Los Angeles Angels: prospects

Four Angels in Keith Law's Top 100

February, 9, 2012
No big surprise here, Mike Trout is the top prospect in baseball, according to ESPN's Keith Law, who unveiled his Top 100 Thursday. Trout also was Law's No. 1 pick last year and Trout's unsteady few weeks in the major leagues last year didn't dim Law's view of the speedy outfielder much, if at all.

Here's an excerpt of Law on Trout:
... in a sense, he's the perfect prospect. He is a position player who affects the game on offense, on defense and via baserunning, and has shown incredible maturity in his approach despite the fact that he entered pro ball at age 17 and still can't legally buy a drink (unless the Angels are visiting the Blue Jays)....

It's hard to say when Trout will impact the Angels. General manager Jerry Dipoto said Wednesday that Trout will play every day somewhere, virtually ruling out an Opening Day roster spot unless one of the starting outfielders goes down in spring training.

Three other Angels made Law's list. Of shortstop Jean Segura, Law wrote:
He has an extremely short, direct swing to produce line drives, and did a better job this year staying upright instead of trying to hit for power he doesn't really have. He's an above-average runner when his legs are working, quick enough for shortstop with sufficient arm strength.

After missing parts of the last three seasons with injuries, Segura needs to prove he can play shortstop every day. If he does, he could give the Angels important security if Erick Aybar leaves via free agency next fall. The fact the sides couldn't work something out before Aybar's walk year suggests they value his contributions differently than he and his agent do. If Segura struggles or goes down with another injury, the Angels might need to come up to Aybar's asking price for a long-term deal. Finding capable shortstops isn't easy or cheap.

The other two Angels prospects on the list are hard-throwing pitchers, Garrett Richards and John Hellweg. They're both about the same age, but Richards finished last season in the major leagues three rungs ahead of Hellwig, who was at Class-A Inland Empire.

On Richards:
He works with a 70 fastball as a starter, pitching at 94-100 mph, with an inconsistent, short, 84-87 mph slider that ranges from solid-average to plus, and some feel for a changeup. He holds his velocity deep into games and works in the lower half of the zone to generate some ground balls.

On Hellweg:
Hellweg has always had a huge fastball but couldn't locate anything, walking more than a man an inning from his pro debut until the Angels moved him from the bullpen to the Inland Empire rotation in early June. After the transition, he wasn't exactly Greg Maddux, but his control went from grade-20 to 45, to the point that he's now a real prospect instead of a curiosity.

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)

Mike Trout and the 'Super Two' issue

June, 2, 2011
Since we had a long story about uber-prospect Mike Trout's promise and the likelihood of a 2011 call-up today, it's worth delving into a matter that could affect his major-league timeline.

First of all, there are no indications the Angels will bring Trout to Anaheim any time soon -- the timing looks particularly dicey with Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells due back from the disabled list within the next week. From a financial/business perspective, though, bringing Trout up now makes more sense than it did two weeks ago.

The date for players to reach Super Two status -- meaning they would enjoy four years of arbitration eligibility rather than three -- typically falls just after Memorial Day. It's complicated -- as many things in the collective bargaining agreement are -- but the Angels could safely call up Trout and he wouldn't make more than the major league minimum (roughly $400,000) until after the 2014 season. He wouldn't be eligible for free agency until after 2016.

It may sound like bureaucratic nonsense, but just watch how many teams around baseball start calling up their top prospects in the coming days. Coincidence? Absolutely not.



Jered Weaver
18 3.59 169 213
BAH. Kendrick .293
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169