Wednesday, March 25, 2009

By Bruce Nye - Columnist

Angels Prospects

What do the following Angel players have in common?
  • John Lackey
  • Joe Saunders
  • Jered Weaver
  • Dustin Moseley
  • Nick Adenhart
  • Scot Shields
  • Ervin Santana
  • Jose Arredondo
  • Kevin Jepsen
  • Shane Loux
  • Kendry Morales
  • Erick Aybar
  • Howie Kendrick
  • Robb Quinlan
  • Mike Napoli
  • Jeff Mathis
  • Brandon Wood
  • Sean Rodriguez
  • Mike Brown
  • Reggie Willits
  • Chris Pettit
  • Jordan Walden
  • Hank Conger
  • Ryan Budde
  • Bobby Wilson
  • Freddy Sandoval
  • Mark Trumbo
  • Peter Bourjos
The answer is, these are the players who have come up through the Angels minor league system and either are current major league players or some time will be. They are on the Angels 40-man roster. So when you are reading the various baseball publications ranking the Angels minor league prospects and wonder what happened, the answer is: they are here! When Mike Scioscia says it is time to see if the kids can do it, this is about whom he is talking.

To be sure, Pettit, Walden, Conger, Budde, Wilson, Sandoval, Trumbo and Bourjos will need additional seasoning in the minor league system, but they each have a major league future.

Difference Makers

The question we all have is who among the new kids are difference makers and how will they be used. It appears that Chone Figgins will be starting at 3rd base and Howie Kendrick at 2nd. So where do Brandon Wood, Aybar, Brown, S. Rodriguez, Maicer Izturis and the Mighty Q fit in?

Conservatively, we believe that Wood, Brown and Rodriguez will be sent to AAA in Salt Lake City to continue to play at that kevel until an injury or opening occurs at the major league level.

We have seen Brandon Wood play shortstop and know that defensively, he is adequate if not very adept at fielding that position. He won’t make the flashy Aybar plays, but neither does Derek Jeter. Brandon Wood offers the power that this team has been missing for several years. There doesn’t seem to be a valid argument for sending him back to AAA.

The Mighty Q – Robb Quinlan – can play both corner infield positions, but we already know what we can expect to see from him and offensively it isn’t much. Isn’t this an opportunity for Mike Brown to show what he can do? If something happens to Morales, Brown can back him up and so can Juan Rivera. Brown has shown plenty of pop at the AAA level, it’s time for him to play in the bigs.

On The Bump

It would appear that the starting pitching to open the season will not include Santana and Escobar. Their replacements will be Adenhart and Moseley. It is expected that Santana and Escobar will be available in the May to mid-May timeframe. This makes the Angels starting rotation the arguably the best in major league baseball. So what happens to Adenhart and Moseley?

After the terrific spring training both have enjoyed, the answer is Salt Lake City joining the others waiting for an injury or opportunity.

The relief core is also rock solid with Shields, Arredondo and Fuentes at the back end and Oliver, Jepsen and Loux in set-up or longer relief positions. It remains to be seen if Speier can return to the form he demonstrated in 2006 and 2007.

Too Much Depth?

It is a rare occurrence when a professional team goes through a complete season without injuries. The Angels are prepared to deal with injuries at all positions, but the talent that exists in the infield presents an opportunity for the Angels to trade for talent in future years. No one can say whether Lackey and Guerrero will be re-signed at season’s end. While it appears the team has sufficiency with starting pitching, the outfield could present a different story. Bobby Abreu was signed to a one year deal only. The possibility exists that both Abreu and Guerrero could be gone. Rivera and Matthews don’t come close to replacing them, which is all the more reason to get Brandon Wood more and more at bats to make up for a potential loss of power in 2010.

The Angels have terrific draft picks in this year’s draft, but those picks won’t be major league ready for several years. Now is the time to package a deal offering a combination of Quinlan, Izturis, Figgins, Aybar, Brown and Rodriguez.
Love to hear what you think!


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