With uber-porspect Mike Trout graduating to the majors -- and doing so in MVP fashion, whether he won the award or not -- the Angels system lacks a true standout future star and is in dire need of replenishment.
My Top 10
1. Kaleb Cowart 3B
2. C.J. Cron 1B
3. Nick Maronde SP
4. Taylor Lindsay 2B
5. Randal Grichuck OF
6. Mike Clevinger SP
7. R.J. Alvarez SP
8. Austin Wood SP/RP
9. Kole Calhoun OF
10. Alex Yarbrough 2B
Kaleb Cowart 3B
Age by 4/1/2013: 20
Notes: Solid numbers at each full season level and youth (20 years old) give Cowart the best shot of the current Angels corp of prospects to become a star. However, I'm not a firm believer that will happen.
With my own eyes (live): I'm not a big fan of Cowart's swing. His hands rotate counter clockwise as he loads them into position and they never seem to get fully loaded before he begins to bring the bat through the zone, thus limiting his power potential in my opinion. I have also see his bat "flatten out" due to this when his timing is off, creating a longer, less efficient swing. The looks I've seen of him on defense checked out OK. He seems to have the tools to stick there at the big league level.
Upside: .290/.360/.480 with around 20 home runs and a few steals.
Downside: .265/.320/.440 with fewer than 20 home runs, but solid defense at third.
Fantasy potential: If he does continue to progress and reaches his upside, he would be a slightly above average fantasy thirdbaseman.
MLB Regular Potential
C.J. Cron 1B
Age by 4/1 2013: 23
Notes: Normally, it's hard for me to endorse a batter that shows well below average plate discipline, but I believe Cron's raw power will get him to the big leagues. His High-A numbers are comparable to those of Mark Trumbo at the same level.
With my own eyes (live): Extremely strong wrists and husky torso combine for some of the best raw power in the minors. His swing mechanics are uncomplicated, though I've seen him lengthen his swing from time to time. Defensively, nothing stood out.
Upside: He's a pure slugger capable of .285/.335/.550 with 30-35 dingers per season, but with little defensive value.
Downside: His lack of plate discipline catches up with him and he does nothing but blast a few home runs here and there.
Fantasy potential: Huge risk in AVG, but he could be a top-5 home run hitter.
Nick Maronde SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 23
Notes: Though his pure stuff is not "lights-out," he maximizes movement and command to get the job done.
With my own eyes (live): Uses a long stride and whips his arm through the drive zone at a three-quarters angle. Not ideal for a starter in my opinion. Decent tailing action into lefties on his fastball and good length to his slider. He should give lefties plenty of trouble throughout his career.
Upside: Solid #3 starter with excellent command, but little strikeout upside.
Downside: He can't miss enough big league bats and becomes a LOOGY.
Fantasy potential: Not a guy you reach for on draft day.
Taylor Lindsey 2B
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: Quick, line-drive swing and all-around instincts for the game give him a decent chance to hold down a starting second base job in the big leagues, but he'll never be above average on offense or defense.
With my own eyes (live): He gets his hands through the zone very quickly and has above average contact skills, making up in some respects his lack of plate discipline. Lindsey also has some surprising pop, but I don't see him hitting much more than 10 home runs in a full big league season.
Upside: .280/.320/.440 with 10 homers and 10-15 steals per season.
Downside: Lack of upside leads him to a back-up role.
Fantasy potential: Not much, even if he does start.
Role Player Potential
Randal Grichuck OF
Age by 4/1/2013:
Notes: Finally healthy, Grichuck put up solid numbers in the Cal League in 2012, but he still showed a lack of plate discipline and long swing.
With my own eyes (live): Grichuck is not big, but has good core strength. His swing needs to be shortened in my opinion, because I don't think he'll ever be a pure power hitter. If everything comes together, I could see him as a solid defensive outfielder that hits 30-plus doubles per season. I'm not quite convinced that that will happen though.
Upside: See above.
Downside: Poor plate discipline and long swing never improve, leaving him short of the big leagues.
Fantasy potential: Good, not great if and only if major adjustments are made.
Mike Clevinger SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 22
Notes: Will miss 2013 with Tommy John surgery, but was viewed as an up-and-coming prospect with four projectable pitches before the injury. Given the success rate of pitchers returning from TJS, I feel comfortable giving him a little boost in these rankings considering the lack of upside elsewhere in the system.
With my own eyes (video): His arm really accelerates through the drive zone, so he doesn't have the "easy velocity" that is ideal in a young pitcher.
Upside: Could come back to become a #3-4 starter.
Downside: He never fully comes back from surgery and ends up in the bullpen or as consistent DL listee.
Fantasy potential: It's a long shot, but maybe he gets saves one day?
R.J. Alvarez SP
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: "Closer potential" with good heat and a potentially plus-slider.
With my own eyes (video): I'd like to see more recent video before making a final judgement, but from what I've seen he needs to finish off his follow through. Slider looks to break sharply with good velocity.
Upside: High-end reliever capable of above average strikeout numbers.
Downside: Without refinement in his stuff and command, he's just another reliever.
Fantasy potential: Closers with high strikeout rates are good to have around.
Austin Wood SP/RP
Age by 4/1/2013: 22
Notes: Strong 6'4" frame and potentially plus fastball and slider. However, his control needs a lot of work.
With my own eyes (video): Simple delivery, but seems inconsistent in his landing spot might be one of the causes for inconsistent control.
Upside: He can eat innings at the back of a rotation.
Downside: Middle reliever or career minor leaguer if control doesn't devlop to a certain degree.
Fantasy potential: It seems like a long shot, but maybe he works his way up a bullpen's pecking order to saves territory.
Kole Calhoun OF
Age by 4/1/2013: 25
Notes: Hard-nosed outfielder that gets the most out of limited skills. He has a good idea of the strike-zone and makes consistent contact with slightly above average pop. He's already 25, so there is not much projecting left in his game.
With my own eyes (video): Wide base with a short, compact swing. Hands get through the zone quickly.
Upside: Maybe he puts up some OK numbers given an everyday opportunity, but more likely he sticks in the big leagues as a fourth outfielder.
Downside: Goes back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues.
Fantasy potential: Could be a nice fill-in for deep league formats.
Alex Yarbrough 2B
Age by 4/1/2013: 21
Notes: Reports indicate that he could be good enough to play defensively in the big leagues. Well above average contact skills, but will need to show better plate discipline as he moves up the chain.
With my own eyes (video): I haven't seen enough footage to make an accurate analysis.
Upside: Replacement level second baseman.
Downside: Maxes out at Triple-A.
Fantasy potential: Maybe some steals for deep formats.
About the author: Charlie Saponara is a former college baseball player who has coached at the high school and collegiate levels. He currently works for the Visalia Rawhide, high-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can find examples of his scouting reports from Project Prospect here (Mike Trout), here (Tyler Skaggs), and here (Billy Hamilton).
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