2006 Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Prospects

Top Ten Prospects: Los Angeles Angels

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, 2006.

1. Brandon Wood, ss
2. Howie Kendrick, 2b
3. Erick Aybar, ss
4. Jeff Mathis, c
5. Jered Weaver, rhp
6. Nick Adenhart, rhp
7. Kendry Morales, 1b
8. Alberto Callaspo, 2b
9. Joe Saunders, lhp
10. Tommy Mendoza, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Howie Kendrick
Best Power Hitter Brandon Wood
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Sean Rodriguez
Fastest Baserunner Peter Bourjos
Best Athlete Tommy Murphy
Best Fastball Tommy Mendoza
Best Curveball Nick Adenhart
Best Slider Von Stertzbach
Best Changeup Nick Green
Best Control Jered Weaver
Best Defensive Catcher Jeff Mathis
Best Defensive Infielder Erick Aybar
Best Infield Arm Erick Aybar
Best Defensive Outfielder Tommy Murphy
Best Outfield Arm Warner Madrigal
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Darin Erstad, of Angels
1997 Jarrod Washburn, lhp Angels
1998 Troy Glaus, 3b Diamondbacks
1999 Ramon Ortiz, rhp Reds
2000 Ramon Ortiz, rhp Reds
2001 Joe Torres, lhp Angels
2002 Casey Kotchman, 1b Angels
2003 Francisco Rodriguez, rhp Angels
2004 Casey Kotchman, 1b Angels
2005 Casey Kotchman, 1b Angels
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Chuck Abbott, ss (2nd round) Out of baseball
1997 Troy Glaus, 3b Diamondbacks
1998 Seth Etherton, rhp Athletics
1999 John Lackey, rhp (2nd round) Angels
2000 Joe Torres, lhp Angels
2001 Casey Kotchman, 1b Angels
2002 Joe Saunders, lhp Angels
2003 Brandon Wood, ss Angels
2004 Jered Weaver, rhp Angels
2005 Trevor Bell, rhp Angels
Jered Weaver, 2004 $4,000,000
Kendry Morales, 2004 $3,000,000
Troy Glaus, 1997 $2,250,000
Joe Torres, 2000 $2,080,000
Casey Kotchman, 2001 $2,075,000

In the Angels’ first 40 years, the franchise made just three postseason appearances. In 2005, they won their second straight American League West title and secured their third postseason appearance in the last four years, continuing a run that started with a World Series title in 2002.

A franchised once mired in mediocrity has become one of baseball’s best. Under the aggressive ownership of Arte Moreno and the baseball leadership of general manager Bill Stoneman and manager Mike Scioscia, the Angels show no signs of decline.

Armed with Moreno’s wallet and a farm system brimming with talent, Los Angeles built the AL’s steadiest team last year. The Angels broke away from the Athletics down the stretch, winning 21 of their final 30 games to finish 95-67, the second-most wins in franchise history. Their Division Series victory against the Yankees provided a perfect illustration of the organization’s balance. AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon—Moreno’s first major free-agent acquisition—left in the second inning of Game Five with shoulder problems, so in came rookie Ervin Santana, who began the year in Double-A. Santana tossed 5 1/3 innings and earned the victory as Los Angeles eliminated New York from the playoffs for the second time in four seasons.

The Angels will continue to be major players on the free-agent market. Prior to the 2005 season, Stoneman signed Paul Byrd, Orlando Cabrera and Steve Finley. While Finley had a forgettable year, Byrd and Cabrera were key pieces. But Stoneman can also rely on the farm system as well, which is what should give the organization staying power. Few organizations rival the Angels for potential star position players waiting in the wings.

Casey Kotchman officially graduated from the minors in 2005 and is ready to play regularly at first base. Dallas McPherson was plagued by back problems last year, but he’s another potential run-producer for the middle of the lineup. Santana established himself as a reliable starter. None of those three qualify for the prospect list any longer.

But the farm system is still loaded. The middle-infield situation is indicative of the Angels’ depth in the majors and minors. No. 1 prospect Brandon Wood set an Angels minor league record with 43 homers in 2005. He plays shortstop, as do No. 3 prospect Erick Aybar and Cabrera, both of whom are further up the organizational ladder. No. 2 prospect Howie Kendrick has a .359 career average as a pro, and he has big leaguer Adam Kennedy and No. 8 prospect Alberto Callaspo looming ahead of him.

Catcher Jeff Mathis will get a lot of big league playing time after Bengie Molina declared free agency. Righthander Jered Weaver and lefty Joe Saunders could factor into the rotation, and don’t rule out Cuban defector Kendry Morales claiming some at-bats at first base or DH.

The Angels aren’t as strong with pitching prospects, a shortcoming they’ve tried to address in scouting director Eddie Bane’s two drafts. Los Angeles spent $4 million to sign Weaver, its first-round pick in 2004, a week before he would have re-entered the 2005 draft. Another 2004 draftee, 40th-round righthander Stephen Marek, signed for $800,000 as a draft-and-follow after lighting up radar guns in junior college. The club has high hopes for its pitching crop from the 2005 draft, led by righthanders Trevor Bell (first round) and Tommy Mendoza (fifth).

Call them what you like: California, Anaheim, Los Angeles. The Angels have a new identity and have become the preeminent team in Southern California.

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