2012 Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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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, 2011.

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Los Angeles Angels

If you want to know the standard the Angels hold themselves to these days, witness the changes that took place after they completed an 86-76 season.

Los Angeles reeled off its seventh winning season in the last eight, but missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2000-01, Mike Scioscia's first two years as manager. What's more, the Rangers repeated as the American League West champion and AL pennant winner, with a former Angel as a driving force.

The Angels' January 2011 trade of Mike Napoli not only skewed the balance of power in the AL West, but it also led to a front-office overhaul.

General manager Tony Reagins dealt Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells—and the full $86 million left on his bloated contract. Toronto then flipped Napoli to Texas, where he led all big league catchers in hitting (.320), on-base percentage (.414), slugging (.631) and homers (30). To top it off, he batted .328 with three homers in the playoffs.

Wells had a terrible season, hitting 25 homers but posting a .248 on-base percentage. Jeff Mathis hit .174 after picking up the bulk of the catching duties in Napoli's absence, and Los Angeles plummeted to 10th in the AL in runs scored.

The changes came swiftly. Two days after the season ended, owner Arte Moreno forced Reagins to resign. He later fired farm director Abe Flores and assistant GMs Ken Forsch and Gary Sutherland.

The Angels hired Diamondbacks senior vice president of scouting and player development Jerry Dipoto to replace Reagins in late October. Dipoto retained Ric Wilson as amateur scouting director and hired Red Sox scout Hal Morris as pro scouting director. He also hired Rangers farm director Scott Servais as assistant GM.

Emboldened by a new $3 billion, 20-year local television deal with Fox, the new front office dramatically improved the roster. Dipoto signed the most coveted position player and pitcher on the free agent market, landing Albert Pujols with a 10-year, $254 million contract and then signing  C.J. Wilson away from the Rangers for five years and $77.5 million.

Dipoto also upgraded the Angels at catcher, dealing righthander Tyler Chatwood (the system's No. 2 prospect a year ago) to the Rockies for Chris Iannetta, then dealing Mathis to the Blue Jays for Brad Mills.

Chatwood was one of six Angels rookies in 2011. Jordan Walden rode a 98 mph fastball to 32 saves and a place on the AL all-star team, while Mark Trumbo belted 29 homers and finished runner-up for AL rookie of the year honors. Unless he learns a new position, however, Trumbo becomes redundant with the acquisition of Pujols.

Last season, the trio of Mathis, Trumbo and Wells extinguished many a rally by combining for a .262 on-base percentage. In 2012, Los Angeles could replace that trio in the lineup with Iannetta, Pujols and elite prospect Mike Trout. Those upgrades, combined with a stout rotation featuring Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Wilson and Ervin Santana, give the Angels hope of snapping their two-year playoff drought.

1. Mike Trout, of Born: Aug. 7, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Millville (N.J.) HS, 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: Greg Morhardt
Mike TroutBackground:  Despite his athleticism, Trout's Northeast pedigree and reported $3.5 million price tag prompted clubs to hedge their bets on draft day in 2009. He waited until pick No. 25 to hear his name called by the Angels, signed for $1.215 million and has made the 22 teams that passed on him regret it ever since. Trout starred in the 2010 Futures Games in Anaheim, going 2-for-4 with a double, and then made his big league debut in the same ballpark less than a year later on July 8, 2011. On July 24, he became the first teenager to hit a big league homer since Justin Upton in 2007. Trout ranked as the top prospect in all four leagues he played in on his rapid climb up the minor league ladder. He won the batting and on-base percentage titles in the low Class A Midwest (2010) and Double-A Texas (2011) leagues, and he owns a career  .338 average and .422 OBP in the minors. Trout capped his wild ride by winning Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2011, hitting .326/.414/.544 as the lone teenager in the Texas League.

Scouting Report:  Strong, broad-shouldered and built like a football safety, Trout has a high baseball IQ and full-throttle approach that allow him to get the absolute most out of his tools, four of which grade as future plusses or better. He combines a rare blend of bat control, strike-zone management, blazing speed and burgeoning power. His running speed continues to garner the most initial attention. He gets down the first-base line in four seconds flat from the right side to grade as a true 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Some evaluators believe he may slow to merely a plus runner as he fills out, but others aren't so pessimistic. A dangerous hitter because of his balanced, quick swing and discerning eye, Trout also remembers how pitchers attack him and makes adjustments on the fly. Double-A hurlers had some success pounding him on the inner half with fastballs, but he avoided slumps by looking to drive the ball line to line and using the opposite field when necessary. Trout connected for a career-high 16 home runs in 2011 while playing in unforgiving home parks, and that total only will increase as he learns to turn on more fastballs in hitter's counts. Some scouts project Trout as an annual .300 hitter with 25-plus homers and 40-plus steals. He completes the five-tool picture with plus range in center field, where he reads the ball well off the bat, and an accurate, if only average, arm.

The Future:  Trout wore down as his season stretched into September, October and November for the first time. He went just 10-for-55 (.182) with no homers in 18 games for the Angels in September, then batted .245/.279/.321 in 25 Arizona Fall League games. Because Los Angeles optioned him to Double-A Arkansas for half of August, he retains his rookie eligibility for 2012. Just 20, he could win most of the playing time in left field if Vernon Wells continues to freefall. Center field is out of the question so long as future Gold Glover Peter Bourjos roams that pasture. Regardless, Trout's offensive potential makes him a future perennial all-star at any position.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Angels (R) 164 29 59 7 7 1 25 18 28 13 2 .360 .418 .506
'09 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 15 1 4 0 0 0 0 4 6 0 0 .267 .421 .267
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 312 76 113 19 7 6 39 46 52 45 9 .362 .454 .526
'10 R. Cucamonga (HiA) 196 30 60 9 2 4 19 27 33 11 6 .306 .388 .434
'11 Arkansas (AA) 353 82 115 18 13 11 38 45 76 33 10 .326 .414 .544
'11 Los Angeles (MAJ) 123 20 27 6 0 5 16 9 30 4 0 .220 .281 .390
Major League Totals 123 20 27 6 0 5 16 9 30 4 0 .220 .281 .390
Minor League Totals 1040 218 351 53 29 22 121 140 195 102 27 .338 .422 .508

2. Jean Segura, ss Born: March 17, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 160
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Leo Perez.
Jean SeguraBackground:  After a broken ankle in 2008 and broken finger in 2009, Segura stayed healthy and broke out in 2010 at low Class A Cedar Rapids. But the injury bug returned last year as he missed all but 52 games with a torn hamstring.

Scouting Report:  Segura matured as a hitter in 2011, demonstrating a willingness to use the entire field and a more patient approach that put him in hitter's counts more frequently. His strength and explosive, quick-twitch actions excite evaluators almost as much as his short, direct swing. His bat is lightning-quick, and he could consistently bat .290 with as many as 20 homers at his peak because he hits all types of pitches. Scouts regard Segura as an above-average runner, though they qualify that grade by describing his body type as "heavy-legged" or "thick." His arm also grades as plus, which prompted the Angels to move Segura from second base to shortstop last year. His hands and throwing accuracy probably won't play at the position long-term. He has average range at both spots.

The Future:  Despite his injuries, the Angels protected Segura on the 40-man roster in November. He could play shortstop as he climbs to Double-A, but most scouts expect him to man the keystone in the majors, and no later than 2013—if he stays healthy.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'07 Angels (R) 219 39 71 5 2 2 31 22 28 22 6 .324 .392 .393
'08 Angels (R) 36 13 9 0 0 0 4 6 5 1 0 .250 .372 .250
'09 Salt Lake (AAA) 19 2 8 2 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 .421 .421 .526
'09 Orem (R) 162 33 56 10 4 3 21 11 11 11 3 .346 .392 .512
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 515 89 161 24 12 10 79 45 72 50 10 .313 .365 .464
'11 Angels (R) 30 5 11 4 0 1 5 0 3 0 0 .367 .367 .600
'11 Inland Empire (HiA) 185 26 52 9 4 3 21 15 26 18 6 .281 .337 .422
Minor League Totals 1166 207 368 54 22 19 163 99 149 102 25 .316 .370 .449

3. Garrett Richards, rhp Born: May 27, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Oklahoma, 2009 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Arnold Brathwaite.
Garrett RichardsBackground:  Despite his impressive arsenal of pitches, Richards lasted 42 picks in the 2009 draft because he ran up a 6.57 ERA in three years at Oklahoma. He has experienced little resistance in the minors, going 27-8, 3.14 in three seasons. He ranked second in the Texas League in wins (12) and opponent average (.233) and third in ERA (3.15) and WHIP (1.14) last year.

Scouting Report:  Richards learned to sacrifice strikeouts for early-contact outs in 2011. He pitches at 94-95 mph with a sinking, tailing two-seam fastball and holds that velocity all game. His four-seam fastball tops out near 99, and he likes to elevate the pitch for swinging strikes and popups. He de-emphasized his 12-to-6 curveball last season to focus on his 84-89 mph slider, which features power tilt and plus potential. Even his sinking, low-80s changeup has its moments. Richards throws across his body to such a degree that sometimes the life on his sinker and changeup are compromised.

The Future:  Improved fastball command and more faith in his changeup would boost Richard's ceiling to No. 2 starter, though a No. 3 profile is the most likely outcome. He probably will head to Triple-A Salt Lake at the outset of 2012.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Orem (R) 3 1 1.53 8 8 0 35 37 6 6 0 4 30 .259
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 8 4 3.41 19 19 0 108 92 48 41 6 34 108 .221
'10 R. Cucamonga (HiA) 4 1 3.89 7 7 0 35 38 17 15 4 9 41 .268
'11 Arkansas (AA) 12 2 3.15 22 21 0 143 123 58 50 10 40 103 .223
'11 Los Angeles (MAJ) 0 2 5.79 7 3 0 14 16 11 9 4 7 9 .276
Major League Totals 0 2 5.79 7 3 0 14 16 16 9 4 7 9 .276
Minor League Totals 27 8 3.14 56 55 0 321 290 290 112 20 87 282 .231

4. Johnny Hellweg, rhp Born: Oct. 29, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-9 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Florida CC-Jacksonville, 2008 (16th round).  Signed by: Tom Kotchman.
Johnny HellwegBackground:  Signed for $150,000 as a 16th-round selection in 2008, Hellweg walked 129 batters in his first 122 pro innings while working almost exclusively as a reliever. He took off after the Angels shifted him to the rotation at high Class A Inland Empire last June, recording a 2.12 ERA and 80-24 K-BB ratio in 14 starts.

Scouting Report:  Starting every fifth day allowed Hellweg to work on improving his direction to the plate and repeating his arm path during side sessions. Pacing himself also forced him to throttle back his fastball a bit, resulting in dramatically better control. With an almost effortless delivery, Hellweg tops out near 100 mph and sits at 95-97 with his fastball, which features late sink that induces plenty of grounders. He has improved the command of his low-80s breaking ball, which more often resembles a slider with plus lateral break but occasionally resembles a knee-buckling curve when he stays on top of the pitch. He tends to throw his decent changeup with too much velocity, and he used it only sparingly in 2011.

The Future:  Tall and skinny, Hellweg still is growing into his frame and velocity, but if he holds onto his control gains he has No. 2 starter potential. The Angels added him to the 40-man roster in November and Double-A awaits him in 2012.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'08 Angels (R) 1 0 4.98 14 3 0 22 19 28 12 1 38 25 .226
'09 Angels (R) 2 1 2.96 18 0 6 24 16 8 8 0 8 25 .180
'09 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 0 0 1.35 5 0 2 7 4 3 1 0 7 7 .167
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 2 4 4.33 41 0 16 44 20 21 21 2 45 66 .132
'11 Inland Empire (HiA) 6 4 3.73 28 14 0 89 75 43 37 2 59 113 .219
Minor League Totals 11 9 3.82 106 17 24 186 134 134 79 5 157 236 .194

5. C.J. Cron, 1b Born: Jan. 5, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 235
Drafted: Utah, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: John Gracio.
C.J. CronBackground:  Cron hit .434 at Utah and led NCAA Division I with an .803 slugging percentage in 2011 while contending with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The 17th overall pick in June, he signed quickly for $1.467 million and mashed at Rookie-level Orem before dislocating his right kneecap during a swing. Offseason surgery mended his knee but he avoided shoulder surgery through rehabilitation. Cron's father Chris served as the Tigers' Double-A manager in 2011, while his brother Kevin went in the third round to the Mariners.

Scouting Report:  Cron's plus-plus power could translate to 30 homers at his peak. His bat stays on the same plane as the ball, which prevents him from swinging uphill and compromising power for the sake of loft. He uses the whole field and makes adjustments well enough to hit .280 in the big leagues. Pioneer League managers weren't sold on his ability to handle hard stuff inside, though he was considerably dinged up when they saw him. A catcher at Utah prior to his shoulder trouble, Cron projects as an adequate first baseman with an average arm. He's a bottom-of-the-scale runner.

The Future:  Cron's thick, bulky physique turns off some scouts, but nobody will complain as long as he realizes his massive power potential. He could finish the 2012 season in Double-A if he hits the ground running in high Class A.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'11 Orem (R) 143 30 44 5 1 13 41 10 34 0 0 .308 .371 .629
Minor League Totals 143 30 44 5 1 13 41 10 34 0 0 .308 .371 .629

6. Kaleb Cowart, 3b Born: June 2, 1992 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Cook HS, Adel, Ga., 2010 (1st round).  Signed by: Chris McAlpin.
Kaleb CowartBackground:  Most teams preferred Cowart, Baseball America's 2010 High School Player of the Year, as a pitcher, but the two-way standout aspired to hit. The Angels acceded to his wishes and signed him for $2.3 million as the 18th overall pick in 2010. He began the 2011 season by going 18-for-33 (.545) in his first nine games at Orem but batted .248/.312/.388 the rest of the way.

Scouting Report:  Cowart hits with authority to all fields with plus bat speed, but the natural righthanded hitter still isn't comfortable with his lefty stroke. He lacks the same seamless weight transfer and fluidity with his hands while batting lefthanded, resulting in a muscular, loopy swing. He did hit for power in equal measures from both sides at Orem, actually producing a higher average as a lefty (.295) than as a righty (.247). Scouts expect he'll mature into plus power, though he'll need to improve his selectivity to hit for average. Cowart's athleticism and first-step quickness stand out at third base, though he racked up 16 errors in 66 games, most of them on throws when he failed to set his feet. His plus-plus arm strength affords him plenty of time to make plays on any ball he keeps in front of him.

The Future:  Assuming he refines his lefty swing, Cowart profiles as a starting-caliber third baseman. However, he might need as many as four years to fully develop.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Angels (R) 21 0 3 0 0 0 4 0 6 0 0 .143 .136 .143
'10 Orem (R) 5 1 2 0 0 1 3 1 2 0 0 .400 .500 1.000
'11 Orem (R) 283 49 80 12 3 7 40 25 81 11 4 .283 .345 .420
Minor League Totals 309 50 85 12 3 8 47 26 89 11 4 .275 .334 .411

7. Taylor Lindsey, 2b Born: Dec. 2, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale, Ariz., 2010 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: John Gracio.
Taylor LindseyBackground:  The Angels bucked consensus when they drafted Lindsey 37th overall and signed him for $873,000 in 2010, but he validated that selection by winning Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP honors a year later. He led the league in runs (64), hits (105), doubles (28) and extra-base hits (43) while ranking second in batting (.362) and third in slugging (.593).

Scouting Report:  Lindsey makes steady contact against both lefties and righties. He ought to continue to hit for high averages with his buggy-whip lefty stroke, especially after learning to take the outside pitch to left field last season. The Angels love Lindsey's hitting makeup, comparing him with Howard Kendrick because he remains on an even keel whether he collects four hits in a game or none. Lindsey's low hand position and leg kick disrupt his timing against offspeed pitches at times, though he's able to compensate with strong hand-eye coordination. Scouts expect him to grow into average power as he fills out his wiry frame and learns to incorporate his lower half. He's an average defender at second base who ranges well to both sides, though his arm and speed are fringy at best.

The Future:  Lindsey will have to prove his aggressive approach will play at higher levels. His journey will continue in low Class A in 2012.
 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Angels (R) 194 26 55 12 6 0 18 12 33 8 3 .284 .325 .407
'11 Orem (R) 290 64 105 28 6 9 46 13 46 10 4 .362 .394 .593
Minor League Totals 484 90 160 40 12 9 64 25 79 18 7 .331 .366 .519

8. Daniel Tillman, rhp Born: March 14, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Florida Southern, 2010 (2nd round).  Signed by: Tom Kotchman.
Daniel TillmanBackground:  In his 2010 pro debut, Tillman led Pioneer League relievers with 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings and a .195 opponent average. The Angels attempted to stretch him out as a starter in low Class A last year, and though he fared well—going 2-1, 3.09 in five turns—they believe his intensity is better suited for closing. Tillman returned to the bullpen for good on May 22 and logged a 2.52 ERA and a 52-20 K-BB ratio afterward in the Midwest, California and Arizona Fall leagues.

Scouting Report:  Tillman pitches with a 92-95 mph fastball with above-average sink and backs it up with a 78-80 mph slider that finishes low in the zone. He delivers both plus pitches with the same motion and the same three-quarters arm slot, adding to their deception. He improved the depth and power on his slider in the AFL, regularly topping out near 84 mph. Tillman has flashed an average changeup from time to time, but he lacks confidence in the pitch because he has spent the bulk of his amateur and pro career in the bullpen. He'll need to throw more strikes at higher levels.

The Future:  Tillman's quick arm and two quality pitches make him a candidate to ride quickly through the minors. He could open 2012 in Double-A and finish 2013 in the big leagues, eventually emerging as a set-up man.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Orem (R) 2 2 1.95 22 0 10 32 23 8 7 0 10 50 .192
'11 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 5 3 2.04 36 5 12 66 53 21 15 1 32 70 .210
'11 Inland Empire (HiA) 1 0 4.50 7 0 2 8 7 6 4 1 2 8 .226
Minor League Totals 8 5 2.21 65 5 24 106 83 83 26 2 44 128 .207

9. Ariel Pena, rhp Born: May 20, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 190
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2007. Signed by: Freddy Rodriguez.
Ariel PenaBackground:  Signed as a 17-year-old, Pena spent three years in Rookie ball and has pitched just four innings above Class A in five pro seasons. After he ranked second in the high Class A California League with 180 strikeouts last year, he earned a place on the Angels' 40-man roster in November.

Scouting Report:  Pena always has shown plus velocity on his fastball and slider, but his shaky command has held him back. He sits at 92-94 mph with his sinker and touches 98 with his four-seamer, showing explosive life when he stays on top of the ball. He throws a hard, late slider at 82-86 mph, getting both called strikes and swings and misses. He flashes a fringy changeup in the low 80s but lacks consistent feel for it. Though he's big and durable, Pena's delivery features enough effort to prompt some scouts to project him as a reliever. He leaves too many pitches up and to his arm side, while he also jabs at the back of his arm stroke and often loses balance in his delivery, causing his arm to rush to catch up with the rest of his body.

The Future:  Pena can be nearly unhittable when his fastball and slider are working, but he'll have to cut his walk rate (5.3 per nine innings in full-season leagues) to stay in the rotation. He'll begin 2012 in Double-A.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'07 Angels (R) 10 2 2.26 14 14 0 80 62 27 20 1 32 54 .206
'08 Angels (R) 7 3 1.86 15 15 0 97 73 33 20 0 26 110 .201
'09 Angels (R) 5 4 3.83 14 6 0 49 46 26 21 2 15 47 .237
'10 R. Cucamonga (HiA) 0 1 8.71 3 3 0 10 10 10 10 0 13 8 .244
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 7 5 3.76 18 18 0 103 93 51 43 7 60 88 .231
'11 Inland Empire (HiA) 10 6 4.45 27 27 0 152 154 88 75 10 81 180 .253
'11 Salt Lake (AAA) 0 0 2.25 1 1 0 4 7 3 1 0 4 3 .368
Minor League Totals 39 21 3.45 92 84 0 495 445 445 190 20 231 490 .231

10. Nick Maronde, lhp Born: Sept. 5, 1989 B-T: B-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Florida, 2011 (3rd round).  Signed by: Tom Kotchman.
Nick MarondeBackground:  Maronde ran up a 6.15 ERA and lost his rotation spot as a Florida sophomore but rebounded to pitch well in relief in 2011 as the Gators finished runner-up at the College World Series. He signed for $309,600 as a third-round pick and went to the Pioneer League, where he ranked as the top pitching prospect.

Scouting Report:  Maronde returned to starting at Orem, showing above-average velocity, size and the potential for three pitches. He relied heavily on his fastball in college and carried that trend into pro ball, ranging from 90-95 mph and sitting at 92-93 with strong command. He comes right at batters with an up-tempo delivery and has added movement to his four-seam fastball since turning pro. He also improved on a two-seamer that sometimes sinks so dramatically that it resembles a splitter. Maronde flashes an 80-85 mph slider with late break that's untouchable at its best. His fringy changeup plays down because it arrives at the same velocity as his slider.

The Future:  Some scouts project Maronde as a reliever because his strengths lean more toward power than pitchability. The Angels were impressed with his willingness to learn, however, and plan to develop him as a starter. He could jump straight to high Class A for his first full pro season.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Orem (R) 5 0 2.14 11 11 0 46 36 12 11 5 15 50 .206
Minor League Totals 5 0 2.14 11 11 0 46 36 36 11 5 15 50 .206