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A look at what an invitation to Spring Training means for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's top prospect
Kaleb Cowart is the top prospect in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization, a statement that could easily be seen as damning with faint praise. Not so with Cowart though, a legitimate third base prospect who can swing it from both sides of the plate. I wrote about Cowart back in December in a prospect profile, and since then we've learned from MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that Cowart was invited to the Major League Spring Training:
Top prospects: The most intriguing is Cowart, who ranks No. 1 in the Angels' system and will be heading into his first season of Double-A. The 20-year-old switch-hitter is coming off a nice season for both of the Angels' Class A affiliates and could make some serious strides toward an everyday job in the Majors with a strong 2013.
Cowart is coming off a season where he hit .276/.358/.452 between Lo- and Hi-A and will likely begin 2013 at Double-A. The gap between Double-A and the big leagues is considerable, but it seems more and more teams are willing to skip their top prospect over Triple-A in a time of need. While the invitation to Spring Training is an encouraging sign as to the organization's feelings about Cowart, entrenched third baseman Alberto Callaspo shouldn't be looking over his shoulder.
While Callaspo isn't at the top of third base rankings across the league, he is adequate enough - and the Angels lineup deep enough - that they don't need to rush Cowart to satisfy an organizational shortcoming (a la the Baltimore Orioles and Manny Machado last year). This is a good start to 2013 for Cowart and if his 2012 can be a year a platform that he can build off of, 2014 all of a sudden becomes a realistic goal. Perhaps not straight out of Spring, but mid-season or later.
It's likely that the Angels see this as a good way for Cowart to get a taste of the major leagues and pick up on some good habits from the big leaguers that will be around him. That said, you can't catch a manager's eye if you're not playing in front of him, so this is a strong first step.
Here's some video courtesy of MLB.com of Cowart at their Rookie Career Development Program: