Los Angeles Angels 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America:
2009 (25) | 2008 (10) | 2007 (4) | 2006 (4) | 2005 (1) | 2004 (3)

Major League Record and Minor League Affiliates Records
MLB: 97 – 65 (AL West – Won Division)
AAA: 72 – 71 (Pacific Coast League)
AA: 61 – 79 (Texas League)
A+: 61 – 79 (California League)
A: 78 – 60 (Midwest League)
A(ss): 51 – 25 (Pioneer League)
R: 38 – 18 (Arizona League)

The Run Down
The tragic loss of Nick Adenhart hurt on both a personal and organizational level. Adenhart was clearly their most major league ready player and could have provided an immediate impact (ignoring for the moment that Brandon Wood could do much the same, however he is no longer a rookie). The Angels truly don’t have a pitcher in their minors that is going to provide the dynamics that Adenhart would have. Now the Angels have to decide what to do with John Lackey and Chone Figgins pending free agency scenarios. Just recently, the Angels resigned Bobby Abreu to a three year contract that addressed a need that their minors aren’t quite ready to do. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Angels sign Lackey and let Figgins walk giving Wood his shot at the everyday starting third baseman. The trade for Scott Kazmir removed an above average hitter in Sean Rodriguez and one of their left-handed pitching prospects in #24 ranked Alex Torres. Torres finally put together a good year this year and I will mention him in the Rays Minor Review in the end of January/February.

Graduating Prospects
#5 – Sean O’Sullivan, #6 – Kevin Jepsen

Players in Arizona Fall League
Pitchers – Marco Albano, Jeremy Haynes, Tim Kiely, Tommy Mendoza
Hitters – #7 – Hank Conger (C ), #14 – Ryan Mount (2B), PJ Philips (SS)

Players of Interest
*Reminder that the “Players of Interest” section includes prospects that may have the ability to be called upon in the upcoming season. However, this doesn’t mean they will.

Brandon Wood | 3B | 24 | AAA | .293/.353/.557 | 386 AB | 28 2B | 4 3B | 22 HR | 80:36 K:BB | .264 ISO
He has been the Angels’ number one prospect from 2006 to 2008, however, he accumulated enough at-bats in 2008 to remove his rookie label. Not to be dismissed from any promising young players conversation, Wood has the talent to produce at the major league level, it’s just a matter of playing time. In 1237 career at-bats in Triple-A, he has hit .287/.354/.547 with 76 homers (that’s about one homer every 16 at-bats) and a 310:126 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Halos Heaven had a good article about being patient with minor league prospects, talking about how Chase Utley and Ryan Howard weren’t up and producing in the majors until they were close to 26 and 27, respectfully. With Figgins possibly leaving in free agency, Wood may finally get his chance to play every day. Think a full season of Gordon Beckham – my predictions 80/22/75/.275/2. (I would bet the house that Grey will write about him sometime this winter.)

#3 – Peter Bourjos | CF | 22 | AA | .281/.354/.423 | 437 AB | 16 2B | 14 3B | 6 HR | 32/12 SB/CS | 77:49 K:BB | .142 ISO
MLB prints two top 50 prospect lists during the year. The first one at the beginning of the year, the second at the trade deadline. This year, Bourjos was ranked 42nd overall at the trade deadline re-rankings. Bourjos stole 50 bases in 2008, so those 32 steals this year aren’t a fluke. Additionally, he had seven outfield assists this year (11 in ’08 and 10 in ’07). Baseball America states that he has “… plus-plus speed,” but he’s a pretty hit-or-miss batter – struggling with plate-discipline. This year, he marginally improved his strikeout rate, and stepped up his walk rate by a far amount. Not that the Angels need him immediately, but they have a speedy outfielder on their hands that projects to be able to defend in center for years to come.

#7 – Hank Conger | C | 21 | AA | .295/.369/.424 | 458 AB | 20 2B | 11 HR | 68:55 K:BB | .129 ISO
Conger doubled his walk rate from 2008 (4.5% to 10.7%), and improved his caught stealing rate (to 30% from near 13% in 2008). However, he did regress in the power department as he did have an ISO of .214 in 2008 and .183 in 2007. He has had a string of injuries (hand, back, hamstring and a shoulder injury). Supposedly, he has immense power in his bat, but he tends to have poor plate-discipline (this was the first year he played a full season) – though he was considered the best hitter for average in the Angels farm system. Baseball America states that Conger, “… has All-Star potential if he can stay healthy.” With Napoli and Mathis still behind the plate, Conger may need to switch positions to see major league playing time in the near future. (Side note, his defense is sketchy at times and the Angels have already thought about switching his position.)

Trevor Bell | SP (RH) | 22 | AA/AAA/(MLB) | 5.7 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 140 IP | 2.70 ERA | 1.14 WHIP | 1.36 GO/AO
Bell pitched 20 1/3 innings of major league baseball, but was annihilated to the tune of 9.74 ERA and a 2.51 WHIP. He split time at Double and Triple-A almost evenly (68 2/3 IP at Double-A and 71 1/3 IP at Triple-A). Not a high strikeout pitcher ever in his minor league career but he induces quite a few ground balls and keeps the ball in the park. Nothing spectacular, but he may get a shot out of spring training with the possibility of Lackey leaving (unless the Angels sign another starter).  Or he may get called up if an injury occurs.

#2 – Jordan Walden | SP (RH) | 21 | AA | 8.6 K/9 | 4.4 BB/9 | 60 IP | 5.25 ERA (3.77 FIP) | 1.68 WHIP
I mention Walden because he throws a 101 mph fastball that usually sits between 91 to 94 mph and a 87 mph slider. His fastball is considered one of the best fastballs in the entire Angels farm system. His change-up (prior to the 2009 season) was nearly non-existent. He may end up becoming a reliever with only two plus pitches.

#4 – Trevor Reckling | SP (LH) | 20 | A+/AA | 7.1 K/9 | 4.5 BB/9 | 2.68 ERA | 1.33 WHIP
I believe that Reckling may have passed Walden as the top ranked prospect in the Angels system (they traded Alex Torres away when they acquired Scott Kazmir). His control will need to be refined, but he has a nasty curve and a fastball that sits between 87 to 91 mph with a change-up considered his best offering. His ceiling is supposedly a #3 starter. Nothing special, but if he can control his curve better and build up his stamina, Reckling could be a serviceable fantasy pitcher.

Honorable Mentions
Dillion Baird | 1B | 21 | R | .372/.452/.567 | 215 AB | 17 2B | 7 HR | 33:28 K:BB
Just drafted this year in round 11, Baird bombarded his rookie league with good plate discipline, gap power and a few homers. Kendry Morales definitely has his powerful swing sitting at first base for several more years, but Baird may eventually replace Morales.

#12 – William Smith | SP/RP (LH) | 19 | A | 7.4 K/9 | 1.7 BB/9 | 115 IP | 3.76 ERA | 1.16 WHIP
I was tempted to put him in the above section, but he probably won’t sniff the majors until late next year. He has amazing control (in 2008 his K:BB was 76:6 – good for a 9.4 K/9 and .74 BB/9). Not quite as good as he was last year, but his talent and skills (a 87 to 93 mph fastball, a plus curve, and an average change-up). Keep an eye on this youngster, maybe he’ll become their next John Lackey.

Josh Blanco | RP (LH) | 19 | R | 11.3 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 50 1/3 IP | 3.04 ERA | 1.05 WHIP

Michael Kohn | RP (RH) | 23 | A/A+ | @A – 14.5 K/9 | 2.29 BB/9 | 37 IP | 2.19 ERA | .86 WHIP | @A+ – 13.5 K/9 | 4.40 BB/9 | 28 2/3 IP | .94 ERA | .94 WHIP (6 SV overall)
He is a bit old to be playing at High-A, but that strikeout rate is jaw-dropping, near drool worthy. He was drafted in 2008, and his BABIP is near league average at Single-A (.300) and was quite low at High-A (.256). However, his stat line was nearly identical. I don’t have much information on him, but stats like that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

  1. AL KOHOLIC says:

    if wood doesnt play this year than theres something funny going on

  2. Stephen says:

    @AL KOHOLIC: I completely agree.

  3. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Stephen: He makes sense going to Philly, not sure about the Mets… Actually, guess he can’t hurt the Mets much more than they were last year.

  4. Stephen says:

    @Grey: I don’t see him ending up with the Mets unless they do a lot of reshuffling of their infield. Also, I don’t think the Phillies will get him either. My gut is telling me that Figgins resigns and Lackey signs elsewhere.

  5. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Stephen: Yeah, if I had to guess, I’d say the same. The Angels need him the most.

  6. GopherDay says:

    @Grey: @Stephen: I think if Figgins goes anywhere, it will be Philly.

  7. Stephen says:

    @GopherDay: Does Philly have the ability to pay Figgins and up grade their pitching – both starting and bullpen?

  8. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: I think they have the ability, its just whether or not they will pay.

  9. Stephen says:

    @GopherDay: Why not sign Adrian Beltre who is a better defender and will be far cheaper?

  10. GopherDay says:

    @Stephen: I’m not advocating whether or not the Phillies should sign Figgins or not, I honestly think that he will probably just stay in LA. But if he goes anywhere I probably think he will go to Philly. I think that Beltre would be a better match for Philly though.

  11. Bob says:

    @Grey, @Stephen: As an Angels fan, I think it makes more sense to sign Lackey and let Figgins go. In addition to always sucking in the play-offs, Figgins is an aging speed guy with no power. They have a suitable replacement in Wood. Plus, ou can never have enough starting pitching. Aybar can take over the lead-off spot. And finally, did I mention, you can never have enough starting pitching. So, if it’s an either/or, that’s what I hope they sign Lackey.

    In addition, most of us are assuming Vlad is gone, but if he signs for next to nothing now that he’s DH only, I would be happy.

  12. Stephen says:

    @Bob: Lackey has his own issues too. it seems that he never starts the season healthy . However, Woods needs his chance too, he’ll definitely perform offensively. It will be fun watching what the Angels decide to do.

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