In such obscure baseball ports of call as Midland, Tex.; Edmonton, Canada; Davenport, Iowa; Bend, Ore.; and even Palm Springs, toil Angels of the future. The hard part is figuring out who will make it and who won't.
Bill Bavasi doesn't even try. Bavasi, the Angels' director of minor league operations, likes to think every player in the organization, from rookie league to triple-A, has a chance to join the Angel 24-man roster one day. That's why The Times submitted to Bavasi a list of minor league players who are likely to contribute--some as soon as this season--to Angel fortunes. Comment away, we asked.
So he did. His thoughts on . . .
Orton hit .200 at Palm Springs in '88.
"He is as good a catch-and-throw guy as we have had or have right now (in the organization), from the major leagues down. But he has a lot of work to do at the plate.
"He had (bone) chips removed from his elbow, so we brought him along slowly last year. That's been eight months removed, though; he's feeling fine now. I think he's probably throwing 100% now. This kid can really catch and throw.
"I've seen Bryan Harvey when he pitched in the Instructional League. With men on base, there probably couldn't have been anybody who could have caught (his pitches) except Orton.
"The only question when he was drafted was the bat. If he hit .230 anywhere, he would hit 25, 30 homers--he's got that kind of bat speed. But I think he's going to hit better than (.230). In the Instructional League, he was making contact, using all the fields . . . he was driving the ball. I think he's going to be a complete player."
Fetters was 8-8 with Midland, 2-0 with Edmonton in 1988.
"He's right there, too. He's just a physical guy. He's a physical pitcher. He's learning how to pitch, how to go from a thrower to a pitcher. He has a chance to be a physical, dominating guy.
"He was sick last year with a staph infection, so he missed a month and a half. Before he got sick, he would have gone to Edmonton (the Angel triple-A team). He would have punched out some lights there and been called up to the big leagues in September, I think.
"Each time he went out, he got stronger. By the end of (winter ball), he was one of the top two pitchers in the league.
"He's (projected as) a starter, definitely."
Charland was 17-5 with Palm Springs in '88.
"He learned a lot in winter ball. He went down there with Fetters.
"He pitched so well in Palm Springs (in 1988). (Our people) said that this guy was the mule that Palm Springs rode to the playoffs. He was the stopper.
"We took him to the Dominican, but we were real careful about the innings he pitched. We were concerned about fatigue. (Charland pitched 204 innings at Palm Springs).
"We're hoping we can bypass double-A and go to triple-A with him."
Manto hit .301, had 24 homers and 101 RBIs at Midland in '88.
"Manto is going to be a tough call for a lot of people because he had Midland numbers. (Midland, the Angel double-A affiliate, is known for high batting averages and earned run averages because of stiff winds that blow constantly toward left field.) He took advantage of that. But not all of his home runs and RBIs were gotten in Midland. I think he had a pretty good spread. I also think he's going to hit in triple-A and the big leagues, if he gets there."
McCollom hit .343, 20 homers and drove in 75 runs at Midland in '88.
"His hitting style doesn't take advantage of wind anywhere. It doesn't take advantage of short grass anywhere. If he hits a home run, it's gone. He's a line-drive type of hitter.
"He's got to work on his defense. He has to learn how to play first base and left field. But I've seen him do a fine job at first base."
Stevens hit .297, had 23 homers and 76 RBIs at Midland in '88.
"He's got a chance to be an impact player. He's a real strong hitter from the left side. Quite simply, he's a home run and RBI guy, one of the better ones.
"He's got some defensive work to do. He'd probably show a better arm from right field, because of the angle--he's left-handed. He'll do an excellent job for you at first base, but we already have a pretty good left-handed first baseman (Wally Joyner). He likes playing the outfield. I truly believe he's got a chance."