Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects

General Manager: Tony Reagins
Farm Director: Abe Flores
Scouting Director: Eddie Bane

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

1. Hank Conger, C, Double-A
DOB: January 1988 Bats: B Throws: R
Signed: 2006 1st round – California HS
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

After failing to appear in more than 84 games in his first three pro seasons, Conger showed some durability in ’09 and got into 124 contests. Overall, he hit .295/.369/.424 in 458 at-bats. His walk rate took a big jump last year when it rose from 4.4% in ’08 to 10.5%. His strikeout rate dropped from 18.7% to 14.8%. Although his plate rates improved, Conger saw his power diminish significantly with an ISO drop from .214 to .129 but he was playing in a power-dampening park. A switch-hitter, Conger swings a slightly-more-potent bat against right-handed pitching with an OPS of .836, compared to his .763 rate against southpaws. Defensively, he’s made strides behind the dish but he’s an average-at-best defender, which should be OK considering his offensive potential.

2. Jordan Walden, RHP, Double-A
DOB: November 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 12th round – Grayson County College
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Walden’s 5.25 ERA in ’09 was pretty ugly but he was hurt by a .377 BABIP and his FIP was just 3.77. Overall, he allowed 72 hits in 60.0 innings and made just 13 starts due to a forearm strain. The injury is worrisome (because it can lead to Tommy John surgery), but he appears healthy and ready to compete in 2010. He showed a pretty good strikeout rate in ’09 at 8.55 K/9 but his control was modest at 4.35 BB/9. He had a lot of troubles against left-handed hitters and posted a walk rate of 7.83 BB/9 against them in a smaller sample size. The right-hander has top-of-the-order stuff if he can harness it.

3. Trevor Reckling, LHP, Double-A
DOB: May 1989 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 8th round – New Jersey HS
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 87-91 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

Reckling cannot begin to compete with Walden’s pure stuff, but the southpaw is a better all-around pitcher even though his walk rate has risen each of the past few seasons, from 1.75 to 3.49 to 4.99. His strikeout rate took a bit of a dive in .09 but it wasn’t hopeless at 7.05 K/9. Reckling does a pretty good job of inducing ground balls (47.9%), which helped him allow just four homers in double-A (135.1 innings). His 3.77 FIP (2.93 ERA) suggests that he received some help in allowing just 118 hits (.293 BABIP). Reckling projects as a solid No. 3 starter.

4. Pete Bourjos, OF, Double-A
DOB: March 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 8th round – Arizona HS
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

Like a lot of the Angels’ top prospects, Bourjos is more solid than flashy. The outfielder doesn’t have much power (.142 ISO in ’09) but he hits for a nice average (.281) and steals some bases (32 in 44 attempts at double-A). In fact, he has the potential to steal 40-50 bases in the Majors, if so motivated. Overall on the year, he hit .281/.354/.423 in 437 at-bats while playing part of the year with ligament tear in his wrist. His walk rate was good, but not great for a top-of-the-order hitter, at 9.7% and he struck out a bit much for his modest power results at 17.6%. Defensively, he is a plus outfielder and can easily handle center field.

5. Fabio Martinez, RHP, Rookie
DOB: October 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, plus slider, change-up

The newest name on the club’s top prospect watch, Martinez has a big arm but he has just one North American season under his belt so 2010 will be big in helping him secure his reputation. The right-hander struck out 102 batters in 67.2 rookie-ball innings in ’09 but his control was off and he walked more than five batters per nine innings. His walk rate was just shy of 48% but he did a nice job of keeping the ball in the park and allowed just three homers on the season. Batters hit just .195 against him and the 20 year old should move up to low-A for 2010.

6. Trevor Bell, RHP, Majors
DOB: October 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2005 supplemental 1st round – California HS
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, curveball, slider, change-up

Trevor flew through double-A and triple-A in ’09 but he got his, uh, bell rung in the Majors. The right-hander allowed a 5.26 FIP in 20.1 MLB innings and his walk rate rose to 4.87 BB/9 as he nibbled against big leaguers. He did receive any luck, either, and posted a BABIP of .461. Beginning the year in double-A, Bell allowed just 54 hits in 68.2 innings of work while posting a walk rate of 2.62 BB/9. He also allowed just one homer and his ground-ball rate for the season was just shy of 50% in the minors. At triple-A, his strikeout rate dropped from 6.68 in double-A to 4.79 K/9. Because he has average stuff, Bell projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter or a middle reliever.

7. Mark Trumbo, 1B, Double-A
DOB: January 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2004 18th round – California HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

The 24-year-old Trumbo is loaded with raw power (as witnessed by his 32 homers in ’08) but he has yet to put it all together. The first baseman, who will reportedly see time in the outfield in 2010, hit .291/.333/.452 in 533 double-A at-bats. His walk rate has always been on the low side at it was 6.4% in ’09. His strikeout rate dipped nicely, though, to 18.8%. After posting his first .200+ ISO rate in ’08, his rate slipped to .161 in double-A while playing in a park that hurts power numbers. Even so, he still slugged 35 doubles. If Trumbo can add right field to his resume, it will significantly improve his value to the Angels.

8. Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Low-A
DOB: December 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 2nd round – California HS
MLB ETA: Late-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-93 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

After posting a walk rate of 8.53 in his pro debut (38.0 innings), Chatwood made some improvements to lower his rate to 5.11 BB/9 but he’ll continue to work to harness his stuff in 2010. Despite his struggles finding the plate, the right-hander still posted a strikeout rate of 8.20 K/9 and he allowed just 99 hits in 116.1 innings of work. He also did a nice job of limiting the homer (0.23 HR/9) despite an average ground-ball rate. Chatwood has the potential to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter, especially if he can find a little more success against left-handed hitters (1.62 WHIP).

9. Chris Pettit, OF, Majors
DOB: August 1984 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 19th round – Loyola Marymount University
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

Pettit has always posted good numbers against southpaws in his career, but he absolutely creamed them in ’09 to the tune of a 1.117 OPS in 112 at-bats. Overall, he hit .321/.383/.482 in 371 triple-A at-bats and even received his first taste of the Majors (10 games). The outfielder isn’t a true center-fielder and doesn’t possess the power for the corners (.162 ISO) so he’s a bit of a tweener. As a result, he could end up in a platoon, or as a fourth outfielder. With a full-time commitment by the Angels, he could hit 10 homers with 15 steals.

10. Jon Bachanov, RHP, Rookie
DOB: January 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 supplemental 1st round – Florida HS
MLB ETA: Mis-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, plus slider, change-up

It took the ’07 draft pick some time to get onto a mound, but he made up for lost time in ’09 after converting full-time to the bullpen. The right-hander has a good fastball-slider combination and he posted a strikeout rate or 14.00 K/9 in rookie ball. Already 21, Bachnov should jump to low-A ball in 2010 and could move quickly if he continues to show good control. He has the potential to be the Angels’ closer of the future but he’s a long way off.

Up Next: The Los Angeles Dodgers

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

10 Responses to “Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects”

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  1. PL says:

    Kind of a miserable list. LAA needs to rebuild and restock some prospects.

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  2. richman says:

    they have already started. Trout definitely will be on the list next season and they have 3 first round picks this upcoming draft, along with 2 supplemental ones

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  3. realitypolice says:

    If the same “brain trust” remains in charge of the Angels’ draft, they’ll use those five picks to select:
    A great tailback who once hit .200 for his college team
    A power forward who is rumored to have thrown batting practice a few times
    One high school kid who will not, under any circumstances, consider signing
    One all-tools/no skills high school (or maybe JuCo) outfielder
    One big-bodied, sinkerball pitcher

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  4. Dick Schofield says:

    Who will be the Angels’ 4th OF this year? Pettit or Terry Evans? Evans is 28 but crushes Ls as well. Evans is out of options, so it might be him but he K’s a lot. Pettit could probably step in now and at least hit Ls as thd 4th OF when Abreu or Matsui needs a break or the eventual injuries to an OF of Juan Rivera/Torii/Abreu/HMatsui. (Willits will be the 5th OF), but who will be the 4th?

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  5. Pat says:

    Yeah, the Angels should rebuild. It’s more important to have a good minor league team than a loaded MLB roster. I’m not sure if the Angels are going to win the division this year, but I’m sick of everyone trying to say they’re done. The Mariners and Rangers can’t win the division on paper, they’ve already tried and failed.

    They will be fine. They have a few prospects including a few young outfielders who should be assets, and are starting to get more picks in the first round with the departing FA’s, and it should continue.

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  6. Jammy says:

    Willits will be the 4th OF most likely.

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  7. Alireza says:

    Conger likely doesn’t get much of a shot with the Angels with that kind of defense. Napoli already sits way more than he should because Scioscia doesn’t like his defense as much as that of Mathis, and Conger probably isn’t as good as Napoli, and he certainly isn’t the hitter Napoli is.

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  8. realitypolice says:

    If Conger only winds up being the hitter Napoli is, he will have fallen well short of his ceiling.

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