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2003 League Top 20s: California League

by Josh Boyd
September 26, 2003

2003 League Top 20s
Sept. 18Gulf Coast League
Sept. 19Arizona League
Sept. 20Appalachian League
Sept. 21Pioneer League
Sept. 22New York-Penn League
Sept. 23Northwest League
Sept. 24South Atlantic League
Sept. 25Midwest League
Sept. 26California League
Sept. 27Carolina League
Sept. 28Florida State League
Sept. 29Eastern League
Sept. 30Southern League
Oct. 1Texas League
Oct. 2International League
Oct. 3Pacific Coast League


For complete scouting reports on the Top 20 Prospects in the California League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

Padres prospects have been prominent in the California League the last two years. Jake Peavy, Oliver Perez and Xavier Nady have graduated to the majors less than a year after leaving the high Class A circuit.

Lake Elsinore second baseman Josh Barfield represented the organization well again this season. He led the minors in hits, doubles, RBIs and total bases.

But it will be the Angels' prospect-laced Rancho Cucamonga roster that will be the Cal League's greatest legacy from the 2003 season. First baseman Casey Kotchman missed time with injuries, but his pure hitting approach still earned him top-prospect honors over teammates Ervin Santana, Jeff Mathis and Dallas McPherson, who all finished the year at Double-A Arkansas. Righthander Steven Shell and lefty Jake Woods also were impressive for Rancho, and right fielder Nick Gorneault emerged as a prospect.

Many players from Oakland's much-discussed 2002 draft were on display in the Cal League, including first-rounder Nick Swisher, who narrowly missed out on Top 10 inclusion, and supplemental first-rounders Mark Teahen and righthander Ben Fritz. Teahen flashed the best leather at the hot corner in the league and had an opposite-field, line-drive approach. Fritz was erratic and was shut down with shoulder tendinitis.


1. Casey Kotchman, 1b, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Angels)

Freak injuries continue to interrupt Kotchman's development. He missed the first half with a torn hamstring, then was knocked out of the playoffs when he was hit on the hand by a pitch. The ailments haven't prevented him from raking when he's in the lineup, however.

In 558 career at-bats, he boasts a .326 average with 47 doubles and 16 home runs. He also has walked more than he has struck out at every stop since Anaheim drafted him 13th overall in 2001. Kotchman grew up around pro baseball because his father Tom is a longtime Angels minor league manager and scout, and his approach and preparation reflect his pedigree.

"He shows raw power in BP," Rancho Cucamonga manager Bobby Meacham said. "He's a selective hitter but a guy who's aggressive at the same time. He always seems to be ahead in the count and doesn't swing at garbage they throw early in the count. He does that better than anybody in the league. He waits as long and sees the ball a lot longer than anybody else."

Kotchman is also a potential Gold Glover whom managers rated the league's best defensive first baseman.

TEAMG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
Rancho Cucamonga 57 206 42 72 12 0 8 28 30 16 2 .350 .441 .524


For complete scouting reports on the Top 20 Prospects in the California League, subscribers can access our expanded coverage.

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