Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Los Angeles Angels: Scouting Reports

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, 2008.

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Los Angeles Angels

Stability is something every major league organization strives for. But in the case of the Angels, stability already has gotten old.

With an excellent bullpen, improved defense and a resourceful manager orchestrating the offense, Los Angeles had the majors' best record at times last season before finishing with 94 wins, clinching its third American League West crown in four years. But after the Angels were swept by the Red Sox in a Division Series, it was more than just the fans who were feeling frustrated. In five years since their 2002 World Series championship, the Angels have won a total of four postseason games.

In 2007, Mike Scioscia may have done his best managerial job yet, filling out 126 different lineups while 13 players made 19 visits to the disabled list. But after watching his club get outscored 19-4 by Boston in the sweep, even the stoic Scioscia was out of answers. He vented about the team's need to acquire a power presence, and a few weeks later he found himself in position to make that happen.

General manager Bill Stoneman, who led Los Angeles to four playoff appearances in eight years and the only World Series championship in franchise history, stepped down, citing burnout. Owner Arte Moreno introduced Tony Reagins, who joined the Angels as an intern in 1992 and has served as farm director the past six years, as Stoneman's successor. Reagins' most important qualification may have been his strong working relationship with Scioscia. The moves indicated a clear shift in the club's epicenter toward Scioscia, who will have a larger voice in player procurement moving forward.

Los Angeles' first big move on Reagins' watch was the signing of free agent center fielder Torii Hunter to a five-year, $90 million contract. A week later, the Angels traded Orlando Cabera to the White Sox for Jon Garland, loosening their shortstop logjam while bolstering their rotation.

They also exchanged numerous proposals with the Marlins regarding Miguel Cabrera, only to lose out to the Tigers. The silver lining is that there's an opening for one of baseball's best power prospects in Brandon Wood.

Stoneman did a magnificent job at supplementing the big league roster without sacrificing young talent, but Scioscia's patience with youngsters might be waning. It remains to be seen if Wood will get his shot at an everyday role, as Chone Figgins and Maicer Itzuris are more proven options, albeit with less upside.

The farm system isn't as deep as it has been in years past, but righthander Nick Adenhart is another frontline prospect who's nearly ready for the majors.

Los Angeles was strangely conservative in the 2007 draft, especially considering it lost its first-round choice as compensation for free agent Gary Matthews Jr. The Angels didn't take any of their trademark gambles and spent just $1.8 million to sign players, the second-lowest total in baseball. Their top pick, supplemental first-round righty Jon Bachanov, tweaked his elbow before he could make his pro debut. Before the draft, they did spend $1 million to lock up hard-throwing Jordan Walden as a draft-and-follow.

By signing Hunter, Los Angeles gave up the 27th overall choice in the 2008 draft, leaving it without a first-rounder for the third time in four years.

1.  Brandon Wood, ss/3b   Born: March 2, 1985B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 185
 Drafted: HS—Scottsdale, Ariz., 2003 (1st round)Signed by: Jeff Scholzen
Brandon WoodBackground: Just two years removed from high school, Wood went on a power binge for the ages, clobbering 58 home runs between the minors, the Arizona Fall League and a stint with Team USA as a 20-year-old in 2005. He ascended to the top of this list after the season and has held the No. 1 spot ever since. With Chone Figgins and Maicer Izturis on the shelf in Anaheim with injuries, Wood made his major league debut last April but received just nine starts during four separate big league callups during the season. He collected his first major league hit off former Angels prospect Bobby Jenks on April 29. He led Angels minor leaguers with 23 home runs while learning a new position at Triple-A Salt Lake. A shortstop his whole career, Wood slid over to third base during spring training and played there most of the season, though he returned to shortstop during the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Strengths: One of the top power-hitting prospects in the minors, Wood can do some serious damage with the bat. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order run producer with at least 25-30 homers a year while being capable of handling shortstop. Comparisons range from Cal Ripken Jr. because of his tall, lean build and deceptively smooth defense, to Troy Glaus for his light-tower power and aggressive approach. Wood hits from an upright stance and feasts on fastballs early in counts. He generates exceptional bat speed and his swing has lots of leverage. Balls jump off his bat to all fields with loft, carry and backspin. He's slowly making adjustments in his approach and becoming a better all-around hitter. Defensively, his range is unexceptional, but he fits the mold of the modern offensive-minded shortstop with the actions, body control, hands and plus arm to handle the position just fine. He was solid if unspectacular at third base.

Weaknesses: While Wood cut down on his strikeouts from once every 3.0 at-bats in 2006 to once every 3.6 at-bats last season, his greatest deficiency remains his lack of plate discipline. His pitch selection is below-average, and when he falls behind in the count, he'll punch out by chasing balls off the plate and above his hands. When he's locked in, he works up the middle and from gap to gap, but he falls into pull-happy modes that make him vulnerable to pitches on the outer half. He must shorten his swing and hone his two-strike approach in order to hit for a higher average and make more consistent contact. He also can tighten his defense at third base, where he made 16 errors in 74 Triple-A games.

The Future: After the Angels traded Orlando Cabrera to the White Sox following the season, the door again swung open for Wood to play his way into the big league lineup as a shortstop. Whether manager Mike Scioscia has the patience to allow Wood to continue to develop in the big leagues remains to be seen, but that's the best next step in his maturation. Erick Aybar, Figgins and Izturis remain shortstop options as well, so Wood might wind up at third base. An Opening Day assignment back to Triple-A isn't out of the question either.
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Salt Lake (AAA) .272 .338 .497 437 73 119 27 1 23 77 45 120 10
Los Angeles (AL) .152 .273 .424 33 2 5 1 0 1 3 0 12 0
2.  Nick Adenhart, rhp   Born: Aug. 24, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185.
 Drafted: HS—Williamsport, Md., 2004 (14th round). Signed by: Dan Radcliff.Signed by: Arnold Braithwaite.
Nick AdenhartBackground: Since having Tommy John surgery in high school but still signing for $710,000, Adenhart has logged more than 300 innings in the last two minor league seasons. He posted a 1.84 ERA in four appearances in big league spring training last year, then went 3-0, 1.54 in April in a solid, if streaky season that included a stint on the disabled list with a sore shoulder.

Strengths: Adenhart has outstanding stuff. His fastball sits at 91-92 mph on most nights and ranges from 88-94. The ball jumps out of his hand and explodes at the plate with late, riding life. His slider has hard three-quarter tilt. His changeup is a legitimate weapon and usually more effective than his breaking ball. He maintains his hand speed and sells the pitch well. He pitches downhill and his arm works easily from a natural three-quarters arm slot.

Weaknesses: While Adenhart shows an ability to throw all three of his pitches for strikes, his command escaped him at times last season. Angels minor league pitching coordinator Kernan Ronan made pitching to contact a point of emphasis for Adenhart because he tries to be too fine.

The Future: Adenhart looks like a future front-of-the-rotation stud who could be ready for a major league job in 2008. But the Angels don't have an opening in their rotation, so he's likely going to spend the entire season in Triple-A.
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Arkansas (AA) 10 8 3.65 26 26 0 0 153 158 7 65 116 .273
3.  Jordan Walden, rhp   Born: Nov. 16, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 220.
 Drafted: Grayson County (Texas) CC, D/F 2006 (12th round). Signed by: Arnold Braithwaite.
Jordan WaldenBackground: The No. 1 prep prospect in the nation entering his senior season, Walden saw his velocity dip to the mid-80s and he fell to the 12th round of the 2006 draft. He rebounded at Grayson County (Texas) CC in 2007 and signed for $1 million as a draft-and-follow. He capped his pro debut by striking out 10 in eight innings during Rookie-level Orem's league championship game.

Strengths: The night Orem won the league title, Walden touched 100 mph and was still flashing 97s in the seventh inning. His fastball is easily the best in the system. His slurvy 80-81 mph slider grades as a future plus pitch because of its velocity and occasional late bite. His delivery isn't effortless, but his arm action is relatively clean. He's a good athlete.

Weaknesses: Walden can pound the zone with his fastball, but his overall command, especially of his secondary pitches, can improve. His slider lacks depth and consistency. He has a rudimentary feel for pitching and has a lot to learn about the craft, such as making his changeup more than just a usable pitch.

The Future: With wide shoulders, big hands and wrists, Walden figures to fill out into a workhorse No. 2 or 3 starter. The cream of the Angels' promising rising crop of pitching prospects, Walden should spend 2008 at low Class A Cedar Rapids.
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Orem (R) 1 1 3.08 15 15 0 0 64 49 3 17 63 .209
4.  Hank Conger, c   Born: Jan. 29, 1988. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 220.
 Drafted: HS—Huntington Beach, Calif., 2006 (1st round). Signed by: Bobby DeJardin.
Hank CongerBackground: Conger was a high-profile amateur long before he started to shave. A second-generation Korean-American, his given name is Hyun and his grandfather nicknamed him after Hank Aaron. He has had repeated injuries since signing for $1.35 million in 2006, missing much of his pro debut with a broken hamate bone in his right wrist. He missed six weeks in 2007 because of lower-back and hamstring issues.

Strengths: Conger has a good feel for hitting and plus power from both sides. He has above-average bat speed and uses all fields. He tracks balls deep into the hitting zone and controls the strike zone adequately for a young hitter. His defensive package is raw, but he has plus arm strength and 1.9-second pop times.

Weaknesses: Improving his righthanded swing is on top of Conger's to-do list, as he's significantly better from the left side (.304 with a .866 OPS in 2007, versus .250 and .647 from the right). His swing is looser with better plate coverage from the left side. He's a well-below-average runner.

The Future: Conger has all the tools to become a frontline, switch-hitting run producer in the big leagues. If he can stay healthy, 2008 could be a monster year for him as he's ticketed to spend the season about an hour from his hometown at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Cedar Rapids (Lo A) .290 .336 .472 290 33 84 20 0 11 48 21 48 9
AZL Angels (R) .267 .267 .333 15 2 4 1 0 0 3 0 3 0
5.  Sean O'Sullivan, rhp   Born: Sept. 1, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 220.
 Drafted: Grossmont (Calif.) JC, D/F 2005 (3rd round). Signed by: Tim Corcoran.
Sean O'SullivanBackground: O'Sullivan's development from young, overpowering amateur to cerebral, calculating pro is intriguing. His velocity plummeted during his senior high school season in 2005 and he fell to the Angels in the third round. He signed the following spring for $500,000 after one season at Grossmont (Calif.) JC. He has won ERA titles in each of his two pro seasons.

Strengths: O'Sullivan has plus control of four solid-average pitches. He adds and subtracts off his 87-91 mph fastball and spots it to all four quadrants of the strike zone. His changeup, curveball and slider have plenty of deception to get the job done. He'll mix in a two-seam fastball as well. He's durable, repeats his delivery and pitches with poise and guile.

Weaknesses: Because he doesn't possess plus raw stuff, O'Sullivan will have to maximize his command and feel for pitching as he faces more advanced hitters. He was generating 95 mph fastballs as a high school underclassman, but it's a stretch to project additional velocity because of his thick body, which earned him the nickname "Nacho" during his debut season.

The Future: O'Sullivan earned the organization's pitcher of the year award in 2007 and profiles as an innings-eating No. 4 starter in the big leagues. This season will be an important one for him, as he'll be tested in the hitter's haven that is the high Class A California League.
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Cedar Rapids (Lo A) 10 7 2.22 25 25 0 0 158 136 6 40 125 .227
6.  Stephen Marek, rhp   Born: Sept. 3, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220.
 Drafted: San Jacinto (Texas) JC, D/F 2004 (40th round). Signed by: Chad McDonald.
Stephen MarekBackground: The Angels inked Marek in May 2005 for an $800,000 bonus as a draft-and-follow. A reliever at San Jacinto (Texas) JC, he became a starter in pro ball and led the Midwest League with a 1.96 ERA in his first full season. He stayed in extended spring training when camp broke last year, but finished strong with four earned runs allowed in his final four starts in high Class A.

Strengths: Marek comes after hitters with a powerful three-pitch mix. His fastball ranges from 88-94 mph. His 74-77 mph curveball has 11-to-5 shape and grades as a second plus pitch thanks to his knack for locating it. He made improvements to his changeup, which has hard, late sink at times and helped him limit lefthanders to a .183 average in 2007.

Weaknesses: Marek's mechanics are a work in progress. He doesn't repeat his release point, and when his arm slot gets too high, he loses life on his fastball, especially when he misses up in the zone. He pitches in the middle of the zone too frequently. Angels coaches say his focus is also an area they'd like to see improve.

The Future: Provided he stays healthy, Marek profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He'll spend 2008 in the Double-A Arkansas rotation.
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Rancho Cuca. (Hi A) 8 10 4.30 25 25 1 0 134 133 17 49 106 .257
7.  Sean Rodriguez, ss   Born: April 26, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195.
 Drafted: HS—Miami, 2003 (3rd round). Signed by: Mike Silvestri.
Sean RodriguezBackground: Rodriguez followed up his breakout 2006 with a solid but inconsistent season in Double-A. The son of longtime Marlins minor league coach Johnny Rodriguez, Sean grew up around the game, watching his dad throw batting practice to Alex Rodriguez. Los Angeles added him to its 40-man roster in November.

Strengths: Rodriguez has good tools across the board that play up because of his feel for the game. He has above-average bat speed that produces plus raw power with a quick, whippy swing. He uses the entire field and is beginning to make adjustments effectively. He has solid-average hands and a plus arm, with a solid first step that helps him make up for fringy range up the middle.

Weaknesses: A below-average runner with a bulky build, Rodriguez won't make it to the big leagues as a shortstop. His defensive fundamentals aren't strong, but he should become an average second baseman. He swings and misses too often and chases fastballs behind in the count. He needs to become more consistent, which starts with improving his plate discipline.

The Future: Rodriguez is expected to spend most of 2008 at second base in Triple-A. Because of his bat, he profiles as a reliable utiltyman with some punch, and he could play his way into an everyday role if he reduces his empty swings.
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Arkansas (AA) .254 .345 .423 508 84 129 31 2 17 73 54 132 15
8.  Nick Green, rhp   Born: Aug. 20, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200.
 Drafted: Darton (Ga.) JC, 2004 (35th round). Signed by: Chris McAlpin.
Nick GreenBackground: Green turned down $80,000 from the Astros as an 11th-rounder out of high school, only to sign with the Angels two years later for $1,500. He took home Double-A Texas League all-star honors last year before taking the series-ending loss in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. He took the biggest step forward of any Los Angeles prospect in 2007, earning a spot on the 40-man roster.

Strengths: Green pounds the zone with an 86-93 mph fastball, mid-70s curve and a dastardly changeup. His changeup graded as a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale for more than one Texas League scout, with late sink resembling that of a screwball. He works quickly, pitches to contact and is efficient, spotting his stuff to both sides of the plate. He repeats his simple yet deceptive delivery well. He's durable and hasn't missed a turn in his rotation in two years.

Weaknesses: Green doesn't have the upside of some of the Angels' bigger arms. He gets a lot of flyball outs and can be prone to homers. His fastball and changeup are not swing-and-miss pitches, and he already has maximized his feel for pitching.

The Future: Green's sleeper status has expired, and he has a ceiling as a reliable No. 4 starter. He'll spend 2008 in the Triple-A rotation.
2007 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Arkansas (AA) 10 8 3.68 28 28 2 0 178 164 17 32 107 .243
9.  Peter Bourjos, of   Born: Mar. 31, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175.
 Drafted: HS—Scottsdale, Ariz., 2005 (10th round). Signed by: John Gracio.
Peter BourjosBackground: The Angels took a chance on Bourjos in the 10th round in 2005 and signed him for $325,000. On the second day of the 2007 season, he ruptured the ligament between the middle and ring finger on his left hand and broke a bone in the ring finger taking a swing on a cold night. He played with the injury before having surgery in May, missing more than two months.

Strengths: Bourjos is an above-average runner who glides from gap to gap in the outfield with long, even strides and tremendous acceleration. He has a solid-average arm to complete his defensive package. He has plenty of bat speed and the makings of average power.

Weaknesses: The biggest question on Bourjos is a big one: Will he hit? His approach changes from at-bat to at-bat, he's busy in his set-up and he often lacks balance through his swing. His bad habit of drifting toward the pitcher, failing to keep his hands and weight back, makes him particularly vulnerable to offspeed stuff.

The Future: Bourjos has the tools to impact the game in many ways while playing a premium position. The Angels were pleased with his showing in instructional league and should give him a shot at high Class A at some point in 2008.
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Cedar Rapids (Lo A) .274 .335 .426 237 37 65 9 6 5 29 20 53 19
AZL Angels (R) .313 .353 .438 16 3 5 0 1 0 2 1 2 0
10.  Anel de los Santos, c   Born: June 19, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005. Signed by: Leo Perez.
Anel de los SantosBackground: The Angels signed de los Santos as a third baseman but moved him behind the plate during his second season in his native Dominican. He took to the position immediately.

Strengths: De los Santos has the tools to be a premium defensive catcher. He's athletic and agile with quick-twitch muscles that allow him to bounce around behind the plate. He has a quiet set-up, soft hands and sets a good, low target. His feet and arm action work efficiently during throws to second, and his throws have tremendous carry and hit their target. He nabbed 35 percent of basestealers last season and recorded 1.78-1.8-second pop times. He has solid-average bat speed and enough leverage to project to hit for at least average power.

Weaknesses: Occasionally, de los Santos will take a smooth swing with balance and rhythm, but his approach at the plate is inconsistent and he doesn't repeat his swing. He'll chase breaking balls in the dirt and doesn't work counts well. He's primarily a pull hitter.

The Future: De los Santos' prospect status is based largely on his defensive skills, so anything he contributes offensively will be a plus. He has athleticism and bat speed, so there's reason to believe he can develop into a .250-.265 hitter with 15-20 homers a year. He'll make his full-season debut this spring at Cedar Rapids.
2007 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Orem (R) .255 .268 .436 188 19 48 8 4 6 37 4 44 0

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