2013 Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Prospects Chat With Ben Badler




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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.

Ben Badler: We're finishing up the Prospect Handbook, getting ready for the Winter Meetings, and cranking out quite a few fascinating things behind the scenes here at BA, but for the next hour or two, let's delve into some Angels prospects.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Is Cowart the only guy likely to make BA's top 100?

Ben Badler: He's in there for me. I don't see anyone else making it.

    Dane (Tampa, FL): What can you tell us about Kole Calhoun? Thanks Ben.

Ben Badler: I've never heard people fawn over a player's makeup like Angels officials do with Kole Calhoun. That means a couple of things: One is that he gets the absolute most out of of physical tools, and two is that the physical tools are a little light. He's got a strong arm and a compact swing, but the ceiling here is probably a fourth or fifth outfielder. The Angels have a fairly righty-heavy outfield, so he's got a chance to get some more big league time this year.

    Paul (NJ): Is Travis Witherspoon on your radar these days? What was the word on him?

Ben Badler: He had a nice start to the year in the Cal League, but he was 23 and really collapsed offensively when he got challenged in Double-A. The athleticism, the speed, the defense, the jumps on balls off the bat, that's all there, but at the plate it's just not a pretty swing and the breaking ball recognition is still pretty raw. There's a long way to go.

    Bob (CA): You're writeup implies that Cowart might start back in Hi-A. With a pretty solid half season under his belt I figured he'd be ready for AA. Do you think there are enough rough edges in his game that he needs to be on a slower development path?

Ben Badler: We wrote that he should make the jump to Double-A next year, and I think that's what's going to happen. He's ready to handle it, and I think you're going to see the Angels push certain prospects along faster than they did in the previous regime. We started to see it last year with some aggressive assignments, and when I asked Angels officials whether that was a philosophical change they're making, the answer was a resounding yes.

    Nick (Cary, NC): It looks like each of the pitchers in the top 10 has a good chance of ending up in the bullpen; which has the best shot at being in a major league rotation?

Ben Badler: A great point and a great question. I'd go wit Maronde, partly because he's just more developed than anyone else on the list. On stuff alone, I think he could be a starter, but the durability is a definite concern. Clevinger absolutely has the repertoire to be a starter, but again with him, it's more about whether he can stay healthy for a starter's workload. With Wood, Alvarez and Sappington, just about everything with points to likely futures in the bullpen.

    Unlisted (Long Island): A lot of players with questions on there secondary pitches, where did AJ Schugel fall? Seems like he may not have the ceiling but he definitely has a higher floor than some of the guys on the list.

Ben Badler: Just missed the Top 10, but he was close. You're right, not a high-ceiling guy, but he's got a nice fastball/changeup combination, sits around 89-93 with downhill angle and then uses a changeup that's improved quite a bit to get some swings and misses. The breaking ball is slurvy and that's always going to be a red flag for me especially with a righthanded pitcher, but if things break right for him you could have a back-end starter.

    Alan (Culver City): With Dipoto at the Helm and new director in Carlos Gomez do you see the Angels being aggressive in going after international talent?

Ben Badler: I do. Part of the Angels' lack of spending on the international front in recent years is because they didn't have a scouting staff in place for a while after they fired Clay Daniel and wiped out his staff there a few years ago. Marc Russo helped them get back to respectability, and I'm sure the Angels will try to build on that now with Gomez in charge.

    Austin (Amherst): Michael Roth doesnt figure to have a huge impact if he ever does reach the majors. However as a high profile succesful college pitcher what level do you think he will begin next season at? and should we ever expect him to don an MLB uniform even as a lefty specialist?

Ben Badler: I respect the heck out of what Roth did at South Carolina, but there's a reason there were 296 players drafted ahead of him this year. The stuff doesn't grade out well, but it's a lot of deception, pitchability, guile and moving his arm slot and the ball around to keep hitters off balance. Maybe he can get away with that as a lefty reliever who doesn't have to get through the order multiple times. Maybe he's baseball's version of Tim Tebow. I don't have high expectations, but I think I'm with a lot of people who are just very curious to see how his skill set translates.

    Kyle (LAX): Did evaluators have anything positive to report about Chevy Clarke this year?

Ben Badler: Not a Top 30 guy. Most of the scout comments I got were from guys wondering how he was ever a first-round pick.

    Raul (Tucson, Az): Ben, this is a real weak top 10. Is there anyone on this list that wouldn't be good enough to make some other organization's top 30?

Ben Badler: You're right, it's not a good system. Having looked at some of our other Top 30s, yeah, I think in some of the deepest systems, you could make a case to leave a guy like Sappington or Yarbrough just off the 30, but it's not like they're are just org guys; they're legitimate prospects. Once you get a little deeper though . . . yeah, you have to start squinting a little bit to get excited.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Name us a sleeper from the class A levels.

Ben Badler: Eric Stamets, their sixth-round pick this year out of Evansville, is a potentially elite defensive shortstop who's quick, explosive, has great range and can make some highlight-reel plays. That bat has a lot of catching up to do and his funky swing and lack of power are probably going to be issues as he moves up, but the defense alone makes him worth keeping an eye on.

    Ryan D. (Tampa, FL): Will Kaleb Cowart be the first "prototypical" third basemen for the Angels since Glaus? Figgins had success over there before heading to Seattle, but since then it seems like it has been patch work to fill the position.

Ben Badler: I think so. What's exciting about Cowart isn't just that he has the physical tools and a swing that should work at higher levels, but he showed he can make adjustments during the season to get better. He got better with his lefty swing, his plate discipline improved and he's just become a very well-rounded player. Pretty easy call for their No. 1 prospect this year.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): If you had to predict right now what Maronde's future role will be this time next year, what say you?

Ben Badler: Probably will depend on the makeup of the big league pitching staff. If they need a starter, he could certainly step in, and it's not like the Angels have a whole bunch of other options for starting pitchers waiting in Triple-A or Double-A. If they don't have a need, they'll probably just stick him in the bullpen, although keeping him stretched out as a starter to start the year in Triple-A might be another option.

    Matt (Minnesota): What happened to Cam Bedrosian this year? Were the poor results more related to the stuff not returning after Tommy John or just lack of command?

Ben Badler: Just a big step backward this year. With a guy like Tillman, the velocity was at least still there, but Bedrosian just looked out of sync all year. The fastball wasn't as sharp as it had been in the past, the breaking stuff was loopy and he completely lost his feel for the strike zone, so there wasn't even much chance for him to work on his secondary stuff because he was behind in so many counts. The arm speed was down, and you just have to hope that comes back and that 2012 was just him being slow to come back from Tommy John. Next year will be huge for him.

    Jason (Walnut Creek, CA): Is Mark Trumbo the most under-rated player in Baseball ?

Ben Badler: I'm still trying to figure out how none of the AL MVP voters used any of their 10 spots to vote for Austin Jackson.

    Franz (Bristol, Maine): Without the Greinke trade, where would Pena, Hellwig and Segura fit on this list?

Ben Badler: That would be three of your top five prospects. I haven't put together a Top 100 list yet, but when we do our BA Grades for the Prospect Handbook, I'd have Cowart and Segura both as 60/Medium, give or take half a grade, so it's close. Then I'd go Hellweg, Maronde, Pena to round out the top five, although you could argue Maronde over Hellweg depending on your risk tolerance.

    Steve (Las Vegas): What are your thoughts on Luis Jimenez? He continues to put up big numbers at every level.

Ben Badler: Until he learns to be more selective at the plate, he's going to just be a good Triple-A hitter. There's more upside in there than that because he has power and he doesn't strike out excessively, but he swings at too many borderline pitches right now and needs to do a better job with pitches on the outer half. There are some things to like there, but he hasn't shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate that you'd like to have seen at this point in his career.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Cron looks to have an impact bat, but being limited to 1B and DH where do you see his path to the majors, with Pujols, Morales, and Trumbo all in his way? Someone moving in a deal I guess?

Ben Badler: It's an obstacle for Cron, but first he needs to be able to take the developmental steps to be able to handle an everyday job at 1B or even DH regardless of who's ahead of him. He has the raw power and the bat-to-ball ability, but you just can't afford to have a first baseman who only walks 20 or so times in a season. It's not just the walks, but having the plate discipline to able to get into counts with leverage for the hitter rather than chasing pitchers' pitches. If he can do that and become a passable defender at first base, then yeah, someone's going to have to move, but there's still work to do before Cron forces the Angels to make any tough decisions.

    Fred (New York): What differentiates a bat like Cron's from other guys with some chance to hit for average and power like Avisail Garcia and Oswaldo Arcia? If Cron's bat is the least of those guys, what makes it less good?

Ben Badler: Just on pure offensive ability, I'd put Cron in the middle, with Oswaldo Arcia at the top. Arcia is calm, balanced, has good bat speed and a better batting eye than Cron or Garcia. I like Cron's swing more than Avisail Garcia's, but if we're talking about overall value, Garcia has the tools to be a solid right fielder, whereas Cron (in addition to the health concerns) is a first baseman with DH-caliber defense.

    Not Jaypers (Wisconsin): Ben, What stats can the Angels expect to get from Grichuk once he arrives in the show, what do you anticipate his ETA to be. Thanks

Ben Badler: Depends on what kind of adjustments he can make—and I feel like I'm writing this a lot this year for Angels prospects—with his plate discipline. There were a lot of players the Angels brought into the system through the previous regime that were complete free-swingers, which is just the opposite of what the Angels are trying to cultivate under Dipoto and his development team. Just getting on the field and staying healthy was a big step for Grichuk; now let's see if he can tighten his strike zone and make some adjustments with his swing, because he's got plenty of bat speed and strength already.

    Warren (New London): If people are wondering how Chevy Clarke was ever a first round pick, what are they saying about Ryan Bolden?

Ben Badler: Yikes. With the new front office, I don't think you're going to see the Angels draft super high-risk guys like Bolden that high any more. Certainly not a Top 30 guy.

    Unlisted (Long Island): Can you see Randall Grichuk have one year where his numbers put him in the same class as Trout>? I think he has a career year in him with 30+ HR's and #s he will never come close to duplicating.

Ben Badler: I can't, but that says more about how amazing Mike Trout is than anything else. From everything I'm told, Grichuk and Trout are friends, and like I wrote it sounds like that's a motivator for Grichuk, but it's just tough for anyone to have to always be compared to Mike Trout. He's on another planet.

Ben Badler: Always love doing these BA subscriber chats, so thanks as always for the sharp questions. We've got the A's Top 10 Friday, then the Mariners and Rangers next week to finish of the American League Top 10s. Have a great day.