Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Eddy

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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, 2011.

Moderator: Matt Eddy will chat about the Angels' Top 10 beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

    JAYPERS (IL): How far off the list has Reckling fallen this year, and what position is he most likely suited for, SP or RP?

Matthew Eddy: Welcome to the Angels Top 30 chat. I'm glad the first question in the queue is about LHP Trevor Reckling. He appeared at the back of the Top 10 in many of the initial drafts of this Angels list, and still it doesn't look quite right to me without him. If you grade Reckling's pitches out, when he's at his best, you still have average fastball, plus changeup, plus breaking ball. That sounds like a starter . . . until you factor in below-average command and control. The Angels asked Reckling to emphasize his fastball more in 2010, but he left too many of them up and got hammered in the PCL. His performance normalized back in Double-A, so all is not lost. If the command does not improve, I could see Reckling being a pretty spiffy reliever with two go-to secondary pitches. He's only 21, though, so the Angels will give him at least two years to see if he can right the ship.

    Eric (San Diego): Had he not been traded, would Tyler Skaggs have ranked on the Top 10?

Matthew Eddy: LHP Tyler Skaggs truly will be missed. He would have ranked no lower than No. 4, ahead of Conger, and possibly as high as No. 2 behind Trout. The D'backs were justifiably excited to acquire the lefthander, even if he's not yet a household name. As to Pat Corbin, one of the other pitchers included in the deal for Dan Haren, he would have fallen just after the Garrett Richards, Fabio Martinez cluster of pitchers, possibly just behind Trumbo at No. 10.

    JAYPERS (IL): Has Grichuk's stock fallen at all since last year at this time? Where should we expect him to start off his 2011 season? Is he still in the top 20?

Matthew Eddy: A first-round pick in 2009, Grichuk just missed making the Top 10. The injuries (including a broken bone in his wrist that knocked him out for the playoffs) were a factor, but the biggest concern centers on how much he's going to hit. He swings and misses a lot, walks infrequently and missed valuable playing time this season. The power is potentially above-average, and he defends, runs and throws better than we initially gave him credit for (thanks to the other chatter who asked), but so much of his value is going to be predicated on hitting for power—and lots of it. The Angels may opt to take it slow in 2011, letting Grichuk find success in low Class A before promoting him.

    Ryan (Moorpark, CA): The Angels seem to have one of the deepest catching staffs in all of baseball. I think Napoli is a guy that provides much needed pop to their line-up. What do you see happening in 2011 and beyond?

Matthew Eddy: I think that's fair. I can't think of another team that has a major league trio like Napoli, Mathis and Bobby Wilson. Then factor in Conger in Triple-A and Alberto Rosario in Double-A (if he hits at all, he'll play in the big leagues). Crystal ball: Angels trade Napoli this offseason and go with Mathis/Wilson to begin 2011, using Trumbo as 1B insurance in case Morales suffers a setback. Conger may work his way into the mix later in the season.

    Vandy (RI): Did Ryan Bolden make your top 30? What's the skinny on him?

Matthew Eddy: Yes, first-round supplemental pick Ryan Bolden did make the Top 30. Or, I should say he's in the initial ranking. Offseason trades could still scuttle those plans. Bolden runs very well and has all kinds of raw power, but his game is so unrefined that it could take him 6 years to develop. He doesn't recognize pitches very well right now and his instincts don't mark him as a slam-dunk in center field.

    Ryan (Moorpark, CA): Do the Angels have an arm in their system who projects as a true #1 with over powering stuff?

Matthew Eddy: They do not, so Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are safe for the foreseeable future. Chatwood, Richards and Martinez all have fantastic arms, but like most every hard-throwing Angels righthander, they have below-average command. Generally, if you're forecasting a minor league pitcher to fit at the top of a big league rotation, you want to see at least 60 command.

    Dale (Riverside, CA): Did Jeremy Moore fall in the 11-20 range? Does he have a shot at being more than a 4th OF in the bigs or does the low walk rate hurt his chances?

Matthew Eddy: Nobody in the system opened eyes quite like Jeremy Moore, who went from raw, toolsy Louisiana prep product in 2005 to the 40-man roster this offseason. The Angels patience paid off in this case, as Moore refined his feel for hitting and showed traces of power and speed along the way. A lefthanded hitter who can handle center field on an everyday basis, Moore does indeed have a shot to be more than a fourth outfielder. But he could be one heck of a reserve, maybe as soon as 2012.

    Ryan (Moorpark, CA): Who do you like more long-term, Jason Heyward or Mike Trout?

Matthew Eddy: I prefer Heyward to Trout. More power, as good or better batting eye, has performed at the highest level.

    Hank (Tampa, FL): How close was Michael Kohn to the top 10? He flew through the system this year and performed well when he was called up to the big leagues.

Matthew Eddy: Kohn is a great story. As you noted, this year he became the first Angels 2008 draft pick to make the big leagues. But the Angels might never have found him, if not for scout Tom Kotchman going to College of Charleston to attend his daughter's softball game. Kohn just keeps getting better as he gains more pitching experience, but ultimately his ceiling might be low-leverage reliever. Big league batters won't be as easily fooled by his short-arm pitching motion, so he'll need to be either very precise or the slider will have to come up a grade or two.

    Jon (Peoria): Hi Matt: How does Segura compare and rank with other Angels middle infield prospects that have come through Cedar Rapids in the past, such as Aybar, Callaspo, or Amarista?

Matthew Eddy: Scouting reports indicate that Segura has a higher offensive ceiling than any of the three you listed. He won't run or defend anything like Aybar, but he could be a more powerful, steadier-on-defense version of Callaspo. It's important to keep in mind that Segura staying on the middle infield is not a foregone conclusion. He's thick through his lower half and has the arm for third base.

    Don (Rosemont, IL): If Tyler Kehrer can improve his command, is his stuff good enough to be a mid-rotation starter or is that too optimistic?

Matthew Eddy: Kehrer struggled so mightily with control in low Class A that even big league middle reliever seems like a generous projection right now. Add to that the fact that his velocity fell a few ticks this season. However, Kehrer would occasionally snap off slider with vicious late break, and he's shown steady low-90s velo in the past. If those two attributes become constants, he could work his way into lefty situational relief consideration.

    Bryan (San Francisco): Did you get any feedback on Angels 1B Gabe Jacobo? I know he isn't considered an elite prospect, but he seems to produce at each level. Does he have a chance at getting to the Big Leagues? Thanks!

Matthew Eddy: I get the sense that Jacobo might top out more as a Triple-A player who could get a few cups of coffee in the bigs. He defends well and has power to his pull side, but he's an aggressive, righty-hitting first baseman without elite power. It's going to be a tough sell.

    Stephen C. Smith (FutureAngels.com): In your introduction, you noted a number of hitters drafted earlier in the decade. With the exception of Kendry Morales, they all seem to have failed to play up to expectations in the major leagues. Do you have an opinion on why that is?

Matthew Eddy: Bill Shaikin tackled this very issue in a feature that's now running on our site (http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/majors/news/2010/2610985.html). I don't want to steal his thunder.

    Stephen C. Smith (FutureAngels.com): I was a bit surprised to see Tyler Chatwood at #2. Chatwood has that plus 12-6 curve but still can't throw it consistently where he wants. His K/9 IP rate in Double-A after his promotion dropped considerably from his High-A rate. What led to ranking him over Garrett Richards as the best starting pitcher prospect in the system?

Matthew Eddy: Performance matters, especially at Double-A. However, I'm willing to give a talented 20-year-old like Chatwood the benefit of the doubt if he scuffles at that level. Setting aside the numbers, Chatwood grades out better than Richards across the board: better fastball, better breaking ball, better changeup, better delivery. The only thing he doesn't have is Richards' physical build.

    PT (IBC): Someone has to ask it: What made you guys(BA) rank Conger ahead of Trout last year? You were the only one's that did it, so I wonder what you saw that justified it last year? With Scioscia demanding defense first from his backstops in LA, Conger screams tweener to me without the bat to profile at 1B.

Matthew Eddy: I whiffed on Trout last year, whether because of bad information or suspicions based of playing in the hitter-friendly Arizona League. Overrating just-drafted prospects based on performance in short-season ball has tripped me up numerous times, so I like to take it more slowly with those players. Keep in mind that many in the industry whiffed on Trout. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that he went 25th in the draft last year! How many players from that draft would you prefer now?

    Stephen C. Smith (FutureAngels.com): Having lost Alex Torres, Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin in trades the last two years, just how shallow are the Angels now in left-handed starting pitcher prospects?

Matthew Eddy: At this time, they're about as shallow as an organization can be. Torres and Skaggs would have made this year's Top 10, and Corbin would have been strongly considered. I turned in just two lefty starters for the depth chart we run in the Prospect Handbook: Trevor Reckling and just-drafted fourth-rounder Max Russell.

    Stephen C. Smith (FutureAngels.com): It seems that not many regulars from Latin countries have emerged from the Angels' farm system in the last few years. They're certain active in Latin and South America and have a vibrant Dominincan academy. Any opinion on how the Angels are doing in Latin countries versus other organizations?

Matthew Eddy: At present, the Angels are relatively dormant in Latin America. They fired Clay Daniel in 2009, just prior to the beginning of the July 2 international signing period. Then the organization replaced virtually all of their international scouts, so they've spent the last year getting back up to speed. But in the recent past the Angels have gotten a lot of value out of their Latin American signings—everyone from Aybar, Callaspo, Alexi Casilla, Ervin Santana, Rafael Rodriguez (used in trade for Haren) to now Segura, Fabio Martinez, Alexi Amarista and Luis Jimenez.

    Mike (Minnesota): All the scouting reports I've read on Mike Trout say he'll have "average" power. Isn't that term a very relative one? Especially depending on position played? If he's a CF'er, "average" might mean 10-12 HR's...if he plays LF, then he'd be considered a "below average" power guy if he only hit 10-12 HR's? Is that how we should interpret that?

Matthew Eddy: The traditional scouting scale does not consider a player's position, which does tend to shortchange up-the-middle talents like Trout. Without hesitation, you'd take a player with average power (15-19 homers) in center or the middle infield or at catcher. But put that same average power guy at first and you'll be looking for an upgrade. This is a very good point to raise.

    Tyler (Harrodsburg, Ky): Matt, I have to ask, why is Cowart so low? In the recent Tigers chat, Conor Glassey said that Cowart had a higher ceiling than Castellanos, yet Castellanos ranked 2nd in his respective system. Is the Angels system just that much better than the Tigers or is there another factor that is causing the passive approach to ranking Cowart?

Matthew Eddy: I took it easy with Cowart for two reasons: 1) I like to rank organization newcomers as low as possible at the outset, and 2) Cowart has so much work to do form the left side of the plate (where he'll spend 75 percent of his at-bats) that I wonder if he'll face an adjustment period. And I think most scouts and front office execs would prefer the Angels system (closer to middle-of-the-pack) to the Tigers (easily bottom third, maybe one of trailers).

    Chuck (Surprise, AZ): Hey, Matt, thanks for the chat. I saw some of the Angels' prospects recently in the AFL, the most impressive of which was centerfielder Jeremy Moore. Where does he rank in the top 30 and can you share a bit "more" about him? Thanks.

Matthew Eddy: As alluded to earlier, I like Moore a great deal. A scout for outside the organization really lobbied for him too. He's got a wide talent base, and I would not rule out the possibility that he carves out a career as a starter.

    Jeff (Pittsburgh): I've been fairly bullish on Cowart as a position player for quite some time (to the point where I like him the most among non-Trout LAA prospects). The Baseball America consensus seemed to prefer him as a starter; where would he have ranked on the list if he had been drafted as one?

Matthew Eddy: You're not alone. A number of scouts preferred Cowart as a position player, too. I'm not sure his ranking would have been effected all that much had he remained a pitcher. I could see moving him ahead of Walden to No. 5.

    Dave (Atlanta): Any update on Mason Tobin?

Matthew Eddy: The Angels opted not to add RHP Mason Tobin to the 40-man roster, so he's eligible for selection in next week's Rule 5 draft. He's made a total of 11 appearances over the past three seasons as he's dealt with a strained shoulder, Tommy John surgery in spring '09 and then a subsequent cleanup procedure on his elbow this summer. He's on track for spring training.

    Jim (CA): How close was Chevez Clarke to making this list? I heard he has the potential to be a 5-tool player.

Matthew Eddy: Clarke, taken 30th overall in June, has flashed all five tools, but his two strongest are speed and arm strength. He'll have to show better pitch recognition and feel for hitting to raise his stock in 2011. With enough time to develop, Clarke could grow into a starting center fielder with some power-speed possibilities.

    jeff (south carolina): What do you think of centerfielder Travis Witherspoon? It looks as though his bat may be catching up to his defense.

Matthew Eddy: Having ranked the top prospect in the Pioneer League for the past two seasons, I'm quite familiar with Witherspoon. I share your enthusiasm. The common refrain for him centers on how hard he's willing to work to improve, and that could be a real separator for him. Witherspoon has plus power, baserunning speed and smarts and can be a very strong defensive player, so look for further improvements to his hitting approach to put him over the top.

    Dan (Toronto): Right-hander Fabio Martinez Mesa appears to be one of the most talented players in the system and I was surprised to see him ranked so low on the Top 10 list. After reading the detailed scouting report, as his concerns with "lighting up the radar gun" really going to stop him from reaching his potential??

Matthew Eddy: For Martinez and a lot of young pitchers, they expend a lot of energy trying to throw as hard as possible and to strike out every batter they face. Most often the super hard-throwers with max-effort deliveries, like Martinez, wind up in the bullpen. That's why he ranks as low as he does.

    DAVE P (ST CATHARINES, ON): Hi Matt, Jordan Walden walked more batters than id like to see in the minors. Was this just part of his injury recovery and do you expect his stellar major league stats to continue?

Matthew Eddy: Walden will hit a rough spot in the big leagues, for sure, and he probably won't be as good as a sophomore as he was as a freshman—not after teams see him a few more times. But you can make up for a lot of mistakes with a fastball as good as his.

    Steve (New Jersey): Do you think Billy Rowell's struggles at all impacted the draft status of Mike Trout three years later?

Matthew Eddy: Interesting thought. The peronality of the individual New Jersey high schoolers are so radically different that it's probably not safe to draw correlations between Rowell's pro struggles and Trout's fall to end of the first round. I would guess that any scout who was around Trout would have fallen in immediately for his competitive makeup.

    Elvin (San Diego): Segura or N.Franklin? Why?

Matthew Eddy: At this point in time, I'd take the Mariners' Nick Franklin because he has proven he can play shortstop at least competently, he hit for more power than Segura in the Midwest League and he gives you the lefty bat (he's a switch-hitter).

    James (HB, CA): Who has the best chance of ending up as a starter out of Chatwood, Richards and Mesa-Martinez?

Matthew Eddy: For me it's Chatwood, and that's why I ranked him the highest of the three.

    Ryan (California): What are your thoughts on 2010 draft picks Chevez Clarke, Taylor Lindsey and Ryan Bolden? Where would they rank in this system?

Matthew Eddy: You'll have to wait for the Prospect Handbook to get specific rankings, but all three cracked the Top 30, with Clarke checking in the highest.

    Chris (Chicago): Does Bourjos have enough staying power to move Trout to LF long-term? Or do you see the Angels eventually going the FA route for a corner OF and sticking with Trout in CF?

Matthew Eddy: If Bourjos hits I think he's the man in center field. If he doesn't, then yes I think you'll see Trout there. But Trout has more than enough bat to play an outfield corner, so there's no reason for concern.

    AC (Atlanta): What odds would you place on Conger actually sticking at catcher with the Angels? If they won't tolerate his defense there, do you think they might trade him to a team that would, in order to maximize his value?

Matthew Eddy: Conger receives well enough, but I wouldn't expect him to ever lead the league in runners caught stealing. Triple-A basestealers picked up on this too, attempting more steals against Conger than any other PCL catcher. A bigger concern is durability. Because of so many early-career injuries, he really hasn't logged that much time behind the plate for a fifth-year pro. He caught just 87 and 81 games in each of the past two seasons.

    Commish (NY): I am highly considering cancelling my subscription. If you are going to have a chat wrap all paying subscribers should have equal access. I submitted a legitimale question a few minutes after the Angels Top 10 was posted. I have not seen a response. However, I have seen numerous questions answered to the same individual. how is it possible that JAYPERS always gets numerous questions answered. Just a few moments ago you answered 5 straight questions from the same person. Give me a break.

Matthew Eddy: Tips for getting questions answered. 1) Submit them early. 2) Make them short and snappy. 3) Focus on material that isn't answered in the Top 10 capsules. 4) Keep it Angels-centric—it's too early in the offseason to make accurate cross-organization comps or know for sure who will rank in the Top 100.

    George (LA): What are the chances that Fabio Martinez takes a big step forward in 2011 and looks more like a Michael Pineda/Julio Teheran type prospect next offseason?

Matthew Eddy: Not terribly likely. Martinez has a terrific arm, as much arm strength as Pineda and Teheran, but those two have significantly better command.

    Dave (Atlanta): Is Loek van Mil healthy?

Matthew Eddy: The 7-foot-1 Dutchman was healthy during instructional league, but staying on the field has been a real stumbling block for a pitcher who has the raw stuff to pitch high-leverage relief.

Matthew Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. Aaron Fitt will continue the AL West prospects chats with the Rangers on Wednesday.