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Blackberry Burning

Proposal to the Angels

With Brian Fuentes on the shelf and the
middle relief struggling, would the Angels consider giving up one of their interesting outfield prospects for Scott Downs. Jays would be willing to part with Downs due to his pending free agency and the fact that Jesse Carlson is waiting in Las Vegas for a promotion back to the big team.
Other than Fuentes, the Angels don't have a lefty in the pen and nobody who throws from the left side on their 40 man roster except starter Joe Saunders. With sufficient strength in closers Fuentes and Rodney, the Angels could certainly use a setup man of Downs quality, especially against tough lefthanded hitters on the Yankees and Red Sox who the Angels most certainly will face if they make the playoffs.

Bourjos was rumored last summer to be part of a prospective trade for Roy Halladay and remains one of Angels top prospects. However, a couple of recent draft picks in Randal Grichuk and Mike Trout would also draw interest. Bourjos would be preferable since he has reached AAA and could be of help this year. However, we all know Anthopolous and his team continue to take a long term view and are looking 2-3 years down the road as the target for a contending team. Anyone who would reach the big team by then would be of interest. It appears Trout or Grichuk and capable of moving that fast.

Peter Bourjos, (OF)

Bats: Right Throws: Right 6’1’ 180 lbs. DOB: 3/31/1987

Arkansas (Double-A): AVG-OBP-SLG: .281-.354-.423

Scouting Report: For the second straight season Bourjos checks in at #3 on our Top 50 Prospect List. For the third straight season Bourjos battled injuries, missing three weeks in '09 with a torn ligament in his wrist after an early June batting practice session. While Bourjos played through the pain after his return to the lineup, his batting average slipped, and by the season's end he finished up with a .281 BA after hitting above .300 for the majority of the season. Despite the injury, Bourjos led the Texas League in triples with 14 and all outfielders with a .997 fielding percentage. Bourjos also ranked fifth in stolen bases (32) despite missing several games mid-season. The Angels named Bourjos as their Defensive Player of the Year.

One of the biggest goals for this leadoff hitter in 2009 was to improve his walk rate and approach at the plate. Mission accomplished! Bourjos improved his on-base percentage to .354, walking 49 times against 77 strikeouts. That's a big improvement over 2008 when Bourjos walked just 19 times. Bourjos has improved his ability to get on base via the bunt, an asset that manager Mike Scioscia loves in a player with the type of game changing speed that Bourjos possesses. Bourjos has a quick bat and can turn on pitches when he gets good extension, driving balls into the gaps and off the wall. Heading to Triple-A Salt Lake in 2010, Bourjos could get into double digits in the home run department. It's not inconceivable that he could hit 15-20 home runs down the road as he fills out.

Some believe that Bourjos is a future gold glove centerfielder. Possessing a strong arm, incredible range in the outfield and getting good jumps on the ball off the bat, Bourjos has the entire package to push fellow teammate and gold glover Torii Hunter to a corner spot in the outfield by 2011. Besides leading the league in fielding percentage Bourjos had seven assists and was involved in five double plays in 2009 which was good for a 1st place tie in that department from the outfield position.

Look for Bourjos to get in several games this spring as Scioscia gets a good look at the future and what could be his man up the middle in the outfield should Torii Hunter ever go down with an injury in 2010. Bourjos is one of the more exciting players to watch in the organization. Make sure you get out to Tempe this spring and to Salt Lake when the Minor League season is underway to watch him fly around the bases and rob players of extra base hits.

Mike Trout, (OF)

Bats: Right Throws: Right 6’1’ 200 lbs. DOB: 8/07/1991

Arizona (Rookie Ball): AVG-OBP-SLG: .360-.418-.506

Cedar Rapids (Low-A): AVG-OBP-SLG: .267-.421-.267

Scouting Report: Mike Trout took the spotlight on draft day in the MLB Network studio and continued to get noticed when playing for the Arizona Angels rookie club after he signed. Trout was leading the league in several offensive categories before getting a late season promotion to Low Class-A ball with the Cedar Rapids club to help them in their quest for a Midwest League championship. Trout got into five games, notching just 15 at bats, but didn't look overmatched despite being the youngest player in the league.

Trout has the tools to be a solid hitter in the big leagues with good plate discipline. His speed and defense rate out higher than what he can do offensively now, but there's time for his bat to catch up with his other above average tools. Trout sets up low and resembles Tim Salmon while at the plate, though without the loft in his swing. Mike produces a level inside-out swing in which he chokes up on the bat to make solid contact. While this approach will not produce power totals now, he has the bat speed to drill the ball into the gaps and eventually over the wall, good for about 15-20 home runs over a full season of at bats.

Trout is an excellent base runner with plus speed, rating just second to Pete Bourjos. He stole 13 bases and was caught just twice. In the outfield Trout can go get them, showing outstanding range and instincts. Trout's arm is solid average, but at times he short-arms his throws into the infield, lacking the extension on his throws. This may push Trout to a corner outfield position down the road, but he has plenty of time to learn from the Angels Minor League coaching staff.

Look for Trout to begin the season in Low-A ball with the Kernels, though there is a chance they may start his first full professional season with the Angels in short season A ball with the Orem Owlz.

Randal Grichuk, (OF)

Bats: Right Throws: Right 6’1’ 195 lbs. DOB: 08/13/1991

Arizona (Rookie Ball): AVG-OBP-SLG: .322-.352-.551

Scouting Report: The Angels' first overall pick of the 2009 amateur draft (24th overall), Grichuk went one spot before Mike Trout. The pick was a bit surprising to many of the national analysts, but Grichuk rewarded the Angels' confidence in his selection with a solid professional debut. Grichuk led the Arizona rookie league with 76 hits and 10 triples. He ranked second in extra base hits with 30.

Randal "Too Hot to Handle" Grichuk is a power hitter, going way back to his little league days. In the 2004 Little League World Series, Grichuk powered his team with a series leading four home runs. The Angels wanted a true power hitting outfielder in the early rounds and felt Grichuk was the best of who was left on the board.

As a power hitter, Grichuk can get overly aggressive at the plate (64-9 strikeout to walk ratio), but Grichuk has a lightening quick bat and strong hands. In the past he was always pull orientated, but used the entire field with the Arizona Angels club. A good athlete, most believe he projects as a left fielder due to his average to below average speed and arm strength. Grichuk has a lot of time and learning to do to continue to improve his game. However, the work ethic and passion to play the game is there.

Barring an injury or a need for more time in extended spring training in Arizona, look for Grichuk to start the season off with Mike Trout in the Cedar Rapids outfield. That team will host a talented outfield with Terrell Alliman in right field, Trout in centerfield and Grichuk in left field.
William Bruyea