Let me start off this Top Ten list like I start off every Top Ten list I've done so far by stating that I am not an Angels fan. I'm actually a Phillies fan, but im trying to better learn everyone's minor league system and I decided to try and make Top Ten prospects lists for each team. I've done Oakland, Houston, the D-Backs, and now on to the Angels. What I learned was that their AA team (The Arkansas Travelers) has a ton of top-notch talent that should be making an impact in the league soon. They also did an amazing scouting job in this past year's draft.
I would like to ask that if I got something wrong or forgot someone that you think should have been on the list, PLEASE say something. Angels fans know their team better than I do so I want to hear what I got wrong. I now present to you the LA Angels Top Ten Prospects.....from a Phillies Fan:
I) Trevor Reckling—LHP (Will turn 21 in May)
"Special" is the best word I would use to describe Trevor Reckling. "Future Ace" are other fitting words. There are about a billion more compliments/nicknames you can give him, and the Angels No. 1 prospect is a description he will be hearing a lot this year. At the ripe age of 20 (one of the youngest players in the Texas League), he made AA hitters look silly with a devastating curveball that’s been compared to Barry Zito's (Oakland Barry Zito not San Francisco Barry Zito). With only three games in high-A Rancho Cucamonga, he basically spent the entire season with the Travelers. His Stats from AA were: 8-7, 2.93 ERA, 106 K, 4 HR in 135.1 IP. His three games in Rancho were impressive seeing Reckling go 1-2 with a .95 ERA. In 19 IP he had 16 K and let up 2 HR.
COMBINED STATS: 9-9 record with a 2.68 ERA. 122 K in 154.1 IP. He let up 6 HR but walked 78. His 2.68 ERA was best among all of the Angels pitchers in their minor league system. His 122 K rank second among those same prospects. He will really need to lower the number of walks he is allowing. At the next level he’s not going to be able to get by giving up that many free passes. What helps Reckling on the other hand is his avoidance of the long ball. Six HR given up the entire season is something to tip your cap too. Fact is, he’s going to be 20 when the season starts and if I were the Angels, I would start him in Arkansas again. While his ERA was amazing, hitters were batting .244 off of him in AA. I think he could use some more seasoning in the minors, and at the age of 20 that never hurts especially when the kid is at AA.
II) Randal Grichuck-OF (Will turn 19 in August)
OK, so here is my Randal Grichuk story. I’m sure by now you have heard of catching phenom Bryce Harper. He is the consensus No. 1 draft pick for the upcoming draft and has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In that same SI piece they mentioned that Harper went down to Tampa for a home run derby for high school kids. They said that he was the only one to hit an opposite field home run for the tournament and yada yada yada. Well, I checked the video out, and, while I absolutely hate Harper's swing (it's awkward as hell), I noticed something.
In the video they show all the kids who made it into the finals. Most of these kids are huge but there was one kid who was much skinner then the rest. I paused the video to get his name and look up his Youtube video from the same tournament. His name was Randal Grichuk. Upon watching this video I was in awe of his swing. I told friends and family about the most beautiful swing I’ve ever seen. I am not lying when I say Grichuk may have the best swing I’ve ever seen. It's flawless, flat-out flawless. His bat speed was incredible, and it got me asking around about who this kid was (e-mailing some beat writers and what not) in my mind I thought, "This is what Rocco Baldelli should have been....Maybe a Grady Sizemore type". Well he certainly didn’t disappoint.
After being the Angels top pick in the 2009 draft (24th overall) he was placed in the Arizona League for rookies. He quickly became the Arizona League Angels best player. Grichuk finished his first professional season hitting .322 with 4 HR, 53 RBI, 6 SB, and a .903 OPS. That was all in 236 AB. His .322 average was best on that team along with his 7 HR, 53 RBI and 130 TB. That .322 average was also 4th best among all Angel’s minor leaguers. His .551 SLG % is also ranked 4th among Angels Rookies. This kid is exactly what I thought he would be when I watched that YouTube video back in May.
III) Hank Conger-C (Will be 22 at the start of the season)
Recklings battery mate from Arkansas makes an appearence on the list as AA catcher Hank Conger grabs the #3 spot. Halo's fans have long awaited Congers emergence as a top prospect ever since he was drafted (2006 MLB Draft 24th overall) In 2008 he showed great strides in the California League hitting .303/13/75 and those are the reasons why in 2009 he was called up to AA. He didnt really seem to miss a beat
2009 season went swimingly for Conger who at the age of 21 found himself with a stat line that read as such: .294/11/68. Pretty good considering this is his first year in AA. He was a Texas League All Star this past season and is one of the brighter prospects the Angels have. Its hard to find a good hitting catcher so he might become a hot commodity come trade deadline time.
IV) Trevor Bell-RHP (Will Be 23 in the 2009 campaign)
Trevor Bell was one of the more consistent pitchers in the Angels farm system last year yet i dont really hear a lot about him. He truly seems to be, at least to me, one that has slipped through the cracks. But he did play at three different levels this season including the majors and favored well at his first two stops to start the season. The former first round pick started out the 2009 season with the AA Arkansas Travelers and in 11 games there he had an ERA of 2.23, a 4-3 record, 51 K-20 BB, and an opponents BA of 2.12. He did all of this in 68.2 IP. He also only let up 1 HR in those 11 games.
The front office felt that AA was no longer a challenge and moved him to Salt Lake (AAA) and there he pitched well: 3.15 ERA, 3-4 record, 38 K-15 BB, opponents did however hit .250 off of him though. He did all of this in 11 games or 71.1 IP (whichever you prefer) He then got the call to the show and got rocked (9.74 ERA in 8 games 4 starts)
COMBINED 2009 STATS: 2.70 ERA, with a 7-7 record, in 140 IP he had 89 K-35 BB and opponents had a .231 BA off of him. His 2.70 ERA was good for No. 2 in that catagorie for all Angels prospects.
Bell seems like a guy whos not going to WOW you with his stuff but could make an impact. He appears like hes could be a decent #4 or 5 pitcher in the majors. I do however think that he needs more work in the PCL (AAA) but i fully expect that he would be the first one called upon if an injury to a SP happens for the big club.
V) Peter Bourjos-OF (Will be 23 at the start of the season)
Said to be one of the Angels fastest base runners and proved his supporters right once again in '09. Bourjos played the entire 2009 season with AA Arkansas Travelers. There he had a decent season with a stat line that read as such: .281/6/51 along with his 32 SB.
I couldn’t find out for sure, but I would assume he hit leadoff for Arkansas as it would make sense with the 72 runs he scored (best on the team). Kid's fast and a decent hitter for average. Right now just looking at numbers I would say he projects as a No. 2 hitter but not lead-off. He doesn’t draw enough walks for the lead-off spot in the big leagues. His speed will most likely earn him a September call up this year.
VI) Mike Trout-OF (Will turn 19 in August)
Taken right after Grichuk (25th overall) in last June's draft Trout played about as well as Grichuk. He was placed on the same team as Grichuk (AZL), and for the Angels he hit .360/1/25 along with 13 SB and only 2 CS. He also had a nice .925 OPS. All this earned him a call up to low-A Cedar Rapids. He only had 15 AB in CR but he still managed 4 hits in that time for a .267 BA.
VII) Dillon Baird-1B (Will be 22 by the start of the season)
Baird was drafted out of baseball powerhouse Yavapai College (gotta love baseball. If you have talent they will find you) in the 11th round of last years draft. He was put on the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League (rookie ball) and proceeded to dominate.
Baird hit a staggering .372/7/49 with an OPS of 1.019. That .372 BA was ranked No. 1 among Angels minor leaguers. His .452 OBP was also ranked No. 1 among Angels rookies and his .567 SLG % was ranked No. 2. I think with these numbers he should have his ticket punched for Rancho and should skip Class A Cedar Rapids all together. But GM Tony Reagins hasnt asked my opinon.
VIII) Alexi Amarista (Will be 21 by start of the season)
"Raw" is the best way to describe Amarista. The Venezuelan played the entire 2009 season for low-A Cedar Rapids and overall played well...at times
.319/4/49 isn’t anything to shake a stick at. He also added 84 runs and had 38 SB. His problem was that while he had 38 steals he also had 20 CS which means he needs to really work on pitcher recognition and when to go and when to not go.
If you have a guy who scored 84 runs and got CS 20 times just imagine how many runs he would have scored if he only had five CS. He needs to learn not to rely on just his speed. Other than that the only other complaint may be his age which could be considered a bit old for low-A Cedar Rapids. He has however been an all-star at every level he has played at and had great winter ball numbers this year (.339/2/17 8 SB, 5 CS).
IX) Jordan Walden-RHP (Will be 22 at the beginning of the season)
One of the Angels' top prospects coming into the season he’s leaving the 2009 season and entering the 2010 list on the bottom ranks. Walden got rocked in the 2009 season, where he pitched in the same rotation as top pick Trevor Reckling. In AA Arkansas he went 1-5 with a 5.25 ERA. Hitters were hammering him for a staggering .301 BA.
I know he hit the DL with elbow inflammation, and I was unable to find out what the MRI revealed. He’s still one to keep your eye on because of the fact that he’s only 22, but the elbow issues are definitely a concern. Before the injury he was said to have the best fastball in the Angels minor leagues which is saying something impressive.
X) Michael Kohn (Will be 24 in June)
Only reliever on my list for the Angels, but Kohn certainly deserves it. He pitched at both Cedar Rapids (class A) and Rancho Cucamonga (high-A) in 2009 and flourished at both. He basically spent half the season at CR and the other half at RC so well start with his Cedar stats
At CR he posted a 2.19 ERA with 60 SO, 12 BB, a .161 opponents BA in 37 IP. He also only surrendered 1 home run. Not too shabby, and all of this deserved a call up to one of the most hitter friendly leagues in the minor leagues.
In the California League Kohn didn’t falter but instead got stronger. In 28.2 IP in RC he had an ERA of .94. He only gave up 3 ER in RC and had 43 SO compared to the 14 BB. He held opponents to a .141 BA.
COMBINED STATS: 6-1 record with a 1.64 ERA. 103 SO, 26 BB and an opponent’s BA of .153. He pitched in 65.2 IP. His 103 SO were 5th best among all Angels minor leaguers which is very impressive considering he is a reliever. In case you’re wondering, he also added in nine saves on the season as well.