Monday, March 5, 2012

By David Saltzer and Chuck Richter

People often ask why we ranked a certain player where we did in our Top-50 Prospect List. As we discuss each year in our introduction, there are a myriad of factors that go into a player’s ranking. However, in breaking it down a bit, certain trends emerge.

First off, at we expect to see movement on our list. Over time, most prospects should move up as they progress closer to the Major Leagues. As space opens up in the Majors, prospects near the top of our list should graduate into the Majors or are traded. This, in turn, opens up more spots near the top for the lower ranked players.

Newly drafted players often fill in the 31-50 range as they try to separate themselves from the pack. With late signings and only a short season of play, it is often very difficult to rate newly drafted players (particularly high school players) very highly because doing so would be based more on a projection of what the player might become rather than an actual assessment of where the player currently stands in the organization.

Aside from newness to the organization, players tend to end up in the 31-50 for a few common reasons. Depth at the position will push a player down. Unfortunately, if a player signs a long-term deal with the Major League club, that “block” can cause a player to fall down in the rankings.

Additionally, a player who is coming back from a serious injury, where there are substantial questions about their ability to perform may find themselves in this range. Coming back from a major injury or surgery is never easy, and that player will have something to prove in order to justify a higher ranking.

Finally, players tend to find themselves in this range when they are older than the league they are in but still performing well against the competition. Age is a serious issue in sports. Two players with different ages will not be viewed the same by scouts and managers even if they post identical numbers in the same league.

In no way does this mean that “late bloomers” do not have a shot at making the Majors. Every parent club will have to tap into its Minor League depth every year for all sorts of players. Managers, particularly Mike Scioscia, like to play the “hot-hand,” so if a player is doing well, he will be given a shot. Just making it into the’s Top-50 Prospect List places all of these prospects into the upper third of the organization. For every player here, there are at least two players in the organization not on the list.

Because of all of this, will now include the year in which a player was drafted and the round in which he was drafted to give fans a better perspective into the player’s evaluation. Hopefully, fans will gain a better perspective on why we ranked the player at a certain spot in the organization.

31. Chris Scholl (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” 195 lbs. DOB: 10/27/87
Arkansas (Double-A): 4-3, 0 saves, 2.32 ERA, 66 strikeouts, 22 walks, 85.1 IP
Year Drafted: 2008 Round: 8th

Scouting Report: Mixing time as both a starter and reliever, Scholl achieved career highs in IP in 2011 all while maintaining a .185 BAA. Scholl still showed his low-90s fastball, and sharp command. However, he occasionally left the ball up in the zone, resulting in more flyballs (0.69 GO/AO) and more HRs allowed (7) than in years past. This tendency was exposed in the AFL, where he allowed 4 HRs in 20 IP, but that could be attributed to his arm being a bit fatigued at the end of the season. Triple-A Salt Lake will be the final proving ground for him, where he should provide depth until needed at the Major League level.

32. Austin Wood (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” 225lbs. DOB: 7/11/90
Orem (Rookie-A): 0-0, 0 saves, 20.25 ERA, 1 strikeout, 0 walks, 1.1 IP
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: 6th

Scouting Report: A last minute signing by the Angels, Wood did not get into much action in 2011. He has a big arm (hitting 99 mph in the Cape Cod League where he dominated), Wood struggles with command and control. He can rush his delivery to get extra zip, and might be better off dialing it back a bit to gain more control and movement on his pitches. His offspeed pitches show potential, but, also need refinement. A work in progress, the upside is clearly there for Wood. He could move through the organization quickly like Richards did if he can refine his mechanics and improve his control, especially on his offspeed pitches.

33. A. J. Schugel (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” 190 lbs. DOB: 6/27/89
Cedar Rapids (Low-A): 4-3, 1 save, 2.59 ERA, 80 strikeouts, 39 walks, 90.1 IP
Inland Empire (High-A): 1-2, 0 saves, 5.03 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 6 walks, 19.2 IP
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: 25th

Scouting Report: Schugel is an interesting work in progress for the Angels. The son of one of their scouts, Schugel played the infield (mostly 3B) for almost all of his high school and college careers. After showcasing some skills in a bullpen session, the Angels drafted him and began the long road to the Majors. Schugel throws a low-90s fastball, that can hit 94 or 95 on occasion. He gets better movement on it at lower speeds, and it cuts in on righties. Schugel’s secondary offerings are still developing, and the development of a solid third pitch may make the difference for him as a starter or reliever long-term. The Angels have seen enough to put him in the rotation in 2011, but a bullpen role may also be a long-term option for him.

34. Chevy Clarke (CF)
Both Throws: Right Height: 5’11” 185 lbs. DOB: 1/09/92
AZL-ANG(Rookie): AVG-OBP-SLG .226-.285-.400 with 3 HRs and 5 SBs in 195 ABs
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: 1st

Scouting Report: The physical tools are there, but Clarke has yet to translate them into on-the-field performance. Repeating his time at the AZL Rookie League showed flashes of the speed and power that made him a 1st round draft pick, but also demonstrated poor plate discipline (66 Ks and only 16 BBs). Clarke needs to get back to what made him a 1st round draft pick: utilizing his speed and making consistent contact. Projected as a leadoff hitter, Clarke has tried to emphasize power too much at the expense of contact. Quick out of the box from both sides, Clarke needs to work speed more into his game. Defensively, Clarke has solid range, but only average arm strength, meaning a move to LF may occur down the road.

35. Cam Bedrosian (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’0” 205 lbs. DOB: 10/2/91
DNP: Injured
Year Drafted: 2010 Round:1st

Scouting Report: Spent the year recovering from Tommy John surgery. This year will be pivotal for Bedrosian as he tries to answer many questions such as: how will he bounce back from the surgery, does he still have the low-90s fastball and sharp slider, is he a starter or should he be moved to the pen, etc. The Angels will most likely be cautious with him, giving him ample time to stretch out his arm and to keep him in the rotation, but until he answers these questions, his true value is difficult to ascertain.

36. Donn Roach (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” 200 lbs. DOB: 12/14/89
Cedar Rapids (Low-A): 5-5, 2 saves, 3.45 ERA, 68 strikeouts, 20 walks, 70.1 IP
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: 3(s)

Scouting Report: Moved permanently to the bullpen, Roach showed a low-90s fastball and an improved curveball in 2011. Roach kept the ball low in the zone, generating a 3.55 GO/AO ratio and only allowing 1 HR on the season. In 2010, he posted a 5.50 GO/AO ratio, so his groundball inducing abilities are solid. Maintaining the ball low in the zone and movement on his fastball will be his keys for success in Single-A with the IE 66ers. If he harnesses those two aspects of his game, he should excel and standout in IE's pen.

37. Wendell Soto (SS)
Both Throws: Right Height: 5’8” 150 lbs. DOB: 5/11/92
AZL-ANG (Rookie-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .227-.304-.356 with 2 HRs and 6 SBs in 132 ABs
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: 3rd

Scouting Report: Hard working and dedicated, Soto is a young, slick-fielding shortstop with some speed. Signed out of high school, Soto repeated his experience with the AZL-Angels in 2011. While his BA took a bit of a dip (.227 vs. .260 in 2010), that is a bit misleading. The key differences were in 2010 he had 3 more hits and 5 fewer ABs. However, in 2011, Soto showed more power (10 XBH in 2011 vs. 4 in 2010), and improved his plate discipline by increasing his walks to 15 (vs. 10 in 2010). The combined effect resulted in a .660 OPS in 2011 vs. a .626. At 20, Soto should earn a start with Orem this year, where he should continue to work his way up the ladder.

38. Logan Odom (RHP)
Left Throws: Right Height: 6’6” 240 lbs. DOB: 8/2/89
Orem (Rookie): 3-2, 0 saves, 5.44 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 32 walks, 51.1 IP
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: 8th

Scouting Report: Drafted out of USC, Odom is a rarity—he pitches as a righty and bats as a lefty. He shows a high-80s to low 90s fastball with average offspeed pitches. He tired as the season progressed. Long term, a move to the pen may be considered for Odom, as in short bursts he could be more effective. At 6’6” and 240, Odom is a big guy who should be able to better use his size to generate speed.

39. Max Russell (LHP)
Left Throws: Left Height: 6’2” 210 lbs. DOB: 9/21/88
Cedar Rapids (Low-A): 5-10, 0 saves, 3.79 ERA, 85 strikeouts, 45 walks, 114.0 IP
Inland Empire (High-A): 1-2, 0 saves, 4.17 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 8 walks, 41.0 IP
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: 4th

Scouting Report: A Midwest League All-Star, Russell is one of the few left-handers in the Angels system. Like many lefties, Russell doesn’t have overpowering stuff, mostly sitting around 90 MPH. He has a solid curve and changeup to keep hitters guessing. With only 7 starts in San Bernardino, Russell figures to start the year off with the 66ers. The key test for him will be what happens when he gets promoted to Double-A. If he can continue to generate sufficient groundballs (1.47 GO:AO in 2011), he should be successful.

40. Eddie McKiernan (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” 160 lbs. DOB: 3/21/89
Arkansas (Double-A): 9-12, 1 save, 5.22 ERA, 93 strikeouts, 31 walks, 139.2 IP
Year Drafted: 2007 Round: 17th

Scouting Report: Converted into a starter in 2011, McKiernan struggled at first under the increased workload all while pitching at a higher level in the organization. Looking deeper into the numbers, McKiernan improved over the course of the season. As he stretched out, his ERA dropped from 6.10 in the first half to 4.57 in the second half. And, all of his secondary numbers improved as well. With a potentially crowded rotation projected for Triple-A Salt Lake, the Angels could return McKiernan to the bullpen where he has proven to be very effective. However, they could also continue the experiment with him as a starter, where they might continue to have him refine his game at Double-A at the start of 2012.

41. Steven Geltz (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 5’10” 170 lbs. DOB: 11/01/87
Salt Lake (Triple-A): 0-0, 0 saves, 21.60 ERA, 1 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1.2 IP
Arkansas (Double-A): 3-3, 0 saves, 3.09 ERA, 67 strikeouts, 14 walks, 46.2 IP
Year Drafted: 2008 Round: Non-Drafted Free Agent

Scouting Report: After a brief and disappointing start to the year at Triple-A Salt Lake (2 appearances), Geltz returned to Double-A where he posted very solid numbers out of the pen. Two areas of concern truly emerged for Geltz in 2011. The first was his extreme propensity to give up flyballs. In 2011, his GO:AO rate dropped to 0.24 for the season. The second was an undisclosed action off the field resulting in a month-long suspension. On the positive side, Geltz continued to dominate hitters, generating 12.66 K/9.0 IP. He did so, throwing a mid-90s fastball and a splitter. Both pitches he commands well hides well, leading his teammates to call his out pitch the “invisiball”. A return to Triple-A should be in order for Geltz, where he will continue to work on getting the ball down in the zone.

42. Jett Bandy (C)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” 210 lbs. DOB: 3/26/90
Salt Lake (Triple-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .000-.000-.000 with 0 HRs and 0 SBs in 1 ABs
Arkansas (Double-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .500-.500-2.000 with 1 HR and 0 SBs in 2 ABs
Orem (Rookie-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .333-.333-.500 with 0 HRs and 0 SBs in 6 ABs
AZL-ANG (Rookie-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .307-.394-.477 with 4 HRs and 2 SBs in 176 ABs
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: 31st

Scouting Report: Going into 2011, Bandy had a lot of positive momentum. Named to the 2011 Preseason All-America Second Team by the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Bandy pushed too hard to make things happen as a junior and never settled into a solid offensive groove. Once taken by the Angels, though, things settled down for Bandy and he demonstrated the solid skills that he showed as a sophomore in 2010. Bounced around the organization to fill spot needs, Bandy posted a solid offensive and defensive season, throwing out 37% of opposing baserunners. Look for Bandy to settle into a more established role with Cedar Rapids where he should work with a very talented rotation.

43. Andrew Ray (OF)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” 195 lbs. DOB: 5/1/91
Orem (Rookie-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .175-.259-.254 with 2 HRs and 3 SBs in 126 ABs
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: 5th

Scouting Report: A left fielder, Ray has projectable power with the ability to hit for average. Converted from the infield to the outfield, Ray hit .375/.449/.596 with 12 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 HRs in 28 games with Northeast Texas Community College prior to signing with the Angels. A young player, Ray had a strong showing in Instructional League where his skills improved. With time, he should develop average power and range with an above average corner arm.

44. Ryan Bolden (OF)
Right Throws: Left Height: 6’2” 195 lbs. DOB: 9/17/91
AZL ANG (Rookie-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .168-.252-.228 with 0 HRs and 8 SBs in 101 ABs
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: 1st

Scouting Report: Drafted on raw athleticism, Bolden is a burner who needs to harness his raw abilities into a potent force. Gifted with plus a plus arm, range speed, and above average power, Bolden has all the tools to be a potent threat on the bases. Unfortunately, he struck out nearly half the time (48 Ks) and walked too rarely (9 BBs) to take advantage of most of those tools. Bolden will take time as he continues to learn the game, but, still projects with a big upside if he can master his raw talent.

45. Mike Piazza (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” 205 lbs. DOB: 11/24/86
Inland Empire (High-A): 0-1, 0 saves, 2.78 ERA, 42 strikeouts, 13 walks, 35.2 IP
Arkansas (High-A): 0-1, 0 saves, 3.26 ERA, 25 strikeouts, 19 walks, 30.1 IP
Year Drafted: 2009 Round: Non-Drafted Free Agent

Scouting Report: Focused and poised on the mound, Piazza is a sleeper candidate for the bullpen who is steadily making progress up the organization. Relying mostly on control, Piazza does not have the stuff to overpower hitters. Piazza mixes his pitches well to keep hitters off balanced, resulting in a .211 BAA for 2011. Yes, he’s related to that other Mike Piazza. No, he does not get any help in the baseball world because of that—he’s pushing his way up the organization all on his own.

46. Daniel Vargas-Vila (RHP)
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” 205 lbs. DOB: 6/7/89
Orem (Rookie-A): 1-3, 0 saves, 3.54 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 13 walks, 56.0 IP
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: 28th  

Scouting Report: The first of three players taken by the Angels out of West Florida, Vargas-Vila got off to a good start in his pro-debut. Vargas-Vila attacks hitters from a three-quarters slot with a 4-pitch mix, all of which presently rate as average to slightly above average: an 88-90 mph fastball (that can touch 93), a curve, slider, and changeup. He mixes speeds well and shows good control, although, when tired, can rush his delivery, resulting in pitches up in the zone (8 HRs allowed). Pitching for Cedar Rapids in 2012 should show improved results.

47. Ryan Jones (OF)
Left Throws: Left Height: 6’0” 200 lbs. DOB: 5/19/88
Cedar Rapids (Low-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .145-.309-.182 with 0 HRs and 3 SBs in 55 ABs
Orem (Rookie-A): AVG-OBP-SLG .319-.385-.584 with 12 HRs and 3 SBs in 257 ABs
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: Non-Drafted Free Agent

Scouting Report: After a poor start to the season in Cedar Rapids, Jones joined the Orem Owlz and became an offensive force in the outfield. He was the Pioneer League’s Player of the Week for the week of August 15, 2011 and was named to the Pioneer League’s Post Season All-Star Team. Not only is the Angels organization short in left-handed pitchers, it is also short in left-handed hitters. Look for Jones to return to Cedar Rapids in 2012 where he should continue to build on his successes in Orem.

48. Shane Waller (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’0” 190 lbs. DOB: 9/22/88
Orem (Rookie-A): 4-0, 1 save, 2.45 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 9 walks, 22.0 IP
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: Non-Drafted Free Agent

Scouting Report: Waller attacks hitters with a solid slider and a low-90s fastball. Signed as a non-drafted free agent, the Angels were familiar with him as they scouted and drafted two of his college teammates in 2011. As a college senior, Waller set University of Western Florida single-season records in ERA, strikeouts per 9.0 IP (16.02) and hits per 9.0 IP (3.54) for pitchers with at least 30 IP. With Daniel Reynolds receiving a 50-game suspension, Waller has the opportunity in 2012 to reclaim the closer’s role with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and to move himself up on the depth chart.

49. Juan “Junior” Carlin (LHP)
Left Throws: Left Height: 6’2” 165 lbs. DOB: 6/4/88
Orem (Rookie-A): 4-0, 1 save, 1.50 ERA, 35 strikeouts, 7 walks, 30.0 IP
Year Drafted: 2011 Round: 20th

Scouting Report: Carlin is an interesting work in progress. Drafted as an outfielder, the Angels decided to convert Carlin into a left-handed pitcher. He quickly become a special Kotchman project, like Kohn and other outfielders the Angels have converted. Carlin throws a low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. The curve was effective against left-handers in particular, but the changeup needs some work. The Angels will be more aggressive in challenging Carlin this year, now that the transition is well underway. Look for him to continue to develop at Cedar Rapids in 2012.

50. Aaron Sookee (RHP)
Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” 172 lbs. DOB: 6/5/91
Orem (Rookie-A): 0-0, 0 saves, 13.50 ERA, 6 strikeouts, 0 walks, 4.2 IP
AZL-ANG (Rookie-A): 3-3, 0 saves, 4.63 ERA, 28 strikeouts, 9 walks, 23.1 IP
Year Drafted: 2010 Round: Non-Drafted Free Agent

Scouting Report: Baseball is still relatively new to Australia, which is where Sookee hails from. Blessed with a smooth delivery, there is still room for projection on this 20 year old. Using Rich Thompson as a fellow Aussie who successfully transitioned to playing baseball in the U.S. (who took 5+ years in the Minors to reach the Major Leagues), Sookee is on track for development for a solid role in the bullpen.
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