The Angels have been on an amazing roll as of late, with nine wins in their last ten games and with the team only being two games back of Oakland and Baltimore, it seems like the time might just be now after all, for this team to succeed. There’s still a lot of the season left and the Angels could still very well be a championship team. Still, it’s always good to look at the future, even when the present is immensely pleasing. There’s been eight Angels selected to play winter ball in the Arizona Fall League, including twenty year old star prospect infielder Kaleb Cowart. The full list of players who have been selected to the Arizona Fall League include Cowart, RHP Ryan Chaffee, OF Randal Grichuk, OF Travis Witherspoon, C Carlos Ramirez, LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Kevin Johnson and recent call up to the show, LHP Nick Maronde.
There’s a certain air around the Angels organization, one that stems from a shaky past with their prospects but this group has certainly done very well. Cowart is the rising star of the group with 49 RBI and 48 Runs in only 69 games, almost a Mike Troutian pace of production but there’s certainly not a lack of astounding potential in any of these players. Cowart started the year in low class A ball but you can surely expect to see him go through the organization rather quickly, perhaps hitting the major leagues sooner than later, if everything falls into place for him. He’s not going to put up numbers that’ll absolutely force him to be on the big league team but he’s a very valuable asset. Ryan Chaffee is another impressive player, a relief pitcher that has done quite well for himself. Chaffee has a K per 9 ratio of around 11 and an era in the middle 2.00’s, two great stats to hold your hat on. Unfortunately, he does have a bit of a wild arm, issuing far too many walks but thankfully, that can be fixed, especially when you’re still in the minors.
Grichuk, an outfielder who can seemingly do it all, is having a great season in single A ball, with above average statistics across the board. He’s hitting .298, 71 RBI’s, 79 Runs, 18 HR’s and for added measure, 16 Stolen Bases. He’s a very talented player who, by my estimations, will make the big leagues someday, possibly even sooner than most people could ever think. Keep an eye out for Grichuk. Next up is OF Travis Witherspoon, a player who is a tale of two stories, if you will. His numbers in single A ball were decent with a .319 AVG, 27 RBI and 25 SB’s in 67 games, certainly not the best but not the worst either. Take a look at his double A statistics however and it’s a little more troubling (especially that .202 AVG), although I’d bet the house on it being a transition to a higher level of play, more than anything. Catcher Carlos Ramirez won’t have the impressive numbers that you expect from the rest of the group here but what he does have, is a very good baseball IQ and I would say that he’ll make it to the majors one day. A star, he may not be, but a steady backup or starter behind the plate, that I can almost guarantee.
In split time between A & AA, relief pitcher Buddy Boshers has put up some promising numbers, putting up a 10+ K/9 ratio in both leagues and he’s basically the pitching equivalent of the aforementioned Weatherspoon, he’ll adjust and most likely prosper. Relief pitcher Kevin Johnson is a hard player to figure out, with statistics that are a bit maddening in a way. He has a very low walks per 9 innings average while his K/9 ratio is quite low as well. He may change those numbers eventually with age, playing time and experience but his above 5.00 ERA in AAA is a bit troubling.
Lastly, there’s the recent big league call-up, pitcher Nick Maronde. He’s a very talented pitcher, who by my estimation, may just make a quite serviceable middle of the rotation player in the major leagues. For now, he’s up in the show as a relief specialist and don’t be surprised if he ends up being one of the better bullpen options this season, next season and for the extended future. The future of the Angels may lay in the usual hands of players like Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo but it’s best to not forget players like Maronde and the rest of the group here, seeing as things never tend to work out exactly how they should. With a farm system that is performing like they are and the Angels finally performing up to their potential, the future looks beautiful and constant trips to the playoffs seem like a very possible outcome, with one possibly coming this season.