When the minor league season has ended and the major league season is winding down, the Arizona Fall League kicks off with some of the best young prospects in the minors. Comprised of six teams, each major league baseball team sends a number of its prospects to the month-long league to be showcased and see how they fair against some of the best talent in the minors.
This year the Los Angeles Angels are sending eight players, the same amount they sent in 2012. Here’s some prospects the Angels will be sending to keep an eye on.
C.J. Cron – Arkansas Travelers – 1B
The last time the Angels had a first round draft pick, they selected C.J. Cron out of Utah State. This was before they had signed Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo‘s position on the squad was still in question.
While Cron crushed the lower minor leagues with 27 home runs in high single-A, Cron’s power numbers have taken a bit of a hit in Double-A Arkansas this year where he’s posted a ho-hum .745 OPS. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again, Double-A is a huge testing ground for how a minor league prospect will pan out. But the Texas League where Cron plays is tough on offense. It’s a small, eight-team league where scouting reports go out on hitters real quick and the stadiums tend to favor pitchers. Take into consideration that Cron leads the team in doubles and maybe the numbers don’t tell the whole story on Cron’s 2013 campaign.
Taylor Lindsey – Arkansas Travelers – 2B
While Lindsey impressed in the single-A baseball last year, it was a big question mark whether his batting skills would hold up in Double-A. As it turns out, not only has Lindsey held his own, but he might be the best hitter on the Travelers in 2013 with a team high .790 OPS and 17 home runs.
Lindsey’s success at double-A could allow the Angels some flexibility when it comes to Howie Kendrick. Add in the success of Grant Green over the past month (139 OPS+ in 69 plate appearances with the Angels) and don’t be surprised if the Angels trade Kendrick for some big league pitching, especially if Lindsey continues to impress in the Arizona Fall League.
Zach Borenstein – Inland Empire 66ers – OF
Taken in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft, Borenstein’s numbers in his first two seasons of minor league baseball have “organizational depth” written all over them. However, this year in high single-A, Borenstein has exploded with 25 home runs and an .994 OPS. Is the left-handed hitting Borenstein the real deal or is his 2013 an outlier? The Angels hope to find out by sending Borenstein to the Arizona Fall League to face some of the best players in the minors.
R.J. Alvarez – Inland Empire 66ers – P
The 22 year-old right-hander has quickly proven since being drafted in 2012 that he can handle the lower minor leagues. This year at Inland Empire, Alvarez has mostly pitched out of the bullpen with a high degree of success. In just over 46 innings pitched Alvarez has struck out 72(!) and allowed just 33 hits. With a minor league system lacking depth, the Angels will likely move Alvarez a long through the minors quickly if he continues to find success. The Arizona Fall League will be his next big step.
Mike Morin – Arkansas Travelers – P
After dominating Inland Empire to start the year, Morin was promoted to Double-A where he’s continued to pitch with success. In 28 innings out of the pen, Morin has struck out 30 and walked just 4. A strikeout relief pitcher who doesn’t have control problems? The Angels front office must be salivating. Much like Alvarez, expect Morin to move quickly through the Angels system if he continues to pitch well. A 2014 big league appearance isn’t out of the picture.