Angels Embark On Rebuilding Farm System





LOS ANGELES—For all the attention their $150 million payroll gets, the Angels are built on a strong foundation of homegrown players, from young stars Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo to double-play partners Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar to ace Jered Weaver and key relievers Jordan Walden and Kevin Jepsen.

The system behind that group, however, is thin. First-year general manager Jerry Dipoto knows he faces a challenge in rebuilding the player development side of the organization he took over last November.

"A good baseball guy once told me when I first started out: When you're building a player-development system, you want to build waves because every wave that comes and hits the shore, some of the sand is going to stick and some of it is going to wash away," Dipoto said. "Conceptually, that's what we'd like to create."

Dipoto feels the Angels have "a nice pocket" of hitters in the 20- to 22-year-old range who spent this year at the Class A level. He thinks the farm system's foundation can be built around this next wave of talent, which includes Randal Grichuk, Kaleb Cowart, Taylor Lindsey and C.J. Cron.

But he admits there is work to do to replenish a system that was already short on pitching prospects even before he traded away righthanders Donn Roach (to the Padres as part of the package for Ernesto Frieri) and Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg (in the deal that brought Zack Greinke to the Angels from the Brewers).

"Our challenge—either through the draft, through trades, through the secondary acquisition market, the wires, etc.—is to find the pitching to go along with that group (of hitters) and start to develop them," Dipoto said, pointing to this year's first draft pick (righthander R.J. Alvarez) as part of that process. "We have depth on a major league 12-man pitching staff. We need to create depth behind them. It's something we have to address."

Angel Food

• The Angels fired pro scouts Brad Sloan and Willie Fraser, notifying them that their contracts will not be renewed at the end of the season. Sloan had been with the Angels for over a decade. Fraser, a former big league pitcher with the Angels and four other teams, spent the past two years as an advance scout.

• Grichuk and Cowart are among eight players from the organization expected to play in the Arizona Fall League. Lefthander Nick Maronde was also on the Scottsdale roster, but he has found a role in the Angels bullpen after being a September callup. Also on the Scottsdale roster are outfielder Travis Witherspoon, catcher Carlos Ramirez, righthanders Kevin Johnson and Ryan Chaffee and lefthander Buddy Boshers.