By now, you are probably as tired of prospect lists as I am (if you aren’t, be sure to check out the MWAH Top Prospect list in the menu bar above!). Almost every single outlet has released their list and we’ve all poured over them, absorbed them and dissected them. All those scouting reports and related analyses are terrific, but after reading all of that, I am just overwhelmed by how cold, sterile and impersonal the process feels.
These are human beings we are talking about, after all, not the industrial resources that these prospect reports tend to break them down into. To counter this, I like to submit another prospect list every year: the prospects worth rooting for.
Instead of evaluating prospects based on their bat speed, pitch mechanics or outfield range, I want to evaluate them quite simply on how much I want them to succeed on a personal level. Let’s not forget, we could be watching these players on our favorite team someday, so we have a vested interest in them aside from where their skill set ranks on the 20-80 scale.
So, without further adieu, I present my personal top 10 Angel prospects to root for in 2012.
(Just to reiterate, these rankings are NOT based in any way, shape or form on the innate skill level of the player but rather on how much I like them for any random reason, personally.)
- Garrett Richards – OK, so this one works on two levels since Richards is also a top prospect, but that is almost incidental to me. What really matters here is that this is the best chance ever for a “Garrett” to be an All-Star caliber player. For obvious reasons, that means a lot to me. There have only been six players named “Garrett” in MLB history (not counting “Garret,” that one T crap doesn’t fly around here), and the best to date is Garrett Jones, a platoon player for the lowly Pirates. I simply cannot abide that, so I desperately want Richards to succeed. Having him do it in an Angel uniform is just a cherry on top.
- Loek Van Mil – I wish I had a better reason than this, but this is all about the freak show factor. He’s so tall and awkward looking! I can’t wait to see his gangly ass take the mound for the Angels.
- Trevor Reckling – Once upon a time, Reckling was the best pitching prospect in the Angel organization. That was after the 2009 season, he has since gone on to be the poster boy for the motto of “there is no such thing as a pitching prospect” by flaming out in Triple-A in 2010 and the struggling with arm problems in 2011. The sad part is that Trevor is a good kid who, if his Twitter feed is any indicator, works his butt off. With him expecting to return to Triple-A this year, his career is at a crossroads at the tender age of 23. I hope he finally gets things going in the right direction again.
- Travis Witherspoon – If you know me, you know I love speedy center fielders with a little pop in their bat. Coming off a 2011 campaign in which he swiped 46 bases and hit 13 home runs, it is almost like Witherspoon was made just for me.
- Jett Bandy – Best. Name. Ever. I feel like he should be a film noir private eye. Jett Bandy, private eye!
- Chevy “Chevez” Clarke – Chevy was a high draft choice a few years ago, but he hasn’t been able to put his great athleticism to good use on the field yet. In fact, he is dangerously close to falling off the prospect radar altogether if things don’t go well for him in 2012. That simply cannot be allowed because my weekly “Tweeted by an Angel” feature would fall apart without his inane drivel.
- Justin Bass – I know very little about him, but I do know that the Angels have had great success with prospects with ichthyoid surnames. You have no idea how mad I was when reliever Robert Fish was stolen from the Angels in the Rule V draft. Stupid Atlanta Braves!
- Johnny Hellweg – Yes, he is a top Angel prospect, but he is also fascinating because of his development curve. I just love the urban legend about him that he was not allowed to pitch for his high school baseball team because he threw so hard yet had so little control that his high school coach was legitimately concerned that he would kill somebody.
- Matthew Scioscia – Because I am always willing to be a shameless brown-noser.
- Jean Carlos Santiago – I am rooting for him out of self-preservation since Scotty Allan and I ranked him #20 in the Angels farm system even though he is just a phenom from the Domincan League, meaning we could totally be right and look like geniuses when Santiago dominates in American ball this year or look like fools for buying into the hype after he falls on his face in A-Ball and is never heard from again.