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Post-Hype Player a Watch: Kaleb Cowart, IF/OF, Los Angeles Angels

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A potential super-utility player

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Kaleb Cowart and C.J. Cron were the future in Los Angeles? The first round picks of 2010 and 2011 instead marked the end of the Angels draft efforts for a few seasons, the organization forfeiting their top picks in 2012 and 2013 to sign free agents Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

It’s obviously not a shining moment for former GM Jerry Dipoto —who of course stayed in division with Seattle after his firing— and neither Cowart or Cron ever truly developed.

The best name to come out of the Angels farm system from the ‘10 or ‘11 draft was actually 2010 eighth round pick Kole Calhoun. L.A. certainly had a penchant for drafting kids who flipped a “C” spelling for a “K.” (You could arguably throw Keynan Middleton in there, though that’s stretching things.)

2009 first rounder Mike Trout makes up for many years of fumbled picks, but other than the generational Trout, the Angels would certainly do things differently across the board.

Here in 2018, Cron has settled in as a part-time first baseman/designated hitter. He hits for moderate power and a sub-.250 average but gets a lot of his playing time due to Pujols not playing the field. In 2017, he spent some time at Triple-A Salt Lake as a 27-year old trying to recapture some of his prospect esteem.

Where Cron has experienced some MLB success, the 25-year old Cowart has yet to put it together at the big league level. A top five prospect in John’s annual Angels rankings for many years —as well as a 42nd overall rank by Baseball Prospectus before 2013— he’s always boasted exceptional tools. A switch-hitting third baseman with a solid glove, neither has developed to the Angels liking.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Across three big league seasons dating back to 2015, Cowart is a .197 hitter. His best effort came this past season when he hit .225 with three home runs, four stolen bases and 10 walks across 50 games.

Fortunately, he had a resurgent minor league season, slashing .311/.383/.482 for the Bees with a career-high 12 home runs. He also stole 19 bases, his highest at one level since 2014 for Double-A Arkansas. He walked 43 times but did strikeout 73 times in 90 games.

To be frank, there is very little hype surrounding Cowart going into this season. He’s still just 25 but his time as a top prospect in a weak system is long gone. The Angels have brought in all-stars Justin Upton, Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler as well as international megastar Shohei Otani over the past six months and even before, were not planning on implementing Cowart in any sizable role.

However, he can play third, first and second base and also has shortstop and left field on his minor league résumé. So while this isn’t a name to put early fantasy stock in, for example, it’s one to watch.

Maybe a super-utility role behind a slew of new established players could be just what the baseball doctor ordered for Kaleb Cowart.