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Angels Chat with Alan Matthews
Note: This page will refresh itself automatically every two minutes.

Moderator: Alan will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Jim S. from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Of the 4 middle infield prospects, who do you think will ultimately fill the SS and 2B positions for the Angels? Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Welcome to yet another top 10 chat, everyone. The Angels are loaded with talent so this should be lots of fun, no matter what city they choose to call home.

Alan Matthews: Good question right off the bat. Erick Aybar appears to have the spot squarely in his sights, though Wood offers a lot of power, which might be something the Angels choose they want in that spot. If Aybar steps in in 2006 and plays well, perhaps the Angels can make a deal for another one of the shortstops down the line.

 Q:  Stephen C. Smith from Irvine, CA asks:
Alan, where would Jered Weaver have ranked in the Top 10 if he'd been signed by now? Would the list below have just bumped down a notch or would his signing affect who was selected below?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: We were waiting anxiously to hear whether or not Weaver and the Angels agreed to terms before the list was published, though it appears they are not close. Had Weaver signed in time for the list, he would have fallen in the top 10, but probably right in front of Santana or Kendrick.

 Q:  Mike from Salem asks:
I've heard one well-renown talent scout call Kendry Morales a "switch-hitting Miguel Cabrera." Is that accurate, or a little over the top?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: That's quite high praise, though probably not far off. Morales doesn't have the foot speed or range of Cabrera, but he has good instincts which make him versatile, nonetheless. Like Cabrera, Morales' best tool is his bat,

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Hi Alan. I think Kotchman has more upside at the plate than either Upton or Delmon Young. I think he's the best hitting prospect in a long, long, time. Would you agree? Secondly, what would Jepsen have to do to turn the corner in 2005? Control? Secondary pitches? It's certainly not the fastball. Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Not exactly. Young might be a 40-homer-a-year guy and I don't think we'll ever see that out of Kotchman. Right now, Kotchman has more polish than both Young and Upton, but both the Devil Rays' prsopects have slightly higher ceilings.

Alan Matthews: Well, Jepsen had another surgery this fall, so he is a long way from turning any corners. Something in his delivery is preventing his arm from working easily, so he needs to get his mecahnics cleaned up and continue his work on control.

 Q:  Nick from Raleigh asks:
Erwin Santana seems to always get a lot of publicity based on his potential, but with all of his injuries over the years can he still become a #1 SP?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Raleigh question arrives, I'm a resident, thanks for the inquiry . . . Go Duke. Santana has top-of-the-rotation stuff, regardless of his various ailments. He was sharp in instructional league and his velocity was near normal, so there's no reason to believe he can't reach his ceiling as a No. 1 or 2 starter in the future.

 Q:  Brad Z. from Springfield, MO asks:
Hello, Alan. Thanks for the chat. Jumping around a bit here... What kind of offensive numbers do you project for Jeff Mathis in his first 2-3 full seasons in the big leagues? What do the Angels think of Bob Zimmermann and Joe Saunders, and where do they fit in in the Angels top 30? Why are the Angels ready to give MacPherson an everyday job with his limited major league experience...but hesitant with Kotchman? Thanks for your time!
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, Mathis has been compared to Jason Kendall but I think he'll have more power. Let's be reasonable, and project .240-8-59 as a rookie but Mathis has all-star caliber tools, on both sides of the game and might hit .275 each season with 20-25 home runs.

Alan Matthews: Zimmerman is one of a handful od promising future relievers the Angels have stock-loaded in their system. He falls in the 20-30 range. Saunders is in the 10-15 range and had a nice season, showing he had plenty of feel for pitching as well as back-end-of-the-rotation stuff.

Alan Matthews: I think McPherson is being pushed because of circumstance, and if Kotchman had an opening like Dallas has this year, there's no question Kotchman could setep in and inherit an everyday role in 2005.

 Q:  Stephen C. Smith from Irvine, CA asks:
What are the prospects for D.T. McDowell foresaking college football to play pro baseball full-time? I believe you folks quoted the Angels as saying they weren't letting him come back until he did. If he did foresake football, about where would he be on the Angels' top prospects list?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, the Angels were surprised when McDowell chose to pursue his college football ambitions, but the fact that he had some success with Troy, a team that earned a bowl bid, doesn't bode well for McDowell's immediate future with the Angels. He ranks in the 28-32 range.

 Q:  Paul from Arlington asks:
Hi Alan, for just the next two years, if you could stick one of these 3 guys to play 3B for you - which would have the biggest impact: BJ Upton, David Wright, Dallas McPherson?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, I don't forsee BJ Upton playing much third base, he's a shortstop for me, no matter what the D Rays chose to do with him late this past season. "In the next two years" I think I would have to take Wright, simply based on how well he adjusted as a rookie this past season. Long term, however, I would take Dallas.

 Q:  Mike from Manassas VA asks:
Where does Kendry Morales start the season?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Angels insist that Morales is ready to contend for a big league job right away. However, the Angels are big players in the free-agent hunt and if they net a Carlos Beltran or another everyday outfielder, I would suspect Morales would begin the season at Triple-A Salt Lake, which would not necessarily be a bad thing, as it would allow him a chance to get acclimated to the culture and language barrier he'll face in the states.

 Q:  Simon Boisvert from Montreal, Canada asks:
Thanks for the chat, Alan. Is it possible that the Angels' system might be overrated? Kotchman's health is a question mark, MacPherson is already 24 and hasn't proven anything at the major league level, and Jeff Mathis has regressed. Plus, their pitching doesn't seem great. So why is their group of prospects considered way ahead of their division rivals' farm system?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The reasons the Angels system is not overrated are because it is deep, deep in impact potential and it features players at all different positions, as well as impact-potential arms. McPherson homered three times in limited action and he has ahown an ability to make adjustments, a sign he will succeed. Kotchman's injuries are a concern, but he posted a career-high in at-bats this season and the only time he missed was an action-related injury, not a nagging muscle strain that might lead to future injuries.

 Q:  Jamo Pytlak from Tampa, FL asks:
Sean Rodriguez ranked just behind Blake Dewitt in the 2005 minor league top prospects rankings. Do you think his numbers were inflated because he was demoted from a higher league (i.e., see Brian McFall and Joey Votto, as well), or is he a legitemate offensive prospect who will likely hit for a high average and with substantial power?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Sorry for the lengthy delays . . . If you're a computer network geek, please email our managment staff and encourage them about trade options. Prospect Handbooks for 10 years sound fair? . . . Jamo is referring to the Rookie-level Pioneer League Top 20, which featured Rodriguez, as well as Dodgers' 2004 first-rounder DeWitt. Rodriguez did open the season in the Class A Midwest League so his ranking in the league can be put into context, but as a high school pick from 2003, he was certainly not old for the league, which was peppered with four-year college players. He's not ever going to be the pure hitter DeWitt is, though Rodriguez is my sleeper in this Angels list to sneak up and become a reliable major leaguer in three or four years.

 Q:  Blake from So Cal asks:
like most angels fans, i am estatic about the signing of our 18th rd pick mark trumbo. while i know the angels execs were fairly impressed by trumbo's power potential, i have yet to see a scouting report of any kind on the kid. i was wondering if you could shed some light on this situation for me, thanks!
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, be sure to check our draft coverage as well as our high school coverage each year. We've been writing about Trumbo for almost 12 months now. Great sign by Eddie Bane, though I think Trumbo might move back to the mound in the future. He's a premium talent and an asset to the organization, either way. Most organizations liked Trumbo as a pitcher but when he deposited two balls off the rocks in left-center field at Angel Stadium during batting practice in front of Anaheim general manager Bill Stoneman, manager Mike Scioscia and batting coach Mickey Hatcher, the Angels coughed up the cash to lure him away from Southern California where he had a near-full scholarship offer. Trumbo signed for $1.425 million as an 18th-round pick, setting a record for a non-draft-and-follow selected after the 10th round. Trumbo's power ranks 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. His swing has good leverage that creates backspin and loft. During a soft-toss drill in instructional league, balls of Trumbo's bat were clocked at speeds in excess of 110 mph. He batted .421-9-36 as a senior at Villa Park (Calif.) High, competing in one of the country's most difficult regions. He touched 96 mph off the mound in high school and has above-average arm strength. Trumbo needs to improve on his pitch recognition and keep his weight back on offspeed pitches. Defensively, his hands and instincts are below average while his foot speed is average to slightly below. His value is greatest at third base but he spent instructional league at first where his hands and lack of range with be less exploited.

 Q:  Mike from Manassas VA asks:
What happened to Warner Madrigal???
 A: 

Alan Matthews: After pummeling Pioneer League pitching in 2003, Madrigal was injured while taking a swing in the first game of the season at low Class A Cedar Rapids. He had surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone below his left wrist and returned in time to play the final month of the regular season, then reported to instructional league. 2005 will be a big year for him, as he needs to come back, make adjustments at the plate and push his way up the ladder, probably beginning back at Cedar Rapids.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
Thanks for the chats. Did Anaheim follow through on playing Sean Rodriguez at catcher in the fall season? If so, why is Anaheim taking that risk of injuring a shortstop's fingers?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Rodriguez stuck at shortstop in instructs. I think because of the Angels depth at the position and Rodriguez great feel for the game and instincts, as well as strong arm, this conversion to catcher will continue to come up. For now, the Angels like his tools and value up the middle and plan to continue developing him at shortstop.

 Q:  Stephen C. Smith from Irvine, CA asks:
What's your opinion about the Angels' "high-riskhigh-reward" draft this year? They certainly went out on a limb with guys like Patrick White, D.T. McDowell, Nick Adenhart, Bobby Cassevah, etc. Is this a model for other teams to follow in lower rounds, or is there more to it?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I liked what Eddie Bane did this year in the draft. Knowing he lost his second and third-round picks due to the signings of free agents Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar last offseason, Bane and GM Bill Stoneman had a plan in the draft and that was clear to go after impact players, regardless of concerns signing them. I believe they'll get Weaver done before the season and the crop may rival that of what former scouting director Donny Rowland brought in in 2001.

 Q:  John from Santa Monica, CA asks:
Hello Alan. I noticed that Rafael Rodriguez dropped out of the top 10 from last year. After two subpar years, and even though he is still very young, does he still project as a big league starter?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Rodriguez became the latest in a long line of Angels pitching prospects to miss time with arm trouble when he went down less than a month into the season following three lackluster starts at low Class A Cedar Rapids. A tender pitching arm shelved him until late July, when he returned to make four starts before again being shutdown. The injury was a product of Rodriguez' high maintenance, violent delivery. He has potnetial plus offerings in his fastball and 87 mph slider with hard, late bite so if he can iron out his mechanics, he still has a chance to be a solid starting pitcher.

 Q:  Rafael from Orange,CA asks:
With recent injuries to two of the angels upper level pitching prospects, Jenks and Santana, who has a chance to emerge this year and help the team right away? Also, how does lhp Jake Woods fit into the Angels plans?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Chris Bootcheck might be able to turn some heads with a recently-crafted split-finger fastball, but there are not a bevy of arms that are ready to contribute in 2005 out of the system. Relievers Mitch Arnold, Bob Zimmerman and Bill Edwards could move quickly, though none are ready for the majors in 2005. Woods had a nice year in Double-A and though he was roughed up in Triple-A late in the year, the organization was largely pleased with his resolve and pitchability in the tough PCL. He has to throw strikes to compete, as his stuff is not overwhelming but following a full season in Triple-A, Woods could battle for a fourth or fifth spot in the Angels rotation in 2006. If the spot isn't open, Woods could still be moved to the bullpen.

 Q:  Mike from Manassas VA asks:
If Casey Kotchman can stay healthy and has a huge spring, does he take over firstbase to start the year?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Darin Erstad is still under contract and just won a Gold Glove at first base. Kotchman is not going to move him off first base and never would have been called up as early as he was in 2004 if it were not for an injury to Erstad. Kotchman doesn't have much else to prove in the minors, but he might be forced to spend another season there, nonetheless, as opposed to collecting dust on the bench in the big leagues. If Erstrad gets hurt, all bets are off and Kotchman likely would get the gig.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
How close was Joe Saunders to making the top 10?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Very. He's a top-10 player in other organizations and 2005 will be important for Saunders, as he will face a tough task at Double-A. His year will tell is a lot about his future. His ceiling is not considerable.

 Q:  Justin from Capitol Hill asks:
Is Kendry Morales really ready to contribute or is this just hype from the scouts? Why would they give him the nod over sliding Erstad back to the outfield, even if it's leftfield to protect him, and get Kotchman in the game?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, I believe he could use 250 at-bats in the minors first, but we're getting ahead of ourselves by suggesting these scenarios beacuse Arte Moreno and Bill Stoneman are likely going to be major players in the free agent market and who knows what spots are going to be open this spring.

 Q:  Andrew from TN asks:
What was the nature of Santana's injury and is he durable enough to be a starter?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: This kid will be just 22 on Opening Day so I don't think it's fair to question his durability just yet, He was slowed at first by a shoulder injury, but later in the year perhaps he was favoring certain aspects of his delivery which might have led to the elbow issues he suffered later.

 Q:  Blake from So Cal asks:
a couple of pitcher's questions here...first, how is jenkity jenks rehab going and is he expected to be ready by the time pitchers and catchers report in feb? secondly, w his size, control and developing arsenal of pitches (including a low 90's heater and a splitter), it is no surprise to me that steven shell cracked this year's top 10. however i was wondering what type a pitcher you think he will be ifwhen he reaches the bigs? does he have the upside to be a potential ace or is he a solid #2 or #3?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: It remains to be seen on Jenks. He was playing catch this fall and making progress after was shutdown for the third time in two seasons because of a stress reaction in his right elbow. He eventually had surgery in August. A pin was placed in his right elbow. I like Shell because he has good control, probably the best in the organization. He projects as a No. 2-3 guy in the big leagues.

 Q:  Paul C. from Colton, Ca. asks:
Is there a major league-quality outfielder any where in the Angels' farm system? And might this be what happens to the excess shortstops?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Exactly. The system's best outfield prospect, not named Morales, is Warner Madrigal. Nick Gorneault could surprise some people and become a solid extra outfielder but I think we're going to see some middle infield guys converted as Aybar and Wood battle for the position at shortstop.

 Q:  Tom McCullough from York PA asks:
What is the prospect status of Mike Napoli? It sounds as though he does not project as a catcher and he piled up 166 Ks in 2004. As a fan I root for him because he has kept on plugging even though he has injured both shoulders and been otherwise hurt in 2000 and 2001 and 2002 and 2003. Thanks.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Angels like Napoli, despite his high strikeout total. He needs to cut down on his Ks, but he has legit power potential and made strides defensively in 2004. He was not protected on the Angels 40-man and could get popped in the fast-approaching Rule 5 draft.

 Q:  justin from florida asks:
What is the prospect status of three Angel Farmhands? Tommy Murphy, and Mike Napoli, both of which held their own in the AFL, and also outfielder Nick Gorneault?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I've addressed the status of Napoli and Gorneault earlier. They both rank in the 20-30 range on this list while Murphy just missed the cut. He was moved to the outfield and really played well, showing good instincts in the outfield. He's going to be a little short with the bat, most likely, to factor as an everyday outfielder on a contending team but he has a great work ethic and some tools that make him a guy to keep an eye on.

 Q:  JMS from NYC asks:
I am guessing Morales ranks where he does because of a lack of professional experience in the US. If I just showed up in spring training this year without knowledge of their records, would I be more impressed by Morales than Mcpherson or Kochman?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Not necessarily. Scouting Morales is difficult because we have not seen him against premium pitching much. He was off to a good start in the Dominican Winter League, batting .318 with a double and three RBIs in 22 at-bats with Estrellas. There are some legitimate pitchers in that league, and international scouting director Clay Daniel had film on Morales facing pretty good international competition dating back to when Morales was 16.

 Q:  Rob from Rhode Island asks:
Ervin Santana. This was my favorite, Johan Santana 3 years ago. What is the situation for him. Last year I expected him to break the majors and he had injury problems. Does he stand a chance of breaking the rotation this year and what is his ceiling, #1-5 as a starter
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Santana owns the organization's best fastball. He needs a full season at Double-A, in my opinion, so don't look for him in Anaheim before 2006.

 Q:  Eric from Georgia asks:
There are many prospects that did not make the top ten, One is Sean Rodriguez. While playing mostly as a INF in his first two years there is talk of moving him to Catcher. What are your thoughts about his overall ability and the validity of this move?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: We addressed this earlier. I really like Rodriguez.

 Q:  Andrew from TN asks:
Is this the best top ten in baseball? If not, who does the honor go to?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The Angels system ranks in the top 3, with the Dodgers and the Twins right there with it.

 Q:  David from my desk asks:
Is Joe Saunders no longer a high-end prospect? What about Joe Torres? How painful is it when a team's first-round pick becomes a flop (as several of Anaheim's have)?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Like I pointed out previously, Saunders made strides in 2004 and ranks in the 11-20 range, mostly because this is one of the deepest organizations in the game. It always hurst to drop $2 mill on a kid that doesn't make it to the big leagues but it happens every year. If your scouting department does its work, it can make up for it with good later-round picks and the Angels have done that as well in the past 5 years.

 Q:  Mike from Salem asks:
Alan, thanks very much for taking my question. A couple of years ago, Alberto Callaspo demonstrated some decent gap power. But this year, that all but disappeared. Is this due to the advanced competition he faced this year? Or is he destined to be more of a slap-hitter than a guy who can hit 35 doubles and a dozen homers at his peak?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Yeah, I think Callaspo profiles as a good table-setter who can run and create offense moreso with his wheels and contact than power.

 Q:  Chuck from AngelsWin.com from Mission Viejo CA asks:
If you had to compare Kotchman's ceiling to Mark GraceJohn Olerud or Todd HeltonCarlos Delgado which pair would you compare him with? Thanks
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Kotchman should hit for a high average, like an Olerud or Grace in his prime. Olerud had great power, too, he just preferred not to sacrifice his average to try and lift balls out of the park. Kotchman has shown that characteristic as well, so that might be the best comp., though he has potential to hit 20-25 home runs per year. He is a very accomplished defender, as Grace was.

 Q:  Roy from Marietta, GA asks:
Clifton Remole, the 11th round pick from Georgia Tech, had a solid short season. Does he project as a first baseman or in the outfield ?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: A solid year for a big-time college product like Remole (in his second pro year) at a short-season level is not going to qualify him as a prospect. He slugged just .354 in a league that was loaded with high homer-totals in the upper elevations of the PL. He slipped out of the top 30 based on his limited ceiling offensively. He could be a nice extra outfielder down the line.

 Q:  Chuck from AngelsWin.com from Mission Viejo CA asks:
I read somewhere that Kendry Morales injured himself recently (elbow injury) in the dominican league. Is their any truth to this? Thanks
 A: 

Alan Matthews: A couple of nights ago, Morales collided with Erick Aybar--coincidentally--during a game in the Dominican. Aybar, who plays for Licey, was running down the base line when Morales went into the line for a ball and Morales did leave the game. I spoke with Angels scouting director Eddie Bane earlier today and he assured me that the injuries were simply related to the impact, and that to his knowledge, there was no serious injury incurred.

 Q:  Eric from Houston asks:
What's the latest on toolsy OF Warner Madrigal? You've got to root for a guy with a name like that!
 A: 

Alan Matthews: We addressed Madrigal's injury and status earlier.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Who did Morales knock out of the top 10?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Mark Trumbo and Baltazar Lopez were in the 10-12 range.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
At this point is it safe to say that Bobby Jenks future will be out of the bullpen? That is if he has a future in baseball.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, that might be a safe bet. Jenks hasn't put together a complete season without an off-the-field incident and now is faced with his first major arm injury. He has the talent to be a legitimate major league starter but time is running out, and at this stage of his development, might profile best as a reliever in the majors. He has great stuff and a power arm so the Angels will exhaust all possibilities before cutting bait.

 Q:  Chris from Huntsville, AL asks:
Where does Howie Kendrick rank among the best second basemen in the minors?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: In terms of tools, he's not even the best second baseman in the organization, as Callaspo has that honor. But Kendrick surpassed Callaspo on the list because of his remarkable ability with the bat, making the most of the tools he has and maximizing his potential.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim asks:
Thanks for the chat! Arte "Steinbreno" seems to want to spend the big bucks on every free agent imaginable. Why not trade some prospects to help fill these same holes for cheaper? Any names come up as possible trade bait?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Unlike the Yankees, the Angels do have a good group of prospects that could garner interest in trades, but the organization has the capital to drop on free agents who are proven in the big leagues. You could see any of the top 30 guys dealt if Moreno and Stoneman feel the right deal is out there, but they have placed on emphasis on developing talent to utilize in their own organization, not just to trade for more-experienced big leaguers.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Is there any new information about Howie Kendrick leaving the Angels to pursue college football?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Not to my knowledge. He had his best year yet and the organization is high on him.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim asks:
How'd Whittington do in instructional league? Will he start next year in low-A? Is he ready to have the reigns taken off him yet?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Whittington remains a thrower and lacks much feel for pitching. He is still ironing out his mechanics and struggles to repeat his delivery and arm slot. Whittington is too stiff and rigid through his windup. He has a live arm and a durable frame. He had a solid instructional league and hopefully is beginning to grasp the changes the organization has attempted to implement. He will not be pushed prematurely, though, and probably opens the year in low Class A in 2005.

 Q:  Morenomania from Hermosillo Mexico asks:
Will Joes Torre and Saunders be ajor leguears?, eta? Gracias
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I believe at this point Saunders is more likley to become a reliable pitcher in the big leagues.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim asks:
How many other teams profiled Trumbo as a hitter? Is he advanced at the plate? Could he start in Low-A like Wood did last year? How about Adenhart, any word on his rehab?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Not many. He worked-out well in BP right before signing and he has legitimate power potnetial, so the Angels took the flier and are going to try to develop him as a hitter. He's got lots of holes and is not near Wood in terms of their defensive skills, even relative to their positions. Trumbo will probably be in extended spring training when camp breaks and could be promoted to the Rookie-level Pioneer League at mid-season.

Alan Matthews: Adenhary, meanwhile, had his surgery in June so he should be able to begin throwing off a mound sometime around spring training. He might make a late-season appearance in the Rookie-level Arizona League in August or September as the organization looks to take things slowly with Adenhart.

 Q:  Chuck from AngelsWin.com from Mission Viejo CA asks:
Alan, do you see Erick Aybar hitting 15-20 Hr's and stealing 40+ bases in the big leagues. Do you think Callaspo and Aybar will someday soon (2006?) be turning DP's in Anaheim? Thanks
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Aybar is much more than a slap guy and could indeed post double-digit home run totals in the majors. I am not sure that they will ever make it together, but they'll be reunited this year @ Double-A most likely and will have a chance to advance together.

 Q:  michael from round rock asks:
Jeff Mathis, who hit under .200 the last two months of the season, didn't look physically ready for Double-A, either offensively or defensively (where he threw out 1 in 5 base-stealers)...is there concern about his durability behind the plate?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: The groundwork was laid for Mathis to have a big season. He batted .455 with a home run in 11 at-bats during his second year in big league spring training and carried the momentum into the season. But after longtime friends and teammates Casey Kotchman and Dallas McPherson were promoted, Mathis' season took a turn for the worse. Whether it was mental or physical fatigue--or a combination--he spiraled into a second-half slump that he never recovered from. He ended the season on a 6-for-68 slide and struggled to rediscover a reliable, consistent approach even during instructional league. But I believe he can handle the load of a full season and with the adjustments minor league batting instructor Ty Van Berkleo made in Mathis's swing, I believe he'll recover in 2005.

 Q:  Travis from Milwaukee asks:
Where will Mark Trumbo and Sean Rodriguez start the year? Any good prospects to play in Cedar Rapids in '05? Thanks!
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I've already addressed the status of Trumbo, Rodriguez could begin the season at high Class A, though he most likely breaks camp with low Class A Cedar Rapids.

 Q:  Todd from Monrovia asks:
To me it is puzzling that the Angels are not moving erstad back to center so that Casey Kotchman can start at 1B. If he is as good as you all say he is, wouldn't the Angels be better off giving the job to Casey so that the Angels will have an established and relatively cheaper 1B once they get out of Erstad's big contract?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: That scenario is a possibility but another half-season or so at Triple-A is not going to retard Kotchman's development. And don't forget that Garrett Anderson had another productive year in the Angels outfield.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
OverUnder-Jered Weaver signs by the beginning of spring training.
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Well, I think the Angels will get him done, and I'd say it was 3.5:2 at this stage.

 Q:  Todd from Monrovia asks:
Could you list some names and a brief description of some of the prospects that just missed making the top ten?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: We've discussed Mark Trumbo, he was on the fringe and Baltazar Lopez, a Mexican first base prospect, was also close to being named in the top 10. Lopez has a smooth lefthanded swing and good defensive skills. He had a nice year in the Midwest League and could really put up some impressive numbers in the Cal League in 2005. Sean Rodriguez was also on the cut-line, he's a good hitter with some pop, average defensive skills and plus instincts.

 Q:  John from Diamond Bar, CA asks:
How high is Abel Moreno's ceiling?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Considerable. Moreno is very inconsistent but has a Bugs Bunny changeup that gets to the plate and the emergeny break lifts on it, so to speak. He needs to better-control his breaking ball.

 Q:  Chuck from AngelsWin.com from Mission Viejo CA asks:
Alan, nevermind on the Kendry Morales injury. I just got word from Angels management that the he did hurt his elbow but the X-Rays were negative. Thanks
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Impressive reporting. How's his dental work?

 Q:  John from Diamond Bar, CA asks:
Do you think D.T. McDowell will play baseball again?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: I have my reservations, though he ran into some balls in the Rookie-level Arizona League and has some special tools.

 Q:  Eric from Los Angeles asks:
Will Nick Gorneault be anything more than a 4th OFDH?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: That's probably where Gorneault's future lies. He, though, can really sting balls when he squares them on the barrell. His swing is a little unorthodox and is difficult to repeat, making him a guy susceptible to slumps.

 Q:  Blair from Anaheim asks:
Will Madrigal ever fulfill his huge potential? Is he a Guillen type hitter without the attitude?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: He has some power potential but is less nimble that Guillen. He has a plus arm, as well. It would behoove Madrigal to work harder and improve his attitude, actually.

 Q:  Trent Brown from Newport Beach, CA asks:
First, what is going on with Bobby Jenks? Will he be back in Triple-A this season? Also, what do you think that Jered Weaver is worth? Is Scott Boras right in wanting Mark Prior money for him?
 A: 

Alan Matthews: Unfortunately, I have to close out the chat. Thanks for all the questions and check back for more prospect news as our coverage continues. I don't believe that Weaver is in the same category as Prior. The lone similarity might be polish, but Weaver's stuff is not where Prior's was at the same stage. It's going to take a big league deal to get him signed, it appears, but I am not sure the Angels will cough up more than $10 million total.

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