Monday, March 26, 2012

By Scott Stedman - Minor League Writer

By now, I am sure you all are somewhat familiar with Mike Trout, Jean Segura, and Johnny Hellweg, and seen their rosy projections.  But how about Daniel Hurtado, or Abel Baker? Here are 5 under the radar Angels prospects going into the 2012 season.

1. Trevor Reckling LHSP:

Trevor Reckling was drafted by the Angels in the 8th round of the 2007 draft out of St. Benedict's Prep High School in Newark, N.J. After posting great numbers, and wowing scouts with his deceptive delivery, Reckling rose to the Angels top prospect. However Trevor struggled terribly in 2010. Perhaps rushed by the lack of depth in the Angels system, the 20 year old Reckling started the year in Salt Lake where he was hit around quite a bit. 2011 didn't illustrate the classic Reckling, but still he was much improved from 2010. Take a look at his BB/9 rate of 2011: 1.8. His lowest since his first year in the Angels system. At the end of the year, Reckling was hampered by an arm injury, but he is healthy and pitching again. "TRex" features a fastball in the 88-92 range which is helped out greatly by his deceptive delivery, a developing change up, and an absolutely devastating curve ball. The curve is of the 12-6 variety, and when he is on, he makes hitters look foolish. Trevor is a hard-worker, and I am looking for Reckling to have a very good 2012 (Age 23) season, likely in Salt Lake.

Biggest asset: Outstanding curve
MLB debut prediction: September, 2012.
Dream projection: Francisco Liriano

2. Travis Witherspoon OF:

The Angels drafted Travis Witherspoon in the 12th round of the 2009 draft out of attended Sumter (S.C.) High School. "Spoon" struggled to hit in '09 with the Orem Owlz (Rookie ball) squad. However in 2010, Witherspoon shined during a repeat season with Orem. He hit .309/.365/.472, with terrific defense in 71 for the Owlz. But perhaps the most encourage stat was the 0, yes that's right, 0 times he was thrown out stealing - he was a perfect 20 for 20. In 2011 split between Cedar Rapids and Inland Empire, Travis hit just .250, but his 46 stolen bases and wonderful defense continued to wow onlookers. Witherspoon has shown he has all the tools to be a potential top prospect, but needs to showcase those tools on a consistent basis. Look for Witherspoon to start his age 23 season in Inland Empire and move up to Arkansas sometime during the year.

Biggest asset: Speed
MLB debut prediction: September, 2013.
Dream projection: Cameron Maybin

3. Abel Baker C

Abel Baker was selected by the Angels in the 7th round of last year's draft out of Grayson County (Texas) College, and definitely opened some eyes with his performance in Orem. He had a line of .306/.406(!)/.471 in 48 games with the Owlz. He is still developing as a solid defensive catcher, but his arm strength is definitely plus-plus. The Angels have hit it big before out of Grayson County (John Lackey, Jordan Walden), so maybe Baker will be the 3rd big prospect from the college. Baker has an excellent pop time (stop watch measurement from the pop of the glove to the release of the ball) of 1.88 seconds. Add that to his cannon behind the plate, and you have a base stealer's worst nightmare. Baker is going into his age 21 season, and should start in Cedar Rapids.

Biggest asset: Arm behind the plate/Plate discipline
MLB debut prediction: Late 2014.
Dream projection: Miguel Montero

4. Max Russell LHSP

Max Russell is one of those guys who has flown way under the radar. A 4th round draft pick in 2010 out of Florida Southern College, Russell has already reached high-A ball. Last year between Cedar Rapids and Inland Empire, Russell posted a 3.89 ERA in 155 IP, good enough to be a Midwest League All-Star. Russell won't blow it by you, as he stays in the 87-89 range. However his command is plus, and he got better with each start in the 2011 season. Max's change up is well developed for a minor league player, and his curve ball induces many ground outs. Russell got 41 innings under his belt in high-A ball in '11, so he may take a similar path as Garrett Richards did and start this year in AA Arkansas.

Biggest asset: Control
MLB debut prediction: September, 2013.
Dream projection: Joe Saunders.

5. Daniel Hurtado RHSP

I know what you're thinking: WHO?? I'm here to answer that. Hurtado was signed out of Los Teques, Miranda, Venezuela in 2009 and was sent to the Angels Dominican Summer League (DSL). Last year, the 6'3"/180 Hurtado was a monster for the DSL Angels to the tune of a 1.45 ERA in 14 games started. He even tossed a no-hitter, and led the DSL Angels to the championship. Daniel has been in the DSL for 3 years now, so it seems like he should come to the states soon, however it is very hard to predict. The Angels also monitor how the players are adapting to a different culture, such as learning English. Hurtado is just 19, so he could have the opportunity to be a top prospect for the Angels in the future. Daniel Hurtado is a name to keep an eye on.

Biggest asset: Everything?
MLB debut prediction: N/A
Dream projection: N/A
Video: N/A.
Love to hear what you think!

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