Los Angels Angels: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Los Angeles Angels: Scouting Reports




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, 2009.

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Los Angeles Angels

The Angels seemed to have everything going their way when the 2008 playoffs opened. They owned the majors' best record at 100-62, and ran away with the American League West for their fourth division crown in five years. With the additions of Torii Hunter and Mark Teixeira, they had their most dangerous heart of the order since winning the 2002 World Series.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, its 2008 season ended like so many other have recently. The Red Sox ushered them out of the AL playoffs for the third time in five years, and the Angels have won just one of their past five postseason series. It was a sour ending, and key players such as Garrett Anderson, Jon Garland, record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez and Teixeira became free agents after the season.
Still, the Angels remain in position to contend for the foreseeable future. Their 2008 Opening Day payroll of $119 million ranked sixth among the 30 teams, and owner Arte Moreno remains committed to winning through both free agency and player development. In his first season as general manager, former farm director Tony Reagins moved aggressively to bolster his team, signing Hunter as a free agent and swinging trades for Garland and Teixeira.
As usual, Los Angeles got a ton of mileage from homegrown talent. Garland was the only import in the rotation, as John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver combined for 56 wins. Rodriguez and Scot Shields continued to anchor the bullpen, with assistance from Jose Arredondo. Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli ably shared catching duties, double-play partners Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar continued to develop and Anderson extended his franchise career leadership in several offensive categories.
More new faces could be on the way. The Angels will try to re-sign Teixeira, but if they can't, that could mean the first extended opportunity for slugger Kendry Morales since he signed a $4.5 million major league contract after defecting from Cuba. The system's top prospect, righthander Nick Adenhart, could replace Garland in the rotation. Infielders Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Wood are ready for expanded roles after decimating Triple-A pitching, and reliever Kevin Jepsen could help offset the expected loss of Rodriguez.
Los Angeles' U.S.-based affiliates combined for a .542 winning percentage in 2008, the system's best performance since 1995. Triple-A Salt Lake opened 22-1, the best start ever by a minor league team and was one of three full-season affiliates to reach the playoffs. Double-A Arkansas won an improbable Texas League title after a 62-78 regular season, and low Class A Cedar Rapids reached the Midwest League finals.
While the franchise emphasizes scouting and development, its thirst for free agents presents a hurdle in the draft that has been difficult to overcome. The Angels have yielded their first-round pick as free-agent compensation in three of the last four drafts, and no team spent less on the 2007-08 drafts than their $4.5 million.
They've tried to make up for their lack of top choices by signing draft-and-follow Jordan Walden for $1 million in May 2007 and 11th-round shortstop Rolando Gomez for $450,000 last July. Los Angeles also inked Korean righthander Pil Joon Jang for a reported $560,000 in September.

1.  Nick Adenhart, rhp   Born: Aug. 24, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt:185
 Drafted: HS—Williamsport, Md., 2004 (14th round)Signed by: Dan Radcliff
Nick AdenhartBackground: Baseball America's Youth Player of the Year in 2003, Adenhart rivaled Homer Bailey as the top high school pitching prospect in the 2004 draft until he blew out his elbow that May and needed Tommy John surgery. Undaunted, the Angels drafted Adenhart in the 14th round and signed him for $710,000. Adenhart began 2008 by going 4-0, 0.87 in his first five starts at Triple-A Salt Lake before Los Angeles whisked him to the big leagues and asked him to pitch on three days' rest against the Athletics. The experiment bombed, as he lasted just two innings and gave up five earned runs on three hits and five walks. After he continued to struggle with his control in subsequent starts against the Royals and White Sox, the Angels returned him to Triple-A and he never found his April groove again. Adenhart won just one of his next 10 starts and went 5-13, 7.08 the rest of the way.

Strengths: Despite his struggles, Adenhart continued to show quality stuff. He works off a 90-95 mph fastball that rides in on righthanders. He also has two promising secondary pitches, a hard curveball and a rapidly improving changeup. He has good arm speed, fade and sink on his changeup, which is more reliable than his curve. He uses his size to throw his pitches on a downward trajectory that makes it difficult to drive the ball against him. Adenhart has topped 150 innings in each of the last three seasons, burying any concerns about his health, with his only missed time coming with a minor sore shoulder in 2007. He's a good athlete, which allows him to repeat his delivery and should result in at least solid control and command.

Weaknesses: An inability to execute his pitches hampered Adenhart in Triple-A. When he got into jams, he couldn't pitch his way out. He nibbled too much and became too predictable when he fell behind in the count. He had trouble throwing his curveball for strikes, and the pitch lacks consistent depth. His struggles with his curve are part of the reason righthanders handled him more easily than lefties, batting .314/.388/.497 against him. Adenhart's command deserted him at times in 2007 as well, and Los Angeles has tried to get him to understand that he doesn't need to pitch away from contact. The Angels believe he might have gotten lost trying to please his coaches rather than pitch to his strengths.

The Future: The Angels still believe in Adenhart, but general manager Tony Reagins has commented that Adenhart needs to start putting things together from a mental standpoint. It's likely that he could spend much of 2009 in Triple-A, as Los Angeles will have at most one opening in its rotation. If the Angels don't re-sign free agent Jon Garland or import another veteran, Adenhart will compete with Nick Green, Dustin Moseley and Anthony Ortega for the No. 5 starter's job in spring training. As stunning as his struggles were in 2008, Adenhart is still just 22 and has a chance to become a frontline starter if he does a better job of using his quality stuff.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Salt Lake (AAA)
Los Angeles
9

1
13

0
5.76

9.00
26

3
26

3
0

0
0

0
145.1

12
173

18
15

0
75

13
110

4
.306

.360
 
2.  Jordan Walden, rhp  Born: Nov. 16, 1987. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-5. WT.: 220.
 DRAFTED: Grayson County (Texas) CC, D/F 2006 (12th round). SIGNED BY: Arnold Braithwaite.
Jordan WaldenBackground: Walden fell to the 12th round after entering 2006 as the top high school prospect in the draft, but he boosted his stock with a year at Grayson County (Texas) Community College and signed for $1 million as a draft-and-follow. He has justified the investment so far, reaching high Class A Rancho Cucamonga in his first full pro season  as that team threatened the playoffs. He also  showed the strongest arm in the system.

Strengths: Walden's calling card remains his fastball, which touched 101 and sat at 91-94 mph in 2008. He throws it on an impressive downward plane, and one observer said facing his heater was "like trying to hit a brick." His 86-87 mph slider has good tilt. He pitches to both sides of the plate and has the frame to be a workhorse.

Weaknesses: Against more advanced hitters, Walden will need to fine-tune his secondary pitches. He needs to dust off his changeup to better set up his fastball. His slider is inconsistent, at times losing velocity and shape. During instructional league, Los Angeles had him focus on repeating his delivery, which would help improve his command.

The Future: Walden projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter with an ETA of mid-2010. If he doesn't open 2009 in Double-A Arkansas, he should get there by the end of the season.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Cedar Rapids (LoA)
4
6
2.18
18
18
1
0
107.1
80
3
32
91
.207
R. Cucamonga (HiA)
5
2
4.04
9
9
0
0
49
42
4
24
50
.226
 
3.  Peter Bourjos, of   Born: March 31, 1987. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 175.
 DRAFTED: HS—Scottsdale, Ariz., 2005 (10th round). SIGNED BY: John Gracio.
Peter BourjosBackground: The son of former big leaguer and current Brewers scout Chris Bourjos, Peter signed for an above-slot $325,000 as a 10th-round pick in 2005. Hand injuries hampered his first taste of full-season ball in 2007, but they did not impact his impressive speed. He rebounded to lead the high Class A California League with 50 steals in 2008, and ranked fifth in the circuit with 150 hits.

Strengths: Bourjos is a legitimate center fielder with plus-plus speed, the ability to cover both gaps with ease and a solid arm. He improved as a basestealer in 2008, succeeding on 83 percent of his attempts, up from 70 percent previously in his career. He has good bat speed, drives balls to the gaps and could have at least average power. His arm is solid for center field.

Weaknesses: Despite his solid season, there are still questions about Bourjos' bat. He has a funky swing and though he showed some improvement, he still chases pitches out of the strike zone and rarely walks. He'll need to show a much more patient approach to realize his potential as a leadoff hitter. He struggles to make adjustments at times, leading to extended slumps.

The Future: Bourjos was 21 last season, so he still has plenty of time to improve. The Angels don't need to rush him and will send him to Double-A in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
R. Cucamonga (HiA)
.295
.326
.444
509
83
150
29
10
9
51
19
96
50
 
4.  Trevor Reckling, lhpBorn: May 22, 1989. B-T: L-L. HT.: 6-2. WT.: 205. 
 DRAFTED: HS—Newark, N.J, 2007 (8th round). SIGNED BY: Greg Morhardt.
Trevor RecklingBackground: Overshadowed among New Jersey high schoolers by Rick Porcello in 2007 and on low Class A Cedar Rapids' staff by Jordan Walden in 2008, Reckling is starting to make a name for himself. The Midwest League's youngest regular starting pitcher last season—he didn't turn 19 until late May—led the Kernels with 10 wins and spun a 29-inning scoreless streak.

Strengths: Reckling could have three pitches that grade better than average. His drop-off-the-table curveball has the most upside. He spots his 87-91 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and down in the strike zone. His changeup may be his most dependable pitch, which is unusual for a teenager. He's a good athlete with a smooth delivery, and he does a nice job of staying on top of his pitches with a high-three-quarters arm slot.

Weaknesses: Reckling's curveball has so much movement that he's still working to command it consistently, and he can fall in love with it at times. He tired late in the season, going 3-5, 5.72 in his final nine starts, so he'll need to get stronger. He had a difficult time settling in at the start of games, as his 6.23 ERA and .324 opponent average in the first inning were easily his highest in any frame.
 
The Future: The Angels tend to play it conservatively with high school draft picks, so Reckling probably will spend all of 2009 in high Class A. He has a ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Cedar Rapids (LoA)
10
7
3.37
26
26
1
0
152.1
137
8
59
128
.246
 
5.  Sean O'Sullivan, rhp   Born: Sept. 1, 1987. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-1. WT.: 220.
 220. DRAFTED: Grossmont (Calif.) JC, D/F 2005 (3rd round). SIGNED BY: Tim Corcoran.
Sean O'SullivanBackground: Like Jordan Walden, O'Sullivan entered his senior year as the top prep pitching prospect in the nation, saw his velocity and his stock drop and signed the following spring as a draft-and-follow. While O'Sullivan never regained his power stuff, he has made the transformation into a crafty pitcher who can toy with hitters. That he knows how to win understandably has the Angels excited. He won ERA titles in each of his first two pro seasons and led the California League with 16 victories in his third.

Strengths: O'Sullivan no longer overpowers hitters, but he gets them out by commanding three pitches that rate as average or slightly above. His fastball tops out at 92 mph, so he changes speeds and keeps it down with decent life, generating groundouts. He also throws a curveball and changeup. He's aggressive in the strike zone and extremely poised.

Weaknesses: It remains to be seen how well O'Sullivan will fare against advanced hitters without a true out pitch. His fastball could use more movement, and his curve could use tighter spin. His stuff tends to drop off after five innings, which means he might be better as a middle reliever than as a workhorse starter.

The Future: Double-A will be a good test for O'Sullivan in 2009. If his secondary stuff comes around, he could be a No. 4 starter on a big league contender.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
R. Cucamonga (HiA)
16
8
4.73
28
25
1
0
158
167
8
50
111
.268
 
6.  Kevin Jepsen, rhp  Born: July 26, 1984. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-3. WT.: 215.
 DRAFTED: HS—Sparks, Nev., 2002 (2nd round). SIGNED BY: Todd Blyleven.
Kevin JepsenBackground: Jepsen labored for five seasons in Class A, partly because he had to overcome a torn labrum in 2004. Not only did the Angels not protect him on their 40-man roster after the 2007 season, but they also didn't invite him to big league camp. Yet he ended the season with an Olympic bronze medal—he didn't allow a run in six innings for Team USA in Beijing—and a spot on Los Angeles' playoff roster.

Strengths: Jepsen's fastball buzzes in the mid-90s and seems to have late jump that makes it tougher to hit. His true 12-to-6 curveball gives hitters fits and changes their eye level. He works down in the zone and his pitches are tough to lift, as evidenced by his 2.3 airout/groundout ratio in 2008. He moved to the bullpen in 2006.

Weaknesses: Jepsen can get erratic at times with his fastball and gets into jams when he doesn't throw strikes. He relied on overmatching minor league hitters and will have to learn how to set up big leaguers.

The Future: Free agent Francisco Rodriguez's potential departure could open  a full-time role in the Angels bullpen for Jepsen. Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields will get the first shot to replace Rodriguez as closer, but Jepsen could contend for the job in the future.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Arkansas (AA)
2
1
1.42
25
0
0
11
31.2
22
0
18
35
.198
Salt Lake (AAA)
1
3
2.35
15
0
0
2
23
17
3
12
21
.213
Los Angeles
0
1
4.32
9
0
0
0
8.1
8
0
4
7
.250
 
7.  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.
Hank CongerBackground: A second-generation Korean-American, Conger's grandfather nicknamed him after his favorite player, Hank Aaron. Since signing for $1.35 million, Conger has been limited from showing off his own power by a string of hand, back, hamstring and shoulder injuries. He didn't begin the 2008 season until May 31 and caught only 10 games. But he was a postseason hero, with 13 RBIs in eight games as Arkansas won an improbable Texas League championship.

Strengths: Conger has prodigious power from both sides of the plate, making him a bigger offensive threat than most catchers. He can let balls travel deep before turning his quick bat loose and driving them a long way. Above-average arm strength is his biggest asset on defense.

Weaknesses: Because he has caught just 91 games in three pro seasons, Conger has yet to prove he can stay behind the plate. He's a well-below-average runner who lacks agility and quick footwork, which in turn hampers his release on throws. He can get too aggressive as a hitter, and he's much more effective hitting lefthanded than righthanded.

The Future: The Angels didn't want Conger to risk re-injuring his shoulder, so they didn't have him throw in instructional league. He'll resume catching in Double-A in 2009 and has all-star potential if he can stay healthy and improve defensively.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
R. Cucamonga (HiA)
.303
.333
.517
294
47
89
20
2
13
75
14
55
2
 
8.  Mark Trumbo, 1b   Born: Jan. 16, 1986. B-T: R-R. HT.:
6-4. WT.: 220.
 DRAFTED: HS—Villa Park, Calif., 2004 (18th round). SIGNED BY: Tim Corcoran.
Mark TrumboBackground: The Angels intercepted Trumbo before he began classes at Southern California in 2004, signing him for an 18th-round-record $1.425 million. Though most teams liked him more as a pitcher, Los Angeles was more intrigued with his power potential. He made slow but steady improvement before exploding in 2008, leading Angels farmhands with 32 homers and 93 RBIs.

Strengths: Trumbo has plus power, and when he gets his arms extended he can crush the ball. He has made a conscious effort to be less pull-conscious. He doesn't strike out excessively for a slugger. He has a strong arm, especially for a first baseman.

Weaknesses: Trumbo will need to hone his plate discipline to handle more advanced pitchers with better command. His value lies almost totally in his bat, as he's not much of an athlete, runner or defender. He has put in time to improve his footwork at first base, yet he still made 22 errors in 124 games there last season.

The Future: Scouts are curious to see how Trumbo will handle better breaking balls in the upper minors. He'll start 2009 in Double-A and if all goes well, he could challenge for a big league job by mid-2010.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
R. Cucamonga (HiA)
.283
.329
.553
407
70
115
28
2
26
68
26
67
7
Arkansas (AA)
.276
.311
.496
123
13
34
7
1
6
25
7
29
1
 
9.  Anthony Ortega, rhp  Born: Aug. 24, 1985. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-0. WT.: 170. 
 Drafted: Venezuela, 2003. SIGNED BY: Carlos Porte.
Anthony OrtegaBackground: Ortega won just 18 games in his first four pro seasons before earning 14 victories in 2008, when the Angels named him their minor league pitcher of the year. He cemented his breakthrough season by winning five of his six Triple-A starts.

Strengths: Ortega took off once he started doing a better job of pitching down in the zone and generating more groundouts. His best pitch is his fastball, which ranges from 90-95 mph. He has enhanced his fastball with improved feel for his changeup. His curveball is an average pitch. He does a good job of throwing strikes and keeping his pitch counts down, which allowed him to work at least six innings in 20 of his 28 starts last season.

Weaknesses: Ortega doesn't have an out pitch, so he has to be pinpoint with his location. He doesn't beat himself with walks but he's hittable because he's always around the zone. Like many young pitchers, he can do a better job of repeating his pitches. He must work on his focus and avoid the mental lapses that plague him at times.

The Future: While he doesn't have a high ceiling, Ortega could become a No. 4 starter in the majors. If the Angels don't re-sign Jon Garland or add a veteran to replace him, Ortega will compete for the final spot in the rotation during spring training.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Arkansas (AA)
9
7
3.73
22
22
1
0
135
124
11
49
83
.247
Salt Lake (AAA)
5
0
2.52
6
6
0
0
39.1
46
2
6
22
.282
 
10.  Mason Tobin, rhp   Born: July 8, 1987. B-T: R-R. HT.: 6-4. WT.: 220.
 DRAFTED: Everett (Wash.) CC, 2007 (16th round). SIGNED BY: Casey Harvie.
Mason TobinBackground: The Braves controlled Tobin's rights for two years as a draft-and-follow before Los Angeles signed him for $125,000 as a 16th-rounder in 2007. He didn't allow a run in his first three outings last season, but he strained his shoulder shortly afterward and didn't pitch after June 6.

Strengths: After showing average velocity in his pro debut, Tobin worked in the low 90s and touched 97 mph in low Class A before his shoulder acted up. He has heavy sink and nice armside run on his heater, which he delivers from a low three-quarters arm slot. He also flashes a hard slider. His size and less-than-fluid delivery combined to make him an intimidating presence on the mound.

Weaknesses: Tobin's slider gets slurvy at times and his changeup is just in its rudimentary stages, allowing hitters to sit on his fastball. He sometimes gets under his pitches, causing them to flatten out. His shoulder isn't a long-term worry, though it did cost him valuable development time. He pitches with some effort in his delivery, which causes more concern about his durability.

The Future: The Angels expect Tobin to be healthy for spring training and probably will ease him back into pitching at high Class A. If he doesn't refine his secondary pitches, his fastball alone could make him a dynamic reliever.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Cedar Rapids (LoA)
2
3
3.13
8
8
1
0
37.1
29
2
18
18
.225

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Photo Credits: Bill Mitchell (Adenhart, Bourjos, Reckling, O'Sullivan, Jepsen)
Steve Moore (Walden, Conger)
Larry Goren (Trumbo)