Juan Rivera broke his leg playing winterball, and while the left hander will be missed if he’s not ready for spring training, the Angels did their best to try to fill the void by signing Shea Hillenbrand to a one year, $6 million deal. Hillenbrand was cut by the Blue Jays after writing negative comments on a bulletin board which elicited Jays manager John Gibbons to challenge him to a fight. He caught on with the Giants and finished the season with 21 homeruns. He’s a career .287 hitter and he has a career .325 OBP in 3303 career at bats with four different teams.
John Sickels recently unveiled his top 20 Angels prospects. There’s no surprise that Brandon Wood tops the list and he pegs Nick Adenhart and Sean Rodriguez as two and three, each getting a B+ rating. Having seven guys with a B- or better is pretty solid and the only reason the Angel didn’t do better is because of all the promotions last year. There’s some bona fide players and if need be, some trade bait. You can’t ask for anything more.
The Angels shored up their bullpen today by signing former Met Darren Oliver to a one year, $1.75 million deal. That’s not too bad for a quality left hander like Oliver who 60/21 strikeout to walk ratio. True to form, Oliver was particularly tough on left handers. He held them to a 208 batting average again. He’ll replace J.C. Romero as the left handed speciliast coming out of the Angels bullpen.
Baseball America recently released their top ten Angels prospects and to nobody’s surprise, Brandon Wood tops the list. He’s also listed as the best power hitter in the Angels system and they speculate that he’ll start the season in Triple A. The big problem with Wood is, he’s got two guys in front of him and Orlando Cabrera is locked up through 2008. The only knock on Wood are his strikeouts and he set a new career high in 2006.
Nick Adenhart came in as the top pitcher. The righthander had a nice season splitting time between Low A and High A ball and BA thinks he’ll make the jump to Double A this year. Rounding out the top five are Erick Aybar, Young-Il Jung, and Stephen Marik.
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