Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Kary Booher

Los Angeles Angels: Chat

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, 2009.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Just how close was it between Adenhart and Walden for the top spot? Was Adenhart's experience the factor that put him over?

Kary Booher: First, sorry for the delay. Just got back into the Research Triangle after a long day of traveling America's skies and was reminded quickly again about what to be thankful for after hearing that several hundred railroad workers back home in southwest Missouri might become the next casualties of these tough economic times. So, my belated thankful list includes having a paycheck, especially in the world of baseball. Those of us who work in and around the game are very fortunate. With that, let's get the ball rolling on our Q & A, and hello to all of our readers out West, as we waited til the noon hour for you to hit your lunch breaks. Thanks for the question about Adenhart and Walden. Both are very good in their own right, with Walden quickly becoming a huge factor in the Angels system. Their Top 30 list was pretty fun to rank because they have a lot of intriguing prospects, several that climbed into the Top 10 or strengthened their standing in the Top 10. But no one showed enough to overtake Adenhart, who graduated to No. 1 on the list after Brandon Wood exhausted his eligibility. Adenhart's struggles following a brief stint in the majors raised eyebrows, if not scuttled some of his shine. One scout told me that, "For a kid his age (22), everything still looks like you want it to be for a 2 to 4 type of starter."

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
What do scouts tell you about Tyler Chatwood? Did he make the 11-20 range?

Kary Booher: Chatwood did indeed miss out on the Top 10, partly because of the depth of starting pitching in the Angels system. (For background, he was the Angels' top pick in 2008, albeit in the second round because they forfeited their first-round pick because of the Torii Hunter signing.) Chatwood showed a 90 o 95 mph fastball in the Rookie-level Arizona League and the Angels also liked his sharp curve. But, like a lot of young pitchers, his immediate to-do list is getting a more consistent release point. Keep in mind, he was just in high school last spring and can dart through their system if he makes a few tweaks. But I'd like to see how he handles a full, 140-game schedule before I put him in the Top 10 in their system.

 Q:  Lorenzo from LA asks:
Is a position switch in the cards for Conger, in your opinion? Perhaps 1B or DH? I see you don't have him in your 2012 lineup card.

Kary Booher: That's the thing about Conger. Where does he end up, especially after he basically lost an entire season behind the plate? He didn't debut in 2008 until May 31 at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and then was primarily the DH, catching only a limited number of games. He's got the bat, obviously, as he joined playoff-bound Arkansas in late August and carried the Double-A Travelers to the Texas League championship even though many in the league had reason to doubt that team as it struggled badly in the second half. In our latest issue, Bill Shaikin quotes scouting director Eddie Bane as saying that, "I don't think we would trade Conger for any minor league catcher in the game right now." Not Matt Wieters? Not J.P. Arencibia? That's a bold statement, obviously, but the onus is now on Conger to show he can handle catching duties next year in Double-A.

 Q:  Ian from Kansas City, Mo asks:
I'd like to get your evaluation of lefty Robert Fish, if I could. What are your thoughts on his unorthodox delivery, and did he make the top 30?

Kary Booher: Fish threatened the Angels Top 10 and, despite that funky delivery of his (he's got a wrap in the back of his arm action), the organization has no plans yet to overhaul it. Of all the guys that shot up the board, Fish was the one who rocketed the most. A number of people I spoke with liked his fastball because it got up to 94 and he has a changeup that he rarely throws. His key will be throwing his curve consistently enough. It has spin, but he's yet to let it really work for him.

 Q:  Stephen C. Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
What's the status of two wounded wings, Young-Il Jung and Jon Bachanov?

Kary Booher: Both remain up in the air. Jung got some consideration still for the Top 30 — BA had him at No. 13 last year — but he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire year. The Angels are optimistic that he will pitch in 2009, which is only a lukewarm endorsement considering they signed him for $1 million out of Korea. As for Bachanov, their 2007 first-round supplemental pick, will celebrate his 20th birthday in January having yet to pitch in the minors since signing for $553,300.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
How much of a concern is Peter Bourjos' lack of plate discipline? Also, where will Tyler Chatwood start next year?

Kary Booher: Great to hear from readers in Iowa, where I once covered the NCAA wrestling championships but had to stay at a bed and breakfast on a pig farm 30 minutes outside of Iowa City. Good bacon, though. As for Bourjos' plate discipline, what the scouts said squared with what the Angels thought — that being that he'll learn to get on base more and not strike out so much. Several commented that he seemed to learn his own strike zone more as the season went on. As for Chatwood, with him being a high school sign, I could see the Angels slowly working him in and maybe keeping him in extended spring training. They like to be conservative and not get crazy and push guys out of fear it could backfire.

 Q:  Pete from NY asks:
Thanks for taking my question!!! Manuarys Correa, What's his future and do u think he's a very good prospect?

Kary Booher: We had a few questions regarding Correa today, some asking why he wasn't rated in the Top 10. I may have ranked him too low in our handbook because some see him as a potential No. 2 starter in the majors. He apparently has the pitches. But having covered Double-A baseball since '01, my questions about him have more to do with his transition to the U.S. and handling more pressure on top of handling more advanced hitters. He's been a strikeout machine because of his array of pitches — he's got a plus slider on top of a two-seamer and four-seamer — and he's clearly one guy to watch if the Angels open him at Cedar Rapids next year.

 Q:  Paul from Anaheim asks:
Where would the Angels' farm system rank overall from 1-30, if you had to approximate?

Kary Booher: This will be another one of the fun meetings we'll have here at BA, handled usually be our top editors. But the sense is that the Angels will likely slip from No. 10 into the 15-20 range. Their fall is partly because of natural attrition to the majors, especially with Brandon Wood, partly because their No. 1-rated guy now in Adenhart slid in the second half and they have not had a first-round pick in three of the past four drafts. As Bill Shaikin pointed out in his interesting interview with scouting director Eddie Bane -— and speaking of the past five drafts — the Angels have not signed eight players drafted within the first 10 rounds.

 Q:  Chris from Draper, Utah asks:
Was Luis Jimenez close to the top 10? What is the report on him?

Kary Booher: Jimenez is another one of the Orem/Arizona guys that generated a few questions, as he sounds like a very interesting prospect. At age 20, he hit .331/.361/.630 with 15 homers, 28 doubles and 65 RBIs at Rookie-level Orem. He wasn't near the Top 10, but he could make a run for it next season. And I say that because, while he produced, scouts also saw some holes in his swing.

 Q:  Meta from Atlanta asks:
I'll get the obligatory question out of the way: Where would Brandon Wood rank on this list were he eligible?

Kary Booher: Probably No. 1 yet again. What he did with the bat was one thing. But obviously his defense improved tremendously. I saw him in the Texas League a couple of years ago and I would have said there was no way he would play shortstop for a team chasing a pennant. He was very raw over there, at times difficult to watch. Had he qualified, he'd been No. 1 on our list again for those reasons and the fact that Adenhart was a safe choice but did have his flaws.

Moderator: Ask me again next year at this time, or at least when Romine gets in significant at-bats in Double-A. You're right to question any good basestealer, especially one coming from college and playing in the low minors. Usually advanced pitchers and catchers can slow the running game, and I thought it said something when I heard that his glove is two levels ahead of his offense.

 Q:  Stephen C. Smith from FutureAngels.com asks:
The Angels' top five starting pitcher prospects (in my opinion, and in no particular order) are Nick Adenhart, Ryan Chaffee, Trevor Reckling, Will Smith, and Jordan Walden. How would those five stack up against the top five of other organizations?

Kary Booher: (First, an oops. The comment from the moderator about Andrew Romine is actually mine. I selected the wrong choice by accident.) Anyway, the Angels' top five starters would hold their own, I would think, with other organizations' top fives. But proceed with caution. Adenhart still has to respond for his struggles last year and Chaffee was injured and they didn't even see him in 2008. Having said that, Walden gives this bunch a lot of street cred because he really started to show a lot of leadership, another plus in an already pretty good arsenal. That should bode well for him next year when he graduates to Double-A Arkansas in yet another hitter friendly circuit, the Texas League.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
Who are the sleepers in the system that we may not yet know? Who do you predict will make the largest jump on the prospect hierarchy in 2009? Thanks for the chat!

Kary Booher: One guy that I strongly considered before having to nudge him out was Eddie McKiernan, a 17th-round pick in 2007 out of Monrovia High School in California. He converted 22 of 24 saves in high-pressure closer's role at low Class A Cedar Rapids as a 19-year-old. And check out the strikeouts: 56 in almost 63 innings. Another guy to take note of might be Alex Torres, a lefty with a 92 mph fastball and plus curve. He's one of the Angels' signings from Venezuela and stuck at Rancho Cucamonga in midseason after being told to go there only on a need-base situation.

 Q:  Thomas from Raleigh, NC asks:
Where will Mike Anton fall on the top 30 list? He seems like a quality lefthander who could be a good 4-5 guy down the road.

Kary Booher: Anton didn't make the list unfortunately. He's got an above-average change and spots his fastball OK at 86 to 89 but just didn't have enough to make this list.

Kary Booher: That'll do it for the Angels chat. Apologies to anyone whose question wasn't answered, but check out our handbook that publishes in a few weeks. As I might have written earlier, it was fun to rank the Angels system, especially after having seen their Double-A club in the Texas League in 2005 when it was stacked with Aybar, Napoli, Kendrick, Morales and even had Santana and Joe Saunders in the rotation early. To see the organization evolve and try to match the talent of that class will be worth following next year. Happy holidays everybody.