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The Latest From AngelsWin.com: Los Angeles Angels Prospect Report - 4/8/2013

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(Alex Yarbrough is our Angels Prospect of the week - Photo by Jeremy Long)

By Scott Stedman, AngelsWin.com Minor League Reporter

Salt Lake Bees - The Salt Lake Bees began the 2013 campaign with a 3-1 record with a roster lacking top prospects, but teeming full of capable players.  Barry Enright, who had a brief stint with the Angels in 2012, was the Opening Day starter, tossing 5.2 innings of 1 run ball while striking out 7.  The 27-year-old right-hander was a 2nd round pick in 2007 out of Pepperdine, but has not quite lived up to his potential.  Also on Opening Day, Kole Calhoun caught a tough break, fracturing his right hamate bone on a swing.  The outfielder is expected to be out approximately 6 weeks.  Third baseman Luis Jimenez has begun the season 5-16 (.313), continuing where he left off after a hot spring with the Angels.  Reliever Dane De La Rosa, acquired from the Rays last week for Steve Geltz, has tossed 2 perfect innings, touching the mid to upper 90s in both outings.  Also out of the bullpen, 25-year-old Ryan Brasier has thrown 2 scoreless innings with 2 strikeouts.  Orangel Arenas, a 24-year-old organizational "guy", will start for Salt Lake.  

Arkansas Travelers - Arkansas is the gold-mine of Angels prospects in 2013 featuring players such as Kaleb Cowart, Nick Maronde, Randal Grichuk, C.J. Cron, Travis Witherspoon and more.  In their first 4 games, the Travs' have gone 2-2 at home in Little Rock.  First baseman/DH C.J. Cron has started the year on fire, with a .938 OPS including 3 doubles and 1 walk, which is 1/17 of the way to his walk total from 2012.  Cron, the Angels 1st round pick in 2011, made a quick recovery from off-season knee surgery and figures to have no limitations this seasons.  Another former 1st round pick, outfielder Randal Grichuk has begun the season with a 1.059 OPS due in large part to the 5 walks he has drawn.  The 21-year-old Grichuk worked on plate discipline and pitch recognition this off-season and it seems to have paid off thus far.  Angelswin's #1 prospect Kaleb Cowart is off to a slow start, 1-12, but has consistently squared up the ball and is still taking more than his fair share of walks.  Dan Tillman, a reliever who sits in the mid 90s with a tight slider from a 3/4 arm slot, pitched a perfect inning on Sunday, striking out 2.  Nick Maronde has given up 3 earned runs in 2 innings of work.  On Monday, 27-year-old Matt Oye will toe the slab for the Travelers.   

Inland Empire 66ers - The Angels' high-A affiliate, the Inland Empire 66ers, have commenced the season with a 2-2 record.  This group of players features many "breakout candidates" - players on the cusp of top prospect status.  First and foremost, closer R.J. Alvarez who the Angels selected in the 3rd round last year, has nearly no business being in A+ ball.  On Saturday night, the 6'1 righty was touching 98 with his fastball and a filthy slider completely dominating his opponents.  Look for Alvarez to move very quickly in the organization.  Left-handed starter Eswarlin Jimenez, which Angelswin holds in higher regards that most other sites, tossed 6.1 innings on Friday, allowing just 2 runs, striking out 5 and walking none.  Jimenez will be 21-years-old this entire season and features a fastball in the low 90s, a curve ball and a change up which he controls very well.   Austin Wood took the hill on Saturday and proved why scouts see a ridiculous amount of potential in the 22-year-old.  Wood touched 99 once and sat in the 95 range with his heavy fastball.  On top of that, he flashed a slider with tons of depth and solid control of a change up.  Couple that with very repeatable mechanics, and Austin Wood has the potential to shoot up the top prospect lists.  Out of the bullpen, 21-year-old Mike Morin possesses a devastating change up which is rarely seen in relievers.  He has throw 2.2 shutout innings with 3 strikeouts.  Offensively, the lone bright-spot seems to be second baseman Alex Yarbrough.  Yarbrough was the Angels 4th round selection last year and is 6-17 (.438) so far this year.  The switch-hitter has a profoundly smooth stroke and has no trouble shooting the gap to the opposite field.  Dan Reynolds will be the 66ers starter on Monday.

Burlington Bees -  Burlington has begun the year like the 66ers and Travelers with a 2-2 record.  Surprisingly, reliever Reid Scoggins, who can hit triple-digits on the radar gun but sometimes has no idea where it's going, has been converted to a starting pitcher.  In his first start of the year, Scoggins went 3 scoreless innings striking out 3 and walking 2.  If this transition works, Scoggins potential would be off the charts though his timetable to the big leagues will be pushed back slightly.  First baseman Wade Hinkle has started the year 5-14 (.357) with a 1.143 OPS.  Hinkle, who struggles defensively at times, may be moved to the outfield where his bat would play better.  Alex Keudell, a 23-year-old side-armed pitcher threw a 1-hitter on Sunday but he also walked 4 and struck out none.  A very strange line.  Out of the bullpen, 20-year-old former third baseman Joseph Krehbiel has punched out 4 hitters in just 2.2 innings of work.  Krehbiel was a 12th round selection in 2011 out of high school.  On Monday, Cam Bedrosian will make his first start of the year after struggling in 2012 following Tommy John surgery.  

Prospect of the week:  2B Alex Yarbrough 

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Our Prospect Report on Yarbrough from our Top 50 Prospects List. 



Alex Yarbrough (2B)
Bats: Both Throws: Right Height: 5’11” 180 lbs. DOB: 8/3/91 
(Cedar Rapids/Arkansas): .275/.307/.393 with 0 HRs and 7 SBs
After hitting .380 as a Mississippi junior, the Angels were pleased to see Yarbrough still around and selected him in the 4th round with their second selection in the 2012 amateur draft after R.J. Alvarez. Yabrough, a switch hitter, has a patient approach from both sides of the plate which gives him the ability to work the count and ultimately turn on pitches with his excellent hand-eye coordination, bat control and quick wrists.

Scouts believe Yarbrough will hit for a high average with some extra base power. An offensive minded-second baseman, Yarbrough won't wow you defensively, but he makes all the plays and should be able to stick at the position. His arm is fringe-average. Yarbrough isn't nearly as fast as Stamets, but has enough wheels for double-digits in the stolen base department.
Look for Yarbrough to join Stamets in High-A ball with the 66ers in what could be the most dynamic double-play combo in the California League.
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Wood is an extraordinarily interesting case.  Usually when you have a starter with a fastball like Wood's, the largest contributor toward his ability to remain in the rotation and climb the ladder is the development of a workable change up.  Wood already has a workable change up, can even be "plus" at times along with his fantastic slider.  However, in Wood's case, it's his ability to throw strikes and hit his spots.  I saw it all last year and will probably see it again this year.  One day he'll go out and be absolutely untouchable for 8 innings and completely dominate the opposition.  The next outing, he'll never find the zone and last only 4 innings.  


The scout I spoke with most specifically believes he'll end up in the bullpen, despite clean mechanics and three potentially "plus" pitches, but keeping him in the rotation for now was a move made to offer the greatest mount of exposure they could offer, in an attempt to iron things out and help him climb the system faster.  Which is odd, you'd think transitioning to relief would result in a quicker climb, but I guess an argument could be made that with more experience in the rotation, a pitcher would be ready to succeed in a shorter amount of time than a reliever.

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Also guys, just for a different angle on Yarbrough here go ahead and check out our prospect profile on him over at MWAH - http://www.monkeywithahalo.com/prospects-countdown/2013/2013-la-angels-prospects-9-alex-yarbrough.html


I think one of the many reasons I get along with the prospect folks here at this site is that they aren't afraid to buck a trend or national publication.  While I most certainly trust the likes of Keith Law, like any good scout, the person who's judgment I trust most when it comes to evaluating players is my own.  And I see great things in Yarbrough.  I get the feeling AW is seeing it too. 

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