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Angels may be able to fly even higher

Angels may be able to fly even higher

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Before the 2008 season began, MLB.com took an in-depth look at every big-league team's Minor League system. Now, it's time to recap and analyze all 30 organizations, from top prospects to the recent draft class.

The Angels may have fallen short of their big-league goal, but the 2008 season has to be considered a success from top to bottom.

Aside from the Major League club winning the AL West, the Angels' farm system compiled a .553 winning percentage, third best in all of Minor League Baseball. Ironically, it was the affiliate with the worst winning percentage -- Double-A Arkansas -- that won a league title, but three other franchises made the postseason, as well.

The farm system may not have pushed any impact players up to the big leagues in 2008, but several players did contribute in a variety of ways throughout the season, and there appears to be a flow of talent about to make its way up to the higher levels, particularly on the mound.

Organizational Players of the Year

MLB.com Preseason Picks

Hank Conger, C: We thought the combination of his growing offensive skills and the California League would be a terrific match. It's not that we were wrong -- Conger did hit .303 and slugged .517 -- but he played in just 73 games due to a shoulder problem.
Conger cranks three homers in a game

Jordan Walden, RHP: We predicted he'd win the organizational triple crown. Two out of three's not bad. Walden led full-season starters in ERA (2.76) and strikeouts (141) between Cedar Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga.
Walden strikes out back-to-back hitters

MLB.com Postseason Selections

Roberto Lopez, 1B: It's rare for us to give a postseason award to a guy who played in a Class A Short-Season league, but boy what a short season it was. A 25th-rounder from the 2008 Draft, Lopez was the Pioneer League MVP, hitting .400 and finishing one homer (14) shy of the league's triple crown, to go along with 72 RBIs in 67 games.
Lopez hits a go-ahead two-run single

Jordan Walden, RHP: He dominated the Midwest League, posting a 2.18 ERA and holding hitters to a .207 average over 18 starts. His overall numbers in the Cal League (4.04 ERA, .226 average against) aren't quite as impressive, but it's worth noting that he made some nice adjustments and had a 2.73 ERA in five August starts.


•  Monday, Oct. 6: Washington Nationals
•  Tuesday, Oct. 7: Seattle Mariners
•  Wednesday, Oct. 8: San Diego Padres
•  Thursday, Oct. 9: Pittsburgh Pirates
•  Friday, Oct. 10: Baltimore Orioles
•  Monday, Oct. 13: Atlanta Braves
•  Tuesday, Oct. 14: San Francisco Giants
•  Wednesday, Oct. 15: Cincinnati Reds
•  Thursday, Oct. 16: Colorado Rockies
•  Friday, Oct. 17: Detroit Tigers
•  Monday, Oct. 20: Kansas City Royals
•  Tuesday, Oct. 21: Oakland Athletics
•  Wednesday, Oct. 22: Texas Rangers
•  Thursday, Oct. 23: Cleveland Indians
•  Friday, Oct. 24: Arizona Diamondbacks
•  Monday, Oct. 27: Florida Marlins
•  Tuesday, Oct. 28: Toronto Blue Jays
•  Wednesday, Oct. 29: St. Louis Cardinals
•  Thursday, Oct. 30: Houston Astros
•  Friday, Oct. 31: Minnesota Twins
•  Monday, Nov. 3: New York Yankees
•  Tuesday, Nov. 4: New York Mets
•  Wednesday, Nov. 5: Los Angeles Angels
•  Thursday, Nov. 6: Chicago White Sox
•  Friday, Nov. 7: Milwaukee Brewers
•  Monday, Nov. 10: Chicago Cubs
•  Tuesday, Nov. 11: Boston Red Sox
•  Wednesday, Nov. 12: LA Dodgers
•  Thursday, Nov. 13: Tampa Bay Rays
•  Friday, Nov. 14: Philadelphia Phillies

Climbed the Ladder
Peter Bourjos, OF: Bourjos has always had speed, but in 2008 he started to show other strengths, as well. Playing for Rancho Cucamonga, the outfielder hit .295 with 50 steals, good for second in the organization. He also began to show some extra-base power -- compiling 29 doubles, 10 triples and nine homers as the tools came together perhaps sooner than some had anticipated.
Bourjos blasts a game-tying homer

Matt Brown, 3B: The numbers -- .320 average (second among full-season players in the system), 21 homers, 67 RBIs -- look good, but not great. But then you realize that Brown missed a month late in the season to play for the U.S. Olympic team and the stats look much more impressive. His .580 slugging percentage was sixth best in the PCL and after leading Team USA with 10 RBIs in Beijing, he went on to go 6-for-18 with a pair of homers in the playoffs. He capped it all off with a few more big-league at-bats in September.
Brown hits for the cycle

Sean Rodriguez, 2B: Rodriguez first got a long taste of the bigs in May, when he spent the month with the Angels. He went back down in early June but resurfaced in August and stayed for the rest of the season. Playing mostly second, Rodriguez only hit .204 in the bigs, but he was outstanding whenever he was with Salt Lake. In his first taste of Triple-A, Rodriguez hit .306 with 21 homers, 52 RBIs and a .645 SLG in 248 at-bats.
Rodriguez plates eight runs

Mark Trumbo, 1B: This is what the Angels hoped they were getting when they drafted Trumbo back in 2004. He spent a majority of the season with Rancho Cucamonga, but finished with a nice stint in Arkansas, hitting a combined .281 average and leading the organization with 32 homers and 93 RBIs.
Trumbo goes 5-for-5

Jordan Walden, RHP: See Organization Pitcher of the Year.

Kept Their Footing
Hank Conger, C: Pretty much everything Conger did in 2008 was a positive. Playing at age 20 in the California League, the 2006 first-rounder hit .303 and slugged .517 in 73 games. He then moved up to Double-A to help Arkansas in the postseason and promptly led all Texas League playoff participants with 13 RBIs in eight games as the Travelers won the title. The only thing keeping him from being in the category above is that the shoulder injury also made him more-or-less a DH-only hitter. Assuming good health and a return behind the plate, he could take off in 2009.

Sean O'Sullivan, RHP: In his second full season, O'Sullivan led the California League in wins (16) at age 20. The 4.73 ERA he posted doesn't look all that pretty, but it actually puts him 15th in the hitter-friendly league. He showed the ability to make adjustments, with a 3.31 ERA in the second half, compared to 6.35 before the break. The only remotely negative thing, and that improved as well in the second half, is that O'Sullivan was more hittable (.268 average against) compared to his Midwest League season in 2007. That being said, he's still pretty far ahead of the curve.
O'Sullivan notches his sixth K

Slipped a Rung
Nick Adenhart, RHP: Concerned Angels fans should keep in mind that Adenhart is still only 22 years old and is healthy. That said, 2008 is a season the right-hander would rather forget. It started off well enough, with a 4-0, 0.87 ERA April for Triple-A Salt Lake. Then he got called up to the big leagues at the beginning of May and got completely knocked around. He was back in Salt Lake City three starts later and never recovered, finishing with a 5.76 ERA and .306 average against. An offseason to clear his head and start fresh should do wonders for him.

Hainley Statia, SS: Coming off back-to-back full seasons in which he hit well for average, stole bases and played a smooth shortstop, expectations were high for Statia as he moved to Double-A at age 22. Instead, the Netherlands Antilles native played in just 59 games because of a hamstring injury. He was first shut down at the beginning of June, tried to come back at the end of the month, but his season came to an end July 1. He hit just .242 in the time he was able to play, digging a huge hole for himself with a .196 April.

On the Radar
Michael Anton, LHP: The 23-year-old southpaw who was a 12th-round pick in the 2007 Draft out of the Virginia Military Institute, went a combined 13-9 with a 3.88 ERA in 28 starts during his first full season. Anton was a Midwest League All-Star (7-4, 2.40) before getting bumped up to -- and struggling in -- the California League. He'll obviously have to show he can handle higher levels before anyone can get too excited, but he's at least worth watching heading into next year.
Anton finishes off a complete game

Trevor Reckling, LHP: Now this is a southpaw worth getting excited about. The 19-year-old was an eighth-round pick in 2007 and made the Midwest League All-Star team in his first full season. He was second in the organization among full-season pitchers with a 3.38 ERA, and his 128 strikeouts placed him fourth in the system and eighth in the Midwest League, all as a teenager.
Reckling strikes out the side

Andrew Romine, SS: It's hard to know exactly what to make of Romine, the ASU product taken in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He hit just .260 in the Midwest League, but he also topped the circuit -- and the organization -- with 62 stolen bases. He also improved as the season wore on, hitting .292 in the second half compared to .227 in the first.
Romine drives an RBI triple

Freddy Sandoval, 3B: Not exactly a newcomer, Sandoval was drafted back in 2004 out of San Diego. He made his debut in 2005 and has been slowly moving up the ladder since. In 2007, he hit .305 with 11 homers and 72 RBIs for Double-A Arkansas. This past year, he proved that was no fluke when he hit .335 with 15 homers, 88 RBIs and a .514 slugging percentage, all career highs. That enabled him to make his big-league debut in September after going 6-for-16 (.375) in the PCL playoffs.
Sandoval singles with the Angels

2008 Draft Recap
1. Tyler Chatwood, RHP: The Angels' first pick didn't come until the second round (No. 74 overall) and with it they took Chatwood, the 5-foot-11 California high school right-hander. He showed some encouraging things in his debut, posting a 3.08 ERA in 11 Rookie-level Arizona League starts. Batters hit just .195 against him and he struck out 48 in 38 innings, but he'll have to work on his command (36 BB) as he moves up.

2. Ryan Chaffee, RHP: The Angels signed Chaffee, their third-round pick out of Chipola Junior College, but he didn't pitch, spending the rest of the summer rehabbing a foot injury.

3. Jeff Boshers, LHP: The Angels didn't sign their third pick, Zach Cone, so fourth-rounder Boshers moves into this slot. The Calhoun Community College product was terrific in the Pioneer League, going 5-0 for Orem with a 2.68 ERA.
Boshers fans his sixth batter

Others of Note: 1B Gabe Jacobo (10th round) began with Orem and finished with full-season Cedar Rapids, hitting a combined .324 in 70 games. He had 10 homers, 56 RBIs and a .556 slugging percentage. ... The Angels convinced SS Rolando Gomez (11th round) to sign by giving him an over-slot $450,000 bonus. He didn't play much, but has excellent defensive skills and runs extremely well. ... RHP Michael Kohn (13th round) was virtually unhittable in the Pioneer League, posting a 1.93 ERA and .134 average against in 16 relief outings for the Owlz. He struck out 44 in 23 1/3 innings. ... OF Matt Crawford (23rd round) won the AZL batting title by hitting .373. He also finished third with 19 steals (in 21 attempts). ... 1B/OF Roberto Lopez (25th round), highlighted above as the organization's top hitter, batted .400 in the Pioneer league and led the circuit in nine offensive categories. ... LHP Jayson Miller (30th round) went 8-2 with a 2.33 ERA for Orem, walking just seven and striking out 68 in 81 IP. He was second in the league in ERA, tied for third in wins and tied for eighth in strikeouts.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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