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High school catchers historically have been the riskiest of first-round gambles. For every Joe Mauer, taken with the No. 1 pick in 2001, teams end up with a dozen players like Max Sapp, who hasn't advanced past low Class A since the Astros selected him 23rd overall in 2006. Conger, taken two picks after Sapp, is starting to live up to expectations after battling injuries early in his career. A second-generation Korean-American, he was nicknamed in honor of his grandfather's favorite player, Hank Aaron. Considered the top prep power hitter in the 2006 draft, Conger signed quickly for $1.35 million and rated as the Rookie-level Arizona League's No. 1 prospect in his pro debut. However, he missed time with a broken hamate bone in his right hand, setting the tone for injury-shortened seasons in 2007 (lower back and hamstring issues) and 2008 (a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder). Healthy last season, Conger caught 87 games for Double-A Arkansas, nearly doubling his career total. With his well above-average bat speed and power from both sides of the plate, Conger's potential as a run producer has been readily apparent since he signed. He makes more consistent hard contact than many power hitters. He lets the ball travel deep in the hitting zone and his swing plane suggests increased power output as he matures. Conger remains a more dangerous hitter from the left side of the plate, but he closed that gap in 2009, posting a higher OPS from the right side (.840 versus .772). His overall plate discipline took a step forward too, as he logged more pro plate appearances than ever before. Behind the plate, Conger draws compliments for his game management skills. He's a leader who receives and blocks well, and he has above-average arm strength. He threw out 30 percent of basestealers last season. The power-suppressing dimensions of Little Rock's Dickey-Stephens Park initially got in Conger's head. But when he focused on stroking line drives in the second half, his productivity soared and he batted .305/.404/.457. Some scouts think he can unlock more power by leveling his swing path slightly and producing more backspin on the ball. Conger lacks accuracy on his throws because of shaky footwork that cuts off his extension. Despite his arm strength and an improved transfer, there's some question as to how much he'll be able to deter big league basestealers. A well below-average runner who's more agile than his bulky frame suggests, Conger will need to maintain flexibility to stay behind the plate. The Angels have a lot riding on Conger, their only first-round pick in four drafts from 2005-08. Big league manager Mike Scioscia demands much from his catchers, and Conger has much work to do on the defensive side before he's ready to play in Los Angeles. He may return to Double-A, at least to begin 2010. He has all-star potential if he can stay healthy and behind the plate.
The Angels signed Bourjos for $325,000 as a 10th-rounder out of high school, gambling on his athleticism and bloodlines. His father Chris played professionally for seven seasons, reaching San Francisco for a cup of coffee in 1980, and now scouts for the Brewers. Bourjos led the Texas League with 14 triples last season, but he tailed off in the second half as he played through a ligament tear in his left wrist that required postseason surgery. Bourjos claims that no one ever has bested him in a footrace. Managers rated him the TL's most exciting player as well as its best defensive outfielder. He ranges well into both gaps, and his long legs belie his plus-plus speed. His solid-average arm strength gives him an advantage over most center fielders. He has a quick bat and made significant improvement at the plate in 2009, more notably with his discipline and pitch recognition. Though Bourjos ranked fifth in the TL with 32 stolen bases, Los Angeles would like him to run more frequently and improve his success rate (which dipped to 73 percent last year). He shows gap power when he stays balanced and gets his arms extended, but he still tends to open early and leave himself vulnerable to offspeed stuff away. Injuries to his left arm, first a broken finger and then a hyperextended elbow, cost him some much-needed at-bats in 2007 and 2008. Bourjos has game-changing defensive ability, and his progress at the plate has boosted his stock. The Angels added him to the 40-man roster in the offseason, but with Torii Hunter under contract for three more seasons, Bourjos still has plenty of time to develop.
A favorite of area scouts in the Northeast for his talent and makeup, Trout was the only player to appear at MLB Network's studios for the television broadcast of the draft last June. It wasn't a wasted trip. The Angels selected him 26th overall and signed him for $1.215 million. He rated as the Rookie-level Arizona League's No. 1 prospect and finished second in the batting race at .360. Trout has a line-drive stroke, the ability to make adjustments and a refined batting eye. His strength and bat speed give him the potential for average power. As good as his feel for hitting is, his plus-plus speed stands out even more. He gets from home to first in 3.9 seconds from the right side, enabling him to leg out infield hits. Built like a football defensive back, he has above-average range and instincts in center field. His arm is average. Trout hit only one home run in his pro debut and has yet to learn to pull the ball consistently. When using the opposite field, he tends to push the ball rather than drive through it. Already listed at 200 pounds, he might fill out, slow down and move to an outfield corner. The Angels haven't developed a starting outfielder since Darin Erstad, so they were thrilled to grab Trout, believing he was overlooked as a high schooler from the Northeast. He'll take his well-rounded game and five-tool potential to low Class A Cedar Rapids in 2010.
Injuries at the big league level unleashed a wave of premature promotions in the system last year. Reckling, then 19, raced to Double-A after just three starts at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He had no problem adjusting, ranking fourth in the Texas League with a 2.93 ERA and 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He pitched in the Futures Game in July and for Team USA at the World Cup in September, but an oblique injury shelved him after two appearances. Reckling's best pitch is a sweepy slider-curve hybrid that sits at 78-82 mph with good spin and hard tilt. That weapon makes him a nightmare for lefthanders, who hit just .165 with four extra-base hits in 121 at-bats against him in 2009. His fastball ranges from 87-93 mph with run to his glove side. He works quickly and delivers the ball from a herky-jerky, high three-quarters delivery, which provides steep angle and terrific deception to his pitches. He took quickly to a changeup, commanding it with deceptive arm speed from the get-go. He'll throw any of his pitches at any point in the count. Because his delivery features a lot of moving parts and he loses his release point, Reckling's fastball command isn't where it needs to be. He led the TL with 75 walks and 14 wild pitches. He continues to shy away from his heater at times, favoring his quality secondary stuff. Despite rushing him last year, the Angels will give Reckling plenty of time to develop as a mid-rotation starter. If he can't iron out his command, his breaking ball would make him a nasty reliever.
Scouts left Richards' college starts at Oklahoma shaking their heads. He ran up a 6.57 ERA in three years for the Sooners, but his electric arm and strong finish in 2009 got him drafted 42nd overall. After signing for $802,000, he threw strikes and didn't allow a homer in 35 innings at Rookie-level Orem. Minor shoulder tightness scrapped a plan to have him make a start in low Class A at the end of the year. Richards' fastball explodes out of his hand at 90-97 mph, usually sitting at 93-94 down in the zone with average life and sink. He throws an average-to-plus curveball with depth and tilt, and a solid-average slider in the mid-80s with late break. If that weren't enough, he also throws a fading, sinking changeup that's a plus pitch at times. His arm is quick and his delivery is clean. Despite his strong debut, Richards' lack of consistent amateur success can't be ignored. He had trouble throwing strikes and hitters got a good look at his pitches, though those problems weren't an issue in pro ball. Richards has the size, stuff and command to pitch at the top of a rotation. If he spends time at Cedar Rapids in 2010, it probably won't be for long. He stands a good chance of finishing the year in Double-A.
The Angels discreetly signed Martinez as a 17-year-old in April 2007, but more than a year elapsed before anybody took notice. Following up on a forgettable pro debut, he dominated Rookie-level Dominican Summer League competition in 2008 with 93 strikeouts in 76 innings. Martinez took another giant step forward in 2009, leading the Arizona League with 92 strikeouts and a .197 opponent average. Arm strength separates Martinez from the pack. He pitches at 93 mph, touches 96 with his four-seamer and holds that velocity deep into games. Tall, lean and projectable, he generates good downhill plane from his high three-quarters arm slot. He has the potential to have an average two-seam fastball and a plus slider. Martinez's command comes and goes. He gets a lot of swings and misses on high fastball that more advanced hitters will lay off. He could get more lateral movement on his fastball if he lowered his arm slot slightly. He needs to stay on top of his slider more consistently, and his workable changeup needs more refinement than any of his pitches. Slow and deliberate to the plate, he's vulnerable to basestealers. He could improve his composure on the mound by not wearing his emotions on his sleeve. If Martinez refines his command, he has true top-ofthe- rotation stuff. He'll make the jump to low Class A in 2010.
Grichuk thrived on the showcase circuit, bashed 21 homers in 75 at-bats as a high school senior and then dazzled the Angels at a predraft workout. Using the first of its five picks before the second round, Los Angeles selected him 24th overall and signed him quickly for $1.242 million. He led the Arizona League with 76 hits and 10 triples and ranked second with 30 extra-base hits and 53 RBIs in his pro debut. A noted pull hitter in high school--he blasted a 475-foot shot at Tropicana Field during one showcase-- Grichuk showed impressive opposite fielder in his debut. His strong hands and leveraged, quick swing should produce above-average power. His work ethic and passion are quite strong, allaying concerns about his fringe-average range and arm. To hit for average, Grichuk will have to improve his plate discipline and pitch recognition. He'll continue to see a steady diet of breaking balls until he proves he can hit them. He's just a fair athlete who figures to lose a bit of his fringy speed as he ages, so his bat will have to carry the day. Though he played some center field in the AZL, his future is in left. He doesn't look comfortable running the bases and needs to use his legs more in making throws. The Angels view Grichuk as a premium hitter with power. He and fellow first-rounder Mike Trout will advance together to low Class A in 2010 and could form the heart of Los Angeles' lineup of the future.
The first of a run of tall, loose-armed pitchers drafted by the Angels in their 2009 draft bonanza, Skaggs signed for $1 million in early August as the 40th overall pick. A threesport star at Santa Monica (Calif.) High, where his mother Debbie is volleyball coach, he grew up an Angels fan and passed on a Cal State Fullerton scholarship to turn pro. He consistently pitched well in front of scouts, but an ankle injury during the spring helped drop him out of the first round. Skaggs is the textbook definition of projectable. He's long-limbed, athletic and blessed with incredible arm speed. He delivers a lively 88-91 mph fastball down in the zone, and he could sit more comfortably at 92-93 with armside run when his upper body matures. His hard 75-78 mph slider is a knockout offering that features two-plane break. He likes to mix in a slow curveball as a surprise third pitch. He maintains a free and easy motion that reminds the Angels of Brian Matusz, whom they let slip away as a fourth-rounder out of high school in 2005. Los Angeles wants Skaggs to develop his below-average changeup at the expense of the slow curve. He shows some feel for the changeup, but it's a long ways away. Because he logged just 10 innings after signing, Skaggs may stay behind in extended spring training at the start of 2010. He projects as a solid mid-rotation starter.
The Angels signed Walden for $1 million in May 2007 as a draft-and-follow out of Grayson County (Texas) CC, the same program that produced John Lackey. Walden had entered 2006 as the top high school prospect in the draft, but a poor showing dropped him to the 12th round. He dominated in his first two pro seasons, but a strained forearm limited him to 13 mostly ineffective starts in 2009. Though Walden clearly was not at his best last year, he never completely lost his heavy 90-94 mph fastball. Facing it has been likened to trying to hit a brick. Batters struggle to lift his fastball when it's down in the zone, and he has surrendered just 14 homers in 281 pro innings. His mid-80s slider has occasional tilt. Walden's forearm injury sapped him of his peak velocity and negatively affected his control. His changeup still lags behind his other pitches, and inconsistent mechanics also played a role in his poor command. He didn't pitch with his usual chutzpah while dealing with failure for the first time as a pro. After effectively losing a year of development, Walden rehabbed throughout instructional league in an effort to be ready for spring training. If his command doesn't improve, his power fastball/slider combo appears tailored to a late-inning relief role.
Bell signed for $925,000 as the 37th overall pick in 2005 but was toiling in relief in high Class A three years later. He risked being better known as the grandson of Bob Bell, who starred as Bozo the Clown for 24 years on Chicago television, than for his pitching. But he grew up and improved his command in 2009, notched the system's second-best ERA at 2.70 and finished the season in the majors. Bell's first pitch in the big leagues registered at 94 mph, and he sits at 88-92 with life down in the zone. He works fast, relying on the cutting and sinking action on his fastball to pitch to both sides of the plate and induce weak contact. When it's on, his mid-70s slider features late tilt. He's a bulldog on the mound who seems to execute best when his back is against the wall. If he's not hitting spots with his fastball, Bell gets knocked around because the quality of his stuff is merely average. His slider is inconsistent, and while his changeup has improved, it's still wasn't good enough to keep big league lefties at bay. They batted .469/.526/.673 against him. Bell will need above-average command to thrive in the big leagues, and it's a trait he's shown at most every stop in his minor league career. The Angels view him as a back-of-the-rotation starter or a bullpen arm who will compete for a big league job in spring training.
Trumbo spent one season in Rookie ball and then two more in low Class A after signing in 2004 for an 18thround record $1.425 million. The slow development wasn't terribly surprising, considering most teams preferred him on the mound when he was an amateur. But he muscled his way onto the prospect map in 2008 by bashing 32 homers, and he ranked third in the Texas League with 35 doubles and fourth with 53 extra-base hits last year. Trumbo has plus-plus raw power to all fields--the best in the system--but hasn't shown the selectivity necessary for it to play consistently in games. To enhance plate coverage, he employs a wide stance with virtually no stride. He doesn't like to strike out and often swings early in counts rather than waiting for a cookie he can crush. Thus he makes a lot of contact for a slugger but figures to hit about .260. Trumbo is a substandard first baseman and lacks the range to be an asset in the outfield, where he saw time in the second half of 2009. He features plus arm strength, a vestige of his pitching days. He led all TL batters by grounding into 22 double plays, a testament to his below-average speed. With Kendry Morales' emergence, Trumbo's introduction to right field took on added significance. He'll move on to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, a hitter's haven, in 2010.
Corbin graduated from high school in upstate New York in 2007 and headed to nearby Mohawk Valley (N.Y.) CC to play both baseball and basketball. He transferred to Chipola (Fla.) JC for the 2009 season to focus on pitching and showed so much improvement that he was regarded as Florida's top juco pitching prospect. He won over observers in the Rookie-level Pioneer League after signing for $450,000 as a second-round pick. Corbin can dunk a basketball from a standstill, and his premium athleticism and loose arm portend more velocity down the road. He pitches downhill at 90 mph with natural sink now, and he ranges from the high 80s to 93. One thing remains consistent: the natural cutting or tailing action on his fastball. Corbin's hard slurve ranges from 75-82 mph and features sharp, deep tilt at its best. His aptitude and clean arm stroke enabled him to flash a plus changeup. Corbin's athleticism makes him a standout defender on the mound. He's around the plate, but his command suffers because he can't predict how his lively fastball will behave. He needs to improve the balance in his delivery because he tends to lean toward the plate with his upper body, which causes his arm to drag. Corbin is tall and skinny, with much of his future value tied to the development of his fastball. His mound presence and willingness to pitch in on righthanders could make him a mid-rotation starter. He's ready for low Class A.
Segura's U.S. debut in 2008 was marred by an infield collision that ended his season after 11 games and resulted in a pin being inserted in his ankle. More bad luck followed last year, when he broke a finger in an Aug. 5 game sliding headfirst into second base. The injuries can't mute his intriguing blend of tools, headlined by a feel for hitting that could give him a chance to win a batting title one day. Hitting appears to come easy to Segura, who features exceptional bat speed and a compact, slashing approach that produces line drives to all fields. He hits both fastballs and breaking balls, showing advanced barrel awareness and a knack for contact. Short but with powerful legs, Segura is a plus-plus runner who could fit at the top of a lineup if he matures as a basestealer. He has a chance to develop above-average power for a second baseman. Segura is limited to second, where his arm is above-average but his range and defensive instincts are a bit short. He's cocky and wears his emotions on his sleeve, so he would benefit from a toned-down approach. He's ready for full-season ball and the Angels would love to see him stay healthy for the entire year in low Class A.
A two-way standout in high school, Chatwood missed his sophomore season because he had surgery to tighten an elbow ligament. He played center field as a junior and returned the mound as a senior. Passing on a chance to play both ways at UCLA, he signed with the Angels for $547,000 as a second-round pick in 2008. Chatwood began last season in extended spring training so he could work on throwing strikes, but his competitiveness soon won out and he ended up making 24 starts for Cedar Rapids. He ranked fifth in the Midwest League in both strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and opponent average (.237). Chatwood could have turned pro as a shortstop, and his athleticism should allow him to overcome the stigma of being a short righthander. He has electric arm strength, firing 92-94 mph riding fastballs and touching the mid-90s from his over-the-top arm slot. He'll drop in a mid-70s overhand curveball featuring depth and downward bite, giving him two plus pitches when he's going well. He struggles to command his stuff--including a below-average changeup--because he doesn't repeat his delivery. The Angels think Chatwood's best role will be as a starter, but he'll need to throw a lot more strikes. He's coachable with a bulldog demeanor, and he's ready for high Class A.
Though he may be most famous for unearthing Howie Kendrick, area scout Tom Kotchman's track record with pitchers in Florida is more impressive. He scouted and signed a quartet of righthanders selected in the past two major league Rule 5 drafts: Bobby Cassevah, David Herndon, Bobby Mosebach and Darren O'Day. Enter Smith, a tall, physical lefthander who commands three pitches. He followed an outstanding pro debut in Rookie ball with a solid 2009 season in low Class A. He showed excellent control of both the strike zone and the running game, limiting basestealers to just six steals in 14 attempts. Smith pitches aggressively for someone without a knockout pitch, working his fastball to both sides of the plate at 88-90 mph and touching 92. His average curveball draws more strength from a range of velocities--from 72-80 mph--than from pure break. He adds and subtracts from his sinking fastball, too. The Angels lack pitchers with refined changeups, and Smith is no exception. Pitchability lefties often carve up low-level batters, so he'll have to keep proving himself. A hamstring pull and a lower back injury limited him to 19 starts last year, but if he comes to camp in shape he should advance to high Class A. His ceiling is as a No. 4 starter.
Pettit has provided incredible value as a 19th-round senior sign, as long as he's been healthy. After winning the organization's minor league player of the year award in 2007, he broke his foot while chasing a fly ball on Opening Day in 2008 and struggled when he returned. He redeemed himself with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League and an impressive Triple-A debut in 2009--until he broke his left wrist and required surgery. Pettit placed sixth in the Pacific Coast League batting race last season with a .321 average, and his feel for hitting stands as his only plus tool. He lines the ball into both gaps, showing quality bat speed and enough strength to pop 10-12 home runs per year. He's not a masher though, and leaves himself open to breaking stuff away when he gets pull-happy. Pettit always has handled lefties, batting .341/.404/.554 against them over 327 plate appearances in full-season leagues. He plays all three outfield spots but is best suited to a corner. He takes good routes, makes all the routine plays and has a solid-average arm. Despite his thick build, he's an average runner who can steal a base. Pettit will vie with Gary Matthews Jr. and Reggie Willits for playing time as an extra outfielder in Los Angeles this year, and that's the role for which he seems best suited.
Amarista hit .319 last season to become the first Cedar Rapids player to win the Midwest League batting title since Howie Kendrick hit .367 in 2004. He signed in January 2007 and hit .340 in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League. Amarista showed more power than expected for a player listed at 5-foot-8--and he may be a full three inches shorter than that--ranking second in the MWL with 39 doubles and 10 triples. He makes a lot of hard contact and knows the strike zone, wearing down pitchers for walks if he gets nothing to hit. Amarista is an average runner who stole 38 bases in 2009 but was too aggressive, getting thrown out 20 times. He sports a poor 66 percent success rate in three pro seasons. MWL managers recognized Amarista as the league's best defensive second baseman, though his range and arm are just average and prevent him from playing on the left side of the infield. He played center field in 2008 and ultimately might fit best as a utility player. The high Class A California League awaits.
Bounceback seasons by both Trevor Bell and Bachanov, the Angels' first picks in the '05 and '07 drafts, boosted players who were forgotten men entering the 2009 season. Questions surrounding Bachanov's makeup dogged him during his draft year--his MySpace page featured a "countdown 'til I get paid" clock--followed by Tommy John surgery shortly after he signed for $553,300. After a slow recovery, he debuted as a reliever last summer. Bachanov has a big league fastball, pitching with command at 92-93 mph and touching 96 with modest life. He's a top-flight competitor who comes out of the bullpen firing strikes from a three-quarters arm slot. Even after the injury, he shows uncanny feel and control of a low-80s power slider that has above-average potential. He threw a curveball and a changeup in high school, but those pitches gathered dust in the bullpen. Bachanov finished the year in Orem under manager Tom Kotchman, who's also the scout who signed him in 2007. Kotchman said the improvements in Bachanov's delivery and arm action were dramatic. He no longer throws across his body, though the Angels will continue to stress balance as well as direction and time to the plate. Bachanov probably will remain in the bullpen in order to expedite his development. If it all comes together, he profiles as a potential setup man.
The Angels first selected Ramirez in the 34th round of the 2008 draft, after he had spent two years at Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC. He led the summer collegiate Northwoods League with 10 homers and won league MVP honors, then declined to sign before heading to Arizona State. His draft stock soared as he helped the Sun Devils reach the College World Series, and he signed as an eighth-rounder last June for $110,000. Ramirez hit .376 and topped the Pioneer League with a .500 on-base percentage, leading Orem to the league's best record and playoff title. He shows a patient, polished approach but has no better than fringe-average bat speed. His swing is short and he's more of a gap hitter than a slugger. Ramirez called his own games in college and relished assuming a leadership role with the Owlz, developing a great rapport with his pitchers. Despite his well below-average speed and athleticism, Ramirez blocks and receives well. He features an average arm with a quick release, typically completing throws to second base in 1.9-2.0 seconds. He threw out 32 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. Ramirez, who draws body comparisons to Bengie Molina, could reach high Class A at some point in 2010.
As a freshman in 2007, Chaffee helped pitch Chipola (Fla.) JC to its first Junior College World Series title. He broke a bone in his foot the following March, requiring surgery to insert a screw, then returned in time to pitch the Indians to a Florida state championship. He went in the third round and signed for $338,000 in 2008, though he reinjured the same foot in the Juco World Series and didn't make his pro debut until 2009. He proved to be worth the wait, leading low Class A Midwest League pitchers with a .206 opponent average and finishing second with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He also took a walk on the wild side, hitting a league-high 16 batters and walking 65. Chaffee seems to have taken a cue from Orlando Hernandez in that he pitches from three distinct arm angles, ranging from sidearm to high three-quarters. He uses an old-fashioned full windup and throws everything but the kitchen sink at his opponents. His low-90s fastball has some life, while his curveball features good spin and is most often his best offering. His slider has lateral movement but not much tilt, while his changeup is an average pitch at times. If Chaffee is to remain a starter he'll need to focus on refining one arm slot--the Angels prefer three-quarters, from which his fastball and curve show the most life--because he doesn't repeat his delivery well enough to throw strikes. Other righthanded relievers have had success with multiple arm angles, and that might be the best way to utilize Chaffee's unique profile. He'll move up to high Class A this season.
Rodriguez looked like a $780,000 washout when he went 0-6, 4.16 with a diminished strikeout rate in Double-A in 2007. Because he had dealt with intermittent elbow trouble, he was making the move into a fulltime relief role. He muscled his way back on the prospect map with a huge 2008, when he set up Kevin Jepsen in the Arkansas bullpen, and the Angels added him to the 40-man roster after the season. He dominated Triple-A hitters but got knocked around in his first exposure to major leaguers in 2009. An intelligent pitcher, Rodriguez learned to speak English quickly and at his best features two plus pitches. He challenges batters with a 91-93 mph fastball with sink and above-average lateral movement. His loose, quick arm gives him natural angle to the plate. Rodriguez fares much better against righthanders because his sharp, mid-80s slider with three-quarters tilt is a true out pitch. He'll mix in a changeup that features splitter action, but it's only an occasional weapon to combat lefties. Like most relievers who yo-yo between Triple-A and the big leagues, Rodriguez sometimes struggles to find the strike zone. When he elevates his sinker he gets hit hard. He's 25 and has completed eight pro seasons, but he still has two minor league options remaining. The Angels will evaluate his readiness for a big league job in spring training.
Intrigued by Mosebach's raw arm strength, the Phillies selected him in the 2008 major league Rule 5 draft, but they couldn't find a place for him and returned him to the Angels last spring. As a full-time reliever for the first time, he reached the majors in July and made a positive impression despite pitching in just three games. He further bolstered his standing with a solid showing in the Dominican League. Mosebach is a hard-throwing sinkerballer in the vein of Rafael Rodriguez. While he throws harder than Rodriguez, Mosebach's breaking ball isn't nearly as advanced. His fastball averaged nearly 94 mph in the big leagues, and he peaks at 96 while rarely dipping below 92. His heater features hard, late sink, and he has improved his command to his arm side, which will be crucial to neutralizing lefthanders. His groundball-inducing, mid-80s slider features sharp tilt when he stays on top of it, but that's often a 50-50 proposition. Like any sinkerballer, he gets hit when he leaves the ball up. Mosebach limited minor leaguers to a .197 average while allowing only one home run in 67 innings last season, though he tends to walk too many lefthanders. Mosebach is 25 and has two minor league options remaining, just like Rodriguez, whom he'll battle for a bullpen job in spring training.
Taken by the Braves in both the 2005 and '06 drafts, Tobin finally signed for $125,000 as the Angels' 16th-round selection in 2007. Making a cameo in big league camp last year to fill in for World Baseball Classic participants, he impressed the coaching staff by showing a fastball that one Angels official called well above-average for both its velocity and life. That buzz lasted all of three relief outings, after which Tobin had Tommy John surgery. He made just eight starts in 2008 before succumbing to a shoulder strain. So as it stands, his combined innings count for the past two seasons is just 40. Prior to his run of injuries, Tobin fired 93-95 mph fastballs with heavy sink and plenty of armside run. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, so while his low-80s slider shows short, late break at times, it also flattens out when he gets under it. All the lost time has precluded him from throwing his rudimentary changeup. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Tobin looks the part of a power pitcher, but his delivery is neither fluid nor effortless. A shift to the bullpen seems like the best bet for his future health. He's expected to return to the mound around midseason, but 2010 will essentially be another lost developmental year, his third in a row.
The Angels thought enough of Gomez's pro potential that they signed him for $450,000 as an 11th-round pick in 2008, buying him out of a Miami commitment. He didn't play much during his pro debut after being sidelined by a hand injury. Gomez features plus defensive instincts just like his cousin Tony Fernandez, a fourtime Gold Glove winner with the Blue Jays, but that comparison goes only so far. Listed at 5-foot-7, he's at least seven inches shorter than Fernandez. Gomez runs well and covers more ground than most shortstops, showing enough arm strength arm to make plays in the hole. His throwing mechanics need refinement, though, as he tends to flip the ball across the infield and sometimes fails to set his feet properly. A lefthanded batter, Gomez finished second in the Rookie-level Arizona League with 48 runs and third with 32 walks last year, showing that he understands his offensive strengths rest with his tablesetting ability. He bunts well and shows enough bat speed and strength to hit for occasional gap power. The Angels would like to see Gomez remove a bit of the loop from his swing and concentrate on hitting the ball on the ground or on a line. A hard-nosed player, he's on track to tackle low Class A, where he'll probably play middle infield in tandem with Jean Segura.
Wilson was a high school teammate of Casey Kotchman, the organization's first-round pick in 2001 and son of longtime Angels scout and manager Tom. Wilson has worked hard to refine his defensive tools and keep his weight in check over the course of seven pro seasons, and it paid off when he made the Angels' playoff roster last year as a third catcher. Nothing about Wilson's game is aesthetically pleasing. A righthanded hitter, he has a stiff, armoriented, uppercut swing that produces below-average bat speed. He knows the strike zone and can put the ball in play. He has batted .290/.345/.425 in three seasons with Triple-A Salt Lake, though he can get tied up by good fastballs inside and has almost no power. While stocky, he's agile behind the plate, with soft hands and average arm strength. Wilson shines on defense, leading the Pacific Coast League by throwing out 38 percent of basestealers last year. He excels at calling games and running a pitching staff, drawing praise from big league manager Mike Scioscia, who demands a lot from his catchers. The Angels face a decision this season with Wilson, who's out of options and probably would be claimed if exposed to waivers, but also is unlikely to supplant Mike Napoli or Jeff Mathis in Los Angeles. In all likelihood, Wilson will serve as some big league club's backup catcher in 2010.
Baseball is in Romine's blood. His father Kevin spent seven seasons as a reserve outfielder for the Red Sox, while his younger brother Austin is a promising catching prospect in the Yankees system. Andrew succeeded Dustin Pedroia as Arizona State's shortstop, and since turning pro he has shown strong defensive chops while mixing in a dash of plate discipline and speed. A switch-hitter, he has more power and is more selective from the left side. But that power is relative--he has hit just three home runs in his two years of full-season ball, and only one in the high-octane California League. He improved from the right side last season, keeping his bat in the zone longer and better covering the outer half of the plate. Romine paced the Midwest League with 62 stolen bases in 2008 and is an above-average runner. In the field, he has plus actions, hands, range and plenty of arm strength for shortstop. The Angels don't expect Romine to be better than a fringe-average hitter, but his premium defensive tools, speed and feel for situational hitting will keep him alive as a prospect. He'll move to Double-A in 2010.
Mount went in the second round of the 2005 draft and signed for $615,000 after a breakout high school senior season, but in each of the last three years, injuries have relegated him to roughly half a season on the disabled list. His lost development time meant the Angels felt comfortable leaving him off the 40-man roster, and no team selected him in the Rule 5 draft. Mount had surgery on the hamate bone in his right hand in May and missed two months. He previously dealt with a sprained knee in 2007 and hamstring and quadriceps trouble in 2008. Mount has above-average raw power for a second baseman, but when he gets pull-happy he becomes vulnerable to pitches away. He just hasn't gotten enough repetitions to become comfortable against lefthanders, who continue to suffocate him (.492 OPS last year). That and an undisciplined approach suggest that power, and not average, will be his calling card. Though he was drafted as a shortstop, Mount's fringe-average speed necessitated a move across the keystone, where he turns the double play well but sometimes flubs the routine play because of poor positioning on hops. He has above-average arm strength. A healthy season in Double-A could restore his prospect status.
Fuller was a nominal switch-hitter when he signed four years ago for $227,500, though his high school coach never let him bat from the left side. It took him two years in Rookie ball to iron out his lefthanded swing. Fuller is yet another member of the organization with athletic bloodlines. His father and two brothers played football at Texas Tech, and brother Cody, an Angels 48th-round pick in 2005, retired prior to last season having topped out at Double-A. Clay demonstrates more bat control from the right side, but he has shown more power and better strike-zone judgment from the left. He refuses to give away at-bats, ranking fourth in the California League with 71 walks, and isn't afraid to work deep counts, as evidenced by his 127 strikeouts. Wiry strong with a bit of projection remaining, Fuller projects to have fringe-average power at best, looking more like a doubles hitter than a true home run threat. He doesn't make enough contact to hit for a high average. A plus runner, Fuller has swiped a combined 66 bases the past two seasons at a 79 percent success rate. He's a strong defender in center field with an average arm. Fuller's raw tools suggest he could take a leap forward, but he'll have to show offensive improvement with Arkansas in 2010 to do that.
Kohn's trajectory could best be described as atypical. He transferred from South Carolina-Upstate to the College of Charleston for the 2007 season, but he did so as a heavy-hitting first baseman. He took up pitching the following year, saving four games while a bruised shoulder limited him to 13 innings. Because he showed 95-mph velocity and the makings of a slider, the Angels took a 13th-round flier on the senior. Featuring an extremely short arm stroke in back, Kohn combines deception with above-average velocity, making him a strikeout machine. Last year, he ranked fourth among minor league relievers with 14.1 whiffs per nine innings and sixth with a .153 opponent average. The ball seems to jump out of Kohn's hand at 90-96 mph, sitting at 93. Though his fastball is straight and usually elevated, it explodes up in the zone and generates a plethora of awkward swings. He allowed just eight extra-base hits and one homer all year. He throws a fringe-average slider for strikes to keep batters honest. The Angels teach the splitter to their relievers who lack feel for a changeup, and Kohn is no exception. He has a good chance to open 2010 in Double-A.
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