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Anaheim Angels:
1999 Top 10

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Anaheim Angels Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams

By David Rawnsley

1. Ramon Ortiz, RHP
Age: 24  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 165
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995  Signed by: Jose Gomez

Top Prospects of the 90s

1990 John Orton, c
1991 Tim Salmon, of
1992 Troy Percival, rhp
1993 Tim Salmon, of
1994 Brian Anderson, lhp
1995 Andrew Lorraine, lhp
1996 Darin Erstad, of
1997 Jarrod Washburn, lhp
1998 Troy Glaus, 3b
1999 Ramon Ortiz, rhp

Background: Ortiz’ roller-coaster career reached its pinnacle last August when he made his major league debut. After leading the minor leagues in strikeouts in 1997, he missed all but seven starts of 1998 due to a stress fracture in his right elbow. The Angels had Ortiz stay in Los Angeles this offseason so he wouldn’t be tempted to pitch in the Dominican League, and to better prepare him for the 2000 season. They’re counting on him to hold down a rotation spot.

Strengths: Ortiz has the stuff to be a No. 1 starter in the big leagues. He throws a heavy, sinking fastball in the mid-90s that results in an above-average number of ground balls. His biggest improvement in 1999 was in his changeup, which went from being his third-best pitch to arguably his most effective weapon. Ortiz’ breaking ball has been called both a curveball and a slider, and in reality is a mix between the two. When he maintains a consistent release point on the pitch, he gets a big, sharp curveball break at a speed closer to what you expect from a slider. He has many similarities to former Reds ace Mario Soto.

Weaknesses: Ortiz was clearly tired at the end of last season, which calls into question his health and the Angels’ use of his valuable right arm. He piled up a lot of innings before his injury (seven complete games in short-season ball in 1995, eight in 1997). If you include winter ball from 1998-99, spring training and the 1999 regular season, he threw more than 250 innings. On the mound, the most important step for Ortiz will be to develop a consistent release point on his breaking ball, which would give him three plus pitches. His higher walk totals last September and difficulty with lefthanded hitters are likely due to a tired arm and trouble spotting his breaking ball.

The Future: The Angels are counting on Ortiz to assume the lead of their rotation as soon as possible and bring other youngsters such as Seth Etherton, Brian Cooper and eventually Francisco Rodriguez with him. If Ortiz has a solid and healthy spring training, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take the hill on Opening Day.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Erie (AA)         9  4  2.82  15  15   2   0  102  88  40  86
Edmonton (AAA)    5  3  4.05   9   9   0   0   53  46  19  64
Anaheim           2  3  6.52   9   9   0   0   48  50  25  44

2. Francisco Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 165
Signed: Venezuela, 1998  Signed by: George Lauzerique

Background: The Angels outbid several other clubs for Rodriguez last winter, signing him for $900,000. He immediately lived up to his advance billing by being named the top prospect in the Pioneer League.

Strengths: Rodriguez has nasty stuff. He can throw consistently in the mid-90s through the middle innings and touches 97 mph, incredible velocity for his age. One opposing manager called his breaking pitch "the slider from hell" because of its hard, sharp break. Rodriguez also throws a curveball and changeup and can change his arm angle yet maintain command.

Weaknesses: Rodriguez’ listed height and weight may be generous, and his size and across-the-body throwing action create worries about the durability of his arm. He’s still adapting to American culture and the minor league lifestyle.

The Future: Rodriguez missed most of instructional league due to personal problems at home, and the Angels realize that he will require patience and understanding. Expect a step-by-step progression for the next couple of years at least.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Butte (R)         1  1  3.31  12   9   1   0   52  33  21  69

3. Seth Etherton, RHP
Age: 23  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 200
Drafted: Southern California, 1998 (1st round)  Signed by: Steve Gruwell

Background: Etherton led the country with 182 strikeouts in 1998 while going 13-3 and leading Southern California to the College World Series title. The Angels started his pro career in Double-A after making him a rare first-round senior pick.

Strengths: Etherton depends on command and movement of four pitches. His strikeout pitch is a deceptive palmball that dives when it reaches the plate. His fastball is steady in the 88-91 mph range, and he throws an average curveball and changeup. The palmball is an equalizer against lefthanded hitters, and it actually makes Etherton more effective against lefties than righties, at least statistically.

Weaknesses: Without a dominating fastball or breaking pitch, Etherton has a smaller margin of error than most top prospects, so consistency is vital.

The Future: Etherton will be in spring training with an outside shot to win a spot in the big league rotation.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Erie (AA)        10 10  3.27  24  24   4   0  168 153  43 153
Edmonton (AAA)    0  2  5.48   4   4   0   0   21  25   6  19

4. Derrick Turnbow, RHP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-3  Wt: 195
Drafted: HS--Franklin, Tenn., 1997 (5th round)  Signed by: Eli Grba (Phillies)

Background: The Angels plucked Turnbow from the Phillies as the seventh overall selection in the major league Rule 5 draft in December. He was the Phillies’ No. 6 prospect earlier this winter but was not protected on their 40-man roster.

Strengths: Turnbow throws a hard, sinking fastball with consistent velocity in the low 90s. His curveball gets good biting action and has a chance to be a plus pitch as well. Turnbow is poised and mature on the mound, with advanced instincts for his age.

Weaknesses: Most of Turnbow’s weaknesses are a function of his age and inexperience, which will stand out if he makes the Angels roster. If he pitches out of the bullpen as expected, he won’t have to throw his developing changeup as much.

The Future: Farm director Darrell Miller said, "Once a young, talented pitcher figures it out, they’ve got it." Turnbow seemed to figure it out in 1999 after going 2-6, 5.01 in 1998. The Angels are committed to giving him every chance to stick with the club.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Piedmont (A)     12  8  3.35  26  26   4   0  161 130  53 149

5. Nathan Haynes, OF
Age: 20  B-T: L-L  Ht: 5-9  Wt: 170
Drafted: HS--Pinole, Calif., 1997 (Supplemental 1st round)  Signed by: Will Schock (Athletics)

Background: Haynes, a compensation pick in 1997 after the Athletics lost Mike Bordick, was the key player in the trade that sent Randy Velarde and Omar Olivares to the A’s last July. Haynes missed most of the first half of the season with a hernia.

Strengths: Haynes has well-above-average speed and good instincts about how to use it. His range in center field is outstanding, and his arm is solid average. His most important step forward in 1999 was shortening his swing and hitting the ball on the ground more.

Weaknesses: Though Haynes has advanced relatively quickly, he has also missed plenty of development time with nagging injuries and must improve his durability. He will never have much power.

The Future: The comparison of Haynes to former Gold Glove winner Gary Pettis is unfortunate, as Pettis was a weak offensive player. Haynes’ improvement at the plate shows he’ll become a legitimate offensive threat.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Vis./Lake Els. (A) .318  255  47  81  12   6   2   29  29  46  22
Erie (AA)          .158   19   3   3   1   0   0    0   5   5   0

6. Elpidio Guzman, OF
Age: 21  B-T: L-L  Ht: 6-2  Wt: 166
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995  Signed by: Jose Gomez

Background: After hitting .331-9-61 with 40 steals in his second year at Butte in 1998, Guzman had a solid first full season. He played every day, leading all Angels minor leaguers in at-bats, and continued to show speed and developing power. He is still growing and is filling out his lanky body.

Strengths: Guzman is the closest thing the Angels have to a five-tool player. His speed and arm are both above-average, and he has shown both good bat speed and bat-handling skills for a young player. Most intriguing is his power potential. He is developing the strength to loft the ball if he can adjust his swing to certain pitches.

Weaknesses: Guzman will remain in center field for now, but he may move to a corner as he gets bigger and loses a step.

The Future: The key for Guzman is how his power develops. If he learns to loft the ball, the rest of his tools could make him a premium player. The Angels will maintain a conservative approach and start Guzman at Lake Elsinore in 2000.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Cedar Rapids (A)   .274  526  74 144  26  13   4   48  41  84  52

7. Mike Colangelo, OF
Age: 23  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 185
Drafted: George Mason, 1997 (21st round)  Signed by: Tom Burns

Background: Colangelo tore ligaments in his left thumb in an outfield collision during his major league debut and missed the rest of the season. He also missed all of 1997 after signing late and breaking the hamate bone in his left wrist. In between, he racked up a .346 minor league average.

Strengths: Colangelo is a line-drive machine with excellent bat skills and the confidence to perform in the big leagues. He should develop power with repetitions and healthy hands. His other tools are in the average range.

Weaknesses: Staying healthy is the primary concern. Colangelo needs to either develop his power potential or hit a ton from the start. His tools and approach compare to Rusty Greer, with the big difference being that Colangelo hits righthanded.

The Future: While the Angels’ outfield is crowded now, it is a situation that could change at any moment. Colangelo will get his chance sometime, whether it’s April, July or 2001.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Erie (AA)          .339  109  24  37  10   3   1   13  14  22   3
Edmonton (AAA)     .362  105  13  38   7   1   0    9  13  18   2
Anaheim            .500    2   0   1   0   0   0    0   1   0   0

8. Brian Cooper, RHP
Age: 25  B-T: R-R  Ht: 6-1  Wt: 175
Drafted: Southern California, 1995 (4th round)  Signed by: Darrell Miller

Background: The 1998 and 1999 versions of Brian Cooper are as different as can be. The ’98 Cooper ran up an unsightly 7.13 ERA in 162 innings at Double-A Midland. The ’99 version finished the year in the Anaheim rotation.

Strengths: Cooper has two solid pitches that are major league average or better. His fastball is in the 90-93 mph range with good sinking action, and his slider is sharp and effective when spotted well. Angels pitching guru Howie Gershberg solidified Cooper’s mechanics in 1999.

Weaknesses: Much of Cooper’s inconsistency comes from his own stubbornness. He throws too many sliders or fastballs, depending on what he has confidence in at the time. Another concern is whether Cooper’s walk totals last September were the result of fatigue or a fear of challenging hitters.

The Future: If he throws strikes consistently in spring training, Cooper has a good chance of making the big league rotation.

1999 Club         W  L   ERA   G  GS  CG  SV   IP   H  BB  SO
Erie (AA)        10  5  3.30  22  22   6   0  158 146  29 143
Edmonton (AAA)    2  1  3.77   5   5   0   0   31  30  10  32
Anaheim           1  1  4.88   5   5   0   0   28  23  18  15

9. Jeff DaVanon, OF
Age: 26  B-T: B-R  Ht: 6-0  Wt: 185
Drafted: San Diego State, 1995 (26th round)  Signed by: Ed Crosby (Athletics)

Background: DaVanon is the son of former big league infielder Jerry DaVanon and played second base himself at national power Bellaire High in suburban Houston. The Angels acquired him from the A’s in the same deal that brought Haynes.

Strengths: DaVanon is an achiever, a polished hitter who has turned himself into a threat at the plate through hard work and intelligence. He is especially strong from the left side of the plate. His tools all rate around average.

Weaknesses: DaVanon will never grab a manager’s eye with his raw ability, and he’s at the age where he needs to make his mark in the big leagues.

The Future: The Angels had DaVanon working out at second base during the offseason to see if he could at least fill that position as a potential utilityman. His bat and instincts are important, but the ability to play multiple positions may determine his future role.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Midland (AA)       .342  374  87 128  29  11  11   60  53  68  18
Edmonton (AAA)     .326  132  35  43   8   3   6   19  20  27  11
Anaheim            .200   20   4   4   0   1   1    4   2   7   0

10. Alfredo Amezaga, 2B/SS
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  Ht: 5-10  Wt: 165
Drafted: St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, 1999 (13th round)  Signed by: Tom Kotchman

Background: Amezaga was a 44th-round draft-and-follow of the Rockies in the 1998 draft, but they didn’t try to sign him even after he stole 70 bases in junior college last spring.

Strengths: Amezaga is a 6.5 runner with good first-step quickness and solid baserunning instincts. The Angels asked him to try switch-hitting in instructional league because of his bat control and aptitude at the plate. His leadership and makeup are first-rate, and he has already emerged as a leader among the younger players.

Weaknesses: He played second base in deference to other young shortstops but is more experienced on the other side of the bag. His average arm strength and slender build fit the second base mold better, though.

The Future: Amezaga is a polished player with good middle-infield skills and the tools to be a solid leadoff hitter. He should advance quickly through an organization with little of either.

1999 Club           AVG   AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB
Butte (R)          .294   34  11  10   2   0   0    5   5   5   6
Boise (A)          .322  205  52  66   6   4   2   29  23  29  14

Rest of the Best:

11. Ben Molina, c
12. Jason Dewey, c
13. Matt Wise, rhp
14. Scot Shields, rhp
15. John Lackey, rhp

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