Over the coming weeks, Craig and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.
Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.
With the graduations of both Mike Trout and Jean Segura in 2012, the Angels' system has really bottomed out on some level. By signing big name free agents, the team's first pick last year was in the 3rd round, and while the big league team is definitely better right now with those players, their ability to make trades to acquire key pieces may be harmed long-term as of right now. There are some bright spots though, most notably 3B prospect Kaleb Cowart. However, this is definitely a system which could use either some good performances from prospects already in the system, or potential acquisitions to help overall.
Graduates in 2012
Mike Trout, Jean Segura (traded also), Garrett Richards
AAA or Higher in 2012
These are prospects who reached either AAA Salt Lake City or the Majors in 2012. Generally they are expected to see the Majors in 2013, potentially for a significant amount of time.
Maronde was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft by the Angels, and pitched at three levels in their system in 2012, finishing in the bullpen in the Majors. Maronde was a reliever prior to the draft, but the Angels have had him starting in the minor leagues, with some very good results between High-A and AA. In 99 innings in the minors, Maronde struck out 90 batters, walked 19, and also allowed just 5 home runs. There seem to be some concerns about whether Maronde can continue as a starting pitcher long term, but it definitely appears to be in the best interest of the organization to try. Maronde seems likely to me to return to AA for the 2013 season if they plan to keep having him start, and hopefully he will be able to increase his workload this year.
High-A in 2012
These players reached the Angels' California League affiliate in Inland Empire, and are likely to be at least 2 full seasons away from contributing in the Major Leagues.
Cowart was given his first full season assignment in 2012, sent to the Angels' Low-A affiliate. After 66 games, Cowart had a .293/.348/.479 slash line with 9 home runs and 9 stolen bases to go with a promotion to Inland Empire. On the year, Cowart finished with 16 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Cowart was considered a top draft candidate as a pitcher, but it sounds like he will be able to stay at 3B long term based on the reports on his defense and his arm. One of the concerns that Craig brought up in his profile back in March was whether Cowart would be able to reduce his strikeout rate, and based on the results this year it appears he may have made some of the necessary adjustments so far. Long term his profile has not really changed with his performance this year, as he projects to be an above average hitter, who looks like he could now reach the majors at the end of 2014 potentially.
C.J. Cron (BBRef Statistics)
Cron was the Angels' top draft pick in the 2011 draft, and is considered one of the top 1B prospects in the minors right now. In his first full season assignment, Cron was sent to the California League, where he hit 27 home runs, led the league with 123 RBI, and has a .293/.327/.516 slash line. It will be interesting to see what Cron can do when he gets to AA, as he has played both of his assignments in very good hitters' environments. Since he is a 1B prospect, he is going to have to hit to really make him valuable, but Cron is a legitimate prospect, and looks like he will be able to keep that up.
Others of Note
R.J. Alvarez (RP) - Alvarez was the Angels' top draft pick in 2012, but went off the board late in the 3rd round. He worked exclusively as a reliever, notching 38 strikeouts against 11 walks in 27+ innings pitched for Low-A Cedar Rapids. I would have to imagine that if they are already using him as a reliever, they will likely try to move him quickly toward the Majors.
Taylor Lindsey (2B) - Lindsey reached High-A in 2012, hitting .289 with 9 home runs and 8 stolen bases at Inland Empire. It is a bit concerning to see a slugging percentage of just .408 from any player in the southern half of the California League, but Lindsey appears to be a decent 2B prospect, and while there isn't a ton of value in that necessarily, his value could jump if he can post similar numbers in AA in 2013.
You can follow me on Twitter @jasonsbaseball