(Orem Owlz - Roberto Lopez)
By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Executive Editor
Once a week (Monday) AngelsWin.com will cover the top 10 hottest prospects in the organization. We will list their current stats and feats with a little blurb on each player. This is a great way for you Halo fans to find out who's hot in the Angels organization. It is important as a fan to know who is up and coming in the organization because prospects not only strengthen our team in the future, but they also become trade fodder for teams looking to rebuild who might give up an established player in the big leagues.
Covering the minor leagues has been something we at Angelswin.com enjoy doing for for the fans and parents of the Halos minor leaguers, giving recognition to top performers for the previous week . The top 10 hottest future Halos will be covered here, but if you have any questions on other prospects in other organizations or if want to send your comments on our weekly lists, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond in a timely manner.
Now, on to this weeks' Angelswin.com Prospect Hotlist, the final prospect hotlist of 2008.....
1.) Roberto Lopez, 1B, Short Season A Ball - Orem Owlz
Season Totals: .400, .480, .667, 14 HR's & 72 RBI's
Former USC outfielder Roberto Lopez was named most valuable player of the Pioneer League after finishing the regular season with a .400 batting average (108-for-270) for the Orem Owlz, ends the season topping the Angelswin.com Prospect Hotlist. Lopez, who played for USC from 2005-08, was among the league leaders for almost every major category.
A native of La Mesa, Calif., Lopez recorded 28 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs and 72 RBI while playing first base for the Owlz. He went 1-for-2 in his final game to reach the .400 plateau before sitting out the regular season finale. Lopez was a 25th round selection of the Los Angeles Angels and began the season with a 24-game hitting streak.
2.) Rafael Rodriguez, RP, Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Season Totals: 2.79 ERA, 11 saves, 56 K's in 67.2 innings
Something has clicked for the hard throwing Rafael Rodriguez after he was sent back to Arkansas, posting a 1.86 ERA, while holding opposing hitters to a .237 batting average, and fanning 14 over his last 13 innings (0.68 ERA during that span).
When the Angels lost Stephen Marek via a trade for Mark Teixeira along with Casey Kotchman, they had the depth to make that trade with the likes of Rodriguez, Arredondo, Bulger, Jepsen, Aldridge and Herndon in the fold. Rafael who lost a few MPH off his fastball the last couple years after hitting 99 MPH as a teenager a few years back, has regained that high velocity this year, but he's also commanding his heater and slider a lot better, giving the Angels another late inning option in the near future.
3.) Freddie Sandoval, 3B, Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Season Totals: .335, .389, .514, 45 2B's, 15 HR's, 88 RBI's
Sandoval finished the season on what was another of his many hot streaks during the '08 season, hitting .425 in his last 10 games. Sandoval has proved to the organization that he deserves a spot on the Angels roster in 2009, most likely taking the role of Rob Quinlan, if not claiming a starting job if an injury or door opens up for him another way.
There is no question Sandoval could be one of the best utility players the Angels have had since Chone Figgins, before he claimed a starting role a few years back. Something Sandoval could easily accomplish as well.
4.) Hank Conger, C, Double-A Arkansas Travelers
Season Totals: .303, .333, .517, 13 HR's, 75 RBI's
Hank Conger in what was just a half season of Baseball and his first taste of High-A Ball, turned out to be a tremendous accomplishment. Conger provided some punch in the middle of the order for the Quakes, which helped force a 1 game playoff game between the Inland Empire club.
Hank got the call after his season with the Quakes was over to the Double-A Arkansas Travelers club and last night he went 3-5 with a double, HR and 4 RBI's against the NW Arkansas club.
5. Luis Jimenez, 3B/1B, Short Season A Ball Orem Owlz
Season Totals: .331, .361, .630, 15 Hr's, 65 RBI's
The slugging corner infielder finished the season as the HR leader (1 more than Lopez) for the Orem Owlz club, and with a incredible .630 slugging pct. In Jimenez last 10 games he's hit .405, providing the Owlz with a middle of the order threat with Lopez in hopes of capturing another Orem championship.
6.) Bobby Wilson, C, Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Season Totals: .312, .386, .435, 20 2B's, 4 HR's, 45 RBI's (72 games)
Wilson, who hit just 4 HR's in 72 games with Salt Lake during the regular season, clubbed 3 HR's in the short series against Sacramento, hitting .500 before the Bees stellar season was cut short. Bobby Wilson could be the best all around catcher the Angels don't have on their current roster.
7.) Gabriel Jacobo, 1B, Low-A Ball Cedar Rapids Kernels
Season Totals: .324, .357, .556, 10 HR's, 56 RBI's (just 70 games)
Jacobo has made quite an impression after being drafted in the 10th round of the '08 amateur draft. The power hitting 1B has been productive in both stops (Orem & Cedar Rapids) this season, and is someone to keep an eye on going forward, besides his 10 HR's, Jacobo also clubbed 28 doubles.
8.) Anthony Ortega, SP, Triple-A Salt Lake Bees
Season Totals: 3.46 ERA, 14-7, .256 BAA
Anthony Ortega posted a solid ERA of 3.73 in Double-A Arkansas, but his performance in Triple-A has earned him what could be a spot start or two with the big league club in September. Ortega won 5 out of his 6 starts with the Triple-A Bees, posting a solid 2.52 ERA, hurling 5 straight QS's to end the season.
Ortega possess a solid set of average pitches (88-92 MPH fastball, curve, slider & changeup) that he uses to keep opposing hitters guessing at the plate.
9.) Peter Bourjos, OF, High A Ball Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Season Totals: .295, 29 2B's, 10 3B's, 9 HR's & 50 SB's
Bourjos was hitting over .300 (as high as .349 in June) for the majority of the season for the Quakes and was on pace at one time to steal over 70 bases, but a bad month of July and half of August saw Bourjos average drop 60+ points. With a 2 week surge to end the season, Peter improved his average, showed more power (4 HR's) and finished at .295, while stealing his 50th base.
Peter is the best athlete and outfielder in the farm system, but his plate discipline suffered in the final 2 months of the season (19 walks/96 strikeouts) so he'll need to improve that area going forward so he can use his blazing speed on the bases.
10.) Robert Fish, LHP, Low-A Ball Cedar Rapids Kernels
Season Totals: 4.85 ERA, 10-4, 138 K's in 143 innings
The southpaw Robert Fish exited the 2008 season fanning 20 batters in his last 3 appearances. Fish needs to keep the ball down and command his secondary pitches better, but he does have dominant stuff at times, a result of what was the best strikeouts to innings rate among hurlers with more than 100 innings. Keep an eye on him in Rancho next season, but it could ugly in the Cal League if he doesn't keep the ball down.
11.) Jose Perez, SP, Low-A Ball Cedar Rapids Kernels
Season Totals: 3.55 ERA, 7-4, 99 K's in 91 innings
Jose Perez is a fireballer to keep an eye on as he's managed to use his mid 90's fastball (at times hits 96-98 MPH) to fan 99 batters in 91 total innings this season, across 3 stops. Perez finished the season well, posting a 2.79 ERA with the Kernels in 5 starts, one of which he fanned 1o batters in 8 scoreless innings, only to throw another 7 scoreless innings in his next start.