|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
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30 scouting reports on every team
|1.||Brandon Wood, ss Born: March 2, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 185|
|Drafted: HS--Scottsdale, Ariz., 2003 (1st round) • Signed by: Jeff Scholzen|
|Background: An undersized, overachieving high school underclassman, Wood was thought of mostly as a defense-first shortstop until his senior year at Horizon High (Scottsdale, Ariz.) in 2003. He started filling out his frame and fulfilling his potential, and passed up a scholarship from Texas to sign as a first-round pick for $1.3 million. Wood contended for Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2005, slamming 58 homers between the minors, the Arizona Fall League and Team USA. He led the minors in doubles (53), homers (an Angels minor league record 43), total bases (370) and extra-base hits (101). Wood proved it was no fluke in 2006, topping the Double-A Texas League with 71 extra-base hits and again coming through for Team USA. At the Olympic qualifying tournament in Cuba, he crushed an eighth-inning tiebreaking homer off closer Pedro Luis Lazo for the first win by a U.S. pro team against Cuba since Ben Sheets shut down the Cubans to win Olympic gold in 2000.|
Strengths: Wood's bat speed, power and fundamentally sound defensive package have prompted comparisons to Cal Ripken. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order run producer and perennial all-star. Wood has an aggressive approach with a leveraged swing that produces well above-average power to all fields. Whether or not he'll remain at shortstop is predicated on the Angels' needs, but he's a solid defender capable of playing shortstop everyday in the big leagues. His range is average, his hands are soft and his arm is a plus. He's adept at making accurate throws on the run and shows proper footwork turning double plays. His defensive skills would play well at third base, his most likely destination if he moves, and he definitely has the bat to profile at the hot corner. Wood is lauded for his instincts in all phases of the game, as well as his makeup. He's an average runner.
Weaknesses: Wood ranked among the TL leaders in several offensive categories, including finishing first in strikeouts with the highest total of his career. His uppercut swing path won't allow him to make contact often enough to contend for batting titles, and he could post modest averages his first few years in the majors. Wood could reduce his empty swings by fine-tuning his approach. He occasionally tries to do too much with pitcher's pitches, when letting them go by or simply putting them in play would be more effective. Like many young power hitters, Wood will chase balls above his hands and occasionally pulls off pitches on the outer half. When behind in the count, he could shorten his swing.
The Future: Wood should open 2007 at Triple-A Salt Lake but is close to being ready to contribute in Los Angeles. The Angels already have two superior defensive shortstops in Orlando Cabrera, who's signed through 2008, and Erick Aybar, who's still trying to crack the big league lineup. They also have no clear frontrunner to start at third base, though it's unlikely they'd have Wood learn the position on the job in the majors. He could slide over to the hot corner at Salt Lake if Aybar doesn't make the big league club.
|2.||Nick Adenhart, rhp Born: Aug. 24, 1986 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 190|
|Drafted: HS--Williamsport, Md., 2004 (14th round) • Signed by: Dan Radcliff|
|Background: Though he was just 19 and pitching for the first time above Rookie ball, Adenhart reinforced sentiment that he has made a full recovery from Tommy John surgery. He was on track to be one of the first prep pitchers drafted in 2004 before blowing out his elbow, then signed for $710,000 after the Angels took a 14th-round flier on him. He ranked as the best pitching prospect in the low Class A Midwest League in 2006, when he also earned an invitation to the Futures Game and a spot on the U.S. Olympic qualifying team.|
Strengths: Adenhart has above-average command of three plus pitches. His fastball has life at 93-95 mph and comes out of his hand easily. His deceptive 81-84 mph circle changeup is ahead of his breaking ball, though his 75-76 mph curveball has tight spin with 11-to-5 shape. He's aggressive, works ahead in the count and pitches to both sides of the plate.
Weaknesses: Adenhart tends to overthrow his curve, leading to inconsistent control of the pitch. His delivery is generally smooth, though his lead leg is stiff and he could do a better job of maintaining his high-three-quarters release point.
The Future: Adenhart profiles as a future No. 2 starter. Provided he remains healthy, there's no reason to believe he won't reach his ceiling. He should climb to Double-A Arkansas sometime in 2007.
|3.||Erick Aybar, ss Born: Jan. 14, 1984 • B-T: B-R • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 170|
|Signed: Dominican Republic, 2002 • Signed by: Leo Perez/Clay Daniel|
|Background: Aybar made his major league debut last May and was used primarily as a defensive replacement before returning to Triple-A. His first major league hit came against the Dodgers, who were playing his brother Willie at third base. Erick was included in trade offers for Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee in July, which distracted him and may have precipitated his lackluster finish.|
Strengths: Much is made of Aybar's free-swinging approach at the plate, but he makes consistent hard contact and is a confident, efficient hitter. He has above-average bat speed, handles the bat well enough to play every day and could wind up batting second in a contending lineup. His glove, arm and speed are also plus tools. He has true shortstop actions with above-average range and outstanding instincts, all of which underscore his penchant for making the electrifying play.
Weaknesses: Aybar doesn't profile as a leadoff man because he doesn't work deep counts or walk very often. He's no power threat, though he can drive balls from gap to gap and should produce 8-10 homers annually. He's careless at times in the field and on the bases. A switch-hitter, he batted just .247 righthanded in Triple-A as he's more comfortable and centers the ball more regularly from the left side.
The Future: Since he signed, Aybar's big league ETA has been 2007. He's ready, but Orlando Cabrera still has two years remaining on his contract. The Angels toyed with the idea of moving Aybar to center field, then spent $50 million on free agent Gary Matthews Jr. Aybar probably faces another year in Triple-A, unless Los Angeles decides to cash him in as a trade chip.
|4.||Young-Il Jung, rhp Born: Nov. 16, 1988 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190|
|Signed: Korea, 2006 • Signed by: Charlie Kim/Clay Daniel|
|Background: Rarely does a Korean player sign with a major league team out of high school, but Jung did for $1 million last August. Charlie Kim, the Angels' part-time scout in Korea, forged a relationship with Jung and his family, and international scouting supervisor Clay Daniel endorsed the signing. Jung set a Korean prep record in April by striking out 23 in a game, working 13 innings in the contest.|
Strengths: Jung's mature, thick frame and clean delivery belie his age. Newly appointed minor league pitching coordinator Kernan Ronan simplified Jung's repertoire during instructional league, and he'll work with a fastball, slider and straight changeup after ditching his splitter and curve. He has feel for all three pitches. His 89-92 mph fastball is heavy with occasional late run. He maintains his arm speed when throwing his 82 mph changeup with good sinking action. Jung's slider sits between 83-85 mph with short, late tilt. He's poised, and Los Angeles lauds his effort to learn English and establish rapport with teammates.
Weaknesses: Jung lacks significant projection and his body doesn't lend considerable room for growth. His frame and drop-and-drive delivery could make it tough for him to generate downward plane on his pitches. His command is below average, especially with his slider.
The Future: Jung is polished for his age and offers the promise of a No. 2 or 3 starter. His performance during spring training will predicate his assignment, and he could see time at low Class A Cedar Rapids in his debut.
|5.||Stephen Marek, rhp Born: Sept. 3, 1983 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 220|
|Drafted: San Jacinto (Texas) JC, D/F, 2004 (40th round) • Signed by: Chad McDonald|
|Background: Signed for $800,000 as a draft-and-follow prior to the 2005 draft, Marek provided a potent complement to Nick Adenhart atop the Cedar Rapids rotation. He led the Midwest League in ERA, finishing his stint there with four earned runs in his final six starts before joining Adenhart at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Like Adenhart, he posted respectable numbers in the hitter-friendly California League.|
Strengths: Armed with a three-pitch arsenal, Marek pounds the zone with powerful stuff. His 88-93 mph fastball has late life and has touched 96-98 in the past. His curveball has sharp break at 78-82 mph. His changeup is hard and heavy, with action that resembles a splitter. He made strides in his command and pitches with a dogged demeanor.
Weaknesses: A junior college reliever without much experience, Marek has some work to do on his delivery. It isn't effortless, and he could improve his balance over the rubber. He tends to miss up in the zone with his fastball.
The Future: Marek projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter. He has made significant strides with his feel for pitching and mechanics, and should climb to Double-A at some point in 2007.
|6.||Hank Conger, c Born: Jan. 29, 1988 • B-T: B-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 205|
|Drafted: HS--Huntington Beach, Calif., 2006 (1st round) • Signed by: Bobby DeJardin|
|Background: Conger was tabbed as a future star when he slugged 34 home runs for an Ocean View, Calif., team that fell one win shy of the 2000 Little League World Series. A second-generation Korean, his given name is Hyun and his grandfather, who lives in Atlanta, nicknamed him after Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. The 25th overall pick in June, Conger signed for $1.35 million. He rated as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Arizona League, though his debut there ended after 19 games when he broke the hamate bone in his right hand.|
Strengths: Conger likely would have gone in the first round based on his bat alone. He has an aggressive approach with plus power to all fields from both sides of the plate. He's also an intelligent hitter who makes consistent hard contact. He has well above-average arm strength and championship-caliber makeup.
Weaknesses: There have been questions about whether Conger will stay behind the plate all the way up to the majors, as he's not light on his feet. But he has worked hard and early returns have been positive, as his hands and receiving skills are playable, and he blocks adequately. He has an uppercut swing and tends to try to muscle balls out of the park rather than let his hands and leveraged stroke do the work. He's a well below-average runner.
The Future: Because of his strong makeup and plus power potential, Conger has a future in the big leagues. Whether it's behind the plate, at an infield corner or as a DH will determine his ultimate value.
|7.||Jeff Mathis, c Born: March 31, 1983 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 180|
|Drafted: HS--Marianna, Fla., 2001 (1st round supplemental) • Signed by: Tom Kotchman|
|Background: The Angels didn't expect considerable offensive production out of Mathis when they broke camp with him penciled in as a platoon partner for Jose Molina, but manager Mike Scioscia lost patience when Mathis carried his offensive struggles behind the plate. He was sent down to Triple-A, Mike Napoli got his shot and thrived, and Mathis wasn't called up again until September.|
Strengths: Managers rated Mathis the best defensive catcher in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He's agile, blocks and receives well, owns a solid-average arm and calls a good game. He has shown 15-20 homer power potential in the past, though his power regressed significantly in 2006.
Weaknesses: Mathis took a step backward at the plate in 2006. His bat speed was just fringe-average, his plate discipline declined and his swing got long. He reduced his propensity chase pitches, but has additional room for improvement. Despite outstanding makeup, he didn't handle adversity well in Los Angeles and put too much pressure on himself. He's a below-average runner, albeit with good instincts.
The Future: Mathis still could reach his ceiling of a dependable, everyday backstop provided he improves his contact at the plate. He has a better all-around game than Molina and Napoli, who will be his main competition in spring training.
|8.||Sean Rodriguez, ss/2b Born: April 26, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 195|
|Drafted: HS--Miami, 2003 (3rd round) • Signed by: Mike Silvestri|
|Background: Rodriguez had the best bat speed among a light-hitting East Coast crop of high schoolers when he went in the third round in 2003 and signed for $400,000. The son of Marlins minor league coach Johnny Rodriguez, he honed his swing as a kid after watching his dad throw batting practice to Alex Rodriguez (no relation). The Angels' 2006 minor league player of the year, Rodriguez hit a career-high 29 homers while playing almost solely at shortstop for the first time as a pro.|
Strengths: His days of emulating A-Rod are over, as Rodriguez has overhauled his approach at the plate. He has all but eliminated his leg kick and is more upright in his setup, pointing the barrel of the bat toward the first-base dugout. It's a little unorthodox, but it improved his balance. He still shows plus bat speed with above-average power to all fields. He's an instinctual player with soft hands and plus arm strength.
Weaknesses: Rodriguez chases pitches out of the zone too often and set a career high for strikeouts in 2006. He has a feel for hitting, though he may not be as good as his numbers suggest-he hit .342 with 16 homers in 61 games at the launching pad that is Rancho Cucamonga's Epicenter. His thick frame and below-average speed eventually will move him off shortstop, probably to second base.
The Future: Ticketed for Double-A in 2007, Rodriguez could become an everyday big leaguer who hits .270 with 20 homers. He has played second base, third base and the outfield, so at worst he should become an offensive-minded utilityman.
|9.||Sean O'Sullivan, rhp Born: Sept. 1, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 220|
|Drafted: Grossmont (Calif.) JC., D/F 2005(3rd round) • Signed by: Tim Corcoran|
|Background: Baseball America recognized O'Sullivan as the best 12-year-old in the nation in 2000. A candidate to be the first high school pitcher drafted in 2005, he saw his velocity and draft stock slip that spring. He went in the third round and spent a season at Grossmont (Calif.) JC before signing as a draft-and-follow for $500,000-roughly what Los Angeles offered him after the draft. He led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in ERA during his debut.|
Strengths: While his calling card as an amateur was low- to mid-90s heat, O'Sullivan's upside lies in his feel for pitching rather than his arm strength. He can spot his 88-91 mph fastball, curveball, slider and changeup to all four quadrants of the strike zone. He adds and subtracts off his fastball, toys with a two-seamer and mixes his stuff well.
Weaknesses: O'Sullivan's loss of velocity is curious. Some Angels officials believe he'll regain the fastball he had as an underclassman, but his thick, mature body--which draws comparisons to Chris Bosio--has earned him the nickname "Nacho" and doesn't lend projection. His breaking pitches are effective but lack significant bite. His overall stuff doesn't grade out as more than average, so his command will be paramount against more advanced hitters.
The Future: O'Sullivan showed stamina and poise in his first taste of pro ball, and his cerebral approach could carry him quickly through the minors. He'll likely open 2007 in low Class A.
|10.||Tommy Mendoza, rhp Born: Aug. 18, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 185|
|Signed: HS-Opa Locka, Fla., 2005 (4th round) • Signed by: Mike Silvestri|
|Background: Mendoza set the bar high in his 2005 debut, dominating the Arizona League and throwing 10 shutout innings without a walk in high Class A. He tried to blow the ball by Midwest League hitters at the outset of the 2006 season, which led to a 2-5, 5.81 record in his first 10 starts. Once he learned he had to pitch rather than just throw hard, he went 10-1, 3.57 the rest of the way-all the more impressive considering he was the second-youngest starter in the MWL.|
Strengths: Mendoza's lone plus pitch is a lively 89-94 mph fastball that can touch 96. It's heavy and he has learned how to add and subtract velocity from it. He'll cut his fastball and also mixes in a two-seamer. His fastball command is solid average, and he'll elevate his heater late in counts for strikeouts. His 72-76 mph curveball is average at times.
Weaknesses: Mendoza's curveball is inconsistent, often morphing into a slurve, and he doesn't spot it effectively. His changeup also is below average at this point. He needs to make mechanical adjustments, such as staying over the rubber longer, to improve his command and stuff.
The Future: With a plus fastball and the ability to command it, Mendoza should at least develop into a reliever. If his stuff tightens and his command improves, he could become a No. 3-5 starter. He's ready for high Class A at age 19.
|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2007 Prospect Handbook|
30 scouting reports on every team
Adenhart, Aybar, Rodriguez, Mendoza: Steve Moore
Jung, Marek, Conger, O'Sullivan: Bill Mitchell