The Salt Lake Stingers will likely be lead by top 3B prospect Dallas McPherson, Catcher Jeff Mathis, Starting Pitchers Ervin Santana, Bobby Jenks and possibly Casey Kotchman if he can show that he belongs at the Triple A level.
Dallas will continue to play 3B and last season combined between Single and Double A to hit .309 with 23 homeruns and 96 rbi's. Over a full 162 game season it would look as if he could hit around 35 homeruns with over a 100 rbi's and post a .300 batting average. With those stats Dallas looks to be the real deal.
Jeff will be the starting catcher. He is regarded by many as the best catching prospect in all of the minor leagues. Jeff takes over the best catching prospect title from the newly promoted Twins rookie catcher Joe Mauer who was known as the best in the minors until his recent promotion. Jeff last seasoned combined between Single and Double A to hit .315 with 13 homeruns and 68 rbi's. Those numbers over a full season with 5 to 6 hundred at bats could project to hit around .300 batting average and hit 15 to 20 home runs with 70 to 80 rbi's depending on where he hits in the line-up and how many are on base when he is batting. Look for Jeff to continue being the best catcher in all of the minor leagues.
Ervin Santana will likely be one of the starting five of the Salt Lake rotation. His status is a little difficult to project because last week it was announced that the Angels were shutting Ervin down with shoulder stiffness. But for now we will project stats for a full season. Last season between Single and Double A he combined to post an 11-3 record with a 2.80 ERA. To go along with that he had 153 K's. Over a full 30 or so starts Ervin could win 15 wins and eventually as he grows possibly 20 wins all the while posting a below 3.00 ERA. Look for Ervin to be with the Angel Organization for several years to come.
Bobby Jenks will be part of the starting rotation in Salt Lake. Bobby's progress through the organization has been delayed by some personnal issues that he has seemed to put behind him now. Last season between a one game appearance with Mesa and the reminder 16 games at Double A Arkansas he posted a 7-2 record with a 2.06 ERA. He also had 108 K's. Bobby projects to be a power pitcher for years to come with the Angel Organization.
Casey Kotchman is the biggest question mark of these 5. His playing destination in 2004 depends on his spring training performance. He has been delayed in his progress with injuries that just won't go away. Once he gets past them he should be home free and on his way to a very productive major league career. Last season he batted at a .347 average with 10 homeruns and 34 rbi's. Other stats of importance were 81 hits in just 233 at bats with 19 strikeouts and 32 walks. All of this was accomplished in just 64 games last season with the Mesa Angels and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Over a healthy 162 games his numbers could project to be at around 30 homeruns with 100 rbi's and an astounding .325 to .350 batting average. Many people list Casey as the Angels best prospect in the entire system.
These 5 prospects will most likely be joined by Kevin Gregg, Chris Bootcheck and maybe even Tim Bitner among others. Overall it looks like it will be a very interesting and exciting season in Salt Lake in 2004.