Angels on the Horizon

Posted: April 29, 2013 in by Freddy Berowski

If the early season struggles of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s offense continues, you might see two of their highly-touted offensive prospects sooner rather than later.  Ranking on the Bowman top 100 list at 56 and 86, respectively, Kaleb Cowart and CJ Cron both have bright futures ahead of them.  Right now both of these promising youngsters are adjusting in their first taste of Double-A ball.

Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 11.53.46 PMCJ Cron was the Halos first-round pick (17th pick overall) in the 2011 amateur draft out of the University of Utah-Salt Lake City.  In his first two Minor League seasons, first with the Rookie League Orem Owlz, and then the Class-A Inland Empire 66’ers, he played in 163 games, jacked 40 home runs and knocked in more than a run per game (164).  Tremendous offensive production led to the young first baseman opening the 2013 campaign with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers.  Although off to a slow start in the power department (posting only a .455 slugging through the first 20 games of 2013), Cron has kept his batting average at an impressive .312 – surpassing his .297 career mark.  Once Cron’s big right-handed bat adapts to the new league and higher-level competition, we should see power in line with what he’s shown the two previous seasons.  As far as the other parts of his game, the 6’4”, 235-pounder is a slow-footed but defensively average first baseman.  The place where the 23-year-old really needs to hone his game is his patience at the plate, having walked only 29 times in his first 798 professional plate appearances.

Kaleb Cowart was drafted a year prior and a pick later than Cron, yet is over two years younger. While he doesn’t have the power pedigree of his teammate, Cowart is the epitome of a five-tool player.  A slick fielder with a cannon for an arm, Cowart is one of the better hot corner defenders in Minor League ball.  When it comes to Cowart’s offense, he is a line drive hitter who should continue to develop power as he matures.  Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 11.55.16 PMThat, coupled with his speed on the bases, should make the switch-hitter a 20/20 player at the big league level.  A slow start this season (.187 through 86 plate appearances), can be attributed to Cowart being a young player adjusting to his first taste of upper Minor League baseball.  Expect him to have made significant strides by the time mid-season rolls around.

Regarding who the better prospect is, I think that Cowart has more long-term potential, quite possibly being an All-Star at the highest level one day. However Cron appears to be closer to making an impact in Majors.  If Pujols or Hamilton suffer any type of injury that would keep one of them out for an extended period of time this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cron get the call, pushing Trumbo to the outfield.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of long-term big money contracts on the books in Anaheim and an injury or trade will need to occur for him to get any extended playing time. On the other hand, this is not a problem Cowart encounters as the Angels’ hot corner is being kept warm for him by some underwhelming talent.

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