Kaleb Cowart, Third Baseman
Just missing the number one spot on our countdown is a rare breed of prospect. Kaleb Cowart has all the tools to be a star of the future for the Angels. The young man was a two-way player in high-school with a 95 mile per hour fastball, and the Angels decided to keep him as a third baseman. A slow 2013 season may keep him from reaching the Major Leagues in 2014, but with some off-season tweaks and a strong self-critique, this young prospect has the mindset and talents to be a Major Leaguer in the near future, and a darn good one.
Cowart is a switch hitter which a giant plus. He is noticeably stronger from the right side of the plate. It is a line drive style swing with quick bat speed. From the left side of the plate, he has a smooth swing but it's slightly longer than from the right side. Something we noticed about his right side/left side abilites is that he can pull his hands in well from both sides of the plate, and can spray chart the ball with ease. Contact has been an issue of late for Cowart but it should improve as he's changed his loading mechanics from both sides of the plate. He eliminated a high-kick he had in years past, and started to decrease excess body and head movement which should fix his timing.
Cowart added 15 pounds this off-season, and it is good muscle weight. This put him a six-foot-three, 220 pounds coming in to this Spring Training. Cowart showed his power abilities with a strong swing, good bat speed, and a good body behind it. The body has improved which with an improved swing and better contact, could result in Cowart turning in to a strong power hitter. Cowart should make the Majors and when he does, he could be a 20-30 home run range kind of hitter.
Cowart is an above average fielder who makes few mistakes with his glove, and many less mistakes with his arm. Cowart was a stand out high school pitcher in Georgia, who had a 95 mile per hour fastball. That equates well to his arm in the infield from the far side of the diamond to first. If he can improve his glove work which has little flaws, Cowart has the potential to be a standout defensive third baseman in the Major Leagues someday.
Cowart has good discipline on finding the pitch he wants, but doesn't always fall in to desirable counts. He walks about as much as a standard player, and strikes out just slightly more. This past season he struck out nearly 24% of his plate appearances from the left side of the plate, and 20% from the right side. Some of this had to do with adjusting his swing. The season prior, Cowart walked at a higher percentage rate, near league leaders, while striking out more than 5% less. Cowart has good discipline, and with an adjusted swing, could make it better with a stronger confidence.
Cowart says he feels faster than ever coming in to this season, which is a scary thought because he's one of the faster third basemen prospects in the game. He has the ability to steal near 15 a season, and is a good all around base runner. He makes up ground defensively even in the hot corner with his natural speed.
Cowart came out of the draft with a very small sample of stats to give (seven games, 28 plate appearances).
2011, Cowart spent his time in Rookie Ball, where he excelled, posting a .283/.345/.420 slash with seven home runs and 40 RBI. Cowart also stole 11 bases while with Orem.
Cowart broke out in 2012 in his first full season of professional baseball. He split time between both Single-A affiliates, first of course with Low-A. While there, he hit .293/.348/.479 and was named a Midwest League mid-season All-Star. Cowart began to show his power with nine home runs and 54 RBI, and also showed off his speed with nine stolen bases. His season continued as at the midway mark of the season where he jumped to High-A. Cowart has the identical number of at bats, and didn't slow down all that much. He came short of hits by nine dropping his batting average to .259, and extra base hits and total bases took a hit by 14 putting his slugging percentage at .426, but he did jump up his on base numbers hitting for .366 OBP. Cowart finished the season with 16 home runs, 103 RBI, and a .276/.358/.452 slash.
Cowart dropped off heavily in 2013 with a slow start to his 2013 campaign. He hit .221/.279/.301 over the season and his power numbers dropped from 16 home runs and 103 RBI, to just six homers and 42 runs batted in.
It has become an almost certainty that Cowart will be the Angels third baseman of the future starting in 2016. Newly acquired, David Freese, will become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season. Cowart will spend more than likely land in Double-A out of Spring Training. With time, he'll earn a callup to
Triple-A (most likely at some point in 2014). In 2015, Cowart should jump out of Spring Training in to Triple-A. He could have a full season at the level, and become a better rounded player. He very easily could see Major League time prior to that, but it is most likely that other than a few spot appearances in 2015, Cowart will be the full-time third baseman of the 2016 Angels and the future beyond that.
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