Angels’ 2014 Arizona Fall League Recap


As the Arizona Fall League comes to a close, it seems most fitting to evaluate the performances of the seven Angels prospects that participated this year and give a background on their respective minor league careers. The Fall League is known to include the top prospects from each organization and several solid Halo prospects made the trek out to Arizona to participate. The Mesa Solar Sox, who represent the Angels along with the Cubs, A’s, Blue Jays, and Nationals, finished the fall season with a 15-14-2 record to place second in their three-team division. The 2014 Angels saw contributions from several 2013 AFL graduates from the likes of CJ Cron, Mike Morin, Cam Bedrosian, and Michael Roth; so is it possible we see members of this year’s squad on the 2015 big league team?

3B Kaleb Cowart – The 2014 Fall League season was the second tour of duty for Kaleb Cowart after previously playing in 2012. Unfortunately, Arizona has not been kind to Kaleb as he posted a .548 OPS in 2012 and a .483 OPS this season in 81 ABs. His .074 ISO in the hitter friendly environment is troubling and a seemingly lack of patience resulted in only 4 walks against 15 strikeouts. This wouldn’t be as alarming if he hadn’t struggled the last two years in AA, but he has. A .619 OPS in the Texas League last season has raised some questions about the young third baseman’s future as a position player and there are some who speculate a conversion to the mound will be initiated if he does not continue to progress as a prospect in 2015. More than likely he will start the year for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers for the third straight season and this could be the year that decides his fate as a prospect.

SS Eric Stamets – An injury afflicted season led to Stamets only playing 106 games last season at Arkansas, as he put up a .235/.293/.314 line in 382 plate appearances. A shortage in playing time could have led the 22 year old to be invited to play in the Fall League where he batted .279 with a .679 OPS. Although these numbers are decent for Stamets who has never been known to be an offensive minded player, don’t expect him to produce great numbers next season. In 14 games for Mesa, he had a lone walk and .098 ISO, so as you can tell, he’s no Troy Tulowitzki. However, defense and baserunning ability represent Stamets’ greatest tools and his glove alone will give him a shot in the future at being an effective utility player in the majors. Like Cowart, we will see Stamets start the year with the Travelers.

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1B/3B/OF Cal Towey – Cal Towey earned an invitation to Arizona after putting up a solid, but unspectacular campaign last season with the Angels’ High-A affiliate, Inland Empire. He produced a .279/.364/.417 slash line in 128 games while playing both corner infield positions, right field, and even a little bit behind the plate. Although being old for the California League, over a year older than the average batter, Towey showed good plate discipline as evidenced by his nearly 10% walk rate in 2014. His good eye carried over into the Fall League as he boasted a .375 OBP in 19 games for the Solar Sox. Towey doesn’t contain the power you would expect to see from a typical corner infielder, evidenced by his .426 SLG in the Fall League, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful utility piece one day. He will most likely start in Arkansas with a possible chance to fill in for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2015.

OF Chad Hinshaw – Hinshaw began the 2014 campaign in Single-A Burlington, but after a hot start, he was promoted to Inland Empire. Between the two levels, Hinshaw batted .270/.365/.477 and stole 41 bags. In the Fall League, the speedster put up a .284/.410/.343 line, which is a little curious. In his minor league career, Hinshaw has produced a .489 SLG, so perhaps the lack of power this fall was either due to a small sample size of 67 ABs or just tougher competition in general. Along with his great plate patience, Hinshaw also strikes out a lot, similar to Mike Trout’s approach. The 22% K rate he posted in High-A is going to need to improve, but with his sneaky power, plate discipline, and 70-grade speed, he could find himself in the Angels’ outfield in a couple of years.

LHP Nate Smith – The lefty starter simply dominated competition last year playing for the 66ers and Travelers, combining for a 2.97 ERA in 118 innings. Injuries limited his time in Arkansas, so he was invited to Arizona to show his stuff, and that he did. In 22 innings, Smith struck out 21 and had an ERA of 3.27 while making six starts for Mesa. While walks have been somewhat of an issue for him, the Furman University product has managed to dance his way out of danger in thanks to a strong strikeout rate. Although ranked just the 19th best prospect in the Angels’ farm system by, Smith could make an impact in the majors as soon as 2015. He is projected to start in Double-A Arkansas and could find himself as a regular with the Angels in 2016 if he continues to perform well. Halo Hangout’s very own Ryan Ritchey wrote about Smith’s progression through the minor leagues, and you can read his piece here.

RHP Trevor Gott – Gott pitched in a meager 7.1 innings this fall and threw well before getting shellacked in an appearance in which he gave up four runs in a third of an inning. Before his poor outing, he allowed just one earned run in seven innings and struck out four. After coming over from San Diego in the Huston Street deal, Gott pitched significantly better than most people expected. In 17.1 innings, the righty ceded just a 1.53 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while striking out 18 batters in the process. Gott is known to have a sinking fastball, which generates lots of groundballs, and he could pitch in Anaheim in the upcoming season if needed.

RHP Chris O’Grady – Chris O’Grady wasn’t actually supposed to go to the Arizona Fall League this season, but after Danny Reynolds could not attend due to injury, O’Grady was called upon to fill in. He proved tough to hit during his 12.2 innings, surrendering just five hits, although he did walk six batters. Overall, he pitched well during his time in Arizona but don’t expect him to make an impact anytime soon for the big club.

It should be mentioned that Mark Sappington played in the Fall League this year as well, but was traded to Tampa Bay for lefty reliever Cesar Ramos earlier in the offseason. While most of the Angels’ prospects who played Arizona this season are not going to contribute in the majors for a couple of years, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Trevor Gott or Nate Smith make cameos in 2015. Gott could be a useful bullpen piece and Smith looks to be a back-end starter in the future. We all know that prospects can, and will, break your heart, but keep a tab on this group of fine, young men as they all have the potential to crack the major league roster in one facet or another.