WTNYOctober 07, 2003
Angels and Alameda
By Bryan Smith

Last night, one of the great divisional series in history ended. The Red Sox-A's series was fantastic, and a treat to watch. What amused me was knowing that the Red Sox won, while one could argue they didn't outplay Oakland in one game.

Looking into some interesting match-ups, Zambrano and Beckett debut tomorrow, while Wakefield and Mussina will go in the ALCS on Wednesday. But the most interesting matchup is Pedro vs. Clemens in the Fenway opener (Game 3), where theoretically, Clemens' last start may come on Yawkey Way. But, it unfortunatly looks like will miss a Dontrelle Willis in Wrigley homecoming (although it has happened once this year.)

Onto my organization report for the day. Today was extremely busy for me, and I couldn't quite decide on my fourth team. So, today will be only one team, going a little more in-depth. That means one day in the near future, hopefully for the weekend, I'll have three in one day. But moving on...

#3 Organization- Anaheim Angels

Organizational Record- 353-340 (.509)
AAA Salt Lake- 68-75
AA Arkansas- 70-70
A Rancho Cucamango- 74-66
A Cedar Rapids- 66-77
R Provo- 54-22
AZL Angels- 21-35

Awards and League Recognition
California League Pitcher of the Year- Ervin Santana
Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year- Abel Moreno

Top 5 Draft Picks Performance
1. Brandon Wood- .308/.349/.462 in 78 AZL AB AND .278/.348/.475 in 162 Rleague AB (SS)
2. Anthony Whittington- 0-3 8.03 31H/24.2IP 20K/17BB in 9 AZL appearances (LHP)
3. Sean Rodriguez- .269/.332/.380 15XBH in 216 AZL AB (SS/3B)
4. Bob Zimmerman- 4-2 4.50 57H/48IP 17K/8BB in 10 Rookie League starts (RHP)
5. Brad Balkcom- .290/.345/.427 14XBH in 131 Rookie League AB (OF)

Organizational Overview
It isn't often that a team goes from hoisting a championship banner to a transition year, but hey, they say California is a different world. While the Brewers were my top choice because they had the best top ten in baseball, the Angels have the best top five.

The future of Angel baseball lies in five players: Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Dallas McPherson, Ervin Santana, Bobby Jenks. Kotchman, Mathis, and McPherson all have top two arguments in their respective positions, and Santana and Jenks are both top ten potential for pitchers. The highest ceilings belong to Jenks and McPherson. The latter has forty home run potential, but may need to learn a new position with Troy Glaus locked into the hot corner. Jenks has Cy Young, 200 K potential, but his control has always been a worry.

Kotchman is one of the most oft-injured players in the minors, and must put together a 500AB season. I see a lot of John Olerud in Casey, although some could argue more towards Rafeal Palmiero. Anyway, there aren't many sweeter swings in the game than Kotchman's. A lot of sabermatricians would argue Mathis over Baseball America favorite Joe Mauer, since Mathis has been putting some balls over the fence. But Jeff has also hit more than seventy doubles in two seasons, and you can expect some of those to be flying out in Anaheim. It isn't everyday that a average defensive catcher can put up 30HR seasons, and Jorge Posada is a great comp. Santana dominated the California League before some struggles in the Texas League, and I need to see another good season before I jump on the bandwagon.

And more so than in the past, this Angels system has pretty solid depth. The Provo and Cedar Rapids teams were filled with talent, and the upper levels weren't dry either. First, let me point out Alberto Collapso and Erick Aybar, whom will go up the ladder as a middle infield combo. Callapso is by far the superior, being a little faster and having a little more pop. But both are very similar players, and should follow similar trends. They also have Howie Kendrick, a 2B whom put up big numbers in even lower levels. One pitcher to watch out for is Rafeal Rodriguez, whom Kotchman's father likens to Francisco Rodriguez.

Despite all this depth, the Angels recently axed their scouting director. Why? Bad drafting. The Angels top five did miserably, and were pretty bad choices. I thought Texas shortstop Omar Quintanilla was a more solid pick than Wood, whom didn't show many strengths in pro ball. I also liked the other Oakland A's first round pick, Brad Sullivan, a Houston right-hander whom fell two spots after the Angels. Anaheim's first three selections were college players, and only Balkcom played from an elite university. This team must start to utilize the draft more, as there won't be so many Warner Madrigal steals in the future.

This offseason Angels ownership has highlighted Miguel Tejada as thier top priority. Since shortstop has become a fairly deep position in the organization, this puts Alfredo Amezaga on the trade market. But, look for the top five to hit the Majors full-time in 2005, with the next crop following two to three years after. There won't be another World Championship banner in the Angels immediate future, but there is sure going to be some good baseball.

Top 12 Prospects
1. Jeff Mathis- C
2. Casey Kotchman- 1B
3. Bobby Jenks- RHP
4. Dallas McPherson- 3B
5. Ervin Santana- RHP
6. Alberto Callapso- 2B
7. Rafeal Rodriguez- RHP
8. Erick Aybar- SS
9. Steven Shell- RHP
10. Warner Madrigal- OF
11. Howie Kendrick- 2B
12. Joe Torres- RHP

That's it for the day, I'd like to finish with one comment: Cubs in six.