Los Angeles Angels' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2014

Los Angeles Angels' Top 10 Prospects for 2014

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Years of spending money and punting draft picks have left the Los Angeles Angels in a lurch. They still have the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, but haven't been able to surround him with the talent necessary to compete in October. 

    High-profile signings like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have battled age and injuries. The pitching staff is a mess. Help from the farm system has been sparse, which is a trend that figures to continue for the next few years. 

    To their credit, the Angels did add young, cost-effective pitching talent through trades this winter. Tyler Skaggs, who was originally drafted by Los Angeles in 2009, returns to the organization in a three-team deal with Arizona and Chicago. Hector Santiago also came over in that deal after a solid season with the White Sox

    Knowing that they had to address their pitching and not having money to spend on free agents, the Angels dealt a big piece of their lineup, Mark Trumbo, to land Skaggs and Santiago.

    This franchise doesn't have the impact talent or depth to withstand injuries to starters, so it is imperative that players like Pujols, Hamilton and C.J. Wilson play up to their full potential if they want to compete in a loaded American League West. 

    Now that I have painted a very grim picture of the immediate future, here are the top 10 prospects for the Los Angeles Angels heading into the 2014 season. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted. Scouting reports and rankings are based on personal evaluations/opinions. 

No. 10 Austin Wood, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 07/11/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 225 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Sixth round, 2011 (USC)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Exciting, volatile arm; has elite fastball velocity; heater gets hit due to lack of movement; breaking ball flashes plus; slider will show extreme tilt with high projection; not feeling confidence in changeup; consistency lags behind. 

    No command or control; will throw instead of pitch; can't find release point from pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat; ideal body for power pitcher; could handle big workload, but lack of strike-throwing ability makes it impossible to project him as starter. 

     

    Projection: Low-leverage reliever

    Risk: High

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

No. 9 Mark Sappington, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/17/1990 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 209 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Fifth round, 2012 (Rockhurst College)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Excellent size and delivery; straight over the top arm action; gets tons of downhill plane on fastball; high ground-ball rates in minors; slider has good snap but lacks consistency from inning to inning; doesn't show good feel for changeup. 

    Limited experience against quality competition and below-average command prevent higher ceiling; could be fastball-slider reliever; changeup has to advance to become mid-rotation starter. 

     

    Projection: No. 4 starter

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

No. 8 Zach Borenstein, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 07/23/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 205 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: 23rd round, 2011 (Eastern Illinois)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Excellent feel for hitting; has beaten up on younger competition throughout career; don't undersell ability to put bat to ball; simple, quiet swing mechanics; quick, direct path through zone; average raw power; aggressive style but doesn't strike out much; will get caught in front of off-speed stuff. 

    Below-average defensive profile; fringe-average foot speed; limited range; below-average arm strength; instincts in the field are lacking; will let ball play him instead of vice versa; bat is only carrying tool. 

     

    Projection: Second-division regular

    Risk: High

    Video via Josh Borenstein

No. 7 Jose Rondon, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 03/03/1994 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 160 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: January 2011 (Venezuela)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Highest ceiling in system; volatile projection with only rookie-ball experience; should get first taste of full season in 2014; room to fill out frame; excellent feel for hitting at young age; slaps line drives all over the field; could grow into average power; short path to the ball; relies more on hands than lower half to drive ball. 

    Good actions at shortstop; doesn't have elite arm strength but can make throws from deep in hole; footwork and instincts are excellent for 19-year-old; projects as solid-average defender; could be highest riser in system by season's end. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: Extreme

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

No. 6 C.J. Cron, 1B

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    Position: 1B

    DOB: 01/05/1990 (Age: 24)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 235 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2011 (Utah)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats 

     

    Scouting Report

    One-dimensional first baseman; big time raw power; hasn't adapted to professional game; sells out too often for power; doesn't have any kind of approach; can crush average velocity, but anything harder or off-speed causes problems. 

    Still cracked 51 extra-base hits at Double-A despite limited hitting prowess; heavy feet with no speed; first base/DH-only prospect; bat has to take leap to be MLB starter. 

     

    Projection: Second-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Mike Rosenbaum

No. 5 Alex Yarbrough, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 08/03/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 180 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2012 (Mississippi)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Limited profile doesn't cause excitement but makes great use of present tools; aggressive swinger; will get caught on his front foot a lot; controls bat very well; underrated power profile; able to wait back and drive ball with quiet swing; has to take pitches to tap into power.

    Fringe-average defender; not much agility or lateral quickness; can make routine plays but won't cover much ground; arm strength is fringy, which is good enough for second base; developing approach will determine future role.

     

    Projection: Second-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via RCQuakesFan

No. 4 Hunter Green, RHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 07/12/1995 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 175 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Warren East HS, KY)

    ETA: 2017

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Highest ceiling starter in system; struggled in limited professional debut; present stuff and projection are exciting; big-body left-hander who will add velocity as frame fills out; fastball sits in low 90s at present; off-speed stuff is inconsistent; changeup flashes average. 

    Doesn't make good use of size; works from three-quarters arm angle, limiting fastball plane but creating some movement; curveball is slow and gets too loopy; control is below average, command is non-existent; age and upside are exciting but still light years away. 

     

    Projection: No. 3 starter

    Risk: Extreme

    Video via Baseball Factory TV

No. 3 R.J. Alvarez, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 06/08/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 pounds

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Third round, 2012 (Florida Atlantic)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Undersized right-hander uses deception to get hitters out; plus fastball velocity with some movement; pitches very low to the ground; comes from three-quarters angle to get wiggle; gets around on slider too often, but pitch has good, hard snap at times. 

    Arm action and limited command profile limit upside; has velocity and two pitches necessary to star in back of bullpen; should move quickly but has to throw more strikes; potential closer with some adjustments. 

     

    Projection: High-leverage reliever

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via MLB Advanced Media

No. 2 Kaleb Cowart, 3B

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 06/02/1992 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: First round, 2010 (Cook HS, GA)

    ETA: 2015

     

    Scouting Report

    High-ceiling third baseman was overmatched in Double-A; very young for level, so don't get too discouraged; best projection in system; better swing from right side, with more power from left; drives well to the ball; huge load limits contact and average projection; pitch recognition still a work in progress. 

    Plus defensive profile; plus arm strength, will make throws across diamond look easy; improved footwork and lateral quickness; excellent agility and above-average speed; could steal 15 bases at peak; best projection in system. 

     

    Projection: First-divison regular

    Risk: High

    Video via Steve Fiorindo, Bullpen Banter

No. 1 Taylor Lindsey, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 12/02/1991 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 195 pounds

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted: First round, 2010 (Desert Mountain HS, AZ)

    ETA: 2014 

     

    2013 Stats

     

    Scouting Report

    Solid hitter who performs at every level; lacks impact upside but proven himself to be adept hitter; won't hit for power; low-hand position and big load limit pop; controls bat through the zone; makes consistent, solid contact; uses all-fields approach; will struggle to hit velocity, especially on inner half. 

    Fringy defender at second base; below-average arm strength; limited range; decent footwork and instincts; below-average foot speed; will have to hit a ton to be average MLB starter. 

     

    Projection: First-division regular

    Risk: Moderate

    Video via Mike Rosenbaum 

     

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