As everyone awaits the opening of spring training camps, the baseball world is doing everything it can to distract itself and this time of year that means focusing on minor league prospects. It seems like anyone who has ever attended a minor league baseball game is putting out a top 50 list or an organizational ranking of some kind. As for me, I must confess that I am no prospect guru nor do I play one on TV. I do my best to keep up with the Angel farmhands, but without ever really seeing them in person, there isn’t much I can do to assess their talent. What I CAN do, however, is tell you which prospects are worth rooting. Be it for talent, entertainment value or just personal preference, here is my personal list of Angel prospects that I will be rooting for this year:
Mike Trout is a rare mix of talent and fan appeal.
- Mike Trout. The symmetry here is perfect. Tim Salmon was Mr. Angel until he retired a few years ago and now a Trout can replace the Salmon. Trout has all the tools you need for stardom and has a great personality to boot. How can you not love a kid who shows up for the MLB draft in person even though nobody else did? He just loves baseball and I can’t wait for him to become the face of the franchise in a few years.
- Garrett Richards. Gee, what could I possibly like about this guy? Finally, the Angels can get someone named Garrett. And not one of those chumps who spell it with one “t.” Spelling such a dignified name as “Garret” instead of “Garrett” is just an insult to guys like me. Richards is the prefect man for the job of establishing that Garrett is better than Garret. If this little rant doesn’t help explain to you my long-standing vitriol for Garret Anderson, I don’t know what else to tell you.
- James Mallard. What’s better than having a guy with huge power in the middle of the order? Having a big fat fatty with huge power in the middle of the order. At only six-feet tall, Mallard is generously listed at 265 pounds and he uses every ounce of his pudginess to clobber balls all over the yard. I can’t wait for him to get promoted to Rancho Cucamonga so I can drive down there to see him in all his chubby glory. Oh, and he has the added bonus of being former-MLBer Carl Everett’s godson, which puts into play that Mallard isn’t just a fat dude, but a fat dude that doesn’t believe in dinosaurs. I am surprised he is not higher on my list actually.
- Hank Conger. I know it seems like I am obsessing on names, but how many guys named Hank are there in the bigs and why aren’t there more? Just say that name aloud “Hank Conger!” How can he not be a total stud? More importantly, how rare is it to have a super slugger playing catcher? Getting loads of offense from the backstop position is such a huge added bonus that I want the Angels to have and if it can be accompanied by a cool name, even better. I’d be more excited about Conger if it didn’t seem inevitable that he will have to split time with another catcher who can’t hit but is a superior defender.
- Trevor Reckling. The Angels need an ace, we all know this. If that ace doesn’t emerge from the trio of Kazmir, Santana or Weaver, then Reckling is the next best bet. I don’t know if he really has that kind of stuff, but until someone else in the farm system steps up as the ace apparent, Reckling is my boy.
- Fabio Martinez Mesa. Dude fanned 92 batters in just over 60 innings of work in Rookie ball last year. I know it is Rookie ball, but that stuff is bonkers. Whether he winds up as a starter or a reliever, that kind of ability to create whiffs is a fun notion, unless of course you think strikeouts are fascist, but I don’t, so shut up, Crash Davis. But what really separates Mesa is his name (of course), not only will it be good for jokes to have a guy named Fabio on the team, but I really want to see how they are going to fit “Martinez Mesa” onto the back of his jersey.
- Peter Bourjos. Dammit, I want to have my super speedy leadoff man back! Since the Angels let Chone Figgins walk, Bourjos has taken a big step forward in my eyes. The Angels need that top of the order player who can wreak havoc on the opposition by just taking a big leadoff from first base and Bourjos is the best man for the job. Keep on running, Petey, and don’t let Reagins go and trade you now that you are getting so close to major league ready.
- Jordan Walden. Once a prized prospect, Walden has fallen on hard times and has seen his star dim somewhat. Injuries have played a big role in his slowed development, so you definitely have to feel for the guy. The story of a pitcher with loads of potential having his career ruined by arm problems is all too common, so Walden is someone I will definitely be rooting for as he fights to beat the odds and get his promising career back on track.