Moving forward with our farm system reviews, we turn to the Los Angeles Angels. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON LIST. This is not a new list. These are pre-season grades and rankings. This is a review of 2014, not a preview of 2015.
1) Taylor Lindsey, 2B, Grade B: Borderline B-. Traded to San Diego Padres in the Huston Street deal. Hit .238/.306/.372 in 449 at-bats in the Pacific Coast League between Salt Lake and El Paso. This was a disappointing season.
2) Hunter Green, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+: Missed entire season with a back injury.
3) C.J. Cron, 1B, Grade C+: 68 games in the majors, hitting .276/.306/.481 with 10 homers, eight walks, 49 strikeouts in 210 at-bats. Combination of good power with low on-base percentage fits with what he did in the minors. I expect gradual improvement.
4) Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Grade C+: Second straight very disappointing season in Double-A, .223/.295/.324 with 43 walks, 99 strikeouts, 26 steals in 435 at-bats for Arkansas. Hasn’t hit well in two years and his stock is steadily declining.
5) Nick Maronde, LHP, Grade C+: Traded to Cleveland Indians in midst of horrible season, 7.24 ERA with 49/38 K/BB in 41 innings in Double-A/Triple-A. Command has collapsed.
6) Mark Sappington, RHP, Grade C+: Another guy with serious command troubles, 5.76 ERA with 80/43 K/BB in 70 innings for High-A Inland Empire, 6.44 ERA with 34/36 K/BB in 43 innings for Arkansas.
7) R.J. Alvarez, RHP, Grade C+: Traded to Padres in Street deal, 1.25 ERA with 61/13 K/BB in 43 innings in the Texas League. Very effective, looks to take hold of a major league bullpen job sooner rather than later.
8) Jose Rondon, SS, Grade C+: Another guy sent to San Diego, Rondon hit .315/.363/.404 with 13 steals in 441 at-bats in the California League between Inland Empire and Lake Elsinore. He lacks power but hits for average and has a good defensive reputation.
9) Alex Yarbrough, 2B, Grade C+: Hit .285/.321/.397 with 33 walks, 124 strikeouts, 38 doubles in 544 at-bats for Arkansas. Hits for average and has good gap power, but will need to sharpen strike zone.
10) Zach Borenstein, OF, Grade C+: Traded to Arizona Diamondbacks. Hit .258/.320/.432 with 14 homers, 43 walks, 125 strikeouts in 461 at-bats split between Arkansas, Salt Lake, Mobile, and Reno. Best skill is left-handed power but doesn’t look like he’ll repeat the Cal League numbers he posted in ’13.
11) Luis Jimenez, 3B, Grade C+: Hit .286/.321/.505 with 21 homers, 24 walks, 75 strikeouts in 469 at-bat for Salt Lake. Getting old at age 26. I still think he has a surprise season in him sometime but I’m stubborn.
12) Mike Morin, RHP, Grade C+: Impressive debut in Angels major league bullpen, 2.39 ERA with 49/17 K/BB in 53 innings. Looks genuine to me.
13) Eric Stamets, SS, Grade C+: Hit .235/.293/.314 with 11 steals, 24 walks, 62 strikeouts in 344 at-bats for Arkansas. Not much hitting, key skills remain defensive.
14) Natanael Delgado, OF, Grade C: Just 18 years old, hit .301/.333/.464 with five walks, 34 strikeouts in 153 at-bats in the Pioneer League. Promising bat but raw, needs lots of time.
15) Reid Scoggins, RHP, Grade C: Didn’t pitch all year.
16) Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Grade C: Saved 16 for Arkansas with 1.11 ERA, 57/10 K/BB in 32 innings, just 10 hits. Command issues resulted in 6.28 ERA, 15/9 K/BB in 14 big league innings. Bullpen candidate going forward.
17) Ryan Chaffee, RHP, Grade C: Very good in Double-A (2.31 ERA, 30/9 K/BB in 23 innings), not so good in Triple-A (6.08 ERA, 45/28 K/BB in 37 innings). Stuff to be a solid reliever if he can sharpen control.
18) Mike Clevinger, RHP, Grade C: Traded to Cleveland Indians. Combined for 4.41 ERA with 100/43 K/BB in 100 innings between Burlington, Inland Empire, and Carolina. Still has some sleeper potential.
19) Matt Long, OF, Grade C: Hit .249/.340/.384 with 10 homers, 25 steals, 60 walks in 116 games split between Arkansas and Salt Lake. Stagnant at age 26 and losing the chance to emerge as a bench sleeper, at least in this system.
20) Matt Shoemaker, RHP, Grade C: Shoemaker doesn’t get much press and is old for a prospect at age 27, but he can eat innings, throws strikes, has survived pitching in Salt Lake, and made a point by throwing five shutout innings in his big league debut last September. Would be in the mix as a fifth starter for many teams, which is not bad for a guy who was an undrafted free agent. He took his sleeper potential and turned it into production with an excellent major league rookie season, going 15-4, 3.16 with a 119/24 K/BB in 128 innings.
Matt Shoemaker photo by Matt Brown, Getty Images
What a strange year for the Angels farm system, in both good ways and bad ways.
On the bad side, several players had disappointing seasons and have seen their stock drop, Kaleb Cowart most notably. Trades have churned the system and the 2015 list is going to look much different than this pre-season list.
On the other hand, the Angels have gotten valuable contributions from rookies C. J. Cron and Matt Morin, plus an outstanding campaign from Matt Shoemaker, a 27-year-old Grade C prospect who was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2008. He found pitching in the majors to actually be easier than pitching in Salt Lake.
Looking ahead to 2015, new additions to the list will include 2014 first-rounder lefty Sean Newcomb, second round right-hander Joe Gatto, third round right-hander Chris Ellis, and fourth round right-hander Jeremy Rhoades. Holdover prospects Trevor Gott, Kyle McGowin, Drew Rucinski,and Victor Alcantara give a quartet of promising right-handed arms who have seen their stock increase. Lefty Nate Smith from the 2013 draft also had a good season.
The strength of the system looks to be pitching at his point. More impact bats would be helpful.