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Some club officials have known Kotchman, the son of longtime Angels scout and minor league manager Tom, since he was 7 years old. In 2004 they got a firsthand look at how he has developed into one the best pure batting prospects in baseball, as he made his major league debut after a red-hot month in Double-A. He was called up to Anaheim in May to replace injured first baseman Darin Erstad and recorded four multi-hit games in his first eight starts. He didn't strike out until his 48th plate appearance, and his first hit came off Mariano Rivera in a nine-pitch at-bat. Kotchman became Pedro Martinez' 2,500th career strikeout victim, but only after an epic 15-pitch at-bat. He was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake and continued to rake. He was back in Anaheim in September and received a spot on the postseason roster, thanks in part to injuries to other players. Kotchman has more walks (116) than strikeouts (100) as a pro and manages the balance between selectivity and aggressiveness better than any hitter in the minors. He has a natural, fluid swing and keeps the barrel of his bat in the hitting zone a long time. He makes consistent, sharp contact to all fields. Kotchman is adept at quickly identifying the spin and break of pitches. He rarely chases pitches and frequently works deep into counts. When he gets his pitch, he's content to lash it to both alleys, though he displays more over-the-fence power potential in batting practice. He projects to hit at least 20-25 homers annually once he learns when to lift the ball. He is smooth around the bag at first and is a future Gold Glover. He has good hands and easily scoops up errant throws. Kotchman never has been healthy for a complete season. He did play in a career-high 114 games in 2004 after totaling just 156 in his first three seasons, but he missed all but one game in July with a sprained right wrist and a bruised shoulder. In previous years, he missed time with wrist, back and hamstring injuries. After tearing his right hamstring running from first to third base in 2003, he was timid on the basepaths in 2004. His speed is below average, but he previously had shown good baserunning instincts. While his home run power is expected to develop, he has gone deep just 24 times in 985 pro at-bats and showed little pop in his big league debut. Kotchman has hit .343 in the minors and has nothing left to prove at that level. Erstad profiles better as a center fielder, but the free-agent signing of Steve Finley means he won't move back there to open first base for Kotchman. As a result, he could return to Triple-A Salt Lake rather than sit on the bench in Anaheim at the start of 2005. If he gets a chance to play in the majors, Kotchman will be a leading contender for Rookie of the Year.
After he led the minors in slugging (.670) and total bases (349) in 2004, injuries thrust McPherson into a starting role in Anaheim in the final two weeks of the regular season and he held his own. McPherson owns the organization's best raw power and translates it into game power. His swing is balanced and controlled, and he uses his lower half well. Because of his leverage and extension, he draws comparisons to Adam Dunn. McPherson's intense makeup is off the charts. He has an above-average arm. He must sharpen his ability to make contact and handle quality breaking balls. McPherson whiffed 169 times in the minors and 17 times in 40 big league at-bats. Defensively, he struggles to read balls off the bat and looks stiff at third base. With the Angels choosing not to keep Troy Glaus, McPherson faces the task of replacing him at third base and in the heart of the order. In time, he should match Glaus' production in the majors.
Aybar played alongside Alberto Callaspo during his first two pro seasons, and they were inseparable on and off the field. In 2004, the Angels decided to break them up so both could play shortstop. Aybar wasn't fazed and led the minors in hits. His older brother Willie is an infielder in the Dodgers system. Aybar possesses a rare blend of sound fundamentals, instincts and pure shortstop actions. He has excellent range, good hands and a plus arm. Offensively, he has a knack for making contact and enough power to hit 15 homers a year. He's adept from both sides of the plate. He has a tendency to force off-balance throws, which led to many of his system-high 34 errors in 2004. At the plate, Aybar gets pull-happy and needs to improve his pitch recognition. He'll chase pitches out of the strike zone, though he often manages to put them in play because he has quick wrists, thus limiting his walks. Aybar will be reunited with Callaspo, who's moving back to second base, at Double-A Arkansas in 2005. He should be ready for Anaheim the following season, but Orlando Cabrera's four-year, $32 million contract clouds Aybar's future with the club.
After Mathis got off to a strong start in 2004, he collapsed after Casey Kotchman and Dallas McPherson were promoted from Double-A. Mathis slumped to .165 the rest of the way and continued to struggle in instructional league. A premium athlete, Mathis has fast-twitch muscle movement and plenty of bat speed, enabling him to drive balls into the gaps. In instructional league, he worked on shortening his swing and closing his stance. He moves well behind the plate, blocks balls in the dirt and has slightly above-average arm strength. Mathis previously overcame his swing flaws with his athleticism, but he was exploited at Double-A. His plate discipline suffered as well. Like many intelligent players, Mathis can be too analytical and self-critical. Despite his defensive tools and acumen, he threw out just 21 percent of basestealers. Mathis' struggles may have stemmed from trying to carry a depleted Arkansas lineup. He'll try a revised approach at the plate in 2005, likely back in Double-A. He still could start for Anaheim in 2006 and develop into an all-star catcher.
Morales signed a six-year major league contract in December, which included a $3 million bonus and could be worth as much as $10 million. In 2002, he became the first teenager to star for Cuba's national team since Omar Linares, but the government later banned him after repeated attempts to defect. He succeeded in June and established residency in the Dominican Republic, making him a free agent. Morales ranks with Linares as the best position player developed in post-revolution Cuba. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order run producer, with a level swing from both sides, power to all fields and an aggressive approach. Morales' speed is average at best, leading to questions about his defense. A first baseman on Cuba's national team in 2003, he has a plus arm and instincts to become a reliable corner outfielder. The Angels believe Morales is ready to contribute in the majors and will give him a chance to win a job this spring. He must overcome culture shock, obstacles that have waylaid several highly touted Cuban defectors in the past.
Known as a skinny, defensive-minded shortstop before his high school senior season, Wood blossomed into a power hitter and signed for $1.3 million. He hit a wall in his first full pro season, batting .198 in August after an impressive start. Wood has strong, nimble wrists and quick hands. His swing has natural loft and he accelerates the bat head through the hitting zone well. He shows good instincts at the plate, in the field and on the bases. He has average range and arm strength. Wood struck out too often in 2004 and gets pull-conscious. He often fails to set his feet and hurries his throws. He may outgrow shortstop and could move to third base. Because of his athletic ability and aptitude, Wood has a high ceiling. He profiles as an everyday infielder who should hit for average with 15-20 homers annually. The Angels may give him another half-season at low Class A Cedar Rapids.
Bothered by a sore shoulder, Santana began the 2004 season in extended spring training and didn't join Arkansas until mid-May. He broke down a month later with a sore elbow. Though an MRI showed no structural problems in his elbow, he didn't take the mound again until tossing three innings during the final week of instructional league. When healthy, Santana has the most electric stuff in the system. During his breakthrough 2003 season, he often opened games pitching at 90 mph before cranking his fastball up into the mid-90s. His heater has good, late life, especially down in the strike zone. When he follows through on his slider, it's a true put-away pitch that peaks at 87 mph. He also had a tender elbow in 2003, so health is the greatest concern with Santana. He's reluctant to change speeds, though his changeup has the makings of an average pitch. He still thinks more velocity is the solution to pitching out of jams. Despite his setbacks, Santana still could make his major league debut at some point in 2005. He'll begin his comeback back in Double-A.
Kendrick has improved exponentially since he was cut as a college freshman. After he found a home at little-known St. John's River (Fla.) CC, area scout Tom Kotchman loved his bat so much he urged the Angels to draft him in the 10th round in 2002. Though he missed two months with a groin injury in 2004, he won the low Class A Midwest League batting title and raised his career average to .357. Kendrick derives his hitting ability from extraordinary hand-eye coordination and a balanced, controlled swing. He has a clear plan for each at-bat and recalls pitchers' tendencies, allowing him to adjust from one pitch to the next. He has gap power and is an excellent situational hitter. Only Kendrick's bat grades as an above-average tool. He has improved defensively but remains a work in progress. His range and arm are average at best. Kendrick is a below-average runner but has good instincts on the basepaths. Kendrick has drawn comparisons to Orlando Hudson and fits the mold of a prototypical No. 2 hitter. He could do a lot of damage at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, a hitter's haven, in 2005.
The Angels usually are conservative with assignments, but chose to skip Callaspo over high Class A in 2004 so he could play shortstop. He didn't lead his league in hits for the third straight year, but did hold his own in the Texas League. Despite playing in Double-A at age 21, Callaspo was the toughest player to strike out in the minors. He lacks Erick Aybar's pop, but he's a pure-hitting singles machine. He proved he has the skills to play shortstop and he stands out more at second base. His arm and speed are average tools. Anaheim's player-development staff praises his work ethic. Though he drew a career-high 47 walks, Callaspo needs to improve his patience and pitch selection to become a quality leadoff hitter. He often puts pitches in play that he'd be better off taking. The Angels have decided to move Callaspo back to second base. That will allow him to team once again with Aybar, forming a dynamic double-play combination that should get to the majors in 2006. He'll return to Double-A to open 2005 but could force a promotion to Triple-A by midseason.
Shell started the California-Carolina League all-star game in 2003, but faded in the second half after coming down with a tender elbow. The Angels decided to play it safe and sent him back to high Class A in 2004. He led the Cal League in strikeouts and walked more than two batters in just two of his 28 starts. Shell has the best command in the organization. He can work his 89-92 mph fastball in on righthanded hitters with cutting action, and it has natural sink as well. His 12-to-6 curveball grades out as slightly above average. He refined his splitter last year, and when it's on, he can be hard to beat. His changeup is a solid fourth pitch. Shell doesn't have a dominant pitch he can rely on to get outs. He has to mix his pitches and locations in order to succeed. He had a reputation for getting flustered easily, but he made strides with his poise in 2004. Shell projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Ticketed for Double-A in 2005, he could compete for a big league job as early as 2006.
Most organizations targeted Trumbo as a hard-throwing righthander but were scared off by his bonus demands and commitment to Southern California. The Angels gambled an 18th-round pick on him and scouted him as a two-way player. After he deposited two balls into the rocks in left-center field at Angel Stadium during a workout, they signed him for $1.425 million, easily the highest bonus ever for his round. Trumbo's raw power rates a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. His swing has good leverage creating backspin and loft. During a soft-toss drill in instructional league, balls came off Trumbo's bat at 110 mph. He touched 96 mph off the mound in high school and has well above-average arm strength. Trumbo needs to improve on his pitch recognition and keep his weight back on offspeed pitches. His swing has some holes. Defensively, his hands and instincts need work. His foot speed is a hair below average. His value is greater at third base, but he spent instructional league at first base, where his hands and lack of range would be less of a factor. Because Trumbo faces a steep learning curve, the Angels will develop him slowly. He'll begin 2005 in extended spring training and should debut at short-season Orem in June.
International scouting supervisor Clay Daniel uncovered Lopez playing for Monterrey in the Mexican League, the same team on which the Diamondbacks found Erubiel Durazo and Oscar Villarreal. After a solid debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, Lopez began 2004 in extended spring training. He hurt his right shoulder diving back into a base on a pickoff play, but was summoned to the Midwest League once he recovered. Shortly thereafter, Lopez officially emerged as a prospect. He has an effortless, fluid lefthanded stroke. His hands work free and easy, generating excellent bat speed through the hitting zone and line drives to all fields. His power is still developing, but Angels scouts believe he projects to have at least average pop once his wiry body fills out. Lopez needs to concentrate on hitting the top half of the baseball and improve his plate discipline, especially with offspeed stuff out of the zone. He's a below-average runner but isn't a baseclogger. He has soft hands and good actions at first base, though he needs to improve his range and at times rushes the exchange on his throws. Lopez should open the season in high Class A.
After signing a predraft deal with a $1.825 million bonus in 2002, Saunders lasted through his first summer before joining a growing list of Angels pitching prospects on the disabled list. He had tears in his rotator cuff and labrum, though he managed to avoid surgery with an aggressive rehabilitation program. Last year, he showed he had regained the velocity as well as the movement on his pitches. His best pitch is a sinking fastball that sits at 89-90 mph, rising as high as 93 mph. He has slightly above-average control, working his fastball and cutter in and out and keeping them down in the zone. Saunders has a good feel for a plus changeup that he disguises well by maintaining his arm speed. He continued to struggle to craft a consistent breaking ball, however. He was hittable in his comeback, especially after a late-July promotion to Double-A. He'll likely begin this season back in Arkansas and will need another year and a half in the minors before he's ready to contribute in Anaheim.
Playing in a system loaded with premium shortstop prospects, Rodriguez managed to improve his standing with a solid all-around 2004 season. He held his own for three months as a teenager in low Class A before scorching the Rookie-level Pioneer League for the rest of the summer. He was league MVP and led Provo to the championship with his bat, defensive versatility and makeup. Much like Casey Kotchman, Rodriguez shows a feel for the game you'd expect from someone who comes from a baseball family. His father Johnny is a minor league hitting coach for the Marlins, while his brother Robert catches in the Nationals organization. Rodriguez' tools play up because of his feel for the game. He has advanced plate discipline for his age, and his production should improve once he learns to use the entire field. He's aggressive and has a tendency to get pull-happy, especially after he hits home runs. Rodriguez is a fringe-average runner, which has led to questions about his future defensive home. His arm plays well and he gets to his share of balls at shortstop, though his range is better up the middle than to his right. Realistically, with Orlando Cabrera signed to a four-year contract in the majors and Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood ahead of him in the minors, Rodriguez will find another position. In deference to Wood when they were teammates at Cedar Rapids, Rodriguez saw time at second base, third base and the outfield. He'll likely return there to open 2005. The Angels will continue to develop his skills at shortstop for now, but a move to second base is likely in the near future.
The Angels had no intention of picking up Ramon Ortiz' $5.5 million contract option for 2005 and considered nontendering him rather than go to arbitration with him. Instead, they were able to trade him to the Reds for Moseley in December. Moseley doesn't have a true out pitch, which limits his ceiling, but his pitching savvy has allowed him to rise quickly through the minors. He relies on his ability to locate his 88-92 mph fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup. Lower back problems cost him a few starts in 2004, but he otherwise has been durable throughout his pro career. Moseley is headed for Triple-A in 2005 but could get a callup if injuries create a hole in Anaheim's rotation.
Included by the Indians in a trade with the Expos for Scott Stewart in January 2004, Izturis responded with a breakthrough season. He led all minor league switch-hitters with a .338 average, and he ranked fifth among all batters in making contact (17.8 plate appearances per strikeout), earning his first major league callup. He seemed to be a candidate to start for the renamed Nationals in 2005, but new general manager Jim Bowden signed Cristian Guzman to a four-year, $16.8 million contract before dispatching Izturis and Juan Rivera to Anaheim for Jose Guillen. The younger brother of Dodgers shortstop Cesar Izturis, Maicer excels at putting the bat on the ball and is a good bunter. But he has little power and won't develop any, so he'll have to prove his 2004 average and on-base percentage were no fluke if he's to play regularly in the big leagues. Hitting a soft .206 for Montreal didn't dispel doubters. Izturis' speed is just average, so he's not much of a basestealing threat. He stands out most on defense--though he's not as good as his brother--with good range and an average arm. With all the shortstops in Anaheim, his best chance of finding regular work in the majors is as a utilityman.
After signing out of the Dominican for $780,000, Rodriguez has alternately dazzled the Angels with his potential and frustrated them with his inconsistency. He barely made any impression in 2004, making just seven starts while being shut down with a tender arm on two separate occasions. His physical problems resulted from his violent mechanics. He rushes through his delivery and struggles to stay online and balanced. He also tucks his head and bounces out of his motion, causing stress on his arm as well as poor control. If Rodriguez can refine his mechanics, he could harness his power stuff and regain his status as one of the organization's most promising pitching prospects. He has hit 97 mph in the past, though he pitched at 91 and topped out at 94 last year. He also has flashed a hard 87 mph slider with late bite. He doesn't have great feel for his breaking ball, which lapses into a slower slurve at times. Rodriguez made some progress with his changeup but it also remains inconsistent. If he can temper his delivery and realize the futility of trying to strike out each batter, Rodriguez will have a far greater chance of reaching his considerable ceiling. He's headed back to low Class A for the third straight year, but the good news is that he's still just 20.
Originally projected as a situational reliever, Woods continues to make a case for remaining in the rotation, leading Angels farmhands with 15 victories in 2004. He learned to pitch with less finesse and more confidence in Double-A, allowing two or fewer earned runs in 11 of his 14 starts at Arkansas. He doesn't have a plus pitch, but his fastball sits between 87-91 mph and gained more movement last year. He also improved his command of his heater, helping him set up a good change. When Anaheim drafted him in the third round out of Bakersfield (Calif.) JC in 2001, his hammer curveball had the makings of an out pitch. But he has lost some feel for his curve and will need to regain that to make it as a big league starter. When Woods doesn't control his fastball, he gets hit hard, as frequently was the case following his promotion to Triple-A. He'll return to Salt Lake and needs at least another full season in the minors before he's ready to contribute in Anaheim.
Jepsen has one of the best arms in the system, but injuries derailed him in each of his first two full seasons. He earned an assignment to low Class A as an 18-year-old with an impressive spring training in 2003, but a tender elbow ended his season after just 10 starts. He had surgery to remove bone chips and returned with a strong performance in low Class A, only to go down with a torn labrum at the end of the season. He had surgery to repair his right shoulder and could be ready to begin pitching again by spring training. When he comes back, the Angels will try to refine his laborious delivery. If he can develop an easier arm action, he'll be able to repeat his arm stroke more readily, which should help his command and his health. He led the Midwest League in walks last year. His stuff is undeniable. He owns a heavy 94-96 mph fastball that maxed out at 99 last slummer. His high-80s slider gives him a second power pitch, though it's inconsistent. His changeup is rudimentary at best. He'll open 2005 in extended spring training as he recovers from his latest setback.
Baseball America's 2003 Youth Player of the Year, Adenhart entered last spring as the consensus top prospect in the high school draft class. He opened his senior season with a seven-inning, 15-strikeout perfect game. His stock had started to slip ever so slightly by May, and then he blew out his elbow. After he had Tommy John surgery days before the draft, he seemed destined to attend college at North Carolina. But first-year area scout Dan Radcliff pushed first-year scouting director Eddie Bane to gamble on Adenhart, and Anaheim persuaded him to sign for a 14th-round-record $710,000 bonus. Prior to the injury, he showed dominant stuff and an advanced feel for pitching. He pitched at 90-93 mph and spun a tight, 12-to-6 curveball with excellent depth. He showed a good feel for his changeup and understood how to set up hitters. His cross-body delivery and rigid landing added stress to his elbow, though his arm works free and easy. A diligent worker, Adenhart has embraced his rehabilitation routine. He spent the offseason attending classes at Arizona State while working with Angels doctors and trainers at the club's base in Mesa, Ariz. Given the track record of Tommy John comebacks, Anaheim is confident he'll make a complete recovery. He might not make his pro debut until 2006, though he could see time in Rookie ball late this year.
After pummeling Pioneer League pitching in 2003, Madrigal was injured while taking a swing in the first game last season. He had surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone below his left wrist and returned in time to play in August. Former scouting director Donny Rowland and international scouting supervisor Clay Daniel made several trips to the Angels' Dominican academy to scout Madrigal and signed him for $150,000. He has two plus tools in his arm and power, while his foot speed and defensive ability rank below average and his approach at the plate needs refinement. He draws physical comparisons to Albert Belle because of his thick body and swing mechanics. Madrigal has good plate coverage and drives balls out of the park to all fields. Though he's a good fastball hitter, he could struggle at the upper levels of the minors if he doesn't learn better pitch recognition and shorten his stroke. He makes routine plays in right field but doesn't have much range. Madrigal likely will open at low Class A in 2005, a pivotal year in his development.
Whittington threw four no-hitters as a high school senior and was the top prospect in West Virginia, but he's had little success as a pro. He was overworked in high school, and some scouts have compared him to Arthur Rhodes, another power lefthander who had a heavy prep workload without much formal instruction, which reinforces bad habits. Whittington remains a raw thrower who lacks much feel for pitching. He's still ironing out his mechanics and struggles to repeat his delivery and arm slot. He's too stiff and rigid through his windup, affecting his command. He has a live arm and a durable frame, though. He pitches between 88-92 mph and has flashed mid-90s heat. His inconsistent, slurvy breaking ball has good bite at times, but varies in break and effectiveness. His changeup still needs a lot of work. Whittington has considerable upside if he can learn to harness his stuff. He pitched well in instructional league but remains a project. He should finally make his full-season debut this year, his third pro season.
Despite an impressive career at Massachusetts, Gorneault never wowed scouts with his tools. Former Angels scout Jon Bunnell (now with the Mets) first took notice when Gorneault homered at Fenway Park in the annual Beanpot Tournament as a sophomore. Gorneault's unorthodox swing is difficult to repeat and is the main reason scouts are slow to embrace him as a legitimate prospect, but Anaheim points to his tremendous bat speed that produces sharp line drives. Roving batting instructor Ty Van Burkleo has tweaked Gorneault's setup without affecting his power potential. He looks bad at the plate at times, as he chases pitches out of the zone and needs to be more efficient in his approach. The rest of his game is solid, as he has average speed, makes good reads in right field and has an accurate arm. While he has average arm strength, it's not a prototypical right-field arm strength. A bit of a tweener, he'll need to boost his power numbers if he's going to breakthrough as an everyday corner outfielder. When Gorneault hits balls well, they tend to have topspin and lack high trajectory, banging off walls instead of carrying over them. He plays with fervor and works hard. He homered in his first game at Triple-A Salt Lake after a September callup in 2004 and will open this season there.
While the Angels boast one of baseball's deepest systems, they're surprisingly bereft of impact-potential outfielders. Former scouting director Donny Rowland planned to address that weakness in the 2003 draft, targeting outfielders Chris Lubanski, Lastings Milledge, Brian Anderson and Brad Snyder--but all were gone by the time Anaheim's first pick arrived at No. 23. Changing plans, Rowland spent mid-round picks on Blake Balkcom (fifth round), Willits (seventh) and Stantrel Smith (16th; he signed as a draft-and-follow in 2004). Willits is the best of that group, offering an intriguing combination of tools and skill. His sister Wendi played basketball in the WNBA and Willits is similarly gifted athletically. He's a solid-average runner with good instincts on the bases. He led the Big 12 Conference with 37 steals as a senior at Oklahoma in 2003 and handles the bat well from both sides of the plate. To utilize his wheels, he works walks and employs primarily a slap approach. His power is mainly shooting the ball into the gaps, though he tends to get around balls when batting lefthanded and needs to keep his hands in better. He also must make more consistent contact. Willits is a sound center fielder with good range and a slightly above-average arm, but he can improve his reads off the bat. He has good makeup, is consumed with the game and was one of the organization's most pleasant surprises in 2004. He'll hold down a spot in the Double-A outfield this year.
Zimmermann established the career saves mark at Southwest Missouri State in his first two years with the Bears, then moved into the rotation and helped the program earn its first-ever College World Series berth in 2003. Though his inconsistency caused his draft stock to suffer somewhat, area scout Brian Bridges (now with the Marlins) remained high on Zimmermann and persuaded the Angels to take him in the fourth round. His two-pitch arsenal and varying arm angles gave low Class A batters fits last summer. Zimmermann's heater runs between 91-95 mph and features heavy, sinking action. His secondary stuff varies in quality, however, because he'll pitch at high three-quarters, true three-quarters and sidearm angles. What he gains in deception, he sacrifices in control. Zimmermann's slider is his No. 2 pitch, and he also worked on a changeup and splitter in instructional league. He's aggressive and is resilient enough to pitch on consecutive days, which should allow him to serve in a variety of relief roles in the future, perhaps even as a big league closer. Zimmermann likely will spend 2005 in high Class A, though the Angels would like to keep him and Mitch Arnold on different clubs so both could continue to close.
The least-known player in the 2003 Scott Schoeneweis trade with the White Sox, Bittner made an immediate impression with his new organization, returning to the rotation and going 5-0, 0.26 in six high Class A starts. A two-way star at Marist and the highest-drafted player in school history, he took a regular turn in the Double-A rotation last year before being shut down with back pain in August. Bittner's fastball command is his greatest asset. He works to both sides of the plate and knows how to set up hitters. In terms of velocity, his fastball is slightly below average at 87-90 mph. He throws two breaking balls, a tight 80- 83 mph slider that has the potential to be a plus pitch and a sweeping curveball that's effective against lefties. He's making progress with his changeup and needs to do a better job of throwing strikes with his secondary pitches. His back was healthy during the offseason, and the Angels plan on sending him back to Double-A. His ultimate role has yet to be defined.
Toussaint was drafted by the Dodgers in the 10th round out of high school, but didn't sign and spent two years at Cal Poly before transferring to Southern in 2003. An all- Southwestern Athletic Conference pick in each of his two seasons with the Jaguars, he led the league with 14 homers last spring. The Angels drafted both Toussaint and Southern teammate Joshua LeBlanc, and they played key roles in Provo's Pioneer League championship run. Toussaint showed off his most impressive asset--his lightning-quick bat--in a showdown with Diamondbacks prospect Marion Duran last summer, turning around a 97 mph fastball and driving it for an opposite-field home run. His present power already grades as a plus, and he has slightly above-average arm strength and average speed. Toussaint spent most of his college career in the outfield, and he struggled at third base in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2003 and at Southern last spring. Those difficulties continued as a pro, as he committed 13 errors in 27 games at the hot corner. He lacks soft hands, making a return to the outfield likely. Following the draft, he had two bouts with the flu and lost some weight. Anaheim can't wait to see him at full strength this year in low Class A.
Knowing first-round pick Jered Weaver would be a chore to sign, scouting director Eddie Bane took a number of calculated risks on highly regarded but highly unsignable players late in the 2004 draft. Corner infielder Mark Trumbo (18th round, $1.425 million) and righthander Nick Adenhart (14th round, $710,000) were the most prominent members of that group, which also included Cassevah. He projected as a third-rounder before spraining his elbow as a quarterback during spring football practice in high school in 2003. He had Tommy John surgery in October 2003, and though he didn't pitch as a senior, Louisiana State offered him a scholarship. Undeterred, the Angels took Cassevah in the 34th round and after Bane and area scout/minor league manager Tom Kotchman saw that he had regained enough velocity and feel, they signed him for $175,000. Cassevah continued his rehab in instructional league, where he struck out two of the first three batters he faced. Pitching at about 80 percent, he was up to 87 mph and showed a breaking ball with threequarter tilt. He also threw a changeup. Most significant, his control and savvy were similar to what he showed prior to surgery. Cassevah was aggressive in his rehab, an indication of his competitive makeup and work ethic. He's slated to begin the season in extended spring training before making his pro debut at Provo.
After a torn labrum ruined his 2003 season, Napoli returned to high Class A and enjoyed a breakthrough year. He led the California League with 29 homers and 118 RBIs after totaling just 20 homers and 101 RBIs over his first four seasons. He also topped the Cal League in walks. Napoli has a polished, professional hitting approach and obvious power. He has natural loft in his swing and drives the ball well from center to the opposite field. He gets in trouble when he tries to lift and pull the ball, and he needs to lay off high fastballs. He'll always produce more for power than for average. The biggest question surrounding Napoli is whether he'll be able to catch at higher levels. His catch-and-throw skills are adequate, but his flexibility and footwork are poor. He doesn't move well behind the plate--or on the bases, for that matter--and several Cal League observers didn't think he'd be able to serve as a backup catcher in the majors. Napoli also saw time at first base last year. He has arthritis in his nonthrowing shoulder that could plague his hitting if it worsens. He'll get his first taste of Double-A in 2005 and could fill a DH role if his catching doesn't improve.
Growing up in Saratoga, Wyo., Arnold was more interested in rodeo than baseball, and he also was recruited to play football. The Angels tabbed him as a draft-and-follow out of New Mexico Junior College in 2001, and he transferred to Modesto before signing in May 2002. Following two uninspiring seasons in the Arizona League, Arnold blossomed last season. He made strides with his control and sharpened his stuff. He went to Triple-A in May as an emergency callup, and returned to extended spring training and committed himself to throwing strikes. Arnold joined Provo a month later and led the Pioneer League in saves. He learned to stay on top of his pitches, pitching downhill from his towering 6-foot-9 frame at 92-93 mph. His fastball peaks at 97 and he successfully kept it down in the zone. He improved the control of his out pitch, an 88-91 mph splitter. He also has a slider. Arnold has good mound presence, though he works too quickly at times, causing his mechanics to go awry. He can be effectively wild and make young hitters uncomfortable, but he'll have to add more polish at higher levels. Arnold profiles as a reliever and embraced his role as a closer, though he'll need to build off his breakout campaign. He'll pitch in Class A in 2005, possibly starting at Cedar Rapids if Bob Zimmermann goes to Rancho Cucamonga as expected.
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