Do Angels have another fast-riser in their system?
Do Angels have another fast-riser in camp?
TEMPE, Ariz. – The Angels had two players jump from Double-A to the majors last season – right-hander Garrett Richards and uber-prospect Mike Trout who made the jump at age 19.
Those two sit atop the Angels' prospect rankings. But 21-year-old Dominican infielder Jean Segura could be joining them as a fast-riser.
"We've had some high-end kids that have come quickly the last couple years," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked how quickly Segura could rise to the big leagues. "Where he is at the end of spring, you don't know. He'll start in Double-A but a good spring would put him in the periphery of our depth chart."
In his second major-league camp this spring (but his first on the Angels' 40-man roster), Segura has drawn attention with a pair of outstanding back-hand plays at shortstop and an offensive approach that has impressed observers.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto turns back into a scout (one of his first responsibilities after retiring as a player) when asked for his spring assessment of Segura.
"Very athletic. He does a lot of things on the field," Dipoto said before the Angels' 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres Friday afternoon. "It's short, quick movements at shortstop. It's plenty of arm strength. Above-average runner. He's got impact in his bat. I think he's handled this (camp) really well.
"It's a particularly interesting skills-and-tools package. ... He's had a tough time getting out and staying healthy on the field. As a general rule, I try not to dig too much early (before seeing a player). You want to form your own opinion of a player and the opinion I'm forming is a positive one. He's definitely impressed."
Segura's rise to the big leagues has the potential to speed up in the near future. But his development to date has indeed been slowed by injuries. He suffered a broken ankle in July 2008 after playing just 11 games with the Angels' Arizona rookie league team. He opened the next season in Triple-A due to a shortage of middle infielders before going to rookie-level Orem – where he broke a finger while sliding into a base and played just 36 games.
His only full season to date came in 2010 at Class-A Cedar Rapids where his dynamic skill set was evident. He led the Midwest League in hits (161) and stolen bases (50) while batting .313 and slugging .464.
The Angels converted him from second base to shortstop last year but the injury bug bit again and he played only 44 games in the Class-A California League due to a severe hamstring injury.
"He's not going to lose anything by playing shortstop and going back to second. It will actually make him better," Scioscia said of the move. "It will be a very short transition if he ends up being a third baseman. This (the position change) is not going to slow his progress.
"This guy is going to have power. This guy can run. It's tough to put numbers on a guy. But if we can get him healthy for a whole year playing Double-A (in 2012), we're going to have a much better idea. This guy's strong. He's certainly not a slap hitter."
The Angels could have a better idea of their needs at shortstop after this season as well. The current starter (and reigning AL Gold Glove winner) at the position, Erick Aybar, is eligible for free agency next winter and the Angels have not been able to work out a multi-year contract extension with him despite opening talks with his agent this winter.
A healthy season could position Segura as a low-cost alternative for the Angels in 2013.
"Too tough to say now," Dipoto said to that. "He hasn't played above A-ball yet. He hasn't even played a full season. So to sit here and put an ETA on him, it would be unfair to him and it would be unfair to the club to create expectations.
"Just let him play and see how good he can be."
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