Angels don't have a lot of top talent on the farm

January, 5, 2009
One more reason to think the Angels are vulnerable? They're not exactly loaded with bright young prospects. From John Sickels' Top 20 list:

    1) Jordan Walden, RHP, Grade B+: I love the strikeout/ground ball combination.

    2) Trevor Reckling, LHP, Grade B: A very promising and underrated lefty who deserves much more attention than he's received.

    3) Hank Conger, C, Grade B: I love the bat, though I would like to see more walks. Injuries and positional questions prevent a higher grade.

    4) Nick Adenhart, RHP, Grade B-: I know it was the PCL, but at some point the numbers have to start matching the scouting reports.

    5) Will Smith, LHP, Grade B-: Very interesting and projectable lefty with excellent command of solid stuff. Need to see at higher levels, but promising.

Only five players rate a B- grade or better, which is low but not exceptionally so (the Cardinals have six, the Mariners nine, the Pirates only four). But which of those five is going to actually be useful in 2009?

Walden's obviously a fine prospect but hasn't pitched an inning in Double-A yet. Conger also hasn't played above Class A, plus he's a catcher and the Angels don't need any help there. Reckling and Smith are even farther down the organizational ladder than Walden and Conger.

Which leaves only Adenhart. Scouts rave about him. A year ago, Baseball America made him the Angels' No. 2 prospect (behind Brandon Wood) and wrote "Adenhart looks like a future front-of-the-rotation stud who could be ready for a major league job in 2008."

Or maybe 2009. Because in 2008 he started 26 games in Triple-A and went 9-13 with a 5.76 ERA. Adenhart's only 22 and may well have a solid career ahead of him. But right now there's little evidence to suggest he'd be any better than an emergency option if somebody in the rotation gets hurt.

Yes, today the Angels are the favorites in the American League West, and they'll probably be the favorites on Opening Day. But this is the same team -- less two months of Mark Teixeira -- that finished 2008 with the run differential of an 88-win team. You want to argue that they can't be beat?

(I'm not generally in the business of public service, but you deserve a reminder … John Sickels' "Baseball Prospect Book 2009" is shipping soon, and I find John's book to be an essential companion for Baseball America's book (which is also essential).)


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