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Baseball America's Youth Player of the Year in 2003, Adenhart rivaled Homer Bailey as the top high school pitching prospect in the 2004 draft until he blew out his elbow that May and needed Tommy John surgery. Undaunted, the Angels drafted Adenhart in the 14th round and signed him for $710,000. Adenhart began 2008 by going 4-0, 0.87 in his first five starts at Triple-A Salt Lake before Los Angeles whisked him to the big leagues and asked him to pitch on three days' rest against the Athletics. The experiment bombed, as he lasted just two innings and gave up five earned runs. After he continued to struggle with his control in subsequent starts against the Royals and White Sox, the Angels returned him to Triple-A and he never found his April groove again. Adenhart won just one of his next 10 starts and went 5-13, 7.08 the rest of the way. Despite his struggles, Adenhart continued to show quality stuff. He works off a 90-95 mph fastball that rides in on righthanders. He also has two promising secondary pitches, a hard curveball and a rapidly improving changeup. He has good arm speed, fade and sink on his changeup, which is more reliable than his curve. He uses his size to throw his pitches on a downward trajectory that makes it difficult to drive the ball against him. Adenhart has topped 150 innings in each of the last three seasons, burying any concerns about his health, with his only missed time coming with a minor sore shoulder in 2007. He's a good athlete, which allows him to repeat his delivery and should result in at least solid control and command. An inability to execute his pitches hampered Adenhart in Triple-A. When he got into jams, he couldn't pitch his way out. He nibbled too much and became too predictable when he fell behind in the count. He had trouble throwing his curveball for strikes, and the pitch lacks consistent depth. That's part of the reason righthanders handled him more easily than lefties, batting .314 against him. Adenhart's command deserted him at times in 2007 as well, and Los Angeles has tried to get him to understand that he doesn't need to pitch away from contact. The Angels believe he might have gotten lost trying to please his coaches rather than pitch to his strengths. The Angels still believe in Adenhart, but he needs to start putting things together from a mental standpoint. He could spend much of 2009 in Triple-A, as Los Angeles will have at most one opening in its rotation. If the Angels don't re-sign Jon Garland or import another veteran, Adenhart will compete with Nick Green, Dustin Moseley and Anthony Ortega in spring training. As stunning as his struggles were in 2008, Adenhart is still just 22 and has a chance to become a frontline starter if he does a better job using his quality stuff.
Walden fell to the 12th round after entering 2006 as the top high school prospect in the draft, but he boosted his stock with a year at Grayson County (Texas) Community College and signed for $1 million as a draft-and-follow. He has justified the investment so far, reaching high Class A Rancho Cucamonga in his first full pro season as that team threatened to make the playoffs. He also showed the strongest arm in the system. Walden's calling card remains his fastball, which touched 101 and sat at 91-94 mph in 2008. He throws it on an impressive downward plane, and one observer said facing his heater was "like trying to hit a brick." His 86-87 mph slider has good tilt. He pitches to both sides of the plate and has the frame to be a workhorse. Against more advanced hitters, Walden will need to fine-tune his secondary pitches. He needs to dust off his changeup to better set up his fastball. His slider is inconsistent, at times losing velocity and shape. During instructional league, Los Angeles had him focus on repeating his delivery, which would help improve his command. Walden projects as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter with an ETA of mid-2010. If he doesn't open 2009 in Double-A Arkansas, he should get there by the end of the season.
The son of former big leaguer and current Brewers scout Chris Bourjos, Peter signed for an above-slot $325,000 as a 10th-round pick in 2005. Hand injuries hampered his first taste of full-season ball in 2007, but they did not impact his impressive speed. He rebounded to lead the high Class A California League with 50 steals in 2008, and ranked fifth in the circuit with 150 hits. Bourjos is a legitimate center fielder with plus-plus speed, the ability to cover both gaps with ease and a solid arm. He improved as a basestealer in 2008, succeeding on 83 percent of his attempts, up from 70 percent previously in his career. He has good bat speed, drives balls to the gaps and could have at least average power. His arm is solid for center field. Despite his solid season, there are still questions about Bourjos' bat. He has a funky swing and though he showed some improvement, he still chases pitches out of the strike zone and rarely walks. He'll need to show a much more patient approach to realize his potential as a leadoff hitter. He struggles to make adjustments at times, leading to extended slumps. Bourjos was 21 last season, so he still has plenty of time to improve. The Angels don't need to rush him and will send him to Double-A in 2009.
Overshadowed among New Jersey high schoolers by Rick Porcello in 2007 and on low Class A Cedar Rapids' staff by Jordan Walden in 2008, Reckling is starting to make a name for himself. The Midwest League's youngest regular starting pitcher last season--he didn't turn 19 until late May--led the Kernels with 10 wins and spun a 29-inning scoreless streak. Reckling could have three pitches that grade better than average. His drop-offthe- table curveball has the most upside. He spots his 87-91 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and down in the strike zone. His changeup may be his most dependable pitch, which is unusual for a teenager. He's a good athlete with a smooth delivery, and he does a nice job of staying on top of his pitches with a high-three-quarters arm slot. Reckling's curveball has so much movement that he's still working to command it consistently, and he can fall in love with it at times. He tired late in the season, going 3-5, 5.72 in his final nine starts, so he'll need to get stronger. He had a difficult time settling in at the start of games, as his 6.23 ERA and .324 opponent average in the first inning were easily his highest in any frame. The Angels tend to play it conservatively with high school draft picks, so Reckling probably will spend all of 2009 in high Class A. He has a ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
Like Jordan Walden, O'Sullivan entered his senior year as the top prep pitching prospect in the nation, saw his velocity and his stock drop and signed the following spring as a draft-and-follow. While O'Sullivan never regained his power stuff, he has made the transformation into a crafty pitcher who can toy with hitters. That he knows how to win understandably has the Angels excited. He won ERA titles in each of his first two pro seasons and led the California League with 16 victories in his third. O'Sullivan no longer overpowers hitters, but he gets them out by commanding three pitches that rate as average or slightly above. His fastball tops out at 92 mph, so he changes speeds and keeps it down with decent life, generating groundouts. He also throws a curveball and changeup. He's aggressive in the strike zone and extremely poised. It remains to be seen how well O'Sullivan will fare against advanced hitters without a true out pitch. His fastball could use more movement, and his curve could use tighter spin. His stuff tends to drop off after five innings, which means he might be better as a middle reliever than as a workhorse starter. Double-A will be a good test for O'Sullivan in 2009. If his secondary stuff comes around, he could be a No. 4 starter on a big league contender.
Jepsen labored for five seasons in Class A, partly because he had to overcome a torn labrum in 2004 and then moved to a bullpen role in 2006. Not only did the Angels not protect him on their 40-man roster after the 2007 season, but they also didn't invite him to big league camp. Yet he ended last season with an Olympic bronze medal--he didn't allow a run in six innings for Team USA in Beijing--and a spot on Los Angeles' playoff roster. Jepsen's fastball buzzes in the mid-90s and seems to have late jump that makes it tougher to hit. His true 12-to-6 curveball gives hitters fits and changes their eye level. He works down in the zone and his pitches are tough to lift, as evidenced by his 2.3 airout/groundout ratio in 2008. Jepsen can get erratic at times with his fastball and gets into jams when he doesn't throw strikes. He relied on overmatching minor league hitters and will have to learn how to set up big leaguers. Free agent Francisco Rodriguez's departure now opens a full-time role in the Angels bullpen for Jepsen. Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields will get the first shot to replace Rodriguez as closer, but Jepsen could contend for the job in the future.
A second-generation Korean-American, Conger's grandfather nicknamed him after his favorite player, Hank Aaron. Since signing for $1.35 million, Conger has been limited from showing off his own power by a string of hand, back, hamstring and shoulder injuries. He didn't begin the 2008 season until May 31 and caught only 10 games. But he was a postseason hero, with 13 RBIs in eight games as Arkansas won an improbable Texas League championship. Conger has prodigious power from both sides of the plate, making him a bigger offensive threat than most catchers. He can let balls travel deep before turning his quick bat loose and driving them a long way. Above-average arm strength is his biggest asset on defense. Because he has caught just 91 games in three pro seasons, Conger has yet to prove he can stay behind the plate. He's a well-below-average runner who lacks agility and quick footwork, which in turn hampers his release on throws. He can get too aggressive as a hitter, and he's much more effective hitting lefthanded than righthanded. The Angels didn't want Conger to risk re-injuring his shoulder, so they didn't have him throw in instructional league. He'll resume catching in Double-A in 2009 and has all-star potential if he can stay healthy and improve defensively.
The Angels intercepted Trumbo before he began classes at Southern California in 2004, signing him for an 18th-round-record $1.425 million. Though most teams liked him more as a pitcher, Los Angeles was more intrigued with his power potential. He made slow but steady improvement before exploding in 2008, leading Angels farmhands with 32 homers and 93 RBIs. Trumbo has plus power, and when he gets his arms extended he can crush the ball. He has made a conscious effort to be less pull-conscious. He doesn't strike out excessively for a slugger. He has a strong arm, especially for a first baseman. Trumbo will need to hone his plate discipline to handle more advanced pitchers with better command. His value lies almost totally in his bat, as he's not much of an athlete, runner or defender. He has put in time to improve his footwork at first base, yet he still made 22 errors in 124 games there last season. Scouts are curious to see how Trumbo will handle better breaking balls in the upper minors. He'll start 2009 in Double-A and if all goes well, he could challenge for a big league job by mid-2010.
Ortega won just 18 games in his first four pro seasons before earning 14 victories in 2008, when the Angels named him their minor league pitcher of the year. He cemented his breakthrough season by winning five of his six Triple-A starts. Ortega took off once he started doing a better job of pitching down in the zone and generating more groundouts. His best pitch is his fastball, which ranges from 90-95 mph. He has enhanced his fastball with improved feel for his changeup. His curveball is an average pitch. He does a good job of throwing strikes and keeping his pitch counts down, which allowed him to work at least six innings in 20 of his 28 starts last season. Ortega doesn't have an out pitch, so he has to be pinpoint with his location. He doesn't beat himself with walks but he's hittable because he's always around the zone. Like many young pitchers, he can do a better job of repeating his pitches. He must work on his focus and avoid the mental lapses that plague him at times.While he doesn't have a high ceiling, Ortega could become a No. 4 starter in the majors. If the Angels don't re-sign Jon Garland or add a veteran to replace him, Ortega will compete for the final spot in the rotation during spring training.
The Braves controlled Tobin's rights for two years as a draft-and-follow before Los Angeles signed him for $125,000 as a 16th-rounder in 2007. He didn't allow a run in his first three outings last season, but he strained his shoulder shortly afterward and didn't pitch after June 6. After showing average velocity in his pro debut, Tobin worked in the low 90s and touched 97 mph in low Class A before his shoulder acted up. He has heavy sink and nice armside run on his heater, which he delivers from a low three-quarters arm slot. He also flashes a hard slider. His size and less-than-fluid delivery combined to make him an intimidating presence on the mound. Tobin's slider gets slurvy at times and his changeup is just in its rudimentary stages, allowing hitters to sit on his fastball. He sometimes gets under his pitches, causing them to flatten out. His shoulder isn't a long-term worry, though it did cost him valuable development time. He pitches with some effort in his delivery, which causes more concern about his durability. The Angels expect Tobin to be healthy for spring training and probably will ease him back into pitching at high Class A. If he doesn't refine his secondary pitches, his fastball alone could make him a dynamic reliever.
The Angels gave up their 2008 first-round pick as compensation for free agent Torii Hunter, making second- rounder Chatwood their top selection. He signed for $547,000, turning down the chance to play both ways at UCLA. Chatwood stands just 5-foot-11, short for a pitcher and not ideal for throwing on a downward plane. But there's no denying his arm strength, as he regularly touched 94 mph in his pro debut and hit 97 as an amateur. He also features a knee-buckling curveball, and his size and top two pitches have prompted comparisons to Roy Oswalt. Rookie-level Arizona League Angels pitching coach Trevor Wilson likened him to Jeff Brantley. To follow in Oswalt's and Brantley's footsteps and become an all-star, Chatwood will have to improve his changeup and command. He not only needs to harness his stuff but also needs to be more aggressive going after hitters. He has impressive athleticism and showed five-tool potential as an outfielder. Los Angeles has no plans to move him off the mound, however, though it may take things slow and let him spend 2009 at Rookie-level Orem.
Angels scout Tom Kotchman, who doubles as their Orem manager, has a knack for finding talent at small colleges and junior colleges. His most notable discoveries are Howie Kendrick (St. John's River, Fla., CC) and Scot Shields (Lincoln Memorial, Tenn.), and his most recent is Smith. He signed for $150,000 out of Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC, the same school where Kotchman grabbed David Herndon two years earlier. Smith showed tremendous feel for pitching at Orem in his pro debut. He threw all of his pitches for strikes--his 76-6 KBB ratio was the best in the Pioneer League--worked both sides of the plate and changed speeds effectively. He also used his big frame to deliver his pitches on a steep downward plane. Smith works off a four-seam fastball that ranges from 87-93 mph. His curveball is a plus pitch and he can add and subtract velocity from it, reaching the low 80s. If he can get a better feel for a changeup, it could become an average pitch for him. Smith is more advanced than most 20-year-olds, which could tempt the Angels to challenge him in high Class A this year.
Add Wilson to the growing list of players signed by Angels scout/Orem manager Tom Kotchman who have graduated to the major leagues. Wilson, who played with Kotchman's son Casey on Seminole (Fla.) High's national championship team in 2001, earned a September callup because he handles the bat and his duties behind the plate equally well. He doesn't have tremendous bat speed or power, but he makes consistent hard contact and is good for doubles if not home runs. He controls the strike zone well and is at his best when he uses the whole field. Wilson has spent the past two seasons in the high minors, so he has experience with many of the Angels' young pitchers. He draws praise for his game-calling ability, and his instincts and sound fundamentals allow his defensive tools to play up. He has average arm strength yet threw out 43 percent of basestealers last year, and he also showed his soft hands by committing just one passed ball in 62 Triple-A games. While he moves well behind the plate, he's a well-below-average runner. Though his ability to contribute offensively and defensively is just what Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia (a former all-star catcher) wants, Wilson probably will return to Salt Lake unless the club trades Jeff Mathis or Mike Napoli.
The good news is that Mount started to show the offensive promise that made him a second-round pick, setting career highs across the board. The bad news is that he continued to fight injuries and appeared in just 82 games. He sprained a knee when Todd Linden barreled into him on a double-play attempt in spring training, sidelining Mount until May 31. In 2007, he played in just 88 games (which remains his career high) because of hamstring and quadriceps injuries. Mount has above-average power for a middle infielder and is capable of turning on pitches or driving them to the opposite field. He can get too aggressive however, lunging after offspeed pitches and drawing few walks. Mount's fringe-average speed prompted his move from shortstop to second base in 2007. He has solid range and arm strength, though he occasionally will rush his throws. He's stuck in an organization with no shortage of offensive middle infielders, but Mount can help his cause with a healthy 2009 season in Double-A.
Signed for $780,000 out of the Dominican in 2001, Rodriguez had intermittent elbow problems while he remained a starter. After he stayed healthy but got shelled in Double-A in 2006, the Angels decided to make him a full-time reliever. He spent most of the last two seasons at Arkansas as well, making tremendous strides with his control in 2008. He did a nice job setting up Kevin Jepsen for the Travelers in the first half before taking over as closer once Jepsen advanced to Triple-A. Rodriguez's fastball showed improved velocity (92-95 mph) and sink last season, and he also did a better job of pounding the bottom of the strike zone. His heater might not even be his best pitch, as his slider ranks as the best in the system. He didn't have much luck developing a changeup as a starter and doesn't need it much as a reliever, but he nevertheless made strides with his change last year. Added to the 40-man roster in October, Rodriguez should open the season in Triple-A, where he had limited success in six appearances at the end of 2008.
After spending two years in the Arizona League, Fuller made the jump to low Class A last season and showed more upside than any position player at Cedar Rapids. Athleticism runs in his family, as his father and two brothers played football at Texas Tech. One of those siblings, Cody, is also an outfielder in the Angels system. As soon as Clay turned pro, Los Angeles turned him into a switch-hitter. He has had limited success learning to hit lefthanded so far, batting just .244 with 95 strikeouts in 315 at-bats from that side in 2008. He has better balance and more confidence batting from his natural right side. However, he has shown the ability to draw walks and hit for gap power against both lefties and righties. He's still growing into his 6-foot-2 frame, and with more strength and experience could develop into a 15-homer threat. Fuller has plus speed to go with his pop, which allowed him to rank fourth in the minors with 13 triples last season. He has shown aptitude for stealing bases, succeeding on 78 percent of his career attempts. He covers a lot of ground in center field and has an average arm. He'll move up to high Class A in 2009.
Pettit went from a college senior drafted in the 19th round in 2006 to the Angels' minor league player of the year in 2007. But all the momentum he generated crashed to a halt when he broke his right foot chasing a fly ball on Opening Day. He missed nearly three months and once he returned, he didn't look like the same player who entered the year with a career .330 batting average in pro ball. He has been likened to a poor man's Jason Bay, though probably more of a fourth outfielder than a regular on a contender. Pettit doesn't have a plus tool except for his bat but he doesn't have a glaring weakness, either. He works counts well and has some pull power, though he tends to turn on more pitches than he should. He projects to hit for a solid average with perhaps 10-15 homers per season. Pettit's speed is fringy, though he has the instincts to steal some bases. Likewise, while his range is short for center field, he can handle the position in a pinch and throws well enough to play right field. Pettit's determination allows him to get the most out of his tools. He got back on track by hitting .359 in the Arizona Fall League, and he could push for a quick promotion if he has a hot start in Double-A in 2009.
Sweeney established himself as one of the system's best power hitters in his first two pro seasons, but he missed all of 2008 with an ankle injury. He originally hurt the ankle when he was hit by a pitch at the end of 2007, and it bothered him throughout spring training. The Angels originally hoped he'd miss just a month, but he eventually had surgery to remove bone chips and repair ligament damage. When he was healthy, Sweeney's power rivaled that of Brandon Wood, Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger. He recognizes pitches well and swings aggressively, with good loft in his stroke. His size, thick forearms and well-balanced lower half are suited for driving the ball. He's not fooled too often, though he could stand to draw more walks and use the whole field more. Sweeney lacked agility and had below-average speed before he got hurt, and the injury could cost him on both counts. Though he has a solid arm, few scouts gave him a chance to remain at third base long term because of his substandard range and reliability. He had an .850 fielding percentage and 48 errors in 127 games at the hot corner. If Sweeney has lost even half a step, he could be moving to first base sooner rather than later. Los Angeles would like to push him to Double-A at some point in 2009, perhaps even out of spring training.
Correa has been quite impressive in two years of Rookie ball, going 15-2, 2.82 overall and leading the Arizona League in strikeouts (67 in 58 innings) during his U.S. debut despite being promoted with two weeks left in the season. Extremely projectable at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, he already has quality stuff. His four-seam fastball sits at 92-93 mph and his two-seamer has nice armside run. His secondary pitches are a plus slider and an encouraging changeup. He already shows an advanced ability to repeat his delivery and throw strikes. Correa projects as a possible No. 2 starter, though he has yet to be tested by the grind of a full season. He could get that opportunity in 2009, when he could make the leap to low Class A.
Fish was relatively unheralded as a high schooler in baseball-rich southern California and hasn't gotten much hype despite striking out a batter per inning over three seasons as a pro. He ranked fifth in the Midwest League with 138 strikeouts in 143 innings last year in his first taste of full-season ball. His funky arm action--he wraps his wrist in the back of his delivery--didn't endear him to scouts as an amateur, but it works to deceive hitters. The Angels haven't tried to alter his mechanics and have just turned him loose. Fish works off a fastball that ranges from 88-94 mph, though he often loses velocity after 90 pitches. Both his curveball and changeup are average pitches but need more consistency. He's still learning the nuances of pitching, as he tends to try to finesse the final out of an inning, nibbling and throwing unnecessary additional pitches that shorten his starts. His mechanics often hamper his command, though he went 3-1, 2.31 over his final seven starts in 2008 while walking just 12 in 39 innings. He'll advance to high Class A this season.
As a freshman, Chaffee pitched a complete-game five-hitter to shut down New Mexico in the final game of the 2007 Junior College World Series, giving Chipola (Fla.) its first national title. He got off to a slow start as a sophomore before breaking a bone in his foot last March, requiring surgery to insert a screw. Chaffee returned to pitch in the Florida state juco tournament, striking out 17 on two days' rest to beat Manatee in the finals. He reinjured his foot at the Juco World Series and never took the mound for the Angels after spurning a Louisiana State scholarship to sign for $338,000 as a third-rounder. When healthy, Chaffee attacks hitters with a variety of pitches and arm angles. He works with a low-90s fastball with late movement, three varieties of breaking balls (an over-the-top curve, a slurve from a three-quarters slot and a sweeping slider from down low). He also has a plus changeup. While changing his arm angle throws hitters off balance, it also hampers Chaffee's command at times. Los Angeles is anxious to see him on the mound and is optimistic that he'll be able to pitch in spring training. They may be cautious with him and have him open the season in extended spring training.
Romine is part of a baseball family that includes his father Kevin, who played parts of seven seasons in the majors, and his brother Austin, who could be the Yankees' catcher of the future. The two brothers were both 2007 draft picks--Austin went in the second round, three rounds earlier than Andrew--and spent their first full pro seasons in low Class A. Andrew led the Midwest League with 62 stolen bases and ranked second with 79 runs, though there are still questions about his bat. He's a switch-hitter who offers little power and needs to improve from the right side. He makes good contact but doesn't draw an excessive amount of walks, as pitchers aren't afraid to challenge him. Though he has plus speed, he still must improve his basestealing technique after getting caught 18 times last year. Romine, who succeeded Dustin Pedroia as Arizona State's shortstop, is a fine defender. He has above-average actions, range, hands and arm strength, and he makes accurate throws. Romine will be 23 this season, so the Angels may try to get him to Double-A at some point.
No team has spent less on bonuses in the last two drafts than the Angels' $4.5 million, though Los Angeles did triple MLB's slot recommendation to sign Gomez for $450,000 as an 11th-rounder last summer. Gomez scared most clubs off with his asking price and his Miami scholarship, but Los Angeles valued his defensive ability. He's a cousin of former all-star and Gold Glove shortstop Tony Fernandez, and he shows similar actions at shortstop. He has soft hands and his good footwork puts himself in position to make plays. His fringe-average arm strength leads some scouts to predict he'll move to second base, but the Angels believe he can stay at short. Though he's small, he has plus speed and some pop, which have earned him comparisons to Rafael Furcal. Gomez can get into trouble when he tries to hit for power, and he's better off working counts and spraying balls into the gaps. He'll need to get stronger to cope with the rigors of pro ball, and he has the work ethic to make it happen. He got only 15 at-bats after signing, so Los Angeles may hold off assigning him to a full-season club to start 2009.
Torres opened 2008 with his third straight assignment to the Arizona League, but after he allowed a total of four runs in four starts, the Angels deemed him ready to jump to high Class A. He more than held his own, considering his age (20) and how hitter-friendly the California League is, recording a pair of double-digit strikeout performances in August. Torres is undersized, but he can keep hitters guessing by varying his arm angle. He also can crank his fastball up to the low 90s, though he's more effective when it buzzes in around 89-90 mph and generates tons of groundouts. Torres backs up his fastball with a curveball that features tight spin. He needs to do a better job of throwing his curve for strikes. He lacks a third pitch at this point, and Los Angeles had him focus on his changeup during instructional league. The change would give him a needed weapon against lefthanders, who hit .339/.435/.441 against him in the Cal League. It would make sense for Torres to open 2009 back in Rancho Cucamonga, but don't be surprised if he reaches Double-A later in the year. He has one of the best lefty arms in the system.
Brown's eighth season in pro ball was his best. He hit .320/.373/.580 at Salt Lake, collected his first big league hit, earned Pacific Coast League MVP honors at the Triple-A all-star game and won an Olympic bronze medal. Brown was Team USA's most dangerous hitter in Beijing, leading the squad with two homers (including a key three-run shot in the bronze medal game) and 10 RBIs. Power is his calling card, and Team USA batting coach Reggie Smith thinks Brown could be a bigger threat if he did a better job of incorporating his lower half into his swing. He made more consistent contact in 2008, which could allow him to compete for the Angels' third-base job if they decide to deploy Chone Figgins elsewhere this season. If he gets that opportunity, Brown must fight a tendency to try to do too much, which has contributed to his 1-for-24 performance with 11 strikeouts in three brief big league stints. His bat is his ticket to the big leagues, as he's a below-average runner who's merely an adequate defender. Brown has played all four infield positions and both outfield corners during his pro career, and he fits best at first or third base. He has the arm for the hot corner but his range is just passable.
Jimenez has won two home run titles in the last two years. He led the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League with 11 homers in 2007 and the Pioneer League with 15 in his U.S. debut last summer. He also topped the Pioneer League in doubles (28) and extra-base hits (49) as part of a core of Latin Americans who pushed Orem to the league finals. He generates power with bat speed and strength, and his frame easily has room for more muscle. While he has a quiet, balanced setup, he gets too aggressive and chases pitches out of the zone. He'll need more discipline at higher levels. Jimenez has decent athleticism and speed, and he shows a strong arm at third base. He injured his right shoulder diving back into a base on a pickoff play in early August, and spent the rest of the summer as a DH. He should be healthy for spring training and ready for an assignment to low Class A.
After turning down the Brewers as a 28th-round pick in 2006, Alliman returned to the Bluevale Collegiate Institute (Waterloo, Ont.) and went in the 43rd round a year later. He wasn't a high priority for the Angels, though Midwest crosschecker Ron Marigny and Canadian area scout Alex Messier pushed all summer for the club to sign him. Alliman agreed to a $25,000 bonus at the Aug. 15 deadine, and that looks like money well spent after his 2008 pro debut. He led the Arizona League with 17 doubles while ranking third in hits (61), fourth in RBIs (39) and fifth in batting (.339). His bat speed lends itself to power, though he needs to tone down his tendency to uppercut and pull pitches. Los Angeles has worked with him on keeping his hands inside the ball, which would allow him to do a better job of using the opposite field. A good athlete, Alliman has good speed and solid arm strength. He struggled at third base last year, making 10 errors in just 18 games, and looked better in right field. He'll probably open 2009 in extended spring training before heading to Orem in June.
A 23rd-round pick of the Twins in 2005, Herndon emerged as a top draft-and-follow the next spring. When Minnesota heeded MLB's wishes to keep spending down and didn't meet Herndon's asking price, he re-entered the 2006 draft, went in the fifth round and quickly signed for $157,500. He made steady progress in his first two pro seasons but hit the wall last spring in high Class A, going 2-6, 5.94 in 12 starts. Moved to the bullpen, he immediately took to his new role, posting a 2.90 ERA and converting 17 of 19 save opportunities. He also performed well as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. Herndon's top pitch is his fastball, a heavy sinker that usually sits in the low 90s and produces a slew of groundballs. His secondary pitches never were consistent when he pitched as a starter, and they aren't as crucial now that he's a reliever. His slider shows tilt at times and ranks ahead of his changeup. Herndon has little difficulty throwing strikes, so if he can just refine his slider into a reliable second option, he should move quickly. He'll step up to Double-A this season.
Signed for a mere $1,500 out of Darton (Ga.) JC after turning down $80,000 from the Astros out of high school, Green could be about to pay big dividends. Angels GM Tony Reagins has declared that Green will be in the mix to fill a rotation opening if one exists in spring training. The organization still has faith in him after he got bombed in Triple-A in August and in the Arizona Fall League. Green has one of the best changeups in the system, with late sink and some screwball action, but he has little margin for error because he lacks a swing-and-miss pitch. His fastball sits at 88-91 mph and his curveball parks in the mid-70s. He throws strikes and can work both sides of the plate, but he's extremely vulnerable when he pitches up in the strike zone. He led the Pacific Coast League in homers surrendered last season with 31. Green doesn't have huge upside, projecting as a No. 4 starter at best, but he should make his big league debut in 2009 if he can improve his command.
The injury bug bit several of the Angels' top position prospects in 2008, including catcher Hank Conger, outfielders Terry Evans and Chris Pettit, and third baseman Mike Sweeney. Statia joined that list when he strained his right hamstring in early June. He missed three weeks and played in only two more games before reinjuring the hamstring, costing him a trip to the Olympics with the Dutch national team. A native of Curacao, he starred for the Netherlands at the 2007 World Cup, earning recognition as the tournament's top defensive player. Before he got hurt, Statia was having his worst offensive season as a pro. While he's never going to hit home runs, he needs to get stronger so he can't be overpowered by good fastballs. His speed is fringy, so despite good instincts he won't be a stolen-base threat, which means he needs to focus on making contact and getting on base. Statia isn't spectacular at shortstop, though his ability to anticipate plays gives him solid range. He has exceptional hands and an accurate arm. Scouts still see him as a major league utilityman, and he's blocked by a proliferation of shortstop options in the organization. Statia will try to boost his stock when he returns to Double-A this season.
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