    Advanced from both sides of the plate; college experience most evident in his plate discipline and ability to control the strike zone; consistent approach; pure hitter with a line-drive swing; adept to using the whole field from both sides of the plate; bat speed is only average, but he’ll keep the head in the zone for an extended period of time; doubtful that he’ll ever hit for more than modest gap power.

    Decent athlete who will likely be limited to second base due to lack of speed and range; arm strength is average while his hands are soft and release fluid; won’t impress with range but is a reliable overall defensive second baseman; could move quickly if he continues to hit and develops better on-base skills.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Inland Empire

9. RHP R.J. Alvarez

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 6/8/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Florida Atlantic)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: The Angels made Alvarez their top draft pick in 2012, though they had to wait until the third round; emerged as one of the top relievers in the nation as a junior at Florida Atlantic; turned in strong pro debut for Low-A Cedar Rapids after signing, registering a 3.29 ERA and .212 BAA with 38/11 K/BB in 23 games.

    Undersized right-hander at 6’1”, but features electric stuff; lightning-quick arm generates a fastball that consistently sits in the high-90s; flirts with triple-digits; slider is a second plus pitch that’s thrown in the mid-80s and dives out of the zone; changeup is fringy but he doesn’t need it anyway; command may never be great due to his deceptive, cross-body delivery, so he’ll have to bank of generating plenty of swing-and-misses.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Inland Empire

8. RHP Mark Sappington

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/17/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 209

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2012 (Rockhurst, Mo.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’5”, 209-pound right-hander has a physical frame and power arsenal; flew under the radar last spring as a junior at Rockhurst College in Missouri; jerky mechanics that involve too much effort; lots of limbs in his delivery creates deception but also impedes his ability to throw strikes; lacks stamina for a pitcher his size and will need to steadily improve his workload.

    Throws a weighted fastball on solid downward plane; fastball registers in the mid-90s, though his velocity will tail off deeper into starts; generates a healthy mixture of whiffs and groundballs; slider projects to be a second plus pitch, though he struggles to command it given his arm action; changeup is solid, though he didn’t use it a lot in college; entire arsenal needs refinement once his mechanics are smoothed out.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Cedar Rapids

7. OF Randal Grichuk

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 8/13/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (Lamar Consolidated HS, Texas)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Hasn’t developed like the player the Angels drafted one spot after him, Mike Trout; never played in more than 64 games in a season until 2012; multiple hand injuries in 2010, injured both knees in 2011; enjoyed healthy breakout season of .298/.335/.488 with 16 home runs and 18 stolen bases at High-A Inland Empire.

    Grichuk possesses above-average bat speed and raw power thanks to quick-twitch wrists and wiry strength; simplified his swing last season, but it still has too much wasted movement; frequently bars his front arm, which leads to a problematic bat wrap; pulls off too many pitches as a result; solid bat-to-ball skills that should improve following swing adjustments; his pitch recognition skills are solid, though his feel for the strike zone is still raw and he chases too many pitches.

    Had the speed to play center field when drafted, but has lost a few steps since then; capable of double-digit stolen bases, but he’s not an efficient basestealer; strong arm leads to clean projection as a right fielder; he may be challenged next season at Double-A Arkansas.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Arkansas

6. RHP Austin Wood

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/11/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2011 (USC)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Has shown tremendous upside since high school; bounced between three different colleges and struggled at each one; epitome of a guy with frontline stuff, but no idea how to harness it or execute his pitches; walked 72 batters in 128 last innings in full-season debut for Low-A Cedar Rapids.

    6’4”, 225-pound right-hander has a physical frame and is an imposing presence on the mound; plus fastball that usually sits in the mid-90s, but has been as high as 98-99 mph on occasion; struggles to throw the pitch for a strike especially early in the count; doesn’t finish delivery and leaves it up in the zone frequently; makes his secondary offerings less effective; throws slider in mid-80s with wipeout break; present changeup is extremely raw; mechanics tend to be sloppy and he struggles to repeat them; if he can both refine his command and revive his changeup.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Inland Empire

5. 2B Taylor Lindsey

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 12/2/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’0", 195

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Desert Mountain HS, Ariz.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Lindsey was the 2011 Pioneer League MVP after batting .362/.394/.593 with 43 extra-base hits in 63 games; Angels handed him aggressive promotion to High-A Inland Empire for full-season debut in 2012; twenty-year-old was challenged at times, but showed ability to make adjustments.

    The left-handed hitter’s strongest attributes are his excellent hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills; lots of contact with a handsy swing; sets up with his hands low around torso only to elevate them as part of his complicated timing mechanism; may be something that’s jettisoned in future seasons; plenty of gap power with the ability to barrel the ball to all fields; doesn’t project for any power in the major leagues.

    Doesn’t run well relative to playing an up-the-middle position; future as a big leaguer depends on his ability to stick at second base; both range and arm are fringy, but glove is solid; his turns were noticeably better this past season, as well.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Arkansas

4. RHP Mike Clevinger

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/21/1990 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 217

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2011 (Seminole State JuCo, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: The 6’4” right-hander pitched well to begin full-season debut in 2012; made only eight starts before injuring his elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery; doubtful that he’ll return until mid-2013 at the earliest.

    Big, sturdy right-hander employs deceptive delivery with a mid-to-high three-quarters arm slot; mechanics give the impression of high effort; arm action adds late life to his low-90s fastball; advanced arsenal comprised of three pitches that are at least average across the board; throws a heavy slider that has nice depth; solid fading action on the changeup given his release point; curveball is fringy pitch that varies in shape; has mid-rotation starter arsenal, but will be behind the curve following the injury.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Cedar Rapids (when healthy)

3. 1B C.J. Cron

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 1/5/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 235

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Utah)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Top power hitter in the 2011 draft proved that it would translate as professional with a big full-season debut; played the entire season with a torn labrum in throwing shoulder; limited to first base defensively and will have to work to keep his weight down.

    Bat-first prospect capable of consistently producing runs; tons of raw power from the right side and drives the ball with backspin carry; hands can be slow at times and he’ll be tardy on good velocity; punishes mistakes; excessive contact is a detriment and he needs to draw more walks; fringy defensive first baseman with slow feet who will need to stay healthy and somewhat agile.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Arkansas

2. LHP Nick Maronde

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 9/5/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 205

    Bats/Throws: S/L

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2011 (Florida)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’3” left-hander enjoyed a rapid ascent to the major leagues in his full-season debut; worked exclusively as a starter before the Angels used him in relief in September; posted a 1.82 ERA at High-A Inland Empire and 3.34 ERA at Double-A Arkansas; allowed one run and fanned seven batters over six innings out of Angels bullpen.

    Maronde is an effective strike-thrower with a fastball works in the low-90s and occasionally touches 94-95 mph; throws the pitch with conviction to both sides of the plate, to both right- and left-handed hitters; deceptive release and velocity induces swing-and-misses; low-80s slider is a solid out pitch with depth, and is especially effective against left-handed hitters; changeup is fringy and will determine whether his development progresses as a starter or reliever.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB (reliever); Double-A (starter)

1. 3B Kaleb Cowart

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 6/2/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Cook HS, Ga.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Cowart improved as much as any prospect last season, posting an .827 OPS in 66 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids before midseason promotion to High-A Inland Empire. He emerged as one of the more intriguing third base prospects in the game and showed significant progress in all facets of the game.

    6’3” switch hitter has excellent bat speed from both sides of the plate; left-handed swing developed in a big way last season; showcases plus raw power; natural right-handed swing is more consistent and direct to the ball; plate discipline was vastly improved last season and gives him a chance to hit for average at higher levels; approach was more consistent and sustained over the course of the season.

    Excellent athlete who received heavy consideration as a pitcher due to his mid-90s heat off the mound as an amateur; good reactions and actions at the hot corner; impressive range and focus; arm stroke has some length, but he compensates with some velocity across the diamond. Cowart adjusted favorably to both new levels (Low and High-A) in his full-season debut, so it may be worth challenging him at Double-A Arkansas. However, it’s more likely that he opens the year back at High-A.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Inland Empire

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