That situation can be a good one for prospects -- getting your feet wet without the pressure to perform right away -- and the Angels are in that situation, at least in part, on purpose.
"That's by design a little bit, to try to give some of our guys in the system time," said assistant general manager Scott Servais, who oversees the Halos' scouting and player development. "And there's no rush. There's no rush on [Kaleb] Cowart, there's no rush on [C.J.] Cron, really any of these guys, and pitchers they kind of move at their own pace. … It's just where our club is at."
The system's a little younger this year, and there's no Mike Trout-esque talents waiting in the wings, but there are some lead names.
MLB.com's top Angels prospect, third baseman Kaleb Cowart, has an invite to big-league camp, along with outfielder Randal Grichuk (No. 7), right-hander AJ Schugel (16), shortstop Eric Stamets (17) and second baseman Alex Yarbrough (18). A switch-hitter and a 2010 first-round Draft pick, Cowart has a plus arm to go with the 16 home runs he hit in Class A last season.
After spring, the action heads to Arkansas. Cowart will be just one of the big names on what should be a stacked Double-A Arkansas team. First baseman C.J. Cron, who's coming back from surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder (his throwing arm), should be there too, along with Yarbrough, Stamets and outfielder Travis Witherspoon (No. 8).
At one point, the 23-year-old Cron appeared questionable for full health by Opening Day, but Servais said he's "in a good spot."
"His throwing program, he's throwing pain free, he was out to about 90 to 100 feet and [that was when we were] still about a month out from camp starting," Servais said. "I know initially we didn't really know if he could start Opening Day, he's going to be ready by that time."
The team's top pick in 2011, Cron has had no problem hitting. Throwing's the test. He had a .293/.327/.516 line in 130 High-A games last season, with 27 home runs to boot.
Top 20 prospects
Right-hander Cam Bedrosian, the 29th overall pick in 2010, came back from Tommy John surgery in 2012, and the results weren't there. The 21-year-old went 3-11 with a 6.31 ERA, and that dropped his ranking to No. 20 this season.
But, coming off the surgery, the club's goal for the once upper-echelon prospect was at minimum to stay healthy. The elbow appears fine, but the velocity hasn't returned. Servais said a switch to the bullpen could help bring it back.
"We did see flashes of that come back in instructional league late," Servais said. "It's a big year for Cam. We knew last year, just getting through the whole year healthy and free of any elbow issues was going to be key. I look for him to kind of jump up. We're going to start him and he may eventually go into the bullpen, and that's when I think you could see the velocity come back."
There will be a decision to make with the team's No. 2 prospect, left-hander Nick Maronde, if he doesn't make the Major League club out of Spring Training.
"Does he go back to the Minor Leagues and start?" Servais said. "Or do we just keep him in the bullpen row and keep him [relieving] if needed in the big leagues?"
Under the Radar
The Angels signed a left-handed outfielder from the Dominican Republic named Natanael Delgado in August, and the 17-year-old looks a bit like Curtis Granderson. He'll be in Rookie ball, but he's one to watch.
Reid Scoggins, a 15th-round right-hander in last year's Draft, was 94-97 mph in the instructional league with a legitimate breaking ball, too. The 22-year-old from Texas has just 20 1/3 innings under his belt.
Hitter of the Year: Cron
Cron, if healthy, could very well hit 30 home runs for Arkansas.
Pitcher of the Year: Alfonso Alcantara
Right-hander Alfonso Alcantara has high-90s velocity. He'll be debuting in the U.S. this year after a dominant showing in the Dominican Summer League. That dominance should translate at the lower levels of the Minors.