2013 Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

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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.

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Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

After signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last December, the Angels introduced their expensive new free agents outside Angel Stadium at a press conference that more closely resembled a pep rally. While the team stopped short of guaranteeing a multitude of championships a la the Miami Heat, its grandiose celebration for winning the offseason looked just as silly when the 2012 regular season ended without a trip to the playoffs.

The Angels won 89 games—one more than the American League pennant-winning Tigers—and featured an offense that finished fourth in baseball in scoring despite playing in one of baseball's most pitcher-friendly home parks. Yet a 6-14 start sunk them to nine games behind the Rangers in the AL West early in the season, a hole that proved to be insurmountable.

The highlight of the season—and perhaps the biggest story in baseball—was the emergence of Mike Trout. He became the first player to ever win Baseball America's Major League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season, though he finished second in the AL MVP vote to Miguel Cabrera.

Trout, who spent the first month of the season in Triple-A Salt Lake, hit .326/.399/.564 in 639 plate appearances. He led the American League with 129 runs scored and 49 stolen bases and regularly made highlight plays in center field. His 10.7 Wins Above Replacement (as measured by Baseball-Reference.com) was the highest single-season mark since Barry Bonds in 2002 (11.6) and the third-highest ever for a center fielder, trailing only Mickey Mantle (11.1 in 1957) and Willie Mays (10.9 in 1965).

There isn't another Trout in the farm system, which is now one of the worst in baseball. Third baseman Kaleb Cowart stands out as the organization's best prospect, but behind him the system lacks both impact talent and depth—though there are reasons for that beyond talent evaluation.

A 2009 high school first-round pick, Trout zipped to the big leagues. The Angels used three players who would have ranked among their Top 10 Prospects (shortstop Jean Segura, righthanders Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena) in a July trade with the Brewers to acquire Zack Greinke, who became a free agent after the season. Righthander Donn Roach also would have been in the Top 10 had they not included him in a May deal with the Padres for Ernesto Frieri.

Additionally, signing Pujols and Wilson cost the club its first- and second-round picks in the 2012 draft as compensation. That left the team with baseball's smallest bonus pool ($1.6 million) for the first 10 rounds, hampering its efforts to restock the system.

The Angels made a series of personnel changes in scouting and player development. The most notable departure was that of Tom Kotchman, who had managed in the system since 1984 and doubled as an area scout in Florida since 1990. Kotchman, who signed more than a dozen big leaguers for the club, resigned after the Angels asked him to focus solely on scouting and took a job with the Red Sox.

International scouting director Marc Russo, who helped rebuild the Angels' Latin American program after they cleaned house in mid-2009, also wasn't retained. GM Jerry Dipoto brought in Carlos Gomez, who had worked with Dipoto in Arizona as the Diamondbacks' international scouting director, to replace Russo.

1. Kaleb Cowart, 3b Born: Jun 2, 1992 B-T: B-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Cook HS, Adel, Ga., 2010 (1st round).  Signed by: Chris McAlpin
Kaleb CowartBackground: Cowart won Baseball America's 2010 High School Player of the Year award thanks to his dominance as a two-way player, hitting .654 with 11 home runs in 107 at-bats and going 10-1, 1.05 with 116 strikeouts in 73 innings. Most teams at the time preferred him on the mound, where he showed a plus fastball in the low 90s with sink along with a hard slider. He preferred to hit, however, and the Angels thought enough of his future as a third baseman to draft him 18th overall and pay him $2.3 million at the signing deadline. He didn't make much of a splash in his first two pro seasons, barely playing in 2010 and hitting .283/.345/.420 at Rookie-level Orem in 2011. He finally reached full-season ball in 2012 and had a breakthrough year in 135 games split between low Class A Cedar Rapids and high Class A Inland Empire.

Scouting Report: Cowart has developed into a well-rounded prospect at third base. A switch-hitter with strong hands, he shows the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field when he's going well. The book on him coming out of high school and entering the 2012 season was that his swing was more natural from the right side. His lefthanded stroke does still tend to get loopy, which causes him to pop the ball up more than he should, but he became more comfortable as a lefty last season. He hit 14 of his 16 homers from the left side of the plate in 2012. Cowart has plus bat speed from both sides of the plate and the potential to hit more than 20 home runs annually when he reaches the big leagues. His plate discipline also has improved markedly, helping him to get into better hitter's' counts to drive the ball and to increase his on-base percentage with more walks. He didn't have as much success following his promotion to high Class A, yet he didn't stray from his patient approach. Cowart is athletic, has a quick first step and has become a solid defender at third base. He's a surehanded defender who makes all the routine plays, gets good jumps on balls and is adept at fielding bunts and slow choppers hit right at him, though he does need to get better on balls to his left. His long, over-the-top throwing motion is a little unorthodox for a third baseman, but it works for him because he has above-average arm strength and consistent accuracy. He had just 16 errors in 125 games in 2012 after making the same number in 66 games the year before. Cowart has below-average speed but runs the bases well. He earns praise for his aptitude and ability to make adjustments, and for being a good teammate.

The Future: In a farm system that lacks impact talent and depth, Cowart stands out as the lone farmhand who scouts feel comfortable about projecting as an everyday player in the big leagues. The Angels have produced just two homegrown all-star third basemen in their first 52 seasons—Dave Chalk and Troy Glaus—and Cowart has the potential to become their third. He should make the jump to Double-A Arkansas during the 2013 season, with a chance to compete for a starting job in the major leagues at some point in 2014.

'10 Angels (R) 21 0 3 0 0 0 4 0 6 0 0 .143 .136 .143
'10 Orem (R) 5 1 2 0 0 1 3 1 2 0 0 .400 .500 1.000
'11 Orem (R) 283 49 80 12 3 7 40 25 81 11 4 .283 .345 .420
'12 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 263 42 77 16 3 9 54 22 44 9 4 .293 .348 .479
'12 Inland Empire (HiA) 263 48 68 15 4 7 49 45 67 5 3 .259 .366 .426
Minor League Totals 835 140 230 43 10 24 150 93 200 25 11 .275 .349 .437

2. Nick Maronde, lhp Born: Sep 5, 1989 B-T: B-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Florida, 2011 (3rd round).  Signed by: Tom Kotchman
Nick MarondeBackground: After ranking as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in his 2011 pro debut, Maronde rocketed to the big leagues in his first full pro season. Despite missing most of May and June with back and elbow injuries, he became the fourth player from the 2011 draft to reach the majors.

Scouting Report: Maronde has excellent command of a deceptive fastball that ranges from 89-95 mph. He keeps his fastball down and locates it on both sides of the plate. His 82-85 mph slider is a plus pitch that features good depth. It can flatten out when he doesn't stay on top of the ball, but when it's on he can throw it for strikes or as a chase pitch. The Angels want Maronde to improve his below-average changeup, though he rarely threw it as a big league reliever. Maronde's athleticism helps him repeat his delivery, while his arm action makes some scouts worry about his durability.

The Future: Maronde has the stuff and command to be a No. 3 starter, but durability concerns and lack of a third pitch may keep him in the bullpen. He could open 2013 in the big leagues in the latter role.

'11 Orem (R) 5 0 2.14 11 11 0 46 36 12 11 5 15 50 .206
'12 Angels (R) 0 1 1.13 3 3 0 8 3 4 1 0 2 9 .111
'12 Inland Empire (HiA) 3 1 1.82 10 10 0 59 40 13 12 4 14 60 .183
'12 Arkansas (AA) 3 2 3.34 7 5 0 32 39 13 12 1 3 21 .287
'12 Los Angeles (MAJ) 0 0 1.50 12 0 0 6 6 1 1 0 3 7 .250
Major League Totals 0 0 1.50 12 0 0 6 6 6 1 0 3 7 .250
Minor League Totals 11 4 2.23 31 29 0 145 118 118 36 10 34 140 .213

3. C.J. Cron, 1b Born: Jan 5, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 235
Drafted: Utah, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: John Gracio
C.J. CronBackground: The 17th overall pick in the 2011 draft and recipient of a $1.467 million bonus, Cron came into spring training in 2012 out of shape. He looked lost early in his first full pro season before losing weight and rebounding to lead the minors with 123 RBIs. Following the season, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which he had played with since his final season at Utah. Cron also had an operation on his right knee following his pro debut. His father Chris played briefly in the majors with the Angels and his brother was an unsigned third-rounder in 2011 that now attends Texas Christian.

Scouting Report: The ball makes a different sound coming off Cron's bat. He has plus-plus raw power, and thanks to his hand-eye coordination he doesn't strike out excessively. But he also doesn't walk much because he swings at borderline strikes and chases breaking balls. His ability to handle breaking pitches improved as the season went on, though some scouts have reservations about his ability to catch up to quality fastballs. All of his value lies in his bat, as he's slow-footed and a limited defender at first base. His hands and feet are adequate, but he needs to improve his flexibility and first-step quickness to avoid becoming a DH.

The Future: Cron will have to show improved plate discipline to reach his ceiling as a middle-of-the-order bat. He should start 2013 in Double-A.

'11 Orem (R) 143 30 44 5 1 13 41 10 34 0 0 .308 .371 .629
'12 Inland Empire (HiA) 525 73 154 32 2 27 123 17 72 3 4 .293 .327 .516
Minor League Totals 668 103 198 37 3 40 164 27 106 3 4 .296 .337 .540

4. Mike Clevinger, rhp Born: Dec 21, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 217
Drafted: Seminole State (Fla.) JC, 2011 (4th round).  Signed by: Tom Kotchman
Mike ClevingerBackground: Clevinger boosted his draft stock in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2010 before signing for a slightly above-slot $250,000 in the 2011 draft. He made a strong impression in low Class A to start the 2012 season, but he made just eight starts before needing Tommy John surgery.

Scouting Report: Clevinger has four pitches that grade as average or better. He throws an 89-93 mph fastball from a three-quarters arm slot and has reached 96 as a reliever. He gets plenty of swings and misses with his secondary stuff, most notably an above-average 81-84 mph slider with wide break. His changeup is average and shows the potential to give him another plus pitch. His curveball is average as well, though he tips it off by throwing it from a slightly higher release point. Some scouts think Clevinger tries to get too many swings and misses on chase pitches early in the count rather than pitching off his quality fastball. His delivery creates deception, though it's an aggressive motion and he tends to overthrow when he gets jacked up. He has average control but could use better command.

The Future: Clevinger has the repertoire to be a mid-rotation starter, but concerns about his durability may make a relief role more likely. He may not return to game action until late in the 2013 season.

'11 Orem (R) 0 0 2.25 3 0 0 4 3 1 1 0 2 5 .200
'12 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 1 1 3.73 8 8 0 41 37 18 17 3 13 34 .231
Minor League Totals 1 1 3.60 11 8 0 45 40 40 18 3 15 39 .229

5. Austin Wood, rhp Born: Jul 11, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 225
Drafted: Southern California, 2011 (6th round).  Signed by: Tim Corcoran
Austin WoodBackground: After struggling at Florida State in 2009 and falling out of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC rotation in 2010, Wood still was a fourth-round pick of the Rays and dominated the Cape Cod League that summer. He did not sign and transferred to Southern California, and he fell to the sixth round after posting a 5.61 ERA as a junior. As a pro, he has continued to produce pedestrian results despite quality stuff.

Scouting Report: Wood's fastball ranges from 91-96 mph and he can hit 99. His plus slider has power and hard bite, but he doesn't miss as many bats as expected because he gets behind in the count too frequently. He left fastballs up in the zone early in 2012, though he did a better job of keeping them down as the year went along. Wood has shown feel for his changeup, but it regressed last season because he rarely used it. He prefers to pitch away from hitters, rather than attacking them inside. He's athletic but has trouble repeating his mechanics and rushes his delivery, which leads to poor control and command—as evidenced by his 72 walks in 128 innings this season.

The Future: Wood has the arsenal to be a starter if he can improve his changeup, but his lack of success and control may lead him to the bullpen. He should advance to high Class A in 2013.

'11 Orem (R) 0 0 20.25 2 0 0 1 4 3 3 1 0 1 .500
'12 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 5 12 4.30 26 26 0 128 125 68 61 4 72 109 .246
Minor League Totals 5 12 4.47 28 26 0 129 129 129 64 5 72 110 .250

6. Randal Grichuk, of Born: Aug 13, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Lamar Consolidated HS, Rosenberg, Texas, 2009 (1st round).  Signed by: Kevin Ham
Randal GrichukBackground: Taken one pick ahead of Mike Trout in the 2009 draft, Grichuk signed for $1.242 million as the 24th overall selection. He battled thumb and wrist injuries in 2010, then hurt both of his knees in 2011. His ability to stay healthy for a full season in 2012 was a step in the right direction, and he nearly doubled his career at-bat total.

Scouting Report: Grichuk has strong wrists, a quick bat and above-average raw power. His swing can get complicated, but he has made adjustments with his set-up, widening his base and quieting his hands. He wraps his bat, which adds length to his stroke, but he has good hands and accelerates the barrel into contact well. He hits breaking balls when he maintains a gap-to-gap approach, but he's vulnerable to them when he flies open with his swing. He doesn't strike out excessively but needs more discipline at the plate after putting up just a .335 on-base percentage in 2012. Grichuk is coachable and has made huge strides with his defense and baserunning, both of which were poor when he entered pro ball. He's now a reliable right fielder with a solid, accurate arm.

The Future: Trout and Grichuck are friends, and their proximity in the 2009 draft drives Grichuk to join Trout in the majors. His free-swinging approach will be tested in Double-A in 2013.

'09 Angels (R) 236 47 76 13 10 7 53 9 64 6 4 .322 .352 .551
'10 Angels (R) 49 7 16 3 2 4 10 3 9 0 0 .327 .365 .714
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 202 41 59 19 4 7 36 9 50 4 0 .292 .327 .530
'11 Angels (R) 24 2 8 1 1 0 6 2 4 0 0 .333 .357 .458
'11 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 122 12 28 7 4 2 13 6 29 0 1 .230 .267 .402
'11 Inland Empire (HiA) 53 13 15 4 2 1 6 0 13 0 0 .283 .316 .491
'12 Inland Empire (HiA) 537 79 160 30 9 18 71 23 92 16 6 .298 .335 .488
Minor League Totals 1223 201 362 77 32 39 195 52 261 26 11 .296 .331 .507

7. Taylor Lindsey, 2b Born: Dec 2, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale, Ariz., 2010 (1.5 round).  Signed by: John Gracio
Taylor LindseyBackground: The Angels surprised several teams when they drafted Lindsey 37th overall and signed him for $873,000 in 2010, but he responded with a Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP season in 2011. The club's new front office chose to skip him a level in 2012 and jumped him to high Class A, where he held his own offensively at age 20.

Scouting Report: Lindsey is an unorthodox hitter who succeeds largely because of his impressive hand-eye coordination. He has a narrow stance and scouts would like to see him use his legs more in his swing, but he has strong forearms and wrists along with good hands, which gives him a knack for squaring up the baseball. He sets up with his hands unconventionally low, then raises them late to get to his trigger. The Angels tried raising his hand position to help his timing, but it's still something he's getting comfortable with. He's not a major power threat and works more line to line. A below-average runner, Lindsey has enhanced his footwork to avoid having to move to the outfield, but his lateral movement and range need to get better. While his arm strength has improved, it's still fringy.

The Future: Lindsey will move to Double-A in 2013. He'll have to stay at second base to profile as a regular.

'10 Angels (R) 194 26 55 12 6 0 18 12 33 8 3 .284 .325 .407
'11 Orem (R) 290 64 105 28 6 9 46 13 46 10 4 .362 .394 .593
'12 Inland Empire (HiA) 547 79 158 26 6 9 58 29 66 8 6 .289 .328 .408
Minor League Totals 1031 169 318 66 18 18 122 54 145 26 13 .308 .346 .460

8. R.J. Alvarez, rhp Born: Jun 8, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Florida Atlantic, 2012 (3rd round).  Signed by: Ralph Reyes
R.J. AlvarezBackground: Alvarez went a combined 9-7, 5.17 as a starter in his first two seasons at Florida Atlantic, and excelled as a reliever in the Cape Cod League for two summers. The Owls moved him to the bullpen in 2012 and he responded by posting a 0.53 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 34 innings. The Angels, who lost their picks in the first two rounds as compensation for signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson as free agents and had the lowest bonus pool allotment, used their top choice (114th overall) to draft Alvarez in the third round and signed him for $416,300.

Scouting Report: Alvarez has a quick arm that produces fastballs ranging from 95-97 mph in most outings and reaching as high as 100 mph. He can miss bats with both his fastball and his mid-80s slider, which features late action. He does have a tendency to get around his slider, causing it to morph into more of a power slurve. Alvarez has a fringy changeup in his arsenal, though he doesn't need it as a reliever. He has a high-effort delivery and throws across his body, which adds deception but affects his command.

The Future: The Angels would like to move Alvarez through the system quickly, though his command will dictate that more than his stuff. He has the repertoire to eventually pitch in the back of their bullpen if everything comes together.

'12 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 3 2 3.29 23 0 0 27 22 16 10 2 11 38 .212
Minor League Totals 3 2 3.33 23 0 0 27 22 22 10 2 11 38 .214

9. Mark Sappington, rhp Born: Nov 17, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 209
Drafted: Rockhurst (Mo.), 2012 (5th round).  Signed by: Joel Murrie
Mark SappingtonBackground: Sappington's fastball parked in the mid-80s when he was a high school senior, so he didn't get much attention from college recruiters. He spent three years at NCAA Division II Rockhurst (Mo.), where his velocity improved dramatically. He became the highest-drafted player in school history when the Angels took him in the fifth round in June and signed him for $218,000.

Scouting Report: Sappington now cruises at 94-95 mph and reaches 97. He has a big, physical frame and throws his fastball with downhill angle and late, heavy sink, which helps him generate plenty of groundballs. His secondary stuff lacks consistency, but his slider shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch and his changeup has the potential to develop into an average offering. Sappington has a unique delivery, with effort, twists and turns that result in a lot of knees and elbows flying at the batter. His mechanics create deception but lead scouts to wonder how good his command can be and if he might be better suited to the bullpen.

The Future: Sappington got hit hard in Orem, though the Angels say he was just tired after pitching 96 innings in the spring. They'll keep deploying him as a starter in 2013, most likely at their new low Class A Burlington affiliate. Even if he winds up as a reliever, he needs innings for development.

'12 Orem (R) 1 1 5.15 15 12 0 37 31 25 21 3 16 34 .220
Minor League Totals 1 1 5.11 15 12 0 37 31 31 21 3 16 34 .218

10. Alex Yarbrough, 2b Born: Aug 3, 1991 B-T: B-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Mississippi, 2012 (4th round).  Signed by: J.T. Zink
Alex YarbroughBackground: The Angels system is littered with free swingers, so it was notable that the first position player drafted under GM Jerry Dipoto has the patient approach the organization is trying to emphasize. After hitting .380 as a Mississippi junior, Yarbrough went in the fourth round in June and signed for $302,800.

Scouting Report: Yarbrough's barrel stays in the hitting zone a long time and he has excellent hands at the plate, which results in a high contact rate. He showed modest pop in college and didn't homer in 63 pro games, so he'll have to get stronger. He likes to use the opposite field, even on inside pitches, and some scouts are concerned that his lack of bat speed could get exposed at upper levels against good fastballs on the inner half. Yarbrough is a modest athlete and there's nothing flashy about his defense. He's a fringy runner who doesn't have great range or arm strength, but his hands are clean and he's reliable on the balls he reaches. He needs to improve his double-play pivot but he shows aptitude for receiving instruction.

The Future: Yarbrough reached Double-A at the end of 2012, but he might start his first full pro season in high Class A. He profiles as an offensive second baseman, albeit not as talented as Howie Kendrick, who's signed through 2015.

'12 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 244 35 70 12 9 0 27 10 20 9 2 .287 .320 .410
'12 Arkansas (AA) 18 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 .111 .111 .167
Minor League Totals 262 36 72 13 9 0 27 10 23 9 2 .275 .307 .393