In the 2015 season's second Fan Mailbox for Scout.com, Angels fans went far and away to dig deep and ask questions about the Front Office, prospects, trades, and even movie reviews. You, the fans, deserve high praise for giving InsideTheHalos.com, it's biggest Mailbox to date. So much so, we had to break it all down into multiple categories, including one player, who's not even a Major Leaguer, getting an entire section dedicated to him alone. As per usual, Scout.com Senior Publisher, Taylor Blake Ward, took on the challenge of answering all of your questions.
FRONT OFFICE: To say there have been a high amount of questions regarding the Angels Front Office lately is a high understatement. Though no one asked about Jerry Dipoto and his departure, there were a few intriguing questions from all of you.
Q?: Did the Angels Front Office replace the departures of Nick Francona and Rick Eckstein? (@jdjramos; Twitter)
TBW: I've never been an expert at keeping tabs with the Angels Front Office, beyond the owner, GM, President and the higher archs of the Front Office. I do know that Jeremy Zoll is the current Coordinator of Advanced Scouting and Dave Hanson is the Assistant Hitting Coach (2nd season); which were both previously the duties of Rick Eckstein, so I feel he has been replaced. Jonathan Strangio is the Manager of Major League Operations; while Nick Francona was the Coordinator of Major League Player Info, so that would be my best bet as saying "yes" to Francona being replaced.
Q?: There's no way the Angels would fire Mike Scioscia, right? (@BaseballMiAmor; Twitter)
TBW: There is a way. It's doubtful that it will happen to the longest tenured manager in baseball currently. Scioscia lead the Angels to the best record in MLB last season, and despite not measuring up to expectations, is still keeping the Angels in a playoff chase at the moment.
Q?: Do you think it'd be good for the Angels if Mike Scioscia got canned at this point? (@TazzinUp; Twitter)
TBW: No, I do not. The Angels are in a playoff chase (as stated above), and a manager change could be a terrible thing for the Angels and the rest of this season.
Q?: Why wasn't Matt Klentak given the nod as the interim GM? (@CoachCH27; Twitter)
TBW: It seems that Klentak was an option for the interim position. Sources have noted that Klentak is still looking at the GM vacancy available with the Philadelphia Phillies. Though it's not confirmed that he was offered the interim position with the Angels, Klentak could have denied the interim GM position with Anaheim, so the Phillies option remains available to him, which would mean more immediate money and a fresh team that he can turn into whatever he pleases.
Kaleb Cowart: Many of you had questions regarding the former top prospect, most about how well he's been playing. Here is a full section dedicated to your questions regarding Kaleb Cowart.
Q?: Hey @TaylorBlakeWard, realistically, do you think Kaleb Cowart could hit over .250 in the Majors if called up now? (@gizmosol; Twitter)
TBW: No I do not. Cowart is having an outstanding second wind to the season, but the difference between Triple-A and the Majors is drastic. Cowart still needs some development before making the leap to the Majors, and with time on his side, a degrading of confidence could turn the positives into negatives. You could see this when he was rushed into Double-A for two seasons. Let him get his reps, develop, and turn into a potential third baseman of the future.
Q?: What do you think about the season Kaleb Cowart has had this year? I'm stoked for him. (@gizmosol; Twitter)
TBW: I'm stoked too. Cowart is notoriously known as one of the hardest working members of the Angels organization and the hard work is starting to show. He's had doubters for the past three years, calling for his head, and taking the bat out of his hand and putting him on the mound. Though some still doubt his success will stay, taking the bat out of his hand at this moment would be a terrible decision. He's starting to find confidence, timing, and everything that was expected of him. Any fan of baseball would love to see what Cowart is doing, the road he took, the challenges, the criticism, and the success beyond all of the previous remarks.
Q?: Is there any chance Kaleb Cowart recaptures what made him a top prospect in the past? (@Angels_Fan_Kyle; Twitter)
TBW: Yes. Though the struggles from the right side of the plate remain, you can see that his timing and confidence have brought him back to top prospect status again. His arm hasn't gone away and probably never will as long as he remains in the field (throwing 95 MPH+ still). His bat is starting to show, his defense is outstanding. Everything is coming together and showing why he was a top prospect. With a little more development at the plate... BAM, top prospect status retained.
Q?: Think Kaleb Cowart will get traded before he plays a game as an Angel? His value is up at the moment, think he could help Halos? (@ChrisSylvester_; Twitter)
TBW: It's possible. He's very well liked by the Front Office, particularly, Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto is gone now, and Bill Stoneman has tabs of Cowart's career as an Angels prospect. His stock is up, and he could be a nice piece that would leave the Angels feeling comfortable with his departure, but Stoneman is known for his lack of moves made during the season. With all these things being pieced together, it seems Cowart will stick around with the Angels. As for if he could help the Halos, it seems that he could. In the question and answer above, I noted that everything is coming together for Cowart, which could mean he become an average MLB third baseman or better in the near future.
Q?: How would you compare Kyle Kubitza and Kaleb Cowart? Granted it's a small sample size for Cowart. (@ChrisSylvester_; Twitter)
TBW: There is definitely a difference in play between Cowart and Kubitza. Kubitza swings only from the left side of the plate, as opposed to Cowart being a switch hitter. Cowart has more power potential and is a better defender than Kubitza. Kubitza will strikeout more, but will make more consistent hard contact. They may end up with similar numbers when all is said and done at the end of their careers, but they are definitely different players with different styles.
POTENTIAL TRADES: Yes the trade deadline is coming up. Yes, Bill Stoneman doesn't have a great resume in making moves at the deadline. You've come up with some good questions regarding trades that hopefully I can give some more insight to.
Q?: Any partial chance that C.J. Cron is up and starting to kind of audition for other teams? (@CoachCH27; Twitter)
TBW: Cron's stock is down with his inability to crack right-handed pitchers right now. Teams aren't going to be looking for a platoon first baseman right now as a center piece to a trade, unless it involves something nearly identical or a low profile prospect. Of course, Cron hasn't seen much time in the Majors this season and when you don't see reps, making consistent contact is more challenging. There is desire, but not enough for him to be cracking a lineup elsewhere as an every day first baseman or designated hitter.
Q?: Who is most likely to be traded other than Hector Santiago or C.J. Wilson, and are Sean Newcomb and Andrew Heaney off limits? (@CoachCH27; Twitter)
TBW: A lot of this has to do with who is buying and who is selling. David Freese and Chris Iannetta are on contract years, and there's depth behind them which means they'd be easy to send elsewhere, but... it's unlikely with the need at third base and Kyle Kubitza not showing that he's an everyday third baseman just yet. I took a look at some prospects and could see Jett Bandy bringing in high interest and a team could look at him as a Major League backup this season. Danny Reynolds, Kyle McGowin, Victor Alcantara, Keynan Middleton and Tyler DeLoach also are on my watch list when it comes to packaging prospects to a trade. As for the secondary question in this about Heaney and Newcomb, I'll revert to one of my favorite childhood movies and say, "no touchy," like David Spade in "Emperor's New Groove."
Q?: Do you expect Bill Stoneman to make a move at the deadline? He's notorious for not making moves. (@basedhaloballs; Twitter)
TBW: There's a need for a left-handed bat. It seems anyone inside the Angels Front Office understands that. Despite Stoneman not being notoriously famous for making big trades, he is notorious for making the right trades. It may not be a high end name, but I do expect the Angels to be shopping for a left-handed bat on the lower scale, involving a few prospects. (See question/answer below)
Q?: Will Bill Stoneman trade for Adam Lind? (@Kyle_Coates28; Twitter)
TBW: I've had some mindset attachment to Adam Lind and the Angels since he came with the Blue Jays last season. I read his name in an article written by Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register a few months back with ties to Lind. It all makes sense, in every way. I'm sure he's not the only name involved with the Angels on many people's minds, but somehow, I believe that Adam Lind will be wearing an Angels uniform by the end of the season. Also, Josh Reddick is a left-handed hitter who can play in the outfield...
PROSPECTS NOT NAMED KALEB COWART: Surprise, surprise, there are more prospects in the Angels farm system who's name isn't Kaleb Cowart. This tends to be my favorite section due to the ability to provide opinions on prospects who don't get a lot of attention that deserve it.
Q?: Hello, can you tell me if Wayne Gretzky's son is still in the Angels organization? If yes, where and how is he doing? Thanks. (@7SHEA11; Twitter)
TBW: Hello, yes I can and yes he is. Trevor Gretzky is making a minor name for himself in Class-A Burlington right now. He's batting .261, with an .667 OPS, five extra base hits, 13 runs scored and eight RBI in 35 games. I'd say he's still working his way out of "organizational filler" and more into his seventh round draftee status.
Q?: Kyle Survance has been sitting a couple games now, day-to-day with something? Like any MiLB fanatic, was digging the 10-game streak. (@TurksTeeth; Twitter)
TBW: He's back in the lineup since this question was asked, but I heard from a teammate that he was a little under the weather. Survance has been very impressive since being drafted. Hopefully he's past his little flu bug and can perform at the rate he's been at all season.
Q?: Who has been the most impressive positional player in the Angels farm system this year? Caleb Adams? (@bigjoker66; Twitter)
TBW: It's definitely a coin toss between Caleb Adams and Eric Aguilera. Adams was far and away the most impressive player in the farm system over the first month of the season and Aguilera was by far the most impressive in the second month. Adams is currently looking at a .299/.392/.432 slash between both Class-A levels, and has proved that he has all the tools to become a Major Leaguer in the future. Aguilera is somewhat comparable to Efren Navarro. He has some power, but is better known for his clutch abilities and situational hitting while playing the corner outfield and first base. Feel free to include Jake Yacinich in this conversation as well.
Q?: Top five most impressive pitchers in our farm system currently not including Andrew Heaney? (@aldwinning; Twitter)
TBW: In no specific order, I'd say Eduardo Paredes, Jeremy Rhoades, Jonah Wesely, Austin Adams and Chris Ellis. I'd include Sean Newcomb to this list, but I think that goes without saying. Paredes and Adams have been quietly sitting under the radar, but deserve top prospect status. Ellis is my favorite pitcher outside of Newcomb from the 2014 draft, and from the time he was drafted, I said he'd be the first to the Majors, nothing has changed in my mind. Jeremy Rhoades has showed so many signs pointing upwards, and I believe he could be a serious threat as a back end of the rotation starter in the Majors in 2-3 years. The Angels don't have many left-handed relievers that have elite status, and Wesely is tops in this category for me (Chris O'Grady is also a nice loogy).
Q?: Is Jahmai Jones going to play for Orem at all this year or stick to AZL? (@gizmosol; Twitter)
TBW: I would say so. Orem is a slightly more advanced level of Rookie Ball, primarily due to the type of players sent to Orem. The Pioneer League is nearly 75% three-four year college players, which means you'd be throwing Jahmai Jones into competition that has three or four years more experience than he does, which may not fair well for his confidence. Most prep players will be challenged even in the Arizona League against the college players, and that's why you see nearly all prep players go to Arizona as opposed to Orem right out of the draft.
Q?: Do you think Mike Fish ever plays next to Mike Trout? (@gizmosol; Twitter)
TBW: With the way he's been playing this season, I think he's turning into the player he wants to become, which is a Major Leaguer. There's still a lot of development that needs to be seen, but Fish is creating a name for himself. I do believe that Fish will be a Major Leaguer in the future, but more of a bench roll than a starter. Regardless, if he stays in the Angels farm system and can stay healthy, I have very little doubt that you won't see Fish in left field and Trout in center field. Now if only they could acquire Tyler Pike from the Mariners to make things a little more fishy.
Q?: Positon players in the minors we should be excited about? (@Aldwinning; Twitter)
TBW: Outside of the obvious guys you'll find on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 prospects, there's a few that come to mind. I'll just breakdown each position for you. Catcher: Stephen McGee, First Base: Eric Aguilera, Second Base: Sherman Johnson, Third Base: Brian Hernandez, Shortstop: Jake Yacinich, Outfielders: Miguel Hermosillo, Ruben Sosa, Bo Way.
Q?: When do you think Sean Newcomb will get promoted to Double-A? And, how high do you see Chris Ellis' ceiling as a starting pitcher? (@TazzinUp; Twitter)
TBW: I believe Newcomb is only a few starts in High-A away, which could mean right after he pitches in the Future's Game. His stuff is hard to match in the minor leagues, but command has started to fade slightly, which could mean they shut him down before the season ends to save his arm from too many innings at a young part of his career. Chris Ellis' ceiling is pretty high in my opinion. He's not a future ace at this point in his career, but he could easily be a two or three starter in the future with what he has and how he attacks guys. I don't like drawing comparisons, but when I saw Chris Ellis, I thought I was watching Lance Lynn of the Cardinals.
Q?: Why is Taylor Ward still in Rookie Ball? He's crushing it in Orem. Plus, he's a college guy so he's due for a promotion right? (@basedhaloballs; Twitter)
TBW: The Angels noted that they want to give Taylor Ward some minimal time, which means you will only see him catching every second or third day, and he'll be the designated hitter for every other off day. His numbers are outrageous in Rookie Ball, and that builds confidence. Similar to the Jahmai Jones question above, putting Ward against competition who may have two years more experience as a professional against him could take him down a notch and take some of that confidence away. Being in Orem also gives him the needed time with pitchers to build strong communication with those pitchers that he'll be with for a few years heading up in the system. Another note is that Ward never called a game while at Fresno State, which we all know is important to learn when becoming an elite catcher of the future. The focus isn't so much with his bat and the numbers he's producing, but more learning to become a future Major League catcher defensively and in all aspects.
Q?: Most impressive 2015 draftee so far? Also, most underrated 2014 draftee for the Angels? (@SeanKnorzer; Twitter)
TBW: I'll start with 2015. Taylor Ward (1st round) and Grayson Long (3rd round) have both been impressive so far in Rookie Ball, but there's two that standout above them right now. Small sample size, but Kyle Survance (8th round) is looking at a .434/.492/.679 slash, with eight extra base hits, 15 RBI, 13 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. He's really taken the Angels farm system by storm and if he can continue to stay at half the pace he's at right now through the rest of his career, he'll be a very special pickup for the Angels in the eighth round. Prep pitcher, Sam Pastrone (17th round), has really surprised me. He's only pitched in two games, so everything is very small, but in five innings, he's allowed just four hits and struck out four. The thing that really amazes me is that he zero walks against 16 batters faced. He came in very raw, and the fact that he's throwing strikes and efficiently at this very young point in his career blows me away. Ric Wilson said he draws comparison to Tyler Chatwood and with the way he's pitching now, all I can say is, "yep." As for 2014, I can draw up three names. A pair of right-handed pitcher, Eric Alonzo (40th round) and Ronnie Muck (30th round) have really shown the ability to compete at each level they've pitched in. This is helped by their ability to know the pitcher they need to be to advance and compete, and I think they are both very good steals, especially coming from the latter part of the draft. Jake Yacinich (8th round) impressed me in college and nothing has changed. He's an outstanding leadoff talent, with the ability to hit to the gap, draw walks, and he's also an outstanding defensive shortstop. I'm not sure why, but I always tend to lean to the guys taken in the eighth round, and Yacinich is a nice addition to that list.
MISCELLANEOUS: Here's everything not regarding the Front Office, Kaleb Cowart, or prospects. This is probably the part most of you will like to read the most, so here you go, and thanks all for the questions.
Q?: Last time Albert Pujols and Mike Trout each had a home run and stolen base in a game? (@jamesajanosz; Twitter)
TBW: I remember this conversation vaguely, after Trout hit a home run and stole a base in the same game. As for the duo, it's never happened in the same game. However, Pujols homered and stole a base on July 4th, 2014. That same game, Mike Trout hit a walk-off home run and gave the crowd early fireworks. I remember that game very well, and remembered tweeting, "I can't wait to tell my grandchildren about how incredible Mike Trout was."
Q?: Kenny Towns not signing yet is more a product of the College World Series just ending right (@halofanatic776; Twitter)
TBW: Since this question was asked, Kenny Towns did sign and has played in some games for Orem. I did want to respond though. Towns was a big part of Virginia's College World Series victory, and is well known in Charlottesville for his clutch bat. As for signing, it says a lot about the player and person Towns is. His focus was not becoming a professional baseball player until after he finished the job at hand, winning a College World Series. This professionalism and focus on the task at hand will move on to his professional career, and may push him from being "just a 20th round pick" to a player that could help the big club in the future. Focus on the goals at hand are a big part in baseball that can't necessarily be coached (see: Giavotella, Johnny).
Q?: Who will be the Angels left fielder on August 1st? (@escobedo49; Twitter)
TBW: Angels play the Dodgers on August 1st. The Dodgers have more right-handed pitchers in their rotation than left-handed, so it's a safer bet to assume the Angels will be facing a righty. So, you have to assume a left-handed bat will be in the lineup. That means either Matt Joyce or Efren Navarro at the moment, so give me a second to flip a coin... *coin flip* ... Efren Navarro is my best prediction for who starts that date, but I've been wrong many times before.
Q?: Does the Huston Street trade look a little better now? Small sample size I know but still. (@Jaredtims2727; Twitter)
TBW: I think I was among many when the trade initially happened that wasn't really big into the trade, but... after I dated back to watching Trevor Gott when he was pitching for the Padres High-A affiliate. You could see a lot of special potential in him, and then I started breaking down everything else. Elliot Morris was the piece I didn't like that much being traded in the overall package, knowing that Jose Rondon had never left the ballpark with his bat, Taylor Lindsey was showing that he was a utility infielder as opposed to every day starter, and R.J. Alvarez had some concerns with the way he threw. Huston Street is one of the most illustrious closers in the game and will prove it even more so with his soon-to-be 300th career save. Trevor Gott speaks for himself with what he's done in the Majors so far, and I don't think he'll head back to the minors at any point in his career other than a potential rehab assignment pending injury from this point on.
Q?: How the heck are you afraid of Owls? (@FreeThinkingFan; Twitter)
TBW: When I was a child, there was an owl that would sit outside my window and stare in every single night. That terrified me as a child, seeing two big eyes just watching me as I woke up in the middle of the night. Then, when I worked in the minor leagues, an owl would follow me wherever I went in on the concourse. Many of the staff I worked with would joke that it was a demon owl, but it was no joke to me. Owls scare the ____ out of me.
Q?: What have you done with your first round signing bonus? (@ChaelsTriangleD; Twitter)
TBW: Well, I'm not sure what Taylor Ward did with his signing bonus, but here's what I would do with mine. First, since I'm not going to have to drive all that far, buy a cool enough car that doesn't cost too much, maybe a late 60's Nova. Secondly, I would invest a small amount of it into whatever stock GoPro and Monster Energy Drinks are a part of, those guys make so much money, it's stupid. Third, I'd make sure that I setup my future well, putting some of that money away for my parents, loved ones, and myself so if I happened to get injured, I have something to fall back on. Most importantly, I'd buy a ton of those tubs of RedVines.
Q?: Your thoughts on the first two draft picks for Angels? Seems to be some furor over those choices? (Ellen Seay Young; Facebook)
TBW: I was surprised to hear Taylor Ward's named called in the first round. But, the Angels knew what they wanted and how they would develop him. I like his defense and power potential. He's shown his patience at the Rookie Ball level already, and I think that he will be able to match up to what they expect him to be. Jahmai Jones is a prep outfielder with raw upside. It's hard to gauge prep players, so I tend to shy away from them when I hear the word, "raw." I'll be able to tell you a little more about him when I see him play first hand.
Q?: What's happened to Mike Trout's stolen bases? Six stolen bases in April, only three since. What happened? (@ShuebBaafe2; Twitter)
TBW: I can't be exactly sure about this because I'd have to break down nearly every scenario, but I can give you this. In April, Trout reached first base in 39.3% of his plate appearances in April, and 31.1% since. That means he had 8.2% more opportunity to steal second in April than he has the rest of the season (you can steal third of course). Another impact is Pujols swinging early in counts and hitting the ball out of the park, which takes Trout's opportunity down a bit too. Some of it may be part of what I mentioned above, but I truly can't say because I'm not in the mind of Scioscia or Trout in every scenario.
Q?: Tyler Skaggs says he wants to play this year, do you think Scioscia will let him? (@TheGreatHambina; Twitter)
TBW: I think Skaggs wanting to pitch this year is more just a personal wish, but he knows that he's shut down for the year. It's not really anything to do with Scioscia's disgretion, but more doctors, trainers, and many other factors. Skaggs is still in the clubhouse every day and is working hard to get back to the mound.
Q?: When was the last time a league leader in home runs at the All-Star Break didn't make the All-Star Team? (@ChaelsTriangleD; Twitter)
TBW: I have to apologize, because I couldn't have to find an exact statistic for this. However, I did think back to conversations in 2009, where Russell Branyan missed the All-Star Game with 22 home runs and a .956 OPS. You can also take a look at Paul Konerko in 2004 (22 HR, .951 OPS), Alex Rodriguez in 1999 (18 HR, 1.045 OPS) and Albert Belle in 1998 (18 HR) as potential odds. I do think that Albert Pujols and his 25 home runs will make the All-Star Game though, despite being fifth in voting for first base at last check.
Q?: Opinion on Star Wars the Force Awakens? (Patrick Bellante; Facebook)
TBW: Meh, I like Star Wars, but I'm not as wild about it as a lot of others. I still haven't seen Episode II. I saw the trailer and all I took out of it is that Harrison Ford is back, so that's kind of cool. I am a Jurassic Park nerd though, and went crazy over "Jurassic World," watching the trailer every night until it came out. Without giving away too many spoilers for the maybe two or three of you who haven't seen it, seeing "Rexy" save the day just made everything great about Jurassic World. Chris Pratt and the Indian guy were the only good actors in the movie, but I definitely enjoyed it.
Q?: Currently on your top playlist? (Heidi Gonzalez; Facebook)
TBW: I've been really digging the "Jekyll and Hyde" album from Zac Brown Band with "Heavy Is The Head" as my current long-time jam. I have Eve 6's first going on in my headphones right now. I'd probably say the one being played the most is the version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" during the Beatles Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction where Prince kills it with one of the best guitar solos of all-time at the end, while Dhani Harrison and Tom Petty stare at him high as kites. Peter Frampton has a pretty good version too I've been jamming out to.
Q?: How much wood would woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? (@ShuebBaafe2; Twitter)
TBW: Woodchucks don't actually "chuck" wood, but instead ingest and move wood. A woodchuck can ingest 22.09592926 cubic inches of wood per day per Richard Thomas. On a good day, with the wind to his back, a woodchuck could move about 700 pounds on a good day.
Q?: I heard you're a big racing fan, who are your favorite drivers? (Dave Cardiff; Facebook)
TBW: I am a big racing fan, almost as much I am a fan of baseball and hockey. I have many favorite drivers due to all the different types of racing. Kevin Harvick is probably the most popular of my favourites due to NASCAR being so large scale in the United States. I love drag racing as well, where Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan take the cake for me. I broadcast at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, where they race some smaller drag racing series, and I'm slightly impartial to the Fischle Racing crew due to my past with them. Damion Gardner is an upcoming driver in the USAC/CRA sprint cars here in California that I really enjoy watching race.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard. Taylor can also be contacted via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.