Angels' Cowart Has Opportunity Ahead Of Him





LOS ANGELES—In the past year, the Angels have signed multi-year contracts with their everyday starter at first base (Albert Pujols), second base (Howie Kendrick), shortstop (Erick Aybar) and catcher (Chris Iannetta).

In the outfield, they appear committed to a trio of young players with bright futures (Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos), two of whom made their first all-star teams in 2012 (Trout and Trumbo).

That leaves third base as the only infield position that still carries a question mark for the future. The position belongs to Alberto Callaspo at this point after Maicer Izturis departed via free agency. But the Angels are not committed to Callaspo beyond 2013—opening the door for a quick rise to the big leagues if top prospect Kaleb Cowart is up the challenge.

"We obviously think a great deal of Kaleb Cowart," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "(However) I think it would be unfair to place expectations or an ETA on a kid who just finished his 20-year-old season, who was playing at the full-season levels for the first time.

"We don't have a timeline, and frankly I think that's best for the player. We're going to allow him to develop at his own pace."

One of the Angels' three first-round picks in 2010, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Cowart took a big step forward in 2012, combining to hit .276/.358/.452 with 16 home runs and 103 RBIs between low Class A Cedar Rapids and high Class A Inland Empire. He failed to consolidate those gains in the Arizona Fall League, however, as the switch-hitter batted .200 with one home run and 16 strikeouts in 60 at-bats.

"I think he tired out and, admittedly, did not have a very good Fall League," Dipoto said. "Kaleb did a great deal of good for his professional career with the year he had last year. (We) couldn't have asked for a whole lot more, truthfully, for a player of his age and stage of development to move through multiple levels. Right now, our design is to have him start next year in Double-A and see where he goes."

Angel Food

• The Angels lost infielder Angel Sanchez to the White Sox in the major league Rule 5 draft. They signed Sanchez as a minor league free agent in November but did not add him to their 40-man roster. The Angels had planned to include Sanchez in a group with Brendan Harris and Andrew Romine competing for a utility role on the major league bench.

• The Angels selected outfielder Robbie Widlansky from the Orioles in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Widlansky, 28, spent six years in the Orioles system, reaching Triple-A briefly in 2011. He hit .316/.404/.446 at Double-A Bowie in 2012.