Note: This is the first installment of a month-long series previewing every prospect headed to the Arizona Fall League this year. You can see a complete team-by-team schedule of the previews here.
The Angels 2013 Arizona Fall League participants will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, along with prospects from the A's, Cubs, Nationals, and Tigers. The Angels are sending eight players to Arizona - four pitchers, a catcher, two infielders and an outfielder.
R.J. Alvarez, RHP - Alvarez, a 2012 3rd round pick out of Florida Atlantic University (but their first pick in that draft), has worked primarily as a reliever as a pro and for his final year in college. The role has suited him extremely well, and Alvarez has posted incredible strikeout numbers over his first two seasons. Pitching this season in the hitter-friendly California League, Alvarez fanned 72 batters in 46 1/3 innings en route to a 2.91 ERA and a 2.27 FIP. As a two-pitch pitcher - a mid-90's fastball and a hard slider - he is destined to remain in the bullpen long-term, but his ability to miss bats does make him a late inning arm and potential closer. After spending the entire season in High-A ball, he should start 2014 in Double-A and could move quickly through the Angels system and potentially reach the majors by next fall.
Cam Bedrosian, RHP - A 2010 first round pick, Bedrosian is the son of former NL Cy Young winning closer Steve Bedrosian. Another reliever, Bedrosian came with more of a pedigree than Alvarez but has been significantly less successful. He missed all of 2011 after having Tommy John surgery, but worked as a starter in 2012 upon return to make up for lost time. It did not go well. Returning to the Low-A Midwest League as a 21-year-old, Bedrosian fared much better, even if his ERA didn't reflect his progress. His strikeout rate spiked to 11.4 K/9, but he fell victim to some bad luck, allowing a .362 BABIP. His 3.11 FIP is much more indicative of his progress, but it would be nice to see Bedrosian get a few more people out.
Mike Morin, RHP - The Angels have the Solar Sox bullpen stake cornered for this season, sending yet another solid relief prospect in Morin to the desert. Morin was a 13th round pick in 2012 out of UNC, but has established himself as a productive minor league reliever with major league potential. Morin's ceiling is slightly lower than Alvarez's despite a strong K/BB ratio of 4.43 as a professional. He demonstrated great control this season, but his batted ball stats (which require a major caveat at the minor league level) suggest that left-handed hitters hit him much harder than did right-handers, with a line drive rate almost twice as high. If he is able to handle hitters from both sides of the plate, Morin could end up in a major league middle relief role, but otherwise he may top out as a long reliever.
Michael Roth, LHP - Roth is well-known as a College World Series hero and got called up to the big leagues this season to make an emergency spot start and was used in their bullpen sporadically throughout the remainder of the year while bouncing back and forth from the minors. Roth's arsenal of pitches is limited, but he gets by on deception and guile, much as he did in college. He has continued to work as a starter in the minors, but he probably doesn't profile, as a major league starter. If anything, he'd be a back end guy, but his best bet to be a productive major leaguer could be as a LOOGY or a long-man.
Jett Bandy, C - Bandy was a 31st round pick in 2011 as a senior sign out of Arizona, but doesn't profile as a high-ceiling prospect. He's not a strong hitter and his bat won't play anywhere else, so he'll have to make his mark as a back-up catcher.
C.J. Cron, 1B - Cron's game is all about power and that power is what got him selected in the 1st round in 2011 and was on display during his first professional year and a half. He failed to completely bring it with him to Double-A in 2013, however, hitting just 12 home runs in 127 games. His ISO has developed a concerning trend, going from .322 to .223 to .150 over the course of the past three years, something he will have to remedy. His 4.3 percent walk rate also isn't high enough, and he runs the risk of developing into a serial out-maker if he doesn't take a few more pitches, something that would be aided by the return of his power.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B - Lindsey is a 2010 first-founder who finally put his power on display this season as a 21-year-old in Double-A, hitting 17 home runs en route to a .790 OPS. He's not a great defensive player, but if he can remain at second base, his power could make him an above-average offensive player at the position. It remains to be seen how strong of an overall hitter he becomes, but his offensive output in Double-A at a young age is an impressive step.
Zach Borenstein, OF - This time last year, Borenstein wouldn't have been a likely candidate for a coveted AFL spot as a former 23rd pick and senior sign. A full season in the California League, however, can do a lot to change the status of a hitting prospect, especially when he hits .326/.389/.612 with 25 home runs this year. This kind of offensive output wasn't exactly expected out of Borenstein, who will now head to the AFL to attempt to show the Angels that his season wasn't a fluke. Borenstein is a strong player so the power could be for real, but his .356 BABIP likely is not. He'll be an interesting player to watch to see if he can keep his breakout season going this fall.