Well, they’re all worth looking at. Being able to play Winter Ball is a special thing. It’s by invite only so if you have the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League, Venezuela, Mexico or the Dominican Republic, it likely means you did something right last summer in the U.S. But these are the prospects in particular that have my attention.
Zach Borenstein – The outfielder was named Cal League MVP last season and for good reason, he absolutely torched the league. He’s a prospect I’m somewhat confused by. First of all, he’s built like a tank and bats left-handed, how were scouts not impressed by him in college? Why wasn’t he any good in A Ball and all of a sudden amazing in the Cal League? Given that he was old for the league, I think this was just a case of Borenstein finding his comfort zone and taking advantage of the extreme hitting conditions the league presents batters with. Regardless, he’s playing against the best prospects in the game in the AFL, so we’ll get a chance to really see what he’s made of. And so far, he’s not doing very well at all, which isn’t terribly damaging to his bandwagon but at the same time it lends credence to those who believe his numbers were a Cal League mirage.
C.J. Cron – Cron has tremendous power and is among the top 1B prospects in all of baseball. That’s great and all, but once he got to the Texas League he turned into more of a doubles and singles hitter, not the HR behemoth everyone imagined when he was drafted. Sending him to the AFL really gave those of us who are interested a closer look at who he is as a prospect. So far, the results are exactly as I anticipated, despite being a power hitter, he has exceptional hand-eye coordination and makes tons of contact. This results in a higher batting average, but the issue remains, he’s not driving the ball with as much authority as you’d hope. Still, he’s hitting .351 against the best prospects in the game. Pretty good.
Andy Marte – He isn’t so much of a prospect as much as he is a former top prospect who could never make good on the hype. Marte’s a solid defensive 3B and after torching the minor leagues in his younger years, he’d become a bench fixture of most organizations. Then last year he hit rock bottom, hitting .202 in Independent Ball. The Angels scouts must have seen something in him though, because they signed him and brought him to AAA Salt Lake where he absolutely mashed. So far in Winter Ball he’s hitting .309. It’s unlikely but if Andy Marte has figured something out, the Angels may have just hit the jackpot. At age 29, he’s still young enough to be in his physical prime and it isn’t as if the Angels have a lot going on at 3B. His biggest competition will be Luis Jimenez and Grant Green who can both hit the ball but are hardly the next Beltre.
Jeremy Berg – What does this soft-tossing sidearm specialist have to do to make the big league club? His numbers have been solid for a while now and this winter it’s been no different. He’s carrying a 0 ERA with more K’s than IP. At some point they’ll have to ignore the 87 mph fastball and just buy into the results. After all, isn’t that what we’re doing with Jered Weaver?
Mike Morin – He’s dominated every level of the minors and is now having his way with the top prospects in the AFL. With a strong showing there, he should get an extended look in Spring Training, and with the Angels inability to hold a lead for the last four years, he should be welcomed into the bullpen with open arms.
Michael Roth – Is he good, is he not good? Is he a rotation worthy starter or a swingman? Is he a reliever? If he is, is he a lefty specialist or a setup man? Lots of questions about Roth. What we do know is that he was superman in college, jumped straight up to AA and was solid in the rotation, came up to the majors in his first season as a pro and struggled out of the bullpen but also provided the Angels with some much needed mop up work. They’ve kept him starting in the AFL and so far the results were pretty much what they were in AA. 3.71 ERA over his five starts. Decent K’s but also a couple more BB than you’d prefer. I see a lot of Joe Saunders in Michael Roth. High 80’s/low 90’s fastball, effortless mechanics, decent control, good change up but not enough deception, speed or break to be anything more than a #4/5 starter. Still pretty good though.