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Can Kaleb Cowart be that great player the Angels have been hoping for?

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Sure it’s early. Sure it’s AAA. But Cowart has been raking for Salt Lake so far this year

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Way back in 2010, the Angels drafted a 6’3” 18 year old switch hitting, two-way star with a big bat. Cowart was taken in the 1st round - 18th overall of that draft. The high school standout was a pitcher and a shortstop from Cook County HS in Georgia and the Angels originally drafted him in hopes of him being a starter.

Comps for Cowart back in 2010 were to Chipper Jones and J.J. Hardy. Maybe even a Ken Caminiti. Pretty sure the Angels would take someone even close to those comparisons. Cowart has always had a strong arm and was throwing in the low 90s as a high school pitcher. He has also been known as having a good hit tool without lots of power.

Cowart has historically been a well ranked prospect. See below for Baseball America rankings by year:

Ranked Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #6 prospect after the 2010 season
Ranked Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #6 prospect after the 2011 season
Ranked Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #1 prospect after the 2012 season
Ranked Baseball America #60 prospect after the 2012 season
Ranked Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #3 prospect after the 2013 season
Ranked Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #24 prospect after the 2014 season
Ranked Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim #8 prospect after the 2015 season

Defense has never been a question for Cowart who regularly flashes the leather and his strong arm from the hot corner. His hitting, however, has never really developed at the major league level but it’s also important to remember - Cowart is only 24 years old still and only has 131 major league at bats.

Cowart’s big league slashline is just .176/.210/.267 and he has 42Ks (30% rate) and 5 walks in 139 PA. However, in the hitter friendly PCL, Cowart has done well with a .299/.365/.466 slash line in 187 games.

This year for the Bees, Cowart has hit in 15 of the 17 games he has started and in those games he has started, he has hit safely 14 games in a row. His walk rate is up to 13% from 9% in 2016 and his minor league K rate has remained around 24%. He has an (early) impressive slash line in 2017 of .333/.410/.472.

Questions remain how well he will handle big league pitching and with Escobar becoming a free agent after 2017, the time may be now or never for Cowart to show he can be a viable third baseman that isn’t a liability at the plate. At some point in 2017 he will get called up and hopefully he will make the most of it and not go the way of former hot prospect Kyle Kubitza.