But a rebuilt front office -- with assistant general manager Scott Servais bringing a hands-on approach to the player-development side, while also looking to expand the club's waning international reach -- is here to ensure the future remains at the forefront.
"I'm a little biased here," first-year GM Jerry Dipoto said, "but I think Scott Servais is the best player-development guy in the industry."
After six years as the Rangers' farm director, Servais, the longtime catcher, will now oversee a system led by arguably the best young player in the game. That would be Mike Trout, the five-tool outfielder who's expected to debut at Triple-A in April but isn't far from being a mainstay in the big leagues.
Trout, 20 years old and ranked by MLB.com as the third-best prospect in the Majors heading into the year, didn't have anywhere near the spring he would've hoped. He battled a nasty virus, lost more than 15 pounds because of it, and shoulder tendinitis kept him from playing the outfield.
Trout had only six Cactus League at-bats this spring -- all as the designated hitter -- and though he has been cleared to resume throwing, he's yet to appear in the outfield.
The Angels hope he's there as the Triple-A season opens, at which point he can build off a year in which he played in 40 Major League games with the Angels -- posting a .672 OPS in that span -- and put up a .326/.414/.544 slash line as the lone teenager in the Texas League.
You can keep track of the Angels' top prospects throughout the season on Prospect Watch. You can also get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of the Angels' Minor League teams on the Angels' affiliates page.
where to watch
|1||Mike Trout||Salt Lake||AAA|
|3||Garrett Richards||Salt Lake||AAA|
|4||C.J. Cron||Inland Empire||A+|
|5||Kaleb Cowart||Cedar Rapids||A|
|6||Taylor Lindsey||Inland Empire||A+|
|7||Nick Maronde||Inland Empire||A+|
|10||Cam Bedrosian||Arizona League||R|
|11||Nick Mutz||Cedar Rapids||A|
|12||Alexi Amarista||MLB/Salt Lake||TBD|
|13||Fabio Martinez Mesa||Inland Empire||A+|
|14||Andrew Romine||Salt Lake||AAA|
|16||Donn Roach||Inland Empire||A+|
|17||Jeremy Moore||Salt Lake||AAA|
|19||Randal Grichuk||Inland Empire||A+|
|20||Chevez Clarke||Cedar Rapids||A|
The Angels' farm system was ranked 18th in the Majors by Baseball America going into the season.
The big question for them is what comes after Trout.
"Mike Trout's easy," Servais said. "That's just a talented guy who's going to come through your system and mature, and he's got great work ethic. It's the other guys that make a difference in a system; it's not just the top five or 10 prospects. Your system is really judged for me on the depth of the system."
No Angels affiliate will be deeper than the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, who should definitely have the roster to improve on last year's 62-82 record.
Joining Trout will be hard-throwing right-hander Garrett Richards, the No. 3 prospect on the Angels who is still in the running for the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation. The Bees will also have catcher Hank Conger and either infielder/outfielder Alexi Amarista or corner infielder Jorge Cantu, along with third-base prospect Luis Jimenez and a few veterans signed to Minor League deals -- outfielder Ryan Langerhans, starting pitcher David Pauley and reliever Juan Rincon.
For the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, up-and-coming shortstop Jean Segura will debut at the next level, though he may end up bouncing around the infield if the Angels sign Erick Aybar to an extension. Joining him will be outfielder Kole Calhoun -- who, like Segura, stood out in big league camp -- along with several explosive arms, like John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
Debuts and Draftees
This Minor League season will also allow fans to get a much longer look at several higher-profile 2011 Draft picks who didn't get much pro action.
C.J. Cron, the big first baseman who's ranked fourth in the Angels' system, posted a 1.000 OPS in 34 games for rookie-level Orem and will now take his game to Inland Empire, the club's high Class A affiliate. Lefty Nick Maronde and righties Nick Mutz, Michael Clevinger and Austin Wood, are also slated for a full season somewhere in A ball.
Teams on TV
The Salt Lake Bees are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2012 MiLB.TV package will include more than 2,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less