10) Jean Segura, 3/17/90 - 2B, A-Ball Stock: Unchanged
.305/.350/.445, 6 HR, 35 SB. Key Stat: .319/.358/.496 vs. Righties
Segura's stock is on the rise among national prospect analysts - see John Sickels' recent argument for raising Segura's prospect "grade" from C+ to B here, for example - but the second baseman isn't surprising those of us who follow Angels' prospects more closely (the "other Angels message board" even ranked him a couple of spots higher over the offseason). That's likely because we value the word of Tom Kochman, who said last year that Segura "may be the best position player prospect in the [Pioneer] League." Scouting director Eddie Bane also touted his talent, calling him a potential five tool player. Segura's slow start was disconcerting, especially in the shadow of Mike Trout's brilliance, but his speed, contact ability, power potential, and improving Midwest League numbers are going to keep him in the top 15 on Angels' prospect lists this offseason.
9) Tyler Skaggs, 07/13/91 - LHSP, A-Ball Stock: Way Up
8 W, 4 L. 82.1 IP, 3.61 ERA, 82 K/21 BB. Key Stat: 3.6 K/BB
Make no mistake: Skaggs is the key to the Haren trade. Saunders lends the D-Back's rotation credibility through the rebuilding process, Corbin's breakthrough this year may put him on a path to the back of their rotation, but Skaggs... Skaggs could be Arizona's frontline guy in three years. In our May conversation, Abe Flores spoke glowingly about Skaggs' present performance and his future projection. He was utterly dominant in a game I saw in April, toying with hitters with a fastball that he ran up and down from the mid 80's to the low 90's, freezing guys with his slow curve, and inducing some ugly swings with a high 70's wipeout slider. Most impressively, he put the ball where he wanted it. While his control has remained decent through June and July, his command inside the strikezone isn't what it was earlier in the year, but we can forgive an eighteen year old for wearing down a little at the back end of his first full pro season. After the favorable press Skaggs received entering the season, I'm a little surprised at the resounding criticism that D-Back's GM Jerry Dipoto has come under for the trade. He may very well come out of this looking more competent than people expect.
.252/.301/.504, 6 HR Key Stat: Only 135 AB's
Grichuk's injury forces a moratorium before we can reserve judgment on his performance, because he was just heating up when the injury sidelined him. He followed a weak .203/.256/.316 April line with a promising .300/.344/.700 performance in the first week and a half of May - and then sprained his thumb. The sample size is small, but he's raking in the AZL, ripping 80% of his balls in play into the outfield for an .800 slugging percentage. He's still just 18, folks. 150 more AB's in the Midwest League to finish off the season will affirm whether or not my enthusiasm is justified, but I think he's shown enough so far to maintain his prospect status.
7) Jordan Walden, 11/16/87 - RHRP, AA Stock: Down
1 W, 1 L. 41 IP, 3.51 ERA, 37 K/21 BB. Key Stat: 4.66 BB/9
Walden's stayed healthy and has done a decent job keeping runs off the board, but average middle reliever numbers are not what we were looking for from our former top prospect. Abe Flores reported in May that the fastball retains its trademark velocity and the slider is improving, but there isn't evidence of dominant stuff in the stats. More concerning, he's walking a batter every other inning. Kevin Jepsen's career stalled for 2+ years following the injury that bumped him to the bullpen, but he put it together in 2008 to emerge as a useful MLB arm. The Angels will be patient with Walden, hoping for (and expecting) a similar development arc.
6) Fabio Martinez Mesa, 10/29/89 - RHSP, A-Ball Stock: Holding Steady
7 wins, 2 losses. 3.64 ERA, 99 IP, 134 K/71 BB. Key Stat: 1.89 K/BB
It is really, really tough to not raise the stock on a starter who's K'ing 12.2 batters per 9 innings, but Martinez Mesa's propensity to lose the strike zone at times is that scary. I can easily envision a scenario where he takes the mound for the Quakes next April, puts the ball where he wants it, and instantly becomes the second best prospect in the Angels' system, looking every bit the future ace his stuff hints he could be. I can also see him remaining more-or-less the same pitcher for a few years until AA hitters refuse to chase anything out of the zone, thrash his mistakes, and force a bullpen conversion that he's not all that well suited for (he has a deliberate delivery that makes it difficult for him to hold runners, though he has improved in that area since the season began). The scouting report on his fastball/slider combo will send a shiver down your spine and he's come a long way with his change-up, but the risk that he never learns to throw strikes keeps his stock right where it started when the season began.
Reviews of Halos Heavens' Top Five Prospects coming soon!