7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
New draftees lead Angels' Top 20 Prospects list
First-round pick Newcomb tops Halos' updated rankings, followed by 2010 pick Cowart
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Sean Newcomb, LHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
MLB Top 100 rank: 90 (Preaseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
When the Angels took Newcomb with the 15th pick of the first round in the 2014 Draft, he became just the second Hartford player to be selected in the top 10 rounds, easily eclipsing Jeff Bagwell, who was a Red Sox fourth-round pick in 1989.
The second-team All-American left Hartford as its all-time strikeout leader and has some serious arm strength from the left side. An imposing 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Newcomb has a four-pitch mix at his disposal. He will work consistently at 90-94 mph, and he reaches as high as 97 with his fastball. His best secondary pitch is his slider, a low-80s breaker with some bite. He also uses a curveball and a changeup.
He's still learning to repeat his delivery and locate his pitches consistently, but there aren't many left-handers who can match his velocity. If his command comes enough, he has the chance to be a top-of-the-rotation-type starter in the future.
2. Joe Gatto, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
When the Angels selected him in the second round in the 2014 Draft, Gatto joined a group of six other New Jersey high school pitchers taken in the top three rounds over the past decade, highlighted by 2007 first-rounder Rick Porcello.
Gatto was the first player drafted from St. Augustine Prep, and it was undoubtedly his size, arm strength and projection that drew the Halos' interest. The right-hander sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94, something that should become a more consistent reading when he fills out his big frame. Gatto's heater has run and sink, and he does a nice job of using his height to throw it on a steep downward plane.
Gatto has a power curve that can be inconsistent, but it has plenty of depth when it's on. His changeup and overall command are works in progress, but the end result could be an outstanding starting pitcher at the highest level.
3. Chris Ellis, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
A reliever for most of his first two seasons at Mississippi, Ellis transitioned well to the rotation, and his consistency as the ace of the Rebels' staff led to him being taken in the third round of the 2014 Draft.
Ellis has the makings of three average or better big league pitches. His fastball usually operates at 91-93 mph and peaks at 95, and he can sink it, cut it or run it in on right-handers. Ellis can miss bats with his solid changeup, and he has some depth and power on his curveball.
Ellis might have a little more velocity in him, because he has room to add strength on his tall frame and because he focused on filling the strike zone rather than cutting loose this year. He does a nice job of throwing strikes, but he gets hurt when he leaves his pitches up in the zone.
4. Kaleb Cowart, 3B
Preseason rank: 1
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
After a big full-season debut in 2012, Cowart looked poised to have an unforgettable '13 season. Instead, he had one he'd rather forget, then he had trouble bouncing back in 2014.
The 2010 first-rounder really pressed in 2013, trying to right the ship in one at-bat. Cowart's swing mechanics got all out of whack as a result. His plus makeup has helped him continue his strong work at the hot corner, where he continued to be an above-average defender. Trying to wipe the slate clean, Cowart worked out with a number of big leaguers in Georgia this past offseason, as he tried to tighten up what has been a long and sweepy left-handed swing.
Cowart is still young enough to turn things around and re-emerge as one of the better third-base prospects in the game, but the clock is ticking.
5. Cam Bedrosian, RHP
Preseason rank: 14
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Since he was drafted in 2010, people thought Bedrosian looked like a future reliever. Maybe it was the bloodlines -- he is the son of former closer Steve Bedrosian, after all -- and maybe it was the stuff.
After missing a year following Tommy John surgery and another one trying to get innings under his belt as a starter, Bedrosian moved to the bullpen in 2013, and he took off. After starting a bit slowly, he really progressed in the second half, earning a promotion and then finishing with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. Bedrosian's fastball is back up to touching the mid-90s, and he's replaced his curveball with a much better slider.
With renewed confidence, Bedrosian used that AFL showing as a springboard. Just 22 for all of the 2014 season, he reached the upper levels of the Angels' Minor League season and made his Major League debut in June.
6. Hunter Green, LHP
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
The Angels didn't have a first-round pick in 2013, so Green, the very young and projectable left-hander from the Kentucky high school ranks, was their top selection at No. 59.
The tall and lanky teenager has the ceiling to be as good as some of the arms taken ahead of him. Green has good angle and movement on his fastball, thrown in the low 90s. He has a clean delivery, and with plenty of room to add strength, he should add some velocity over time. Green already knows how to spin a breaking ball, with one of the better curveballs in the Draft class.
Development of Green's changeup will be key, but his feel for pitching says he should be able to add it as a viable third weapon, especially as he finds a comfortable and repeatable delivery. All he needs is experience, something that was delayed as he came back from a lower back issue in 2014.
7. Ricardo Sanchez, LHP
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curve: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
A big international signing in July 2013, Sanchez has the Angels excited about his potential, even if it must be tempered with how far away he is.
While some might be concerned that Sanchez isn't the biggest guy in the world, his stuff and feel for pitching point to a future in a rotation. He has a relatively simple and clean delivery that allows him to throw strikes. Sanchez can locate his fastball to both sides of the plate, a skill that doesn't often come until much later for prospects. His curveball is his go-to pitch, though he can fall in love with it too much, and he already has a feel for his changeup. Sanchez has grown some, both in height and weight, and he might not be done growing.
Sanchez is projectable in everything except maybe his size, leaving everyone excited about his future.
8. Alex Yarbrough, 2B
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 45 | Arm: 40 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
They say that guys who hit find a place in a big league lineup. If that's the case, get ready to pencil Yarbrough in soon.
The Ole Miss product has always shown an ability to swing the bat from both sides of the plate. While Yarbrough's walk rate was a bit low during his first full season, his pitches per plate appearance was actually high, and he topped the Minor Leagues in hits. He's shown an ability to fight off pitches and put balls in play. Yarbrough was aware he needed to improve defensively at second base, and he's made strides there, showing better footwork around the bag.
Yarbrough may never be more than an average defender at second, so his bat will have to get him to the big leagues. Luckily for the Angels, it looks like it just might.
9. Mark Sappington, RHP
Preseason rank: 4
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
After a first full season that saw Sappington reach Double-A, there was excitement to see what the big right-hander might do for an encore. It hasn't gone quite according to plan.
When Sappington is on, it all starts with a plus fastball, up to 97 mph. Sappington's hard-tilting slider has the chance to be a swing-and-miss pitch as well. And he has built confidence in his changeup, which is still developing. What Sappington needs to do now is find consistency with all of them, particularly in finding the strike zone, something that eluded him for much of the 2014 season.
If Sappington can become more comfortable with that third pitch, and his delivery allows him to command the ball better, he still has the chance to start. If not, his fastball-slider combination, along with his competitive nature, could work really well in the back end of a bullpen.
10. Michael Clevinger, RHP
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curve: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Before going down with an elbow injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery in 2012, Clevinger looked like he might establish himself as the best pitching prospect in the system. After missing nearly all of the 2013 season, he has the chance to reclaim that mantle.
The right-handed junior-college product started doing that in the instructional league last fall, once again showing good angle on his fastball with some command of the pitch. Clevinger's slider has good sharp, late break to it, he has a feel for a changeup and he'll even mix in a curveball.
After missing so much time, Clevinger is champing at the bit to resume his march up the organizational ladder. The Angels will start cautiously, but his live right arm should get him moving again soon.
11. Jeremy Rhoades, RHP
Preseason rank - None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Rhoades served as both a reliever and a starter at Illinois State. He does profile better as a reliever and could move quickly if he settles into that kind of role as a professional.
The fourth-rounder's best pitch is a legitimate swing-and-miss slider that can sit in the mid 80s and features late tilt. Rhoades commands it better than his fastball, which usually operates at 90-92 mph and tops out at 94. He could add a tick or two of velocity if he focuses on full-time bullpen duty.
Though his strong build gives him the durability to be a starter, Rhoades has some effort in his delivery and doesn't always repeat his mechanics consistently. His changeup lags behind his fastball and slider, but he could scrap it pitching in shorter relief stints.
12. Nataneal Delgado, OF
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Signed for $280,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, the Angels brought Delgado to spring camp just to give him a taste of what Spring Training in the United States was like. The plan was to send him back for the Dominican Summer League, but he performed his way into staying.
Delgado made his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League and showed glimpses of the offensive ability that made him a top international prospect. He can swing the bat well from the left side of the plate, with power to come, especially as he's gotten into weight training. Fairly physical, Delgado is best suited for left field going forward, though he might see time in both corners in the short-term.
Delgado won't have to convince anyone he should stay in the U.S. in 2014, with the offensive potential to move up this list.
13. Kyle McGowin, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
The Angels went after pitching hard in the 2013 Draft, nabbing McGowin in the fifth round out of Savannah State in the process.
McGowin profiles as a durable starter, one who could move quickly through the Halos' system. He has a solid three-pitch mix, though none of them grade out much better than average. But the right-hander throws strikes and mixes his pitches well. His ceiling is somewhat limited, that of a No. 4-type starter, but he could reach that in a hurry.
The Angels pushed McGowin up to the Class A Advanced California League to start his first full season, and he was clearly up to the challenge, earning a late May promotion to Double-A, though he landed on the disabled list with elbow soreness after just one start.
14. Victor Alcantara, RHP
Preseason rank: 19
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Alcantara's United States debut in 2013 didn't look so good on paper, but he made some strides that have the Angels hopeful he's headed in the right direction.
Armed with a fastball that can touch the upper-90s, flashing a slider with good shape and late break, and even showing a feel for a changeup on occasion, Alcantara has the stuff to get hitters out. His delivery, on the other hand, is another story. Alcantara's herky-jerky mechanics had him a bit directionally challenged, but he's worked to stay under control, repeat his delivery and locate his pitches more consistently. He showed improvement in the instructional league last fall and then in Dominican instructional league following that.
It's possible Alcantara will end up as a reliever, but the progress he's shown has some thinking he still has a chance to start, something he continued to do in 2014.
15. Trevor Gott, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
As a junior at Kentucky in 2013, Gott broke the school's single-season and career saves record. The Padres drafted him in the sixth round that June, and sent him to the Angels in the Huston Street deal a little more than a year later.
Gott's fastball sits in the low 90s, occasionally touching 96 mph. Despite his short stature, he is able to create a lot of ground balls, thanks to the hard sinking action on his fastball. Gott's primary offspeed pitch is his slider, and he also has some feel for his changeup. Thanks to his easily repeatable delivery, he can throw all of his pitch for strikes -- provided he doesn't overthrow.
San Diego used Gott as a closer some in the Minor Leagues, and he has the mentality necessary to pitch in high-leverage situations. He's moved quickly so far and could soon pitch his way into the big leagues.
16. Eric Stamets, SS
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 20 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Stamets was drafted out of Evansville as a defensive-minded shortstop, and his glove work has done little to disappoint. How much he can advance with the bat will determine his ultimate role.
A very polished infielder, Stamets can flat out pick it, with tremendous defensive tools to go along with good instincts and game awareness. He has outstanding speed, enough for him to steal more bases than he did in his first full season. While Stamets is an excellent bunter, he'll need to work on his offensive game if he wants to be a full-time shortstop. He's made some mechanical adjustments, like starting his hands back a little further, but it remains a work in progress.
Stamets' glove will get him to the big leagues. His bat will dictate if he can start or if he ends up as a solid utilityman in the future.
17. Mike Fish, OF
Preseason rank: 20
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Seniors drafted out of Northeast colleges in the 32nd round aren't supposed to do much. Fish's summer debut in 2013 left many thinking he might blow that perception out of the water, though his first full season wasn't quite as explosive.
Fish is not conventional with his swing, and he gets a little pull happy, but he can swing the bat and is working on going the other way more consistently. He doesn't look like he should be able to run, but he can, and he's aggressive on the basepaths. Fish's arm action isn't great, but he's fairly accurate. A center fielder at Siena, he's shown his tools are playable in center when needed, though he's probably a left fielder long-term.
Playing a bit older than many at his level so far, Fish will have to keep proving himself at each stop along the way to convince skeptics.
18. Cal Towey, 3B/C
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
A senior selected in the 2013 Draft, Towey impressed with his ability to hit for average and get on base during his pro debut in the Pioneer League, albeit against younger competition.
The Baylor University product does have some swing and miss to his game, along with his strong on-base skills. When he's in a groove, the left-handed hitter has decent extra-base pop, mostly to the gaps. A third baseman in college, Towey has moved around a bit in his first full season, seeing time at the hot corner, in right field and even behind the plate.
If Towey can take to catching, the Angels might have an intriguing lefty-swinging backstop on their hands. At worst, Towey could be a productive utilityman in the future.
19. Nate Smith, LHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 40
After Smith went 7-4 with a 3.59 ERA in his senior season at Furman, the Angels selected him in the eighth round in 2013, making him the highest-drafted Paladin in more than 40 years. He has moved quickly through the Minor Leagues, reaching Double-A Arkansas in his first full professional season.
Smith doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he makes up for it with an advanced understanding of pitching. He has an easy delivery and commands all of his pitches well. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he mixes it with a solid curveball and changeup.
Smith's average arsenal means he won't have much margin for error as he advances in the Minor Leagues. But his feel for his craft gives him a chance to reach the big leagues as a command-and-control lefty.
20. Kody Eaves, 3B/C
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 40
After two summers playing for Rookie-level affiliates, Eaves has shown the Angels one thing for certain: He will not be outworked.
A true baseball rat, Eaves does have some skills to go along with that plus work ethic. His best tool is his speed, and he has the ability to steal a base, something the Halos would like to see him do more frequently going forward. They've worked to correct mechanical flaws with his swing, as he would get too rotational with his shoulders. That, along with some added strength, gives hope that there might be a bit more carry when he makes contact. Eaves has made good strides defensively at second base, especially after working with Denny Hocking in 2013.
Eaves still has a long way to go, but there's no question that he will maximize his abilities, and the Angels feel he'll continue to get better as he progresses.