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Friday, March 31, 2006

WATCH LIST INTRO
This is something I did last year; basically before last season began, it occurred to me that I wanted to keep better tabs on some of our prospects throughout the season, and if that was true of me, it might be true of my readers, as well. So every few weeks, I give an update on some of our best prospects, showing how they've done since I last did an update.

Here are the guys I'll be following this year. For each position player, I've listed a "High Concept" and a "Low Concept", which is a rough guess of how they'll turn out if everything goes right or if everything goes wrong, respectively. Obviously, the less we know about a player, the wider that span is. It's there just pretty much for fun, and as a snapshot of where they look like they're heading from out current vantage point.

At the end of each section, there is a "Watch Out" list of guys who didn't make the Watch List cut, but could very well play themselves onto the List this season.

Here we go:

Position Players

Erick Aybar, SS, BB/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2002 R 18 273 89 15 6 4 21 43 15 10 326 395 469
2003 A 19 496 153 30 10 6 17 54 32 9 308 346 446
2004 A+ 20 573 189 25 11 14 26 66 51 36 330 370 485
2005 AA 21 535 162 29 10 9 29 51 49 23 303 350 445
Erick Aybar continued his solid hitting last season, coming on strong in 2005’s final weeks to make sure he’s hit above .300 at every level. His average just about summarizes his offensive contributions, though; he doesn’t walk a lot, has only okay power, and his terrific speed has not translated to productive stolen base percentages.

Aybar does have an excellent defensive reputation, however, and that counts for a lot for a shortstop. He’s also been young for his leagues, a good sign.

Aybar’s best-case scenario is for Orlando Cabrera to suffer an injury, allowing him to come up and take his spot. If he were to come up and play well, he could entrench himself at the position, moving Brandon Wood to third and Orlando Cabrera and Dallas McPherson to the trading block.

Low Concept: Orlando Cabrera
High Concept: Davey Concepcion


Michael Collins, C, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2003 R 19 132 44 8 2 1 3 19 0 0 333 353 447
2004 A 20 111 23 6 0 1 13 21 0 3 207 312 288
2005 A 21 363 116 32 3 7 34 44 16 8 320 412 482
Collins is the one off-season position player addition to the Watch List. Last year might have been a turning point as he repeated at Cedar Rapids. He should be in line for Rancho Cucamonga this year and will try to either succeed or backup Jeff Mathis by 2009.

Low Concept: Matt Curtis
High Concept: Jeff Mathis


Nick Gorneault, OF, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2001 R 22 168 53 12 4 6 11 65 5 2 315 373 542
2002 A 23 346 100 17 7 10 30 106 12 5 289 346 465
2003 A+ 24 374 120 36 2 14 20 82 11 6 321 362 540
AA 24 110 38 6 4 2 8 25 2 0 345 395 527
2004 AA 25 490 138 28 4 21 45 125 7 5 282 343 484
AAA 25 19 6 1 0 1 1 7 0 0 316 381 526
2005 AAA 26 488 143 26 11 26 58 119 7 6 293 366 551
This college slugger has been inched along the Angel system; he’s hit well at every stop without actually dominating or doing anything to indicate he can ever be a major league regular. With Juan Rivera around there’s no real place for him in The Show, unless a bunch of guys fall to injury.

Low Concept: Mike Brown
High Concept: Dante Bichette


Howie Kendrick, 2B, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2002 Azl 19 157 50 6 4 0 7 11 12 6 318 368 408
2003 R 20 234 86 20 3 3 24 28 8 3 368 434 517
2004 Azl 21 12 3 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 250 308 333
A 21 313 115 24 6 10 12 41 15 6 367 398 578
2005 A+ 22 279 107 23 6 12 14 42 13 4 384 421 638
AA 22 190 65 20 2 7 6 20 12 4 342 382 579
Kendrick finally met his match in the pitchers of the Texas League, where he hit a mere .342. The only real flaw in his offensive game are the lack of walks, but he gets so many hits that it’s hard to argue with the results.

Low Concept: Johnny Ray
High Concept: Rod Carew - Speed + Power


Warner Madrigal, OF, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2003 R 19 279 103 28 2 9 12 58 2 0 369 394 581
2004 A 20 91 25 3 1 2 7 24 1 1 275 330 396
2005 A 21 405 100 21 2 15 22 90 6 7 247 288 420
After an impressive professional debut, Madrigal got injured early in 2004, and spent all of 2005 trying to hit decently. He’s still young, but you have to wonder if the Cal League won’t be his last stand if he can’t re-find his bat. He’s on the cusp of this list, and with a bad April he’s gone.

Low Concept: Norm Hutchins
High Concept: Devon White? Garret Anderson?


Kendry Morales, DH, BB/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2005 A+ 22 90 31 3 0 5 6 11 0 0 344 400 544
AA 22 281 86 12 0 17 17 43 2 0 306 349 530
Kendry hit 469/494/778 from mid-August on, so he should find himself at AAA Salt Lake this season, and a call-up later this year is not out of the question.

Low Concept: Brad Fullmer v. 1999 and 2001
High Concept: Brad Fullmer v. 2002 and 2003, minus the platoon split


Mike Napoli, C, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2000 R 18 26 6 0 0 3 8 8 1 0 231 400 308
2001 A+ 19 20 4 0 0 1 8 11 0 0 200 429 350
2002 A 20 361 91 19 1 10 62 104 6 5 251 362 392
2003 A+ 21 165 44 10 1 4 23 32 5 0 267 364 412
2004 A+ 22 482 136 29 4 29 88 166 9 5 282 393 539
2005 AA 23 439 104 22 2 31 88 140 12 4 237 372 508
A brutal midsummer slump (23 for 158 for a .146 average from mid-June through mid-August) put a damper on Napoli’s second pretty good season. He’s an all-or-nothing kind of hitter, working deep counts, so it remains to be seen if he can continue to walk that tightrope at higher levels.

Low Concept: Rob Deer, Catcher
High Concept: Chris Hoiles or Mickey Tettleton


Sean Rodriguez, SS, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2003 Azl 18 216 58 8 5 2 14 37 11 4 269 332 380
2004 R 19 225 76 14 4 10 51 62 9 3 338 486 569
A 19 196 49 8 4 4 18 54 14 4 250 333 393
2005 A 20 448 112 29 3 14 78 85 27 11 250 371 422
S-Rod was drafted in the third round the year Brandon Wood was taken in the first, so he’s always been in Brandon’s shadow. Last year only stretched that gap, but there is still a lot to like in Rodriguez’s offensive performance: the only thing he’s been unable to do so far is hit consistently for a good average, but all the secondary skills are there.

I don’t really know what to make of him long-term. His performance at Cedar Rapids is pretty much in line with Wood’s, but what Brandon did to the Cal League was a pretty big jump, so we can’t expect that here. Still, in that league, I’d like to see Rodriguez put up something like a 320/440/520, and hit around 20 home runs. That would be a nice development. Maybe a bit much … I’d even take 300/410/500. (His line in Cedar Rapids last season, adjusted for league and park, would have been around a 274/394/490 for Rancho.)

There has often been talk of moving Rodriguez off of shortstop; he has a good arm, so catcher is often cited as a possible destination. But in browsing through The Baseball America Prospect Handbook at a bookstore, I learned an interesting fact: Sean played center field in his senior year of high school. Given the organization’s shallowness in the outfield and crowdedness in the infield, it strikes me that this might be the best long-term spot for him. We’ll see when and if the Angels decide to make that move. A big year in the Cal League will compel them to find room for him somewhere.

I don’t really have any High or Low Concept comps for him, as there aren’t really any current shortstops, or even shortstops in my recent memory, with his combination of offensive skills. There has to be someone I’m missing; I mean, I can see his skills developing toward Randy Ready or Lance Blankenship, but who knows.


Drew Toussaint, OF, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2004 R 21 194 56 12 2 12 34 68 6 4 289 409 557
2005 A 22 391 102 25 3 21 45 125 11 5 261 345 501
I don’t want to see Drew get stuck on the Nick Gorneault career path, but good college hitters sometimes fall behind. Touissant has demonstrated good on-base skills and decent power in his short professional time, and was enjoying a terrific season through July of last year. He slowed down a bit near the end, which was not a surprise as it was his first full professional season. He’ll have a chance to blast around the California League this year and he needs to take advantage of it. Making contact with the ball more frequently would also be welcome.

He’s too far away to really worry about comps right now, but in the spirit of fun:

Low Concept: Nick Gorneault
High Concept: Reggie Sanders


Mark Trumbo, 1B/3B, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2005 R 19 299 82 23 1 10 21 67 2 2 274 322 458
Raw. But with potential.

Low Concept: Josh Booty
High Concept: Troy Glaus


Reggie Willits, CF, BB/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2003 R 22 230 69 14 4 4 37 52 14 4 300 410 448
2004 A+ 23 526 149 17 5 5 73 112 44 15 283 373 363
2005 AA 24 487 148 23 6 2 54 78 40 14 304 377 388
The closest thing to a center field prospect in the Angel system. The only real thing he has going for him as a hitter are the walks and the stolen bases; the former will likely disappear as he moves up the ladder, as the utter lack of power will mean pitchers won’t be afraid to challenge him (see: Rexrode, Jackie).

Low Concept: Chris Prieto
High Concept: Rich Becker or David Eckstein, Center fielder


Brandon Wood, SS, BR/TR
When     Age  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG
2003 Azl 18 78 24 8 2 0 4 15 3 0 308 349 462
R 18 162 45 13 2 5 16 48 1 1 278 348 475
2004 A 19 478 120 30 5 11 46 117 21 5 251 322 404
2005 A+ 20 536 172 51 4 43 48 128 7 3 321 383 672
AAA 20 19 6 2 1 0 0 6 0 0 316 316 526
I suspect you know about this guy. One thing I’d like to see Wood do this season is cut his strikeouts and up his walks. His walks aren’t actually awful by any stretch, but as the biggest power threat in professional baseball you’d think he’d be pitched around quite a bit, and you’d like to see him get bases on balls when they’re given to him. Obviously, it hasn’t hurt him yet, as he can still hit .320. But that won’t last, most likely.

The strikeouts don’t bother me, per se, since he’s such a power hitter, but in combination with the walks it paints a picture of a low-average slugger. A 250/320/550 line would still be nice for a shortstop, and it’s not bad for a third basemen, either.

Low Concept: Travis Fryman
High Concept: Cal Ripken, Jr.


Watch Out: Brett Martinez, Dallas Morris, Ryan Mount, Aaron Peel, P.J. Phillips, Hainley Statia, Bobby Wilson


Pitchers

Nick Adenhart, RHSP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2005 Azl 18 2 3 0 13 12 44.0 39 0 52 24 3.68
R 1 0 0 1 1 6.0 3 0 7 0 0.00
An absolutely thrilling debut, if you ask me. Adenhart might be the best starting pitching prospect in the organization, Jered Weaver included, and even with the Tommy John surgery in his past. Over his last 34 innings last year, he struck out 43 guys and allowed only 7 walks, a dominant stretch. He’ll have to build up his arm strength, but he’s far ahead of where I would have expected him to be, based on his injury history.


Steve Andrade, RHRP, Kansas City Royals
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2001 R 23 0 0 0 1 0 2.0 3 0 5 0 0.00
2002 A 24 Complete and Total Dominance
2003 A+ 25 Warm-up for:
25 Nothing but Excellence
2004 AAA 26 Cup of Coffee
AA 26 Continued Suppression of Opposing Batters
2005 AA 27 3 2 3 35 0 50.3 23 3 71 16 1.97 Toronto
Freedom is imminent!


Daniel Davidson, LHSP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2003 R 22 8 2 0 15 13 71.0 65 3 50 15 1.65
2004 A+ 23 12 7 0 28 28 163.3 196 15 121 41 4.57
2005 AA 24 13 5 0 28 26 154.3 179 22 110 45 4.72
Let’s see … finesse lefty, not young, and hit a total wall around 150 innings last year. He’s kind of a fringe guy, but he was a reliever in college (Florida State), so he might find a future in the bullpen if he doesn’t turn a bit of a corner as a starter.


Gustavo Espinoza, LHSP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2004 Dsl 17 6 2 0 14 14 92.3 46 2 105 16 1.36
2005 Azl 18 5 3 0 13 12 70.3 72 3 78 12 3.84
R 0 0 0 1 0 2.0 3 0 1 0 9.00
A 1 0 0 1 1 5.3 5 1 3 1 1.69
One of my favorites, just because I ran across his Dominican Summer League numbers in the Angel Media Guide last year and was blown away. He’s still pretty far away, but you have to like his overall production in his first stint in the USA. Gustavo is a Venezuelan lefty who throws a change-up and strikes out mother-lovers every day, so you hear comparisons to Johan Santana. That isn’t fair at all to a kid of this age and experience, but that does demonstrate that people who see him do think highly of his potential.


Tommy Mendoza, RHRP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2005 Azl 18 3 3 0 13 4 52.3 42 1 56 13 1.55
Baseball America pegs Tommy as having the best fastball in the system, and this fifth-rounder made their top ten of Angel prospects. A converted catcher, Mendoza’s future appears to be in relief, with him picking up some starts last season build up some stamina. Youneverknow, he might end up a potential rotation-member at some point, but he seems to have good stuff, and he has nothing but time.


Steve Shell, RHSP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2001 R 18 0 3 1 14 4 37.7 52 3 33 15 7.17
2002 A 19 11 4 0 22 21 121.0 119 12 86 26 3.72
2003 A+ 20 6 8 0 22 21 127.3 123 13 100 26 4.24
2004 A+ 21 12 7 0 28 28 165.3 151 19 190 40 3.59
2005 AA 22 10 8 0 27 27 159.7 175 18 126 58 4.57
Another guy who hit a wall last year (his was around 140 innings), Shell still had a solid year in a good hitters’ environment. He’s on pace to have his first taste of the majors around the age of 24, which is not bad. Knowing the Angels, if he struggles as a starter he could become a killer set-up guy, but that’s way ahead of us right now.


Von Stertzbach, RHRP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2003 R 22 1 1 0 22 5 46.0 55 2 51 14 4.89
2004 A 23 0 0 5 9 0 13.7 7 0 18 1 0.00
A+ 23 1 3 21 47 0 48.0 52 2 54 13 3.38
2005 AA 24 3 5 10 44 0 51.7 60 8 42 25 5.23
Von Stertzbach has a great name, but 2005 was a year filled with struggles and injury. He’ll need to right himself fairly quickly so as not to get lost in the Angel pen shuffle, especially in an organization that (historically, anyway) can turn out righty set-up guys at the drop of a hat.


Jered Weaver, RHSP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2005 A+ 22 4 1 0 7 7 33.0 25 3 49 7 3.82
AA 22 3 3 0 8 8 43.0 43 5 46 19 3.98
All he needs is less flyballs. The walks at AA don’t bother me; that’s likely just an adjustment to better hitters. So far, everything’s good.


Bob Zimmerman, RHRP
When     Age  W  L  SV  G  GS  IP    H  HR  SO  BB   ERA
2003 R 21 4 2 0 11 10 48.0 57 4 37 8 4.50
2004 A 22 4 6 24 53 0 67.7 48 3 82 21 2.26
2005 A+ 23 6 8 17 52 0 59.7 50 3 62 27 3.32
His numbers in 2005 were actually a bit better than they look; if you remove a disastrous first 4 2/3 innings, you get a guy with a 2.62 ERA over 55 innings, striking out 54 against 24 walks, allowing only two home runs out of 42 hits. He was a bit old for the Cal League, so his performance in AA will be key to his continued progression.


Watch Out: Jose Arredondo, David Austen, Trevor Bell, Stephen Marek, Rafael Rodriguez

Comments:
Based on what I've read and heard, the Angels plan to develop Tommy Mendoza as a starter
 
High concept for Collins is Mike Piazza, at least, according to Stephen Smith.
 
Here's another "high concept" comp for Reggie Willits: the Angels' own Albie Pearson.
 
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