It’s no surprise the Angels have a farm system that ranks dead last or next to last in all of baseball. There are many reasons for this. When Eddie Bane was the scouting director, the Angels were prone to drafting high-risk, high-reward high schoolers and rarely dipped into the collegiate ranks. This resulted in a few homeruns, like Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos, but a lot of strikeouts as well (think Ryan Bolden or Cam Bedrosian so far). When there aren’t any players in-between, the organizational ranks are left bare once the good players are promoted.
The Angels also had an unfortunate scandal in Latin America that resulted in scrapping the entire infrastructure out there. For two to three years, there simply weren’t a lot of highly desirable Latin American prospects coming to the U.S and making a difference. The Angels also have made it a habit of signing top free agents in the offseason, which has resulted in the loss of top draft picks on a continual basis. It may only be one or two picks, but players like C.J. Cron and Kaleb Cowart are considerably easier to find in the first round than they are in the third round.
Finally, the Angels have traded away many of their most desirable prospects to land big name major leaguers to help in the short term. So what players could we add to the Angels organization had they not made these trades and how would they rank as a system?
Scott Kazmir Trade
The Angels dealt Sean Rodriguez and Alex Torres to the Rays for Scott Kazmir. Rodriguez clearly wouldn’t be a prospect anymore, but it should be noted that he was a shortstop with 20+ HR power. Torres however is a projectable lefty that could fit in the rotation or bullpen, something the Angels could use right now. Torres has started the year on the Rays AAA squad. 11 IP 0 ER 1 BB 11 K’s. Not bad. Furthermore, in 2011 he posted a 3.07 ERA in AAA and in 2010 he had a 3.47 ERA in AA.
Alberto Callaspo Trade
The Angels sent Sean O’Sullivan and Will Smith to the Royals for Alberto Callaspo. O’Sullivan wouldn’t be a prospect anymore, but would provide a lot of Joe Blanton type of depth for the system. However, chances are, Will Smith would still be on the Angels prospect lists. While his arsenal isn’t overly impressive, he has polish and is a tall lefty, which means scouts will automatically love him.
The Dan Haren Trade
The Angels sent Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Pat Corbin and Rafael Rodriguez to the D-Backs in return for Dan Haren. The two prospects to keep an eye on here are Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin. Skaggs as proven to be a Top 20 or 10 prospect in all of baseball depending on who you ask and Pat Corbin has had a highly successful minor league career and looks like a sure thing to be a solid #4/5 starter in the major leagues. The Angels could undoubtedly use both of them right now.
The Chris Iannetta Trade
Tyler Chatwood was sent to Colorado for Chris Iannetta, and was thus removed from Top Prospect lists. However, given that he’s a former Top 100 prospect, and he has the proper arsenal to succeed in the bullpen, which the Angels could certainly use.
The Ernesto Frieri Trade
The Angels sent Alexi Amarista and Donn Roach to the Padres in return for Frieri. Frieri is the most useful cog in a weak Angels bullpen, but undoubtedly the Angels paid a high price for such an arm. Amarista may or may not still be on the Angels Top Prospect lists. For the sake of the argument, we’ll say that he still was. He’d provide depth at 2B and SS with offensive upside that the Angels current options simply cannot provide. Amarista owns a career BA over .300 in the minors, has hit for gap power and swiped his fair share of bases. Donn Roach on the other hand enjoyed a breakout season last year. Between Advanced A Ball and AA, he accumulated a 1.88 ERA. Through his first three starts of 2013, he had a 0.61 ERA.
The Zack Greinke Trade
Last season, the Angels sent Jean Segura, Ariel Pena and John Hellweg to Milwaukee in return for Greinke. Greinke has since left the Angels, but what hurts the most is the loss of the prospects. Segura was a Top 50 prospect by many accounts (and is currently the starting SS in Milwaukee, hitting .378 with considerable pop and speed), Ariel Pena’s big fastball and slider would have certainly helped the Angels bullpen or rotation right now, and the same could be said for John Hellweg.
So what might the Angels Top Prospect list look like right now had the Angels avoided these deals?
1. LHP Tyler Skaggs (Top 10)
2. SS Jean Segura (Top 50)
3. 3B Kaleb Cowart (Top 100)
4. LHP Pat Corbin
5. RHP Donn Roach
6. RHP Ariel Pena
7. 2B/SS Alexi Amarista
8. RHP John Hellweg
9. LHP Nick Maronde
10. LHP Alex Torres
11. 1B C.J. Cron
12. 2B Taylor Lindsey
That Top 10 list would legitimately be one of the stronger ones in baseball, if not the strongest. So as we can see, the Angels decision to trade so many of their prospects has come at the heavy price of taking perhaps the top farm system in baseball and making it the weakest. In return the Angels have received Scott Kazmir, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta, two years of Dan Haren, Ernesto Frieri and six months of Zack Greinke.