The MWAH prospect countdown finally crosses the finish line with the top prospect in the entire system and only Angel prospect to crack into any of the Top 100 prospect lists.
Position: 3B Highest Level: High-A
Bats:Switch Throws: Right Height: 6'3" Weight: 195 lbs.
Age: 20 Born: 6/2/92
2012 Season Stats
Low-A: 290 PA, .293 AVG, .348 OBP, .479 SLG, 16 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 44 SO, 9 SB, 4 CS, .319 BABIP
High-A: 315 PA, .259 AVG, .366 OBP, .426 SLG, 15 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 67 SO, 5 SB, 3 CS, .316 BABIP
Contact – B-. He’s made tremendous strides in this department. Removing a high leg kick as a loading mechanism and shortening his swing has taken him from a D in this department in Orem to a B- against better competition. However, there still are concerns. When he’s hitting left handed, though the swing is smooth, it is rather lengthy, which leads to a few more swings and misses. Pitches on the outer half of the plate, I’ve seen him drive to the opposite field with power and ease, and at the same time I’ve seen him try to yank these pitches and completely miss or make weak contact on. More than anything, Cowart just needs to stay within his game, he has the physical requirements to hit for power without him trying to pull the ball. Once he realizes this (and I feel like it will come with age and experience), Cowart’s hit tool will improve dramatically and Cowart’s ability to make contact could eventually be above average at the major league level. This could be a long road though.
Power – B+. He drove the ball with authority from both sides of the plate in 2012. Power and gaps, no matter the environment, he’s got some pop. Not HR derby or Mark Trumbo type power, but more likely above average corner infielder power. With such an athletic build (6’3 200+ lbs) Cowart will likely continue to add power through physical premise. Though there are complaints about the length of his swing (and they are legitimate concerns), the power generated with such swings is undeniable.
Discipline – B. Another area Cowart has made tremendous strides in. What once was a typical Angels approach (terrible K/BB ratio) has turned into a legitimate major league approach. Perhaps what is most encouraging is that Cowart posted higher BB rates with more advanced competition. This is promising for his future given that Cowart is about to make the jump to AA where hitters generally can’t pass through without a good measure of plate discipline.
Speed – B-. Being such a fantastic athlete, foot speed is comes with the territory. He has above average speed for baseball on the whole, but for a 3B you could say he has VERY good speed. His first steps defensively are as fast as any prospect and running the bases he has decent first to third speed. In terms of stealing bases, he has the foot speed to swipe 15 a year. I don’t envision him building a great deal of muscle given that he’s already got a solid built frame, so the speed should stick for the foreseeable future.
Arm – A+. Normally don’t give prospects an A+ in any category unless it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. Cowart has an elite arm. It’s easy to see why scouts wanted him to be a pitcher, where he threw 95. Cowart has what I’d consider one of the best arms in all of baseball among third baseman, major leaguers included. The velocity I’ve seen him put on the ball when throwing off balance and on the run really made me say “WOW!” and I’m not alone.
Performance – B+. I don’t think any prospect in the system has shown as much growth as Cowart has this year. He went from someone that spent an additional year in Rookie Ball without impressive results to a legitimate Top 100 prospect. The walks and homeruns in particular were impressive this season, and if the normal development curve of prospects applies here, we could be in for a treat.
Projection – A. This is why Cowart was a 1st round pick. He has a chance to be a switch-hitting 3B that hits for average, power, works his way on base and plays gold glove level third base. There’s only one of those in the Major Leagues right now, Chase Headley. That’s the sort of upside Cowart has. It may take him several years to realize this potential, but the package is there. Even if Cowart’s ability to hit for average and consistently make contact never develops, he should still make an above average option at third base in the Major Leagues.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date – Most fans see him making his way onto the roster around the end of 2013 or 2014 at the latest. However, given that he’s only 20 years old, hasn’t had a ton of at bats in the minors and will be facing stiff competition for the first time, I’m anticipating Cowart to take a little while longer than most. I see him breaking into a starting role midway or toward the end of 2015.
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)
Season Summary: In 2012, Kaleb Cowart finally arrived. Sure, his numbers aren't of the eye-popping variety that Mike Trout posted in his days as the top dog in the system, but he is obviously an exception. No, Cowart's numbers are merely "nice." In this case though, "nice" is more than fine. Consider that Cowart's 2011 debut consisted of a pedestrian .765 OPS in rookie ball and you'll quickly realize how impressive his performance was in 2012, his first full season in the minors and a season that he started at the tender age of 19 years old.
Kaleb spent the first half of the season in Low-A Cedar Rapids where he finally tapped into some of the power that the Angels had been hoping to see from him. His .186 ISO is hardly astronomical, but it was a big step up for the kid. That early success earned Cowart a promotion to High-A Inland Empire, a level that he is very young for. His power and average took a slight dip, which was not unexpected given the jump in talent, but what was truly impressive was that his plate discipline held up as his walk rate nearly double upon arriving in the California League. For a kid his age who was considered to be fairly raw when drafted, that is a tremendous development. He did see a commensurate spike in his whiff rate in High-A, so he isn't completely without warts. Again, remember though that he did all of his work with the 66ers right after his 20th birthday. Dude is just a baby still.
One of the pleasant surprises about Cowart's season was actually in the field. It took him a bit to come into his own with the glove, but he flashed a ton of potential on defense this season and very much seems like he is on track to become a top-level defender at the hot corner. That kind of defensive prowess could grease the skids for him to arrive in the majors sooner than some expected and even allow him to stick in the bigs if his bat never develops like the Angels are hoping it will.
What to Expect in 2013: This is going to be a big year for Cowart. When the Angels signed Alberto Callaspo to a contract extension that runs through 2014, they pretty much announced that they are anticipating Cowart arriving to take over at third by Opening Day 2015. That's obvioulsy a plan they can change if things don't work out, but it is clearly their preferred plan. That's going to put some pressure on the organization to move Cowart aggressively through the system.
If he doesn't start the season in Double-A Arkansas, which I don't think he is quite ready for, the goal has to be for him to make the leap to that level very quickly. When he gets there, it is going to be a real learning experience as it will expose the holes in his approach, which is a good for a 20-year old but still very much a work in progress. Dickey-Stephens Park, as we often mention, really will show how developed Cowart's power is and how it will play in a tough environment if it never improves. Right now he is more of a gap power guy, but he'll have to learn how to really drive the ball if he wants to still be considered a slugger when he shows up in Little Rock.
If all goes well, expect Angel fans to begin clamoring for his immediate promotion since the fans continue to not appreciate Alberto Callaspo while also being spoiled by how quickly Mike Trout zipped through the minors. That really shouldn't be expected of Kaleb, but it probably will be nonetheless.