With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
The Angels farm system is (probably rightfully) considered the weakest in the AL West, but still, its crop of hitters is among the best in the game. Leading the way is S2S #1 prospect Mike Trout, and while shortstop Jean Segura was the only other Angel on the top 100, there are several more very intriguing bats.
However, one could make a strong argument that the Angels’ pitching is the worst in the minors, and it’s quite possible that none of their minor league pitchers will ever have a meaningful career as a major league starter. Overall, then, this is an extraordinarily unbalanced system, in many ways the inverse of Arizona’s. It will be interesting to see what the Angels do to try to get more pitching depth in the coming years.
Position Player Upside: A-
Position Player Depth: A-
Pitching Upside: C-
Pitching Depth: C-
System Grade: B-
Catcher: Carlos Ramirez. Cal League alert! Ramirez hit .259/.367/.370 in the Midwest League but then suspiciously jumped to .348/.403/.530 in the CAL despite seeing his K/BB cut in half…and he’s 24 in a few weeks. Still, he’s a strong receiver with a decent eye at the plate with a career .294/.394/.470 line. He could very possibly have a nice career as a backup catcher. Grade: C+
First base: C.J. Cron. The 17th overall pick in 2011, Cron hit .308/.371/.629 in the Pioneer League. That’s good, but a 21-year-old first baseman should crush that environment if he’s a legitimate prospect. His 34/10 K/BB in 34 games doesn’t bode well. Cron isn’t going to be an elite prospect until he proves he can mash against upper-minors pitching, much like the situation Paul Goldschmidt was in before 2011. Grade: B-
Second base: Taylor Lindsey. Almost two years younger than Cron, Lindsey plays a more difficult defensive position, and he outhit his teammate last year, posting a .362/.394/.593 line. He needs to tighten up his strike zone, but in a perfect world, he could become Brandon Phillips–obviously, the odds of that are quite low, though. Nonetheless, Lindsey is one of the most impressive prospects in baseball who has yet to play in a full-season league. Grade: B
Third base: Kaleb Cowart. Cowart, the 18th pick in 2010, is even younger than Lindsey, but he didn’t perform as well, hitting .283/.345/.420. He’s another guy who has problems with the strike zone (81/25 K/BB in 72 games), and he still needs to refine his defense. Low-A will be a big test for him, but if he passes, he’ll be in the top 100 conversation. Grade: B-
Shortstop: Jean Segura. Segura lost much of the season to injury and didn’t hit well by CAL standards, but his package of excellent contact skills and speed to go with some pop and discipline could make him a well-above-average MLB shortstop. He transitioned from second base before 2011, and one thing to watch is whether he’ll stick at short or have to move back across the keystone–with just 48 games of experience at short, the verdicts are still inconclusive. Grade: B+
Outfielder #1: Mike Trout. The top prospect in baseball, albeit arguably so. An incredible all-around skillset that’s almost ready to play in the majors. Grade: A
Outfielder #2: Kole Calhoun. Calhoun’s a career .315/.410/.535 hitter, which is great. However, he’s played in easy environments, has been old for his levels, and lacks an exciting toolset. Still, he’s not exactly a slow-bat, no-speed strikeout machine, as he stole 20 bases and struck out just 96 times in 133 games last year, even playing some center field. There’s a lot here that reminds me of Nick Swisher, but first, Calhoun’s got to prove he can keep things going in Double-A. Grade: B-
Outfielder #3: Randal Grichuk. Grichuk has approach problems to iron out, as evidenced by his 169/29 K/BB in 170 career games. He’s still just 20 and has prototypical right-field tools, though. Like Segura, he missed much of 2011, and staying on the field for 120 games in 2012 would give us a better feel for his projection. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #1: Nick Maronde. A 3rd-round pick in 2011, Maronde gets the nod here as the team’s top pitching prospect, mainly because he hasn’t shown any glaring flaws yet. He handled the Pioneer League with aplomb (2.14 ERA, 50/15 K/BB in 46 1/3 IP), but at 21, that was mostly expected. Still, he’s a sturdy lefthander with a solid repertoire and sound delivery, so he fits a classic mid-to-back-of-the rotation profile. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #2: Garrett Richards. Richards throws very hard and has already reached the majors, but he struck out just 6.48 batters per nine innings in Double-A at age 23, and his lack of a third pitch got him in trouble in the big leagues. Sort of a lesser version of Jarred Cosart, in that he seems like he should be intimidating, but the numbers just don’t back that up. Like Cosart, he’s probably better off in a back-of-the-bullpen role long-term unless his secondary offerings come around quickly. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #3: Ariel Pena. The opposite of Richards, Pena is all strikeouts and walks–batters only put the ball in play in 61.6% of their plate appearances off of him last year. Most of the high walk rates come from his inability to do much with lefties, as his fastball/slider combination just doesn’t play well against them. Another potential impact relief arm that may frustrate more than he pleases if left in the rotation. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #4: John Hellweg. Possibly the weirdest split of the 2011 minor league season: Hellweg had a 6.17 FIP as a reliever, but then improved to 2.91 as a starter. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether that will hold or what that means, but Hellweg is also the rare 6’8″ pitcher who gets groundballs like you’d expect from someone throwing at such pronounced angles–in 63 2/3 innings as a starter, he didn’t allow a home run–in the CAL, of all places. He also racked up nearly a 60% groundball rate. Already 23, if his newfound command is for real, he could end up having easily the best career of the Angels’ current pitching prospects. Grade: B-
Starting Pitcher #5: Fabio Martinez Mesa. A top 100 prospect a year ago, Martinez Mesa missed all of 2011 with shoulder problems. When he was last healthy, he was sort of a combination of Pena and Richards–he threw in the mid-90′s with a devastating slider, but had little in the way of a changeup and walked far too many batters. The injury issues and command woes make a bullpen move a very distinct possibility, though if he’s healthy and back in form in 2012, he’ll still have very high upside as a starter. Grade: B-
Relief Pitcher #1: Steve Geltz. With a career 12.6 K/9 in the minors and no signs of slowing down (12.9 in Double-A in 2011), Geltz could be very effective in the Angels bullpen as soon as April. He doesn’t get good plane from his 5’10″ frame and works up in the zone with his good fastball, leading to absurdly low groundball rates that may limit his ceiling. If used properly, he could be a good middle relief asset for many years. Grade: C+
Relief Pitcher #2: Daniel Tillman. A 2nd-round pick in 2010, Tillman is a groundball machine who also gets a fair amount of strikeouts. He did run into some command problems in 2011, though, which is discouraging for a college pitcher in Low-A ball. A potential setup man if things break right, but he has more hurdles to clear. Grade: C+
Best of the Rest
#1.) Luis Jimenez, 3B. Jimenez is an interesting player; he doesn’t walk, and he doesn’t hit a ton of home runs, but he does everything else quite well, putting the ball in play, ripping doubles, and showcasing good athleticism on the bases and in the field. Players with this sort of skillset don’t always turn out well–Danny Valencia, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Brent Morel have yet to make it work for extended periods of time–and Jimenez will be 24 in May, so he’ll need to move quickly. Still, he could turn into a solid regular at third. Grade: B-
#2.) Alexi Amarista, 2B. This diminutive utilityman reached the majors at age 22, but he didn’t overwhelm in Triple-A. His batting average has declined every year of pro ball, but it says something about his contact skills that all that declining left him still hitting .292. A versatile defender, he could be an excellent super-utility player, and if he can hit .285 in the big leagues, he could be a solid starting second baseman. Grade: B-
#3.) Darwin Perez, SS. An extremely overlooked prospect, Perez posted a .366 OBP in Double-A as a 21-year-old, and also won the Minor League Gold Glove at shortstop. A small, patient switch-hitter, he could be the shortstop version of Luis Castillo with fewer steals. Grade: B-
#4.) Matt Long, OF. Long showed a well-rounded game in 2011, hitting .299/.378/.502 with 34 steals and a 96/64 K/BB. Unfortunately, most of that came in the CAL, and Long will be 25 in April; however, he performed well in both 2009 and 2010 too. Another sleeper to watch. Grade: C+
#5.) Travis Witherspoon, OF. Another guy who’s high on tools but iffy on results thanks to poor strike zone control. His 117/41 K/BB was a step in the right direction, and Witherspoon, a gifted center fielder, swiped 46 bases and posted a solid .149 ISO in Low-A. 23 in April, he’s another guy who needs to start maturing quickly if he’s going to stay a notable prospect. Grade: C+
#6.) Ryan Mount, 2B. After two straight poor years in Double-A reduced Mount to an afterthought, he suddenly caught fire in his third crack at the Texas League in 2011, hitting .329/.401/.509. It was just in 47 games, though, and Mount isn’t a good defender at second. He’s also now 25 years old. He could end up as a Ryan Raburn 2B/3B/LF type if 2011 wasn’t a fluke. Grade: C+
#7.) Abel Baker, C. Another guy who tore up the Pioneer League (.306/.406/.471), Baker was the team’s 7th-round pick in 2011. Lefty-swinging catchers can get long looks, and Baker is a decent defender behind the dish. At 21, he’s got to prove he can keep things going in Cedar Rapids this year; if he posts an OBP over .350 again, he could well be the team’s catcher of the future, at least as the long half of a platoon. Grade: C+
#8.) Logan Odom, RHP. Picked a round after Baker, Odom is a gigantic righthander who doesn’t really know where the ball is going, which is a bit of a problem for a guy already 22 years old (is it just me, or am I starting to overuse the “already X years old” thing in this piece?) In 51 1/3 innings, he walked 32 batters, hit another seven, and uncorked 13 wild pitches, and he hasn’t even seen full-season ball yet. When he misses, he tends to miss down rather than up, at least, and he struck out 60 batters. Odom is probably best cast as a reliever long-term, but there’s an outside chance he could become a rotation workhorse. Grade: C+
#9.) Cam Bedrosian, RHP. Bedrosian joined Martinez Mesa in missing all of 2011, in his case due to Tommy John surgery. Unlike many of the Angels prospects, he could somewhat afford to miss a year, as he’ll be just 20 for the entire 2012 season. The 29th overall pick in 2010, the small righthander is seen by many as a late-game reliever; while the Angels initially may work him as a starter, he may be even more likely to move to the bullpen thanks to his injury problems. Obviously, he could rank far higher after 2012 if he comes back strong in the rotation. Grade: C+
#10.) Jeremy Moore, OF. Moore gets a lot of hype, but a 114/21 K/BB is the sort of thing that I just can’t get over. He did hit .298/.331/.545 in Triple-A, but Salt Lake can inflate numbers like crazy, as can the PCL as a whole (on the road, he hit .282/.311/.519)–and he’s going to be 25 early in the season. A fairly athletic player who played mostly right field last year, he could make for a decent fourth outfielder if he can play center at a decent level. Grade: C
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Angels, check out Halo Hangout.
Topics: Abel Baker, Alexi Amarista, Ariel Pena, C.J. Cron, Cam Bedrosian, Carlos Ramirez, Daniel Tillman, Darwin Perez, Fabio Martinez Mesa, Garrett Richards, Jean Segura, Jeremy Moore, John Hellweg, Kaleb Cowart, Kole Calhoun, Logan Odom, Los Angeles Angels, Luis Jimenez, Matt Long, Mike Trout, Nick Maronde, Randal Grichuk, Ryan Mount, Steve Geltz, Taylor Lindsey, Travis Witherspoon