Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chris Pettit's batting average on May 9th, 2009 during a game against the Portland Beavers

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor

After evaluating and ranking who we thought were the top-30 Los Angeles Angels prospects at the mid-season break in our last feature, we decided to take a look at who possesses the Best Tools in the organization. With help from Eddie Bane and our own area scouts, we came up with this list to give our readers an idea of what prospects excel at certain facets of the game.

Obviously, those who have graduated to the big leagues and have surpassed our requirements to be considered a prospect, such as Kendry Morales, Kevin Jepsen, Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Wood, you won't see them on this list. Though in Wood's and Rodriguez's cases, they're not currently in the big leagues, but they're putting up incredible power totals in Triple-A and should get a starting job in the big leagues in 2010, much like Morales did at the start of this season.

So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at who brings what to the table ... er, diamond, down on the farm.

Best Batting Prospect
Chris Pettit: Pettit brings an ability to square up the ball and make solid contact better than anyone in the organization right now. Hank Conger was a close second, with Alexi Amarista not far behind. Pettit is hitting .336 on the season.

Best Power Prospect
Mark Trumbo: After an incredibly slow start with the bat and in the power department this season with the Travelers, Trumbo has gotten it going in the second half. Trumbo is hitting .320 in the second half thus far, posting a .500 slugging percentage in July and .596 in August. He's up to 13 home runs on the season. James Mallard, Conger, Randal Grichuk and Matt Sweeney all bring some serious power to the plate, as well.

Best Power & Hitting Prospect
Hank Conger: "The Mighty Cong" brings an ability to hit for average and power from both sides of the plate, better than anyone in the system, though Matt Sweeney is a close second to Conger in this department. Conger, like Trumbo, got off to a slow start with the Travs this season, but has come on strong in the 2nd half -- posting a .959 OPS in the month of July. Conger has upped his batting average to exactly .300 on Aug. 13.

Best Strike Zone Judgment
Alexi Amarista & Chris Pettit: Sometimes you just can't pick one and since we make up the rules, we're fine with a two-way tie for the best strike zone judgment in the organization. Both Amarista and Pettit have a good idea at the plate and would make for an excellent lead off or No. 2 hitter at the top of the lineup, especially with their ability to steal a base.

Best Baserunner
Peter Bourjos: Nobody goes from first to third faster than Bourjos. With Bourjos' speed, he's turned would-be bloop singles into doubles and has notched 11 triples in just 85 games this season. Pettit and first round pick Mike Trout are also excellent base runners with good speed.

Fastest Baserunner
Peter Bourjos: Even though the Angels had stolen base artist Chone Figgins in camp last spring, Mike Scioscia noted that Bourjos was the fastest player in camp. Bourjos missed some time this year with a wrist injury, but has still managed to steal 22 bases. He needs to work on the art of stealing a base (caught 11 times), but there is no questioning his game-changing speed on the bases and in the outfield.

Best Defensive Catcher
Bobby Wilson: Does a great job at blocking balls in the dirt, throwing out runners and has only committed four errors on the season for the Bees. Wilson also frames the ball well for the pitcher, along with calling a good game. Wilson is a solid defensive backstop with a bat decent enough to be a solid backup catcher in the big leagues.

Best Defensive 1B
Gabe Jacobo: In 98 games, Jacobo has committed just three errors. He's solid at digging balls out of the dirt and going to his left to stop would-be doubles down the line. A former third baseman, Jacobo has a strong arm, as well.

Best Defensive 2B
Alexi Amarista: The 5'8", 150-pound second baseman has incredible range to his left and right and makes the double play look easy. Amarista has a solid average arm and should be a above average second baseman in the future with more experience, despite his 13 errors this season.

Best Defensive 3B
Jay Brossman: Through 53 games, Brossman has just three errors at the hot corner. Brossman looks real fluid and comfortable around the third base bag, rarely missing a routine grounder or hot smash to him. His throws are strong and accurate. Sweeney showed a lot of improvement before he went down with a hip injury last month, as well.

Best Defensive SS
Andrew Romine: There is no question about Romine's defensive ability at the shortstop position. He has above average range, hands and arm strength and his throws are accurate.

Best Infield Arm
Andrew Romine: See above. Strong arm. Has made several nice plays for the Quakes going to his right in the hole between SS and 3B to take away base hits all season long. He's got a lot of Erick Aybar in him with the glove.

Best Defensive Outfielder
Peter Bourjos: There is no question here, Bourjos is the best in the system. Reminds me a lot of Devon White with how fast and yet fluid he is out there running balls down in the gaps. There are many balls that left the bat and you just knew it was a gapper or over Bourjos head, but ended up being caught. If Bourjos continues to improve with the bat and his plate discipline, he'll be moving Torii Hunter over to a corner spot before his contract is up with the Angels.

Best Outfield Arm
Terrell Alliman, Julio Perez: These two can flat out throw laser beams from the outfield and should notch a bunch of outfield assists as they move up levels. Both of these guys can go get it in the outfield as well, especially Alliman.

Most Athletic
Jeremy Moore, P.J. Phillips, Terrell Alliman, Peter Bourjos: Possessing a blend of athleticism and baseball skills, it's worth giving praise to Alliman, Phillips (Brandon Phillips' younger brother, who was just moved to CF) and Moore. Bourjos is the best of the four here in terms of athleticism, but these other three are faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. They're able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But will they hit enough to make it to the big leagues? We'll see.

Most Exciting Player
Peter Bourjos: Everyone in the stands who knows about Bourjos speed braces themselves for a gapper hit by Bourjos, because it's truly exciting to see him go from the batters box to third base for a triple, or run down a would-be gapper by the opposing team. Without question, Bourjos is the most exciting player in the organization's crop of top prospects.

Best Pitching Prospect
Trevor Reckling: Our mid-season pick for the Angels top prospect hasn't changed our minds two weeks after giving him the top spot, nor do we think he'll give up the spot in our 2010 preseason Top-50 Prospects list. The 20 year old has more than held his own in Double-A this season, flashing three above average pitches, with room for more velocity on his 88-93 MPH fastball as his body fills out.

Best Fastball
Fabio Martinez Mesa, Michael Kohn, Robert Mosebach: Usually this was a given with the award going to Jordan Walden, who once threw 100 mph in Low-A ball. But this year it has been a struggle for Walden, with arm injuries and a decrease in fastball velocity (90-93 mph). Kohn has dialed it up to 97 mph this season, along with Martinez Mesa, with Mosebach hitting triple digits for both the minor league affiliates and the Angels in a brief stint earlier this season.

Best Breaking Pitch
Trevor Reckling, Alex Torres: Reckling throws more of a tight, hard breaking ball, where Torres throws more of a traditional style curveball that generates some awful swings from opposing batters. Both are well above average.

Best Change Up
Sean O'Sullivan: If you've watched any of O'Sullivan's starts as a member of the Angels, you've witnessed a Major League change up in his arsenal. The best part of Sully's offspeed pitch is that he's not afraid to throw it behind in the count. If O'Sullivan can keep his 90-93 mph fastball down in the zone, he'll be an above average Major League starter for many years.

Best Control
Trevor Bell: Just recently promoted to make his Major League debut for the Angels against the Tampa Bay Rays, Bell has turned a lot of heads at the ballpark this season. Bell works quickly and pounds the strike zone with a 92-94 mph fastball, touching 95, and flashing a solid slider and change up. Case in point, Bell's first batter faced in the Major Leagues was Jason Bartlett, who was retired on three pitches: Strike one (94 mph fastball), strike two (94 mph fastball) and the third pitch another 94 mph fastball for a ground out to Figgins. The infielders love Bell's pace, as it keeps them on their toes ready for a would-be put out. Bell induces a ton of ground balls, but as he gains experience and studies the hitters he should strike a few more out, as well.

Best Reliever
Michael Kohn, Bobby Cassevah, Vladimir Veras, Robert Mosebach, Andrew Taylor: It should be "Best Relievers" because of the number of quality relievers in the organization. It has been as much of a successful season for a good sized crop of relief prospects down on the farm as it has has been a struggle for the Major League bullpen in 2009. Kohn, Cassevah, Veras, Mosebach and Taylor all bring upper 90s velocity to the back end of games and should be an asset to the Major League pen in the near future. When you factor in that Mason Tobin and Ryan Aldridge will each be someone to look at in 2010 in the minors, along with the graduations of Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger, the bullpen looks to be in good shape sooner than later.
Love to hear what you think!


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