Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects Chat

Los Angeles Angels: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

Moderator: Alan Matthews will chat about the Angels farm system at 1 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Tom T from Houston asks:
How scared should we be of Brandon Wood's strikeouts? Is the thought just that we can get overaggressive at times (which, hopefully, could be corrected), or is he swinging and missing at balls that are fooling him? Is there a risk of him becoming a "mistake hitter" than can get homers off the Loaizas of the league but that can be exploited by better pitchers?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Welcome to the first of our AL West division chats. The Angels lead off, and appropriately so. Their system graduated 5 of its top 11 prospects to the big leagues a year ago, but remains among the top 10 farm systems in the game. There's plenty of talent to discuss, & let's start out at the top.

Alan Matthews: Wood is much more than a mistake hitter. He does expand his strike zone too often, but it's more a product of, as you pointed out, over aggressiveness as opposed to him simply not reading spin. He seems to see the ball well, and as he learns to be more patient, he will swing and miss less often. But you don't want to take away what makes him a feared hitter, and his M.O. is to hit for power, which he should do in the big leagues.

 Q:  Tom T from Houston asks:
Obviously he's graduated already, but where would Jered Weaver rank on this list if he was eligible? Presumably he's unlikely to sustain the level of his success over a full season, but does he have legit #1 ace potential?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Given his performance, he would have to be considered at No. 1 or 2. Your presumption is accurate, and Weaver's stuff profiles better as a No. 2 or 3 than a legitimate No. 1, but you can't understimate his command, guile and feel for pitching, things that help his stuff play up. He should be a reliable member of the Angels rotation for years to come, and produce a better overall career than his brother, Jeff.

 Q:  BT from Illinois asks:
What prospects can I look forward to seeing play this year in Cedar Rapids?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: In 2006, the Angels' Pioneer League affiliate placed 6 players on the Top 20 Prospects list, and most of them will see time in Cedar Rapids in 2007. The infield could include P.J. Phillips and Ryan Mount, Peter Bourjos should hold down center field and the rotation should be dynamite, with Sean O'Sullivan, Jeremy Haynes, Ken Herndon and Trevor Bell.

 Q:  Phillip from Overland Park, KS asks:
Two catchers made the top 10 and Mike Napoli is in the bigs, does Bobby Wilson have anywhere to go? He had a nice Arizona Fall Leauge but it seems like he's stuck. Is he a top 30 guy for the Angels?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Wilson would be considered fourth out of the group at this stage, but I think he's a prospect, nonetheless. Conger and Napoli have much greater power, and Mathis is superior defensively, but Wilson can catch and throw adequately, and handles the bat well enough to at least be a big league backup. His portly build and unorthodox swing mechanics make most scouts ambivalent about his prospect status but he continues to improve his efficiency at the plate and behind it.

 Q:  BT from Illinois asks:
At what level will Tommy Mendoza most likely pitch at this year. Will he be moved up to high A at 19?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Yes, Mendoza made imporvement as the season went on in Cedar Rapids and should spend most of 2007 at high Class A.

 Q:  Cris from (Orlando, FL) asks:
Was Jose Arredondo come close to making the list?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Arredondo, the converted shortstop who the Angels added to their 40-man roster last year and made it up to Double-A in 2006, was ranked in the top 20. He's crude and has little feel for pitching, usually resorting to trying to throw his 97 mph fastball by everyone, which is a recipe for disaster considering its lack of plane. At 6-feet, 170 pounds, I worry about him creating movement on his pitches. He also cuts his delivery off, losing extension upon release which causes his stuff to flatten out. He's got a huge arm and he's athletic, so there's lots to work with. He's just very unrefined at this stage in his overall ability on the mound.

 Q:  Phillip from Overland Park, KS asks:
Does Nick Adenhart have the tools to be as good as Jered Weaver?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: We had a lengthy debate in our office, which was also hashed out among Angels scouts during meetings last year, as to who had the higher ceiling and who should be ranked higher on last year's list, Weaver or Adenhart. Weaver was closer, and had performed well on a bigger stage in college, so Weaver edged him. But Adenhart's pure stuff is better than Weaver's. As with any pitcher who had TJ surgery, there are concerns about his long-term health, and he really ran out of gas in 2006, which was by far his greatest workload of his career. If he remains healthy, he could have a better big league career than Weaver.

 Q:  Cris from (Orlando, FL) asks:
What can you tell us about Peter Bourjos or Jeremy Haynes?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: They are both intriguiing prospects, and ranked in the 11-20 range. Bourjos has five-tool potential, but has a crude approach at the plate. He's a 70 runner on the 20-80 scale and a plus defender. Haynes is a converted center fielder. He has a plus fastball and showed the makings of above-average offspeed stuff in his first full-time action as a pitcher this summer in Rookie-level Orem. I like them both.

 Q:  Sean from Irvine, CA asks:
What makes Jung No.3 prospect over the likes of Marek and Conger etc without throwing one pro pitch? Is he that good or the Angels system is really that thin? His pitching repertoire doesn't appear to be that amazing to me according to your scouting report either.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I put my $%#!* on the line a little here, as I'm sure there are a lot of people who saw Jung's ranking and raised a brow. I had the benefit of seeing him pitch in instructional league, and the combination of poise and feel, as well as flashes of above-average secondary stuff and a heavy, lively fastball overwhelmed me. I had a hard time believing he was 17, especially because he is physcially mature, with thick thighs and broad, strong shoulders. It would have been "safer" to slide him in the back of the 10 and wait to see how he performed in his debut, but my objective is to list the top 10 players in the system, in order of impact potential with likelihood of reaching that potential, and I believe Jung is a workhorse No. 2 or 3 starter, and that profile justified his ranking.

 Q:  Eli from Toronto asks:
Who is more likely to be traded: Orlando Cabrera or Erik Aybar? What kind of value can a prospect like him get in return?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: If the Angels can find a team willing to take on his contract, I would trade Cabrera. The thing is, he's a better hitter than Aybar and right now, I'm not sure if the Angels can afford to downgrade their offense in an effort to maximize value position by position. That sentiment was reflected in their signing of Gary Matthews.

 Q:  TR from Ft Myers, Fl asks:
Alan: Where do you see Chris Resop this coming season? He struggled in the big leagues a bit. He needs to quit being so careful and pound the strike zone, mastering a second pitch.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Angels acquired Resop from the Marlins in November in exchange for reliever Kevin Gregg. Armed with a big frame and a bulldog attitude, Resop has only been on the mound since July 2003. That's when he made the conversion from the outfield. Your comments were accurate, as he had time in Florida setting up for Joe Borowski, but was not as aggressive as he was in Triple-A. He will compete for a role in the Angels bullpen this spring, and ranked in the 21-30 range.

 Q:  A.J. from Gaithersburg, MD asks:
Where was 3B Matt Sweeney on the Angels list? He obviously has only a half season in the GCL under his belt, but he seemed to do well and show an advanced approach at the plate.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Sweeney was one of the best scouting stories of this year's draft. There were very few teams that were on him as highly as the Angels were, though the Rangers and Nationals alos liked him. Dan Radcliff, the Angels area scout in that region, and Marc Russo, the Angels east coast crosschecker last year, saw Sweeney perform, loved his swing and approach, and hounded scouting director Eddie Bane in the draft room before Bane took Sweeney in the 8th round. He went out and batted .341 with 25 extra-base hits in the Rookie-level AZL. He ranked in the top 20, and he's a below-average defender who sill probably have to be pegged at first base, which means he will have to hit to have value.

 Q:  Sean from Irvine, CA asks:
I like to scourge for sleepers in low minrs. Among these prospects, any of them is interesting and I should keep a eye on? ---Angel Castillo,Anel De los Santos, Amalio Diaz, Anthony Ortega, Alexander Torres?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: You're digging deep on some of those guys . . . Ortega has good stuff--Above-average fastball, avg breaking ball and average changeup. He needs to learn how to command and pitch. He plugged a hole in high A Rancho this year, then when Kelly Shearer went down, he was sent to low A Cedar Rapids and continued to pitch well. He's be my pick out of that group. Don't forget about Gustavo Espinoza, lhp. He did not pitch in '06 because of a shoulder impingement, but could come on if he comes back healthy.

 Q:  elbooboo from Pasadena asks:
What can you tell us about Matt Brown, he put up impressive numbers in AA and held his own in the Arizona Fall League? Was he close to making this list?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Brown, 24, was a 10th round pick from an Idaho HS in 2001. he turned 21 this year, which was an impressive one, as he batted .290.329.432 18 HR, 41 2B in Double-A, with 29 errors at third base. He shortened his swing and showed plus bat speed. he needs to improve his strike zone discipline and could better release the barrel through the hitting zone to maximize his power. He was on the cusp of the top 30.

 Q:  Stephen Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
What are your thoughts on reliever Chris Resop, recently acquired from Florida for Kevin Gregg? I understand he's still a work in progress but saw one news report that his velocity has touched triple digits.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Maybe in kilometers, Stephen. He's 92-95 with an above-average breaking ball. Two-pitch guy, fair command, certainly better than he showed this year during his stints in the Marlins pen. He's got stiffer competition, especially now that the Angels acquired Justin Speier, but could compete for a relief role in the Angels pen in spring training.

 Q:  Stephen Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
Where did OF Terry Evans wind up in the Angels' rankings? I think most folk assume 2006 was a fluke year, but beyond his professed newfound self-confidence due to his religious beliefs did he make any kind of alteration in his mechanics that would give hope to him being more than a one-year wonder?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The only tangible thing I could get out of interviews with scouts and managers who had seen him in the past, as well as this year, was that he improved his approach. He was more patient and selective, which allowed him to hit ahead in the count more often and stay back and drive the ball. One Texas League scout called him a poor man's Dale Murphy, as Evans does everything well. For the first time in his career he displayed above-average power that translated to games, so I'm interested to see how he performs next year in Triple-A. He was in the 11-20 range.

 Q:  Benny the Jet Rodriguez from Stealing home asks:
You mean to tell me Hank Conger, he of the 4 triples in just 65 ab in Arizona Rookie Ball, isn't the new paragon of speed merchants?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Ah, don't stats mean everything? If he had four triples, he must be a plus runner, no? I wish I had seen some of them, as maybe the opposing team was playing with two outfielders, a la my 25+ beer league team, the Royals here in Raleigh.

 Q:  Todd from West Covina asks:
Given Mark Trumbo's struggles at the plate, would you think it is better to convert him back to pitcher which most scouts had thought projected him to be at the time he was drafted? And what would you think his potential on the mound might be now?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Angels spoke well of Trumbo's development during instructional league, but I have had a tough time believing he would get to his power, based on his approach. He has a hard time getting the bat started, but the Angels were trying to aid his setup and load, hoping that would help his trigger and get the bat head to the hitting zone quicker. They won't be impatient with him, so don't expect him to show up in the pitching stats anytime soon.

 Q:  Stephen Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
Will Jeff Mathis' bat ever come around? I remind people that, at the age Mathis made his big-league debut, Jason Varitek was still in college. Varitek didn't become a big-league regular until he was 26. Mathis was only 23 this year. Is there still room for him to grow?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: We had this debate in the office. I like Mathis, and despite his brutal showing in the big leagues, believe he will re-group and have a productive big league career. His approach and bat speed aren't going to translate into a high average or above-average home run numbers, but when you look across baseball, how many catchers are batting .285-.300 with plus power? Very few. His defense has to carry him, and he didn't defend well in the big leagues either, so that was the most disconcerting aspect of his season, in my opinion. Though scouts who saw him in Triple-A said he was above-average back there, so perhaps, like his hitting, he was overwhelmed in his first real big league action and will be able to figure it out as he gains experience and confidence.

 Q:  Jonathan from Orem asks:
Alan, you've already mentioned a couple of the great Orem pitching staff, but could you touch on Ken Herndon and Trevor Bell, who were also solid Pioneer League pitchers?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I like Herndon quite a bit. Herndon's bread and butter is a hard, heavy sinker that he throws at 89-93 mph. It was described by one scout as a bowling ball. Angels player development personnel enjoy retelling a story abuot Herndon in instructional league this year. His fastball sinks so much that Herndon's first two pitches during an instructional league bullpen session were missed by his catcher, smacking him in the chest. He could become a workhorse No. 4 starter in the big leagues, and will likely begin 2007 in the low Class A Midwest League.

Alan Matthews: Bell and Orem pitching coach Zeke Zimmerman analyzed film of Bell as an amateur, and he improved the tempo of his delivery, which improved his velocity. But he still has not returned to the mid-90s heat he flashed as an amateur before the Angels drafted him 37th overall in 2005. Bell throws a changeup, curve and slider and none of them are present put-away offerings. He will occasionally snap off a plus curve will late bite, but he needs to improve the overall command and consistency of his secondary stuff.

 Q:  H.Humbert from Ramsdale asks:
What does the future hold for young Kotchman? Are batting crowns still atainable, or is he destined for mediocrity? Is he Todd Helton or Carlos Pena (or perhaps, some middling alternative... Eric Karros?)
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Angels maintain that Kotchman was recovered from mono and he was scheduled to play winter ball in Latin America. It's unfair to pass judgement based on this season, as his illness presents a variable impossible to measure. He should have a shot to win the first base job in spring training, and could still fulfill his ceiling as a plus defensive, high-average, modest power hitting everyday first baseman. I'd still rank him ahead of Kendry Morales if the two players were still eligible for this list.

 Q:  Steve from LA asks:
Alan, historically the Angels are very conservative with their prospects - many don't make their full season debuts until about 22 months after they were drafted. However, the system has enjoyed much success. Do you agree with their conservative promotions of prospects?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: That's a fair question. I think the Angels do a nice job of evaluating their system and placing guys at a level where they will be chanllenged, but not over their head. Some teams are far more aggressive (the Dodgers, for example), while still others are even more conservative (see: Pittsburgh), so I think the Angels have a nice common road of the two philosophies. They actually extended Adenhart this year, which was a little surprising, given the fact he was two years post-op. But they want their pitchers to learn how to pitch without their most crisp, fresh stuff, and Adenhart got a chance to do that, which an important part of development.

 Q:  Stephen Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
I realize he's not a "prospect" any more, but what are your thoughts about Dallas McPherson? Should the Angels be patient, or are his back problems such that they should move on?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: If you look at McPherson's track record, he's had consistent injury issues. Some players just simply aren't as durable as others, for whatever reason. I have a hard time believing McPherson is going to be a productive, everyday big leaguer for a contending team.

 Q:  Stephen Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
Last spring, the Angels traded Alberto Callaspo for reliever Jason Bulger. Callaspo made his big-league debut by season's end, while Bulger was hurt much of the year. Any chance the Angels see some value out of Bulger?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The deal was curious, in my opinion, when they made it, and it remains puzzling. It seemed like a function of their surplus of middle infielders, almost pawning a piece they knew had value in exchange for a lesser piece they hoped would turn into value at a position of greater need. In case you missed it, Alexi Casilla (the shortstop the Angels dealt to the Twins for JC Romero) also made his major league debut and ranked among their top 10 prospects this year. Bulger was injured at times this year, so it'd be unwise to write him off just yet, but given his history and report of his stuff and feel for pitching, I don't believe he'll have an impact in Anaheim.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
How close was P.J. Phillips to making the Top 10? What is his long-term projection as a prospect, especially future position? Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Debate over Phillips' ranking created the biggest headaches for my superiors, Jim Callis and John Manuel, both of whom have exponentialy more experience at this than I do. I love Phillips, and thought he was the best position player the Angels brought to instructional league (Conger not withstanding). But he didn't perform well this year, and he hung his head at times, which was something his brother Brandon did and it led Brandon to fall out of favor in Cleveland. P.J. has an easy, quick swing and when he connects, he can drive balls out to all parts of the park. His swing, while long at times, has outstanding leverage. He has plus arm strength, throws accurately from different angles and displays body control on slow rollers. He's an average runner with long, even strides. Poor pitch recognition keeps Phillips’ hitting tools from translating to games consistently. His plan and approach vacillate from at-bat to at-bat, and he needs to improve his focus and attitude in order to overcome his deficiencies. I lost the debate (I had Phillips in my top 10) and he wound up in the 11-20 range.

 Q:  Steve from DeKalb, IL asks:
Brandon Wood's major league position-SS or 3B?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I haven't found a scout that didn't at least give Wood a chance at shortstop. His range is average at best, but he's instinctual and his hands are fine. He's not ever going to be a Gold Glover there, and because the bat is so impressive, he profiles a little better at third base, which is where, in my opinion, he'll wind up playing the majority of his major league career.

 Q:  Steve from Ventura asks:
Rafael Rodriquez started out great at Rancho, got promoted to Arkansas and got lit up. What happened? Is he still a prospect?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The enigmatic Rodriguez made three stellar starts in high Class A to start his season, then climbed to Double-A and never sustained success. He allowed at least five earned runs in 10 of his 24 starts with Arkansas. His max-effort delivery prevents him from maintaining consistency with his stuff and command. His fastball sits between 90-94 mph with late life. One out of five of his mid-80s sliders will show plus hard, sharp break. He has rudimentary feel for his changeup. He often overthrows, misses up in the zone and pitches behind in counts. He's especially vulnerable against lefthanded hitters, which might be one of several factors that point to a relief role in the future. The Angels would have had to place him on their 40-man roster following the 2006 season in order to protect him in the Rule 5 draft, but because of the changes set forth in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they were afforded an additional year to see how he develops. He could open 2007 at Double-A, or be pushed to Triple-A with a successful spring.

 Q:  T from Los Angeles asks:
How good is Richard Aldridge? Reports are that he has a K-Rod-esque slider. Does he have the potential to even come close to Franky's success in the big leagues?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: He's tough to figure out, but his slider is pretty sick when it's on. It comes it at 78-79 mph with three-quarter tilt. Aldridge was Cedar Rapids' closer in 2006 and took to the role well, enjoying a month-long stretch during which he did not allow an earned run, a span of 14 innings. His fastball sits at 92 mph and he can run it up into the mid 90s. He has below-average command. He cuts his delivery off, losing extension and leaving his stuff up. Shoulder problems have hampered his development and this was the first season he maintained durability.

 Q:  Slape from New York asks:
What has become of Joe Torres, the Angels 1st rd. pick in 2000? At this point is he a complete bust?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: He was, unequivocally. He was a minor league free agent this year, and signed by the White Sox.

 Q:  Boris from Phoenix asks:
How does Nick Adenhart stack up against Homer Bailey? They were the two names being tossed around in 2004 as the best high school pitcher available for the draft. Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Bailey and Adenhart, as well as Brewers righthander Mark Rogers and Yankees righthander Phil Hughes were thought to be the top prep pitching prospects in that draft. Not a bad group, though Rogers has not developed as quickly as Hughes and Bailey. Bailey's breaking ball and fastball command are ahead of Adenhart's. Their ceiling is comparable, but you'd have to go with Bailey at this stage of their development.

Alan Matthews: Thanks for all the great questions and your continued interest in Baseball America.