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Garrett Richards: Top Angels Prospect #2

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Garrett Richards
Garrett Richards

2) Garrett Richards, 5/27/1988 -- rhrp/rhsp, AA and MLB

12 wins, 2 losses. 143 IP, 3.15 ERA, 123 hits, 103 K/40 BB. 19 runs saved, 3.9 WAR in 2011

The 2012 Angels could use another power arm out of the pen, a guy who can shut the opposition down at critical, middle-inning moments with a timely K or groundball. In 2013, the Halos will need another cost-controlled, mid-rotation workhorse. Richards should be one - and hopefully both - of those guys, so how the Angels handle him will be one of the more interesting subplots of the upcoming season.

Despite his inconsistency in the majors last season, Richards flashes enough brilliance to play a big role with the Angels in 2012. He has two great pitches: a booming, mid-to-high 90's fastball that he can cut in against lefthanders, and a dynamite slider with hard downward bite. Every once in awhile he throws a sweet change-up, so with more consistent execution his arsenal could total three plus offerings. Bringing back his get-me over curveball down the road would be icing on the cake.

Former Angels' scouting director Eddie Bane drafted Richards in the 2009 supplemental first round, bucking consensus and betting big on the righty's arm strength and promising secondary arsenal despite a lackluster amateur track record. Richards lived up to Bane's hopes, steadily improving his stock over two and a half seasons as a pro. With his AA performance in 2011, it looks like his numbers have finally caught up to the superlative scouting reports.

Bane's legacy with the Angels not only includes Richards, but also the trust he puts in his player development people to mold high upside arms into MLB material; in my opinion, the success or failure of the 2011 draft will hinge largely on the development of strong-armed Nick Maronde, Nick Mutz and Austin Wood, all of whom flopped as starters in their amateur career despite impressive raw stuff. One or more of them could follow in Richards' footsteps.