Los Angeles Angels: Kaleb Cowart

Ranking the top five Angels prospects

January, 26, 2012
One of the most interesting things about spring training, when story lines quickly dry up, is watching an organization's most promising young players try to impress the coaches. With all the focus on Albert Pujols this spring, some of these kids might get lost in the shuffle, at least where the media is concerned.

So, with Baseball's America's rankings not coming out until Monday, let's take a crack at our top five for the Angels:

1. Mike Trout, OF

Age: 20, ETA: 2012

Ideally, Trout would have taken off running with his first crack at the big leagues, but instead he batted .220. It was hardly enough to dim perceptions of his bright future, particularly since he was 19 when he got the call-up. He showed flashes of menace with his bat, played strong defense at a new position, left field, and still figures prominently in the Angels' immediate plans. If Vernon Wells struggles again, Trout could supplant him within a couple of months of Opening Day. He could team with Peter Bourjos to give the Angels one of the fastest, most dynamic outfields in the majors for years.

2. Jean Segura, SS

Age: 21, ETA: 2014

It seemed like a major statement when the Angels moved him to shortstop last year (does that mean they were pessimistic about re-signing Erick Aybar?), but you can’t read too much into it. If you can play shortstop, they figure, you can play anywhere. Segura’s problem has been staying healthy. Hamstring issues limited him to 44 games last year, but he bounced back and hit .310 in 87 at-bats at the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League. He has excellent speed, with 50 stolen bases two years ago, and he has the chance to hit for a high average. He has the arm to play shortstop and projects as a No. 2 or No. 9-type hitter, a la Aybar. Like Aybar, he’s not great at getting on base.

3. Garrett Richards, RHP

Age: 23, ETA: 2012

It was a bummer for Richards and for the Angels when he injured his groin in his second major-league start. A hard thrower who struggled mightily as a reliever at Oklahoma, Richards has gotten a handle on his control issues and figures to be a solid groundball pitcher in the major leagues. In fact, if Jerome Williams struggles, Richards could slide right into an Angels rotation that is otherwise stocked with veterans. The Angels drafted him despite shaky college numbers and he’s making former scouting director Eddie Bane look good.

(Read full post)

Farm report brightening by the day

March, 24, 2011
The Angels apparently got better at drafting and developing players in the last 12 months. Either that or their young players (eg., Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger) just turned out to be better than people thought.

Last off-season, most people were panning the Angels' minor-league system. ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked them 22nd out of 30 teams. Baseball America pegged them at No. 25. Some people wondered about organizational rot, with bad contracts and poor prospects keeping the Angels out of contention for a decade or so.

Things look a lot brighter this spring. In his January rankings, Law puts the Angels at No. 6. He praises Trout, but it's not about one player. I corresponded with Law this week about his big upgrade of the Angels' system and here's what the former Toronto Blue Jays scout said:

"It's system-wide, including strong drafts the last two years. One player can't pull up a system by himself, even if he's Mike Trout."

BA's rankings, which came out Wednesday, rank the Angels No. 15. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein agrees with Law and has them No. 6, saying they're, "much more than just Trout."

One lesson to draw: Were the Angels a little rash in firing scouting director Eddie Bane back in October? There reportedly were some personality clashes with Angels general manager Tony Reagins, but suddenly Bane's results don't look bad at all. If Trout pans out and the 2010 draft class proves productive, Bane's dismissal will look foolish.

Law, by the way, agrees:

"I thought their decision to fire Eddie Bane was nonsensical, and smacked of internal politics and furthered Tony Reagins' reputation in the game as a difficult person to work for and someone who only values opinions that match his own," Law wrote in an e-mail. "Results had nothing to do with this, and they couldn't have, because Bane's track record is good."

Another lesson is that money usually rules the day. The Angels are able to pay draft picks bonuses that 75 percent of the other teams wouldn't deliver. There's a reason Jered Weaver slid all the way to No. 12 and into their laps in 2004. The No. 1 college pitcher in the nation that year, he was represented by Scott Boras and rumors were he was looking for a $10 million bonus. The Angels gave him $4 million, which is still more than a lot of teams might have offered.

As long as owner Arte Moreno stays committed to winning and surrounds himself with good baseball people, the team should avoid a long decline.



Jered Weaver
11 3.36 110 139
BAM. Trout .302
HRM. Trout 24
RBIM. Trout 76
RM. Trout 72
OPSM. Trout .982
ERAG. Richards 2.62
SOG. Richards 139