I hear a lot of gripes about the Angels minor league system lately. Some of them are founded and others completely unfounded, so I thought I’d take the time to address some of these individually.
1. The Angels minor league system is empty. The cupboard is bare.
Pretty general, but yeah I get it, not a ton of Top 100 prospects to be excited about. However, consider this, do the Angels have strength where they need it? Here are the notable prospects and remaining years of major leaguers.
Catcher – Chris Iannetta – three years. Hank Conger AAA, Carlos Ramirez AA, Zach Wright A+.
First Base – Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo – nine years and four years respectively. CJ Cron AA, Wade Hinkle A.
Second Base – Howie Kendrick – three years. Taylor Lindsey AA, Alex Yarbrough A+.
Shortstop – Erick Aybar – four years. Eric Stamets A+, Jose Rondon R.
Third Base – Alberto Callaspo – two years. Luis Jimenez AAA, Kaleb Cowart AA.
Outfield – Mike Trout (six years), Josh Hamilton (five years), Peter Bourjos (four years) – Kole Calhoun AAA, Randal Grichuk AA, Travis Witherspoon AA.
Rotation – Jered Weaver (four years), C.J. Wilson (four years), Tommy Hanson (three years), Jason Vargas (one year), Joe Blanton (two years) – Richards AAA, Nick Maronde AA, A.J. Schugel AAA.
Bullpen – Madson (one year), Frieri (four years), Downs (one year), Burnett (two/three years), Jepsen (three years), Williams (two years) – Carpenter AAA, Cassevah AAA, Enright AAA, Geltz AAA, Kohn AAA, Sisk AAA, Taylor AAA, Alvarez A+, Tillman AA, Chaffee AAA.
So here’s my question, where do the Angels have a need that prospects aren’t filling? When you have a team built like the Angels are right now, there probably won’t be much turnover in the next three years. Maybe a starting pitcher or two and a couple relievers.
2. The Angels would be in great shape were it not for the Dan Haren trade.
This one is simply shocking. How often are legitimate major league aces traded? Of those who are traded, how many are under contract for three additional seasons at a very team friendly 12 million per season? How many of those pitchers are under 30 years old? These were the circumstances surrounding the Dan Haren trade.
Perhaps in today’s market any team could get more, but the Angels were actually lucky to land a pitcher like that for two years of a LHP back end starter (Joe Saunders), a Top 100 LHP prospect (Tyler Skaggs) and a future back end starting LHP prospect (Pat Corbin). Dipoto was smart to make this trade when he was the interim GM for the D-Backs and believe it or not, Tony Reagins made a good move here too.
3. The Angels don’t have any high-end prospects.
Really? Kaleb Cowart can be a switch-hitting third baseman that hits for average, power and could win a gold glove. How many of those exist in Major League Baseball? I count one, Chase Headley. Perhaps Pablo Sandoval on a good day. CJ Cron may end up hitting .290 with 30+ DB and 30+ HR per season. Garrett Richards is still the only pitching prospect I’m aware of with four “plus” graded pitches. Nick Maronde climbed the minor league ladder in one season and has the makings of a mid-rotation lefty. Also, thanks to the Angels latest draft strategy, they now have a plethora of late inning relievers highlighted by Dan Tillman and R.J. Alvarez, who could be the next Scot Shields and Troy Percival. No one is saying the Angels have a great system, but they do have some high-end talent.
4. The Angels have no International prospects
Again, another myth. Jean Segura was a Top 100 prospect before the Angels traded him. Shortstops with 15 HR, 30 SB potential don’t grow on trees. The Angels dealt Alexi Amarista to the Padres in order to get Ernesto Frieri. Amarista can eventually be an everyday SS/2B that hits for average and steals bases. The Angels inked high end pitching prospect Arjenis Fernandez, who spent less than half a season in the DSL before coming stateside. 20-year old Eswarlin Jimenez spent no time in Rookie Ball and ended his first season in America in Advanced A -Ball. Jose Rondon is a 19-year old shortstop prospect with an advanced approach and the potential to hit for power in the near future. Luis Jimenez is a third baseman in AAA that has hit for power and average at every level. The Angels current 3B Alberto Callaspo and SS Erick Aybar are both homegrown Latin Americans as well.