Cowart Shakes Rust Off Quickly

ANAHEIM—The Angels did not expect much from first-round pick Kaleb Cowart this summer. They did not sign him until Aug. 16, and they sent him to their Arizona training complex to "shake off the rust," as farm director Abe Flores put it.

Cowart had played in six games in the Rookie-level Arizona League when the Angels decided to send him to Rookie-level Orem, in the more advanced Pioneer League, on the day before Orem opened the playoffs.

"We just dropped him in there," Flores said.

Many clubs scouted Cowart as a righthander, but the Angels drafted and signed him as a third baseman. In his first game for Orem, he struck out in his first at-bat. He singled the next time up, then homered and walked. Not bad for an 18-year-old in his first Pioneer League game, for a club preparing for the playoffs.

The Angels then sent Cowart to instructional league to get a longer look at him. They liked him even more after that, naming him the most improved position player in the program.

"All-around defense, baserunning, hitting," Flores said. "Every nuance. All the little things we work on."

The Angels' instructional league staff also was impressed with outfielder Drew Heid, a ninth-round pick from Gonzaga.

Heid, 22, batted .362/.435/.505 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 287 at-bats at Orem. He hit .415 with runners in scoring position, a statistic to which the Angels pay particular attention.


• The Angels selected lefthander Aaron Meade, 22, as the most improved pitcher in instructional league. A 10th-round pick from Missouri State, he went 0-2, 5.87 at Orem, with 13 walks and nine strikeouts in 15 innings.

• The Angels introduced first baseman Gabe Jacobo to left field in instructional league and plan to use him at both positions next season. Jacobo, 23, batted .296/.333/.492 at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.