AFL Standout: Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Angels

While many prospects are flashing their bright upsides in Arizona’s Fall League right now, none have continually impressed me more than Kaleb Cowart, third base prospect for the Angels.

At just 20 years old, the 2010 first round pick is playing well for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He’s the complete package at a difficult defensive position as I’m sure the Angels’ front office has noticed.

Defensively, Cowart has been very impressive at third. He’s a good athlete with quick feet and strong arm. His athleticism gives him excellent range, showcasing it on a number of occasions. While his diving stops have been impressive, I’ve been amazed at his ability to to charge infield grounders and make strong, on-target throws to nail speedy runners.

Cowart is an above-average runner for a third baseman. At just 20, he’s still fresh and moves very well as mentioned above. His frame has room to fill out and he could easily at 15-25 pounds in the future. Currently listed at 6’3", 195, he should be able to carry 210-220 pounds without slowing him down too much athletically.

At the plate, Cowart has some work to do. He’s a switch-hitter that has strong gap power right now. He’s clearly learning how to work counts and identify pitches. He’s shown flashes of a good approach but has also looked bad at times. Cowart has often swung early in counts, resulting in weak outs. Conversely, he’s been patient on occasion by waited to get the pitch he was looking for and driving it. He’s striking out way too much, but that’s to be expected given that he’s one of the youngest players in the league and is facing his toughest pitching challenge of his career. While he's currently inconsistent with his approach, he has plenty of time to figure it out and appears to be doing so already.

Down the road, I could see him hitting for a reasonably good average(.280 range) and 20-25 home runs with some steals, too. He’s not a pure slugger but his athleticism will allow him to maintain an above average BABIP for a corner infielder. He’s going to need to get the strikeouts under control and I think he’ll do that as he matures. His walk rates in the minors haven't been atrocious, so it appears that he is capable of discerning good from bad and, once adjusted to league pitching, taking a free pass.

With just two minor league seasons under his belt, Cowart should start the year in AA and could be in the majors in 2014 if all goes well. The Angels seem to lack a strong incumbent at third and it’s been a weak position for them for the last couple of years. Expect them to allow Cowart to mature in the minors, but if he proves he’s ready, I don’t think they’ll be shy about calling him up.

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