Monday, March 17, 2008

By David Saltzer - Columnist

In what will normally be an in-season weekly prospect hotlist that features the top performing Angels minor leaguers for the prior week, done by Jason Sinner, Chuck Richter and new to, David Saltzer, we thought we'd give you a heads up of who is hot in down in Arizona, heading into the 2008 minor league season.

It comes to no surprise who is at #1, but we'll let David fill you in, making his debut.

1. Darren O’Day

RP, ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake if O'Day doesn't make the big league club

Previously ranked as our #39 prospect, Darren came into camp with the opportunity to make a statement. And, what a statement he made! In 11.1 innings, he’s only allowed 5 hits, 1 walk and 1 run while striking out 13! With the injury to Bootcheck, this submariner finds himself in contention to fill out our bullpen at the start of the season. He won’t overpower a hitter, but his delivery and sinking action will generate outs.

Geared mostly for short relief, Scioscia has tried to stretch O’Day out past 1 inning. O’Day’s lone run came on a dinger in a game where O’Day pitched 2 innings and still struck out 3 in 2 innings. Still, O’Day has earned a spot in the pen and hopefully will stick. He could become part of the crew that gets us from the starters to Frankie and holds the lead.

2. Peter Bourjos

OF, ticketed for High-A Rancho Cucamonga for the 2008 season

Our #7 prospect came into his first spring training camp to learn what it’s like to be amongst ML players and coaches. Apparently, he’s a quick study! This speedy CF has shown power with a 650 SLG and speed 3 SBs so far. Bourjos has caught Scioscia’s eye (who calls him the fastest player in the organization along with Nathan Haynes) and should continue his progression at Rancho this year. Bourjos has the tools—showing power and speed, and could become a fixture in our outfield in a few years.

3. Nick Adenhart

SP, ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake if he doesn't fill the 5th spot in the rotation

Nearly traded this offseason for M. Cabrera, our #1 prospect proves that a team can never have enough pitching. And, in Adenhart, we have pitching—good pitching. Projected to start the season at AAA, Nick may find his way into our rotation due to the injuries to Lackey and Escobar.

So far this spring, Halo fans have a lot to be excited about with Adenhart. At just 21 years old, he’s holding his own—even though he’s making the jump from AA! He pitches with a maturity beyond his years. While he’s given up a few hits, he’s made great work at reducing his walks this spring. A lot of Halo fans would be happy with a line like this out of their potential 5th starter in 2008.

4. Jose Arredondo

RP, ticketed for Double-A, but could head to Triple-A Salt Lake

Last season, Jose took a step backwards resulting in a demotion from AA and took a hit in the Top Prospect list (dropping to 29 last year). At the time, he didn’t seem to get the message and pretty much struggled for the rest of the season.

Flashing forward to this spring, Jose has shown just how lively an arm he has. He has yet to allow a run in 5 innings and has been throwing hard. He’s retired 15 of 16 batters faced with just 1 walk so far. Jose most likely will start at AA, but could earn a promotion to AAA if he keeps up this progress and keeps his head together. He’s definitely back on the radar this year.

5. Nick Green

SP, ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake for the 2008 season

The lesser known half of the “Nick” pitching tandem, Nick Green has shown that he has the stuff to be a solid middle of the rotation pitcher in the majors. Coming into Sunday’s game, our #8 prospect had an ERA of 3.86. Unfortunately, one fielding misplay in Sunday’s game caused his ERA to jump all the way up to 5.40. Blessed with an exceptional changeup, Green should start the season at AAA where he will get regular work and wait for a shot to pitch in Anaheim.

6. Mark Trumbo

1B, ticketed for High-A Rancho Cucamonga for the 2008 season

Another one of our youngsters in his first ML camp, Trumbo came in needing to work on his contact. The power is there—just ask Eddie Bane—but the contact hasn’t been as good. So far, out #16 prospect has shown steady improvement in the contact while playing a solid 1B. Trumbo is set to open the season at Rancho, which could result in a monstrous year for him. Local area fans should make a point to drive out to Rancho to see the team that is developing out there.

7. Rich Thompson

RP, ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake for the 2008 season

In our Top 50 prospect report we said about our #18 prospect “Look for Rich to get a look in Spring Training and if he impresses don't be surprised if he breaks camp with the club.” On a normal club, in a normal year, Thompson’s effort this spring would be impressive. The problem here is that Thompson’s impressive numbers have been dwarfed by O’Day’s dominant numbers. Thompson has yet to walk anyone and has struck out 6 in 7 innings. While these numbers are good, most likely, Thompson will return to AAA where he will wait for a call up as needed in our bullpen.

8. Steve Marek

SP, ticketed for Double-A Arkansas for the 2008 season

Although we ranked Stephen Marek 35th on our Top Prospect List, Baseball American ranked him 6th. He’s another one of our hard throwers, and he has the potential to be an impact on the mound. Marek tends to fly under the radar, but, he throws in the mid 90s with a good breaking pitch and is a hard worker. So far this spring, he has yet to allow a run in 4 games.

9. Hainley Statia

SS, ticketed for Double-A Arkansas for the 2008 season

Another one of our deep MIF prospects, Hainley is ready defensively to play in the majors. Our #14 prospect has great range and a strong arm. He has speed to go with his defense, but he still needs to work on his offense. This spring Hainley has shown that we had the depth to trade Orlando Cabrera and still have the confidence in our system to defensively cover the SS position. Whoever wins the battle this year cannot rest comfortably for long. In a year or two, Hainley could be challenging for a starting job. Look for Hainley to start the season at AA.

10. Brandon Wood

SS, ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake for the 2008 season

Yes, there have been too many strikeouts. Yes, the contact has not been what we had hoped. But, two things have appeared that warrant our #2 prospect making this list. First, the power. Of Wood’s 4 hits, 3 have been dingers with the other being a double. Second, his defense. So far this spring, Wood has been playing solid defense at both SS and 3B.

While it appears that Wood will not win the starting SS job this spring (as many had hoped), it’s also clear that the club hasn’t decided what position Wood will play in the future. He provides depth at 2 critical positions and has the power to make game-altering plays in the future.

Brandon has his work cut out for him offensively. He needs to stay back on the ball to help him get to pitches. But, the good news is that the power is still there as well as the defense. With consistent work at AAA, Wood could be ready by the end of the season.

On the Outside Looking In:

Matt Brown, Bobby Wilson, Freddy Sandoval, Sean O’Sullivan, Alex Serrano, Fernando Rodriguez

Love to hear what you think!


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