Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our minor league photographer Jeremy Long was recently credentialed by with a photographer's pass and captured some amazing shots of  three of our top ten prospects heading into 2013 in Travis Witherspoon, Randal Grichuk & Kaleb Cowart. See the slideshow under my reports! 

I recently spoke to a major league scout & our minor league photographer Jeremy Long about some of the Angels prospects in the AFL and decided to give you a snapshop of what I took back from the conversation, so here's a quick take on Cowart, Witherspoon and Grichuk.   

Kaleb Cowart

Cowart first full professional season with Angels between two levels (Cedar Rapids, IE 66ers) was a good one. The Halos 3B prospect showed signs of having solid power down the road clubbing 31 doubles, 7 triples and 16 home runs while demonstrating an advanced approach at the plate. Cowart's 45 walks in 69 games ranked fourth in the league during his time with the 66er's in High-A Ball (.358 OBP overall). According to Jeremy Long and a scout I spoke to recently, Cowart looks like he's spent after logging the most games he's played in season ever in 2012. The results would indicate that could be the case as Cowart is hitting just .158 with just one extra base hit in 10 games with the Scorpions. He has walked four times, so he hasn't lost his eye at the plate. Look for the Angels top prospect to begin the season where he left off in High-A Ball with 66ers ballclub. A strong first half in 2013 could see Cowart follow fellow prospect Travis Witherspoon's 2012 path and get a half season in Double-A with the Arkansas Travelers. Scouts believe he'll be a 25 plus home run guy in the big leagues, a true middle of the order bat and all-star. Cowart fit the profile in 2012 driving in 103 runs. The scout I spoke to loved his ability to go the other way (with pop) as well.

Travis Witherspoon

Witherspoon doesn't get enough love in the arena of prospect publications, but he oozes tools and ability to become a solid major league centerfielder. One scout I spoke to likened him to Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos defensively, with more success on the bases and more over-the-fence power. Witherspoon really took the Angels advice in spring camp and was more selective at the plate, drawing 57 walks and posting a solid .350 OBP across two levels in 2012. Witherspoon had an excellent first half for the IE 66ers .319/.399/.470 with 10 doubles, 5 triples and 7 home runs.  He also stole 25 bases and played a very good centerfield defensively, earning him a spot on the Cal League All Star club before he was promoted to Double-A Arkansas where he couldn't continue his success. The speedy outfielder struggled in the second half against better talent on the hill to the tune of a .202/.288/.351 slash line. Witherspoon got off to a slow start in the AFL for the Scorpions but has since picked it up a bit, hitting .250 with three home runs and three stolen bases over his last ten games. One concern is he's fanned 15 times over that span, walking just four times. Look for Witherspoon to roam the outfield with former teammate Randal Grichuk in Arkansas to start the 2013 season. If Spoon can build off his first half this past season there will be more people talking about him in prospect circles. The scout I spoke to sees a lot of Mike Cameron in Spoon. I'll take it!

Randal Grichuk 
The Angels 2009 first round selection in front of Mike Trout started the season off slowly but picked it up as the campaign progressed, with the focus on staying healthy for a full season. Grichuk not only stayed healthy, but showed flashes of becoming that slugger Angels' Scouting Director Eddie Bane thought he'd be when he drafted him. Grichuk slugged 18 home runs, 30 doubles and nine triples, while hitting .298 for the 66ers in 2012. Grichuk also plays a solid right field defensively and possesses a strong arm. One scout I spoke to recently compared him to Royals Jeff Francoeur. Unfortunately that also means issues with strike zone management. Grichuk walked just 23 times vs. 92 strikeouts in 2012 and those woes have carried over in the AFL as he's walked just once and fanned 12 times. Grichuk does have a nine game hitting streak and he's hitting .270 with double and bomb in ten AFL games. The Angels knew Grichuk would have to log  quite a few minor league at bats before he'd be major league ready and with their current outfield situation they can most certainly be patient with him to develop better plate discipline and in-game power. The scout I spoke to noted Grichuk needs to go the other way on pitches on the outer half more instead of trying to pull everything, that pitchers can easily finish him off with breaking stuff if they get ahead of him in the count. 

Arizona Fall League Pictures (2012) - By Jeremy Long
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