When dealing with unknown commodities of future potential, the most common analogy used within the prospect world is the stock market. Investors put their money on the line with the potential opportunity of receiving a big pay out if a company "goes big", but at the same time they are in danger of losing it all if a stock is busted. Similarly with prospects, Major League Baseball organizations invest millions of dollars with the hope that these players can make them winners in the future, by either direct contribution or trade. So how are the Angels investments looking so far? Let's refer to the 2012 MWAH Top 30 prospect list and find out.
30. C – Carlos Ramirez: Busted for substance abuse and then gift-wrapped a starting spot back in AA due to a lack of organizational depth. SELL!!
29. RHP – Reid Scoggins: High 90's heater was moved from bullpen to the rotation. Results were promising at first, but he's really struggling as of late. I call this a CAUTIOUS BUY, because if Scoggins can work the kinks out, his stock will skyrocket.
28. LHP – Michael Roth: Spent some time in the major leagues less than a year after being drafted and wasn't completely in over his head. He's back in AA now, and owns a 3.32 ERA, which is still fantastic considering everyone else he was drafted with is currently residing in A Ball. Roth is a strong BUY candidate, his prospect status isn't tremendously high and he's a safe bet to make the Major Leagues in some capacity soon.
27. RHP – Cam Bedrosian: He was a train wreck as a starter, and finally, mercifully the Angels stuck him in the bullpen where his mid-90's heater and sharp slider belonged all the while. As a reliever, Bedrock Jr. owns a 2.93 ERA, good K/9 and BB/K ratio. BUY. It's only a matter of time before he learns the nuances of relief pitching and takes off.
26. LHP – Andrew Taylor: Wasn't particularly successful with the Angels last season. This season, hurt. SELL.
25. LHP – Brandon Sisk: See Andrew Taylor. SELL.
24. RHP – Michael Clevinger: See Brandon Sisk, Andrew Taylor. SELL. (To be fair, Clevinger has considerable upside and will likely be a Top 30 prospect again once he's healthy).
23. RHP - Mark Sappington: Sappington began the year as a dominant force in Advanced A Ball. While his numbers are still solid, reports of diminished fastball and slider command are worrisome. Still, I generally advise fans to invest in tall RHP with stuff as good as Mark's. BUY, but beware his future may be as a reliever.
22. 1B – Wade Hinkle: Hinkle is hitting .263 and currently leads the Angels A Ball affiliate in XBH. He isn't necessarily in the right hitting environment to post gaudy numbers, and we'd prefer to see him in the Cal League. I advise HOLD. His prospect stock is low as it is, but could receive a huge lift with a promotion.
21. C – Zachary Wright: Wright hasn't posted the power or BB numbers we as fans hoped to see from him after last season. He's still a good defensive catcher, but it appears his upside for now is limited. SELL.
20. RHP – Steven Geltz: No longer with the organization but is putting up good numbers in with the Rays AAA affiliate while Dane De La Rosa has performed admirably for the Angels. SELL.
19. RHP – Arjenis Fernandez: A 19 year old with all kinds of potential. When he began the season in A ball, it looked as though Fernandez may tap into some of that potential this season. But he struggled and showed there were kinks that needed to be worked out. He's back in Rookie Ball, but is still very young and promising. BUY.
18. RHP – Austin Adams: I'm not exactly sure why Adams got a late start this season, but he's finally with the Angels A Ball affiliate and the early results are promising. Still, until we see more of him I have advise investors to SELL until we're sure he's here to stay. Admittedly, he has the stuff to be a solid Major League reliever, so keep an eye on him.
17. LHP – Eswarlin Jimenez: Jimenez made huge strides as a 20 year old in 2012, cruising all the way up to Advanced A Ball and holding his own. Yet Eswarlin never put it together in 2013 and was eventually removed from the rotation and slotted into the bullpen, where I'm not sure his stuff plays very well at all. SELL.
16. RHP – Austin Wood: When Wood is healthy and throwing strikes, he's a staff ace. The problem is, he isn't always throwing strikes and right now, he isn't healthy. SELL until further notice, unless you really like the gamble.
15. RHP – Ryan Chaffee: Chaffee is putting up good numbers for the second consecutive season in AA. Yet despite having a good arsenal, the Angels have repeatedly decided against promoting him. SELL unless Chaffee does so well he forces their hand.
14. OF – Travis Witherspoon: The scouting report on Spoon hasn't changed at all. Exceptional athleticism, elite speed, great defense and good power. But I fear Witherspoon has reached his ceiling in AA. Too many swings and misses and a low batting average despite decent amount of BB. He's showing signs of progression, but I advise investors to SELL. The Angels OF is crowded and he'd have to do a lot more to crack that walnut.
13. SS – Jose Rondon: Rondon is a highly regarded SS that showed flashes of brilliance in his U.S. debut as an 18 year old. Now 19, Rondon is ticketed for Orem, where he should do reasonably well. The future may be bright for this young prospect. BUY.
12. RHP – A.J. Schugel: AAA Salt Lake is nice to no pitcher. Perhaps no one knows this better than A.J. Schugel. The most telling move however is that despite needing pitching, the Angels promoted the likes of Billy Buckner and Barry Enright above Schugel. SELL, until his ERA falls a couple of runs or the Angels promote him.
11. SS – Eric Stamets: The biggest fear heading into the season is that Stamets, who is a slap hitter in every sense of the term wouldn't hit enough to take advantage of his amazing defensive abilities at the highest levels. So far, so good. Stamets is hitting over .300, rarely strikes out and is reaching base via the walk very often. We're still waiting to see him take advantage of his speed on the base paths, but that will come with time. BUY this stock, Stamets will be a major leaguer someday.
10. RHP – Dan Tillman: Tillman's biggest issue throughout his career has been keeping the ball in the zone. With his mid-90's heat and exceptional slider, Tillman has the makings of being a great set up man. But Tillman walked more hitters than he struck out this season in AA before going on the DL. SELL, he needs to conquer that AA jump before we bite on his potential.
9. 2B – Alex Yarbrough: Alex is a college bat that put up great numbers at Ole Miss despite non-glowing reports about his potential, which caused him to slip down to the 5th round of last year's draft. He's in Advanced A Ball and is third on his team in doubles and home runs and is the team leader in triples and batting average (.316). The only knock really is that he isn't walking very often, still he's proving to be an offensively productive middle infielder that can climb the ladder quickly. BUY.
8. RHP – R.J. Alvarez: The Angels first overall pick in 2012 has been nothing short of spectacular in his full season debut. 28 IP 16 BB 47 K's 2.54 ERA. The fact that the Angels are stretching him out beyond 2 innings makes little sense to me given his mechanics, but there's no ignoring the fact that his mid-90' fastball, devastating slider and effective change up play well as a starter. Regardless of his role, similar to the former boy band N'Sync, BUY BUY BUY!!!.
7. 3B – Luis Jimenez: Lucho earned himself a cup of coffee in Callaspo's absence and was an immediate clubhouse and fan favorite. He wasn't bad in the field either. Back in AAA, Lucho's still hitting the ball and playing solid defense at the hot corner. Despite such a performance, it doesn't appear he's destined to be a starter, so until further notice, I advise investors to HOLD on Lucho.
6. OF – Randal Grichuk: Grichuk seems like he's been in the minor leagues forever, but most people tend to forget that he's still only 21 years old, one of the youngest players in AA. He's hitting for power just as advertised in the most unforgiving environment in the minors, which is impressive and his batting average continues to climb as he heats up after a slow start. Perhaps what's most important, Grichuk has continued to develop into a fine defender, capable of manning all three outfield positions and isn't completely overwhelmed in his first exposure to high minors like many older prospects. I fully expect Grichuk's power to continue to develop and then explode in AAA Salt Lake next season, which should severely inflate his value. BUY NOW!!
5. OF – Kole Calhoun: Typically, when a player breaks the hamate bone in their hand, even after recovery it can take months if not a year to fully recover the power they once had. Calhoun however, picked up right where he left off. He's killing AAA pitching, hitting for average, power, stealing bases and has more walks than strikeouts. It's better to have him playing everyday in AAA than serve as a 4th OF or LH bat off the bench for the Angels as Brad Hawpe is doing. Still, he's clearly an upgrade over J.B. Shuck and yes, even Josh Hamilton right now. His future might be as a 4th OF for the Angels, but if he ever lands on another team, it wouldn't surprise me to see Calhoun take off a la Nick Markakis. BUY and stash for later.
4. 2B – Taylor Lindsey: Taylor is a former Rookie League MVP and was supposed to be a LH 2B with moderate upside. At age 21 in AA, Lindsey has perhaps surpassed the original estimate and developed into a full-fledged power hitting middle infielder. He's tied for the team lead with 10 HR's, is second with 13 DB's, is hitting .276 and has learned how to take a walk, which was something scouts really worried about early on. If you buy no other stock BUY this one.
3. 1B – C.J. Cron: Cron didn't disappoint in his full season debut last year, smashing 33 DB 27 HR's and falling an RBI short of the organization record. As a follow up, he's in AA and certainly holding his own. It's somewhat surprising a man of his strength owns only 5 HR's while Grichuk and Lindsey have doubled that number, but Cron already has 21 doubles which leads the team by a lot and also leads the team in batting average (Long is in AAA) and RBI's. He still unfortunately almost never reaches base via walk, though to his credit he doesn't strike out either. At this point, I'd suggest BUYING on this stock because chances are Cron will hit quite a few more HR in the second half and is a likely candidate to slam 30-40 next year in AAA.
2. LHP – Nick Maronde: This ranking was based on the fact that even if Maronde didn't stick as a starter, he still had enough control and good enough stuff to be a lethal late inning reliever. The Angels abandoned the idea of making him a starter this Spring, but as a reliever in AA, Maronde hasn't fared any better. SELL, because right now, the Angels look like they'll be lucky if he sticks as a lefty reliever.
1. 3B – Kaleb Cowart: Cowart just became old enough to drink, being one of the youngest players in AA, Kaleb certainly garnered some preseason attention. However, Cowart has struggled mightily in AA so far, hovering just above the Mendoza line, neither flashing the power or ability to adjust he showed before. He's completely lost swinging from the left side of the plate despite possessing more power and his strikeouts are atrocious. I guess the only good things you can say right now is that Cowart is playing good defense and stealing some bases. I wouldn't recommend buying or selling on Cowart at this point. He's clearly going to get better, but his status as a prospect was already too high when he appeared among the Top 100 prospects. For now, HOLD or HOLD OFF on Cowart until something changes.