Anaheim Angels Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By David Rawnsley
1. Ramon Ortiz, RHP
Strengths: When healthy, Ortiz has two plus major league pitches. His fastball registers 94-95 mph on the gun and has plenty of late explosive life. His big strikeout pitch is a breaking ball he throws from 81-85 mph that has a sharp, sweeping break. Some scouts call it a curveball because of the size of the break, others call it a slider because of the pitch's velocity. Hitters, who have struck out 278 times in Ortiz' last 228 innings, usually call for a day off. Ortiz also has a mature ability to throw strikes with both pitches.
Weaknesses: Ortiz must prove that he not only is physically healthy but mentally recovered from his injury. The lost innings shouldn't hurt too much, considering he already has more than 400 minor league innings and is fairly polished with his delivery and mechanics. Probably the one thing Ortiz needs the most work on is his changeup.
The Future: Ortiz is frequently compared to Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez because of his size, Dominican heritage and the ease with which he throws the ball. He is still plenty young enough to be able to work through his injury and get his big league career started on time. The Angels are sure to be cautious with him at first and start him where he can get some warm-weather work on strict pitch counts. Extended spring training is even a possibility since Anaheim's two upper level clubs, Triple-A Vancouver and Double-A Erie, are both in cold climates. But with the Angels' needs for starting pitching in the big leagues, a healthy Ortiz is sure to be monitored very carefully as the summer unfolds.
2. Scott Schoeneweis, LHP
Age: 25 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 186
Drafted: Duke, 1996 (3rd round) Signed by: Tom Burns
Background: Schoeneweis enjoyed one of the healthiest seasons of his life last year and was rewarded with a place on the 40-man roster. His first full pro season (1997) was interrupted by rib cage problems, while his college career at Duke was marred by Tommy John surgery and treatment for testicular cancer.
Strengths: Schoeneweis has four average major league pitches; his fastball and slider are his best weapons. He can flash above-average action on his slider and 91-92 mph occasionally on his fastball.
Weaknesses: Schoeneweis gets his strikeouts with his slider but allows a lot of hits with his fastball, which lacks the key late movement that can throw off better hitters. There always will be questions hanging over Schoeneweis about his durability.
The Future: The Angels will give Schoeneweis a chance to make their rotation this spring. He is an excellent competitor and has compiled a 26-16 record in his 2 1/2 years as a professional.
3. Mark Harriger, RHP
Age: 23 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 196
Drafted: San Diego State, 1996 (18th round) Signed by: Tim Kelly
Background: Harriger both pitched (as a set-up man) and played in the middle infield during his college career. The Angels seem to have found a late-round gem. Harriger was a workhorse in 1998, ranking fourth in the minors in innings pitched.
Strengths: Harriger has developed command of two solid major league pitches. His fastball is 90-93 mph with good sinking action. He complements it with a hard slider than can show above-average action. Harriger has used his athletic ability to develop a fundamentally sound delivery that has improved his consistency.
Weaknesses: Harriger was 4-10, 7.90 as a pro before 1998, so he is anything but a polished product. He still must make significant improvements to his changeup to give hitters an offspeed look.
The Future: The Angels' move of their Double-A affiliate from Midland to Erie will benefit Harriger more than anyone in the organization, as it will give him the chance to further develop his talent without watching his ERA balloon.
4. Elpidio Guzman, OF
Age: 20 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-0 Wt: 165
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995 Signed by: Jose Gomez
Background: Guzman was one of the Angels' last Dominican signings before the organization shut down its Latin operation for two years. He was named the No. 5 prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 1998.
Strengths: Guzman is an exciting athlete with the chance to become a multi-tooled center fielder as he matures. He gets down to first base in 3.9-4.0 seconds and has shown an advanced ability to use his speed on the bases and in the field. Guzman has also added strength since he signed and showed surprising extra-base power last season.
Weaknesses: Guzman has not proven himself against full-season pitching and will have to continue to develop his skills and body against older players. Physically, Guzman doesn't have any notable raw weaknesses.
The Future: Guzman has the highest ceiling of any player in the Angels system. A quick adjustment to Class A ball in 1999 could push him to the top of the Angels prospect list.
5. Jason Dewey, C
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 190
Drafted: D/F--Indian River (Fla.) CC, 1996 (26th round) Signed by: Tom Kotchman
Background: The Angels signed Dewey as a draft-and-follow in 1997. He originally was selected as a first baseman but started catching in junior college and has continued the conversion as a pro.
Strengths: Dewey has above-average power potential, a result of good bat speed and above-average extension to his swing. He showed excellent offensive maturity at a young age in the California League. His best tool defensively is his arm strength.
Weaknesses: After less than two years of full-time catching duty, the jury is still out on whether Dewey will be able to handle the position. The primary problems are Dewey's hands, which are still green. He also needs work on his throwing accuracy and game-management skills.
The Future: The Angels are prepared to give Dewey every opportunity to improve defensively, starting this year at Double-A Erie. If he can catch, he has the offensive potential to be a solid big league catcher.
6. Seth Etherton, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 200
Drafted: Southern California, 1998 (1st round) Signed by: Steve Gruwell
Background: After being drafted in the ninth round in 1997, Etherton chose to go back to school for his senior year. It was the right decision. He led Division I in strikeouts with 182 and led the Trojans to the College World Series championship.
Strengths: Etherton is a polished pitcher with excellent command. He spots an average fastball well and has an advanced knowledge of how to get hitters to swing at pitches out of the strike zone. His curveball and changeup are solid major league pitches.
Weaknesses: Etherton lacks a true plus pitch. His fine margin for error was exposed at Midland, where he was hit hard after a long college season. After facing aluminum-bat hitters for four years, Etherton will need to learn how to pitch inside more effectively.
The Future: The Angels drafted Etherton in large measure because they believe he will get to the big leagues quickly. But some scouts feel that the tradeoff is that the Angels drafted another version of Jason Dickson, whose shortcomings were exposed in his second time around the major leagues.
7. Keith Luuloa, IF
Age: 24 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 185
Drafted: D/F--Modesto (Calif.) JC, 1993 (30th round) Signed by: Jerry Streeter
Background: A native of Hawaii, Luuloa signed as an obscure draft-and-follow. He moved quickly to Double-A but stalled there for two years before dramatically improving in 1998, leading the organization in average, runs, hits, doubles and RBIs. Luuloa continued his strong play in the Arizona Fall League.
Strengths: Luuloa has a short, compact swing and stays back well on pitches. Physical maturity and added strength have enabled him to consistently drive the ball to the gaps. Defensively, Luuloa has the ability to play first, second and third base, and the Angels are contemplating trying him behind the plate. His arm strength is solid average.
Weaknesses: Luuloa has slow feet that limit his defensive potential, especially at second base. Despite his power numbers last year, it is hard to project him to have more than gap power at the major league level.
The Future: Luuloa is an ideal utility candidate. If he is able to make the transition to catcher as Phil Nevin did last year and Todd Greene did before his shoulder problems, it will enhance his value.
8. Norm Hutchins, OF
Age: 23 B-T: L-L Ht: 5-11 Wt: 198
Drafted: HS--Yonkers, N.Y., 1994 (2nd round) Signed by: Jim McLaughlin
Background: After five years in the system, Hutchins is finally developing his natural athletic ability. He had a fine year at Midland but struggled during the Arizona Fall League season, hitting .197-3-13 with three walks and 29 strikeouts while being consistently overmatched by better pitching.
Strengths: Hutchins is one of the ultimate raw tool talents. Angels officials compare his speed, body and athletic ability to Kenny Lofton. Hutchins has enough juice in his bat to reach double figures in home runs and triples the past two seasons and could steal 50 bases if he can reach base more frequently. His defensive skills are solid.
Weaknesses: The AFL highlighted Hutchins' problems as a hitter. He was helpless when he got behind in the count and was easy pickings for pitchers with command of their breaking balls. Hutchins has just 89 walks as a professional.
The Future: Hutchins is a perfect test case for what many veteran baseball people maintain can't be done--teaching a player how to hit. He'll keep trying this year at Triple-A Edmonton.
9. Bienvenido Encarnacion, SS
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 155
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995 Signed by: Jose Gomez
Background: Encarnacion spent three seasons in Rookie leagues--two in the Dominican, one in the Pioneer--before maturing into a prospect. His style is similar to shortstop Nelson Castro, who dropped out of the Angels Top 10 this year.
Strengths: Encarnacion is a slasher at the plate who can make hard contact to all fields. His growing physical maturity led to increased power--he had one professional homer entering the year. Encarnacion has above-average defensive tools, especially his hands, and has a flair for the position. He has above-average speed on the bases.
Weaknesses: Like many young shortstops, Encarnacion can make the great play in the hole and mishandle the three-hopper right at him. His swooping style still leaves him between hops frequently.
The Future: His predecessor, Castro, was overmatched with the bat in his first full-season experience; Encarnacion will have the same challenge. Defensively he has all the tools to become a major league shortstop with experience.
10. Darren Blakely, OF
Age: 22 B-T: B-R Ht: 56-1 Wt: 195
Drafted: Hawaii, 1998 (5th round) Signed by: Jack Uhey
Background: Blakely led the Alaska summer league with 47 stolen bases in 1997. By adding 20 pounds, he led Hawaii in both home runs and stolen bases in 1998.
Strengths: Blakely is a rare find among college drafts, a tools player who will have to refine his skills to move up the ladder. He is a true center fielder with plus speed and excellent range. The Angels are most intrigued by his offensive potential, which includes some juice in the bat and the speed to rack up plenty of extra-base hits and steals.
Weaknesses: Blakely had trouble batting lefthanded after signing, a problem because most of a switch-hitter's at bats come from that side. He will have to improve on his overall contact.
The Future: By drafting exclusively college players, the Angels frequently lock themselves out of the market for physical, multi-tooled players such as Blakely. He will be moved as quickly as his bat is able to carry him. He could start 1999 at Class A Lake Elsinore.
Rest of the Best:
11. Ben Molina, c
Copyright 1998-1999 Baseball America. All rights reserved.|
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.