If the Angels organization can claim the city of Los Angeles without actually playing there, then I see no reason that they can’t also have a top 10 prospects list without any actual prospects on it. Well ok, that’s just a bit of an exaggeration. While the overall system is among the weakest in baseball, the Angels do have several players with promising futures. So, grab your mouse ears, some over-priced popcorn and a fast pass ticket to the next ride. We’re heading to the Happiest Place on Earth to check out the Angels best 10 prospects.
1. Taylor Lindsey/ Second Base
While he doesn’t have the knock-out skills you’d like to have at the top of an organizational prospects list, Lindsey still profiles as a very solid future regular 2B, with good power upside. In a full season at AA in 2013, Taylor slashed .274/.339/.441, with 17 long balls. There’s no room in the castle right now for Lindsey. He’ll likely spend most of the year in AAA, but he should be up for a cup of coffee or two in 2014. Lindsey is not a burner and unlikely to challenge for any batting titles. But he should provide anywhere between 10-20 homers a year from a position that doesn’t normally produce a lot of power.
2. Kaleb Cowart/ Third Base
If you glance quickly at Cowart’s 2013 AA numbers, it’s easy to dismiss him as a top prospect. But the physical skills that made him a top pick in 2010 are all still there, and justify his ranking on this list. Cowart, a star pitcher and shortstop in high school, struggled mightily last season… to the tune of .221/.279/.301. Ouch. Still just 22 years old, Kaleb has plenty of time to turn things around. Worst case, he can always go back to the mound and give his 90+ MPH heat another try.
3. CJ Cron/ First Base
Cron has very good power, and that alone makes him an intriguing prospect. The problem? That’s about his only good tool. Cron is limited to DH/1B, so he’s going to have to hit his way to the show. His strikeout totals are not terrible for a power prospect, but his walks are. He’s going to need to improve on his on base skills if he wants to become a full-time player.
4. Mark Sappington/ Pitcher
While some project Sappington as a reliever, I believe he has a chance to cap out as a #3 big league starter. Like many big (he’s 6’5″) flame throwers (his fastball has been clocked as high as 98 MPH), control is an issue. He should start the year at AA. This season should go a long way towards determining his future role.
5. Jose Rondon/ Shortstop
Rondon was signed by the Angels as a teenager out of Venezuela. He just turned 20 years old this week, and has already made some impressive strides. While his power has been practically non-existent to this point, he has fared pretty well with the stick. In 2013 in the Pioneer League, Rondon hit .293 with 30 walks and just 31 K’s. While he swept 13 bases, he was also caught 8 times. Jose has an excellent glove, which should get him to the Bigs. If his bat continues to develop, he has a chance to be a solid regular.
6. Hunter Green/ Pitcher
The lefty was drafted in the 2nd round in 2013 and has some serious upside. Hunter also managed to walk 16 batters in 16 innings during his pro debut in 2013… an impressive feat in any league. The 18 year-old is obviously a long way away from the Anaheim (or Los Angeles, for that matter), but he’s worth watching closely as he develops.
7. Zach Borenstein/ Outfield
Borenstein put himself on the map in 2013. Just a 23rd rounder in 2011, with 13 HR in his first 463 plate appearances in 2011-12, Zach exploded for 28 ding dongs in 465 California League plate appearances. He also slashed an eye-opening .337/.403/.631, so he’s not a power-only guy. Was last year a career year in a hitter’s league or the start of something big? We should find that out this year as Borenstein tackles AA pitching for the first time.
8. Alex Yarbrough/ Second Base
If you just go by the triple crown numbers, Yarbrough had a pretty good year in the California League last year. He hit .313 with 11 homers and 80 RBI. However, this also came with a very poor walk rate (just over 4%), making him a very poor bet to duplicate his success. Still, a second baseman with some pop is worth paying attention to. While Alex still has a shot at becoming an MLB regular, he projects as more of a utility player at this point.
9. Eric Stamets/ Shortstop
Like Rondon (The Angels’ #5 prospect), Stamets is a glove-first shortstop. Also like Rondon, his bat has brought better than expected results up to this point. He’ll look to build on his solid California League totals of .281/.335/.375 with 4 HR and 16 steals.
10. RJ Alvarez/ Pitcher
Alvarez struck out a Bugs Bunny-like 79 batters in 48 innings in high A last season. He also allowed just 34 hits. While he’ll need to cut down seriously on his walk rates (27 last year in those 48 IP), Alvarez has a shot to develop into a late-inning reliever.