Sunday, February 12, 2012

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By David Saltzer and Chuck Richter

This year has been particularly challenging for us to create our Top-50 List—not because the talent pool is so shallow. Instead, this year was very challenging because the talent pool is rather deep. Unlike other national rankings which only look at the Top-10 or Top-30 prospects, AngelsWin.com provides a list of the Top-50 Prospects to give a full and complete picture of the state of the organization.

AngelsWin.com believes that overall the Angels organization is in the upper half of all minor league systems. The Angels have one prospect that everyone in baseball knows: Mike Trout. But, the Angels also have plenty of other players that everyone will come to know. And, they also have plenty of players who will play important roles within the organization.

Looking back at the year that past, the Angels had two of their full-season farm teams make it into the post season. Only 6 organizations in baseball had more of their full season teams reach the post season for their leagues. Add in the two short season teams that made the playoffs, or won their division, and the organization shows strength, particularly at the lower levels. This talent will blossom over the next few years.

Most of the talent in the Angels organization had been depleted from Triple-A Salt Lake in 2011. With players such as Bourjos, Chatwood, Trumbo, and Walden having all made the jump to the Majors, and others such as Amarista, Conger, and Romine shuttling back and forth at times, the talent was mostly not there. As a result, the team finished in last place in the Pacific Coast League with a 62-82 record, 15.0 games out of first place.

The team at Double-A, the Arkansas Travelers, however, did much better. The Travelers clinched a playoff spot by winning the first half of their season, posting a 36-31 record, and a 68-69 record overall. In the post season, the Travelers made it to the Championship Series for the Texas League, but unfortunately were swept in a best of 5-game series.

In the California League, the Angels’ newest affiliate, the San Bernadino 66ers also made it to the playoffs. AngelsWin.com was particularly proud of how the 66ers played hard to make the post season and sponsored the team in its post season run. Playing without top prospects for most of the season, the 66ers saw several players take major strides forward and jump up the Top-50 Prospect List for 2012. The 66ers played hard in the post season, but, unfortunately could not get past the Wild Card round.

At 61-78, the Cedar Rapids Kernels finished a disappointing 21.0 games out of first place for the season in the Midwest League. While the lower levels of the Angels organization generally were strengths, the Kernels couldn’t seem to get into a decent groove across the entire season. AngelsWin.com hopes that 2012 brings better luck to this Single-A affiliate.

The Short-Season Orem Owlz finished in first place for the Pioneer League, going 46-30 overall. Featuring many of the Angels top players, the team put on quite an offensive display. Unfortunately, that offense wasn’t quite enough to get the Owlz into the championship series for the Pioneer League.

At 28-28, the AZL-Angels finished in 2nd place in the AZL-Eastern Division. They fell 3.0 games out of the Wild Card spot. While winning is always important, in the AZL League, players throughout the organization often came and went as they rehabbed injuries or worked on specific skills.

The best overall record in the Angels organization belonged to the Dominican Summer League Angels (DSL-Angels). At 52-18, they finished with a whopping .743 win percentage! They finished 17.5 games ahead of the second place team. Because of their tremendous production, and, because of some strong reports AngelsWin.com has received, we are including a special section called “8 Dominican Players You Should Know”. Until we see how they adjust to playing in America, which presents a cultural challenge for many, we will hold off on ranking them. But, we have some high hopes for some of these players.

As always, AngelsWin.com considers many factors when ranking players. We consider the age of the player, the league in which he played, the competition against whom he played and the needs of the Major League club. A player who is older than his league may not be ranked as highly as his stats would otherwise indicate. A pitcher playing in a hitter’s league may still be ranked ahead of a pitcher with a lower ERA in a pitcher’s league even if his numbers appear to be inferior.

Additionally, AngelsWin.com talks with scouts, coaches and front office personnel from both within and outside of the organization to make our rankings. We listen to their comments about a player to see if struggles are a result of working on a specific skill or if a player’s success is because of his talents have finally blossomed. We try to get as thorough an analysis of the player as possible.

Finally, in making our list, AngelsWin.com goes to see the players. We use our own judgment of the player’s talents. When our discussions present conflicting opinions, we have our own analysis to use to distinguish a player’s rank.

This year, making our Top-50 Prospect List has been particularly challenging. There are several players in the “Keep An Eye On” category that we thoroughly debated including in the Top-50 Prospect List. Not making this year’s list, or even seeing a player’s ranking drop should not be construed as a necessarily negative comment on the player. The competition was that fierce in some cases.

Because AngelsWin.com considers the likelihood of a prospect making it to the Major Leagues, organizational depth and backlogs at certain positions affected the rankings for some prospects. Over time though, one should see a general progression for prospects as they continue to develop their skills and move closer to the Major Leagues. New players will continue to push their way on the list and begin the process of working their way up the chain. And, as other players graduate from the list, space will open for them.

Here then, is the list.

1. Mike Trout (CF)
2. Garrett Richards (RHP)
3. Jean Segura (SS)
4. John Hellweg (RHP)
5. C. J. Cron (1B)
6. Taylor Lindsey (2B)
7. Kaleb Cowart (3B) 
8. Luis Jimenez (3B)
9. Kole Calhoun (OF)
10. Nick Maronde (LHP) 
11. Carlos Ramirez (C)
12. Daniel Tillman (RHP)
13. Ariel Pena (RHP)
14. Matt Shoemaker (RHP)
15. Randal Grichuk (OF)
16. A. J. Schugel (RHP)
17. Jeremy Moore (CF)
18. Alexi Amarista (2B/OF) 
19. David Carpenter (RHP)
20. Travis Witherspoon (CF)
21. Frazier Hall (1B)
22. Trevor Reckling (LHP)
23. Andrew Romine (SS)
24. Ryan Brasier (RHP)
25. Darwin Perez (SS)
26. Austin Wood (RHP) 
27. Steven Geltz (RHP) 
28. Michael Clevinger (RHP)
29. Nick Mutz (RHP)
30. Orangel Arenas (RHP)
31. Chris Scholl (RHP)
32. Abel Baker (C)
33.  Fabio Martinez-Mesa (RHP)
34. Chevy Clarke (CF)
35. Cam Bedrosian (RHP)
36. Donn Roach (RHP)
37. Wendell Soto (SS)
38. Logan Odom (RHP)
39. Max Russell (LHP)
40. Eddie McKiernan (RHP)
41. Loek Van Mil (RHP)
42. Jett Bandy (C)
43. Andrew Ray (OF)
44. Ryan Bolden (OF)
45. Mike Piazza (RHP)
46. Daniel Vargas-Vila
47. Ryan Jones (OF)
48. Shane Waller (RHP)
49. Juan “Junior” Carlin (LHP)
50. Aaron Sookee (RHP)


8 Dominican Players That You Should Know

1. Pedro Toribio (SS)
2. Jean Carlos Santiago (LHP)
3. Daniel Hurtado (RHP)
4. Gabriel Perez (RHP)
5. Eswarlin Jimenez (LHP)
6. Samir Mendez (1B)
7. Luis Jolly (OF)
8. Jose Rondon (SS)

Others To Keep An Eye On 

Suammy Baez (RHP), Garrett Baker (LHP), Jeremy Berg (RHP), Zach Borenstein (OF), Blake Gailen (OF), Travor Hairgrove (SS), Justin LaTempa (RHP), Matt Long (OF), Kevin Moesquit (SS), Efren Navarro (1B), Andrew Taylor (LHP), Jerod Yakubik (OF)

The AngelsWin.com Top-50 Prospects By Position 

C: 3
1B: 2
2B: 2*
3B: 2
SS: 4
OF (corner): 5
CF: 4 
RHP: 24
LHP: 4

* Counting Alexi Amarista as 2B

Note: Due to our own Chuck Richter in and out of the hospital battling health issues from December 2011 into February 2012, the scouting reports for the top 50 Angels prospects were never completed. We apologize for never completing this annual feature as we were very excited to provide it to you as we always have. 
Love to hear what you think!

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