Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects

Los Angeles Angels

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

1.Brandon Wood, ss
2.Nick Adenhart, rhp
3.Erick Aybar, ss
4.Young-Il Jung, rhp
5.Stephen Marek, rhp
6.Hank Conger, c
7.Jeff Mathis, c
8.Sean Rodriguez, ss/2b
9.Sean O'Sullivan, rhp
10.Tommy Mendoza, rhp
Best Hitter for AverageErick Aybar
Best Power HitterBrandon Wood
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineReggie Willits
Fastest BaserunnerPeter Bourjos
Best AthleteP.J. Phillips
Best FastballJose Arredondo
Best CurveballNick Adenhart
Best SliderRichard Aldridge
Best ChangeupNick Green
Best ControlSean O'Sullivan
Best Defensive CatcherJeff Mathis
Best Defensive InfielderErick Aybar
Best Infield ArmErick Aybar
Best Defensive OutfielderTommy Murphy
Best Outfield ArmTommy Murphy
CatcherHank Conger
First BaseCasey Kotchman
Second BaseHowie Kendrick
Third BaseBrandon Wood
ShortstopErick Aybar
Left FieldJuan Rivera
Center FieldGary Matthews Jr.
Right FieldVladimir Guerrero
Designated HitterKendry Morales
No. 1 StarterNick Adenhart
No. 2 StarterJered Weaver
No. 3 StarterJohn Lackey
No. 4 StarterErvin Santana
No. 5 StarterYoung Il-Jung
CloserFrancisco Rodriguez
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Jarrod Washburn, lhpMariners
1998Troy Glaus, 3bBlue Jays
1999Ramon Ortiz, rhpNationals
2000Ramon Ortiz, rhpNationals
2001Joe Torres, lhpAngels
2002Casey Kotchman, 1bAngels
2003Francisco Rodriguez, rhpAngels
2004Casey Kotchman, 1bAngels
2005Casey Kotchman, 1bAngels
2006Brandon Wood, ssAngels
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Troy Glaus, 3bBlue Jays
1998Seth Etherton, rhpRoyals
1999John Lackey, rhp (2nd round)Angels
2000Joe Torres, lhpAngels
2001Casey Kotchman, 1bAngels
2002Joe Saunders, lhpAngels
2003Brandon Wood, ssAngels
2004Jered Weaver, rhpAngels
2005Trevor Bell, rhpAngels
2006Hank Conger, cAngels
Jered Weaver, rhp$4,000,000
Kendry Morales, 2004$3,000,000
Troy Glaus, 3b$2,250,000
Joe Torres, 2000$2,080,000
Casey Kotchman, 1b$2,075,000
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Los Angeles Angels

For the better part of the new millennium, the Angels have accrued talent as effectively as any organization in baseball. In 2006, the masses were to finally find out just how good Los Angeles' well-decorated farm system was.

General manager Bill Stoneman tested the trade waters prior to the season but ultimately elected to employ an Opening Day roster rife with promise, if also inexperience. Youngsters Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson and Ervin Santana were expected to settle into regular roles, as were rookies Jeff Mathis, Kendry Morales, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver. If a middle-infield spot opened up, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood were ready to do the same.

Seven weeks into the season, the Angels were 17-28 and their hopes for a third consecutive American League West title were slipping away quickly. Kotchman (mononucleosis) and McPherson (oblique) missed most of the season, while Mathis was batting .103 when he was demoted in early May. The veterans weren't pulling their weight either and the defense was abominable. Reigning AL Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon went down with what eventually would be diagnosed as a partially torn rotator cuff.

The year was shaping up as a disaster, but Los Angeles pulled out of it. Weaver--replacing his older brother Jeff--stepped into the rotation and won his first seven starts, going 9-0 before recording a loss. Kendrick, Mike Napoli (who homered in his first major league at-bat), Santana and Saunders made significant contributions down the stretch. The Angels finished with 89 victories, four behind division champion Oakland.

Los Angeles will be in shape to contend once again in 2007, and Stoneman moved quickly to bolster his team via free agency. For four years and $18 million, he added Justin Speier to a bullpen that already ranked among baseball's best. Then Stoneman raised eyebrows across baseball by committing five years and $50 million to Gary Matthews, who should improve the Angels' defensive efficiency.

Los Angeles now faces a position crunch it long has anticipated. Incumbent shortstop Orlando Cabrera is under contract through 2008, and thoughts of trying Aybar, a pure shortstop, in center field ended with Matthews' signing. Furthermore, the organization's top prospect (Wood) also plays shortstop. Likewise, Kotchman, McPherson and Morales may all be best suited for first base.

The system is still strong but not as deep as it has been in recent years. Five of its top 11 prospects from a year ago (Kendrick, Weaver, Morales, Saunders and Napoli) have graduated to the majors, and a sixth (Alberto Callaspo) was traded for middle relief help. Nick Adenhart, Stephen Marek and Sean O'Sullivan all made progress in the minors and have impact potential on the mound, but are all at least two years away from contributing. International scouting supervisor Clay Daniel and Pacific Rim scout Charlie Kim worked together to bring Korean righthander Young-Il Jung into the fold in September, and he too could be a frontline starter down the road.

Just as other clubs have targeted the Los Angeles' prospects, they've also sought their player-development personnel and coaches. A year after the Devil Rays hired Angels bench coach Joe Maddon to be their manager, the Padres tabbed L.A. pitching coach Bud Black to be their skipper. As was the case with the major league roster, though, the Angels went to their farm system for a replacement, hiring Mike Butcher, their former roving pitching instructor, back from his one-year stint as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa.