It’s a new year with a new affiliation for the Inland Empire 66ers, and that means a whole new crop of future big league stars will be making their way to Arrowhead Credit Union Park in the coming months. I think it’s time we gave you a peak of who MAY be coming to the California League to play for the 66ers this year.
Before we get started, I’ll let you know that we’re only including players who have had no more than a cup of coffee in the California League prior to 2011 (meaning they may have played in less than a handful of games leading up to a playoff run at the end of the season).
This eliminates listing players like Mike Trout — who would top my list — but does not mean he’ll for sure be absent the 66ers roster to start the season. The Angels place players within their system. As a team, the 66ers have zero say in who plays for its team. I have no idea who will or won’t be sent to the Inland Empire, so please don’t read into this list as indication of who will or won’t fill our roster this season. With that in mind, here is my list!
(Here are some guys that are all from the most recent draft, who if they have a Trout-like freshman year, may make it to the Inland Empire.)
Kaleb Cowart- Angels first 1st round pick (selected out of a Georgia High School). Speedy position player who can switch hit, play multiple infield spots and was a stud pitcher in High School as well (Gatorade Player of the Year for 2010). Showed very good speed in high school with solid pop with the metal bats, and as a former pitcher has a good arm. If he has a huge start to the season he could come to the Inland Empire.
Cameron Bedrosian- Angels second 1st round pick (from Georgia like Cowart). Has great bloodlines (son of Steve Bedrosian), but at just 19 years old, with no starts outside of the Arizona rookie league, may take some time to rise to High-A.
Chevez Clarke- Angels third 1st round pick (guess where he’s from…yep, a Georgia High School). Reason he might rise faster: played more during his draft year recording three homers and nine stolen bases in 38 games. Reason he might not get to the 66ers in 2011: he hit .216 and struck out 55 times in Arizona.
Donn Roach- Slightly older for the draft class, Roach had a nearly 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio with rookie level Orem. But he had a 6+ ERA and opponents hit .294 against him so he might be a mid-year call up depending on performance at his next stop.
Max Russell- 4th round pick but might be the most likely of this group to start with Inland Empire next year. A 22-year-old who had a better than five-to-one K-BB ratio, but saw a big jump in his batting average against (BAA) and ERA from the rookie level to Low-A after being drafted. A possibility perhaps, but like the others more likely to join the 66ers half way if at all as I see it.
My Top 5:
5. David Carpenter (RP)- I love under the radar guys who put up great numbers, especially with pitchers. This guy has put up great numbers the last two years, particularly in the clutch. Carpenter went eight-for-eight in save opportunities last year with Low-A Cedar Rapids. He didn’t give up a run in his last six outings (6.1 innings) and showed an ability to stretch himself by pitching two or more innings seven times — all but one of them without allowing an earned run. Perhaps best of all, there was only a slight rise in his ERA and BAA during his jump from the rookie level to Low-A. He may not be the 66ers closer for 2011, but he sure looks like he could be a go to bullpen guy for Inland Empire in 2011.
4. Daniel Tillman (RP)- He would have a bit further to rise than Carpenter, but is the 2010 draft pick (2nd round) most likely to make it to High-A to start 2011. He had a 1.95 ERA, five-to-one strikeout to walk ratio, didn’t allow a home run all year and opponents hit just .195 against him in 22 rookie league appearances. At 21 he’s at an age where the California League is a real possibility, and if he makes it, he would be a favorite to close for the 66ers next season.
3. Randal Grichuk (OF) – The Angels first 1st round pick of 2009 (one pick ahead of Michael Trout!) is slightly against the grain of the Angels normal draft patterns of speed, speed and more speed. Grichuk was a big time power hitter in high school with 21 home runs in 75 at bats (hit .613 overall). In two years of pro ball he has 18 home runs in 117 games but is still hitting .310 lifetime (.292 last year in 50+ games at Low-A Cedar Rapids). He is very young, very talented, and if he plays the full season, he could put up some serious numbers for the 66ers next year both for power and average.
2. Fabio Martinez Mesa (P) – There are rumors that a move to the bullpen could be in this flamethrower’s future, but whatever role he takes, expect excitement from Fabio Martinez Mesa. As a starter last year in Cedar Rapids, Martinez Mesa went 7-3, striking out 141 batters in 103 1/3 innings while allowing just 80 hits. He did walk 76 batters last year (third most in the Midwest League), hence some scouts speculation of a future in the bullpen. If he stays a starter he could be out on the hill opening day. If he goes to the bullpen, he could be the Kenley Jansen of 2011.
1. Jean Segura (2B) – Pound-for-pound Segura may be the best prospect in the Angels system (tips the scales at 155). He led the Midwest league in hits (161) last season, and was top-5 in batting average (3rd– .313), stolen bases (3rd– 50), runs scored (4th– 89), and triples (4th– 12), all while committing just 13 errors in 125 starts at second base last season. He also led the team in Home Runs (10) and RBI (79), so he could bring a little pop to Inland Empire as well. The soon to be 21 year old is my top prospect among potential 66ers for 2011.
Again, none of these guys are a lock to appear on the 66ers roster in 2011, but any one of them could leave Spring Training for the Inland Empire! Let me know what you think of the list, and tell me who you’re most excited to see this season.
A View from the Press Box comes to you every Tuesday from Director of Broadcasting, Sam Farber. To contact Sam, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.