Top 20 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Los Angeles Angels farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. The KATOH (stats-only) statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

Angels Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High. Lev. Position ETA FV
1 Shohei Ohtani 23 R RHP 2018 70
2 Jo Adell 18 R OF 2021 50
3 Jahmai Jones 20 A+ CF 2020 50
4 Brandon Marsh 20 R OF 2020 50
5 Kevin Maitan 17 R INF 2022 50
6 Chris Rodriguez 19 A RHP 2020 50
7 Jaime Barria 21 AAA RHP 2019 45
8 Griffin Canning 21 R RHP 2020 45
9 Jose Soriano 19 R RHP 2022 45
10 Matt Thaiss 21 AA 1B 2018 40
11 Michael Hermosillo 22 AAA OF 2019 40
12 Leo Rivas 20 A INF 2020 40
13 Trent Deveaux 17 R OF 2023 40
14 Jose Suarez 20 A LHP 2021 40
15 Luis Pena 22 AA RHP 2019 40
16 Jesus Castillo 22 AA RHP 2020 40
17 Eduardo Paredes 22 MLB RHP 2018 40
18 Jake Jewell 24 AA RHP 2018 40
19 Luke Bard 27 AAA RHP 2018 40
20 Taylor Ward 24 AA C 2019 40

70 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Japan
Age 23 Height 6’4 Weight 203 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command
30/40 70/70 50/55 60/60 40/45 80/80 80/80 55/60 50/50 70/70 45/55

Where to begin? First, it’s worth discussing why Ohtani is even included within these rankings in the first place. There’s a pretty good argument that he doesn’t belong here: he’s an MLB-ready product who probably won’t take a minor-league bus ride in his life. Nevertheless, we felt that a few facts about him merit his inclusion.

  1. He’s younger than many of the players who appear throughout our lists.
  2. He was an amateur international free agent literally weeks ago.
  3. He’ll be providing the Angels with a prospect’s surplus value. (He’d be worth at least $250 million on the open market but will be making league minimum in 2017. So, great job, MLBPA.)
  4. Because of Ohtani’s geographic location, the injury issues that made him hard to see in 2017, and the inexact nature of NPB/MLB statistical equivalencies, most of what we know about Ohtani comes from him being scouted very heavily during the last two years.

Shohei Ohtani is perhaps the most talented all-around baseball player on the planet. He is a toolsy, but volatile, prospect as a hitter with plus-plus raw power and plus speed; he could also immediately be one of the best pitchers in baseball because of the elite quality of his stuff. Teams have been on Ohtani since he was in high school. The Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, and Red Sox all pursued him during that time, and the threat that Ohtani would go to MLB right out of high school created a buzz in Japan. (This was in 2012 and 2013, during the time of soft international bonus caps. Ohtani said publicly at this time that he wanted to go right to MLB.) NPB teams (specifically the Hokkaido Fighters, who picked first overall in the 2012 draft) were forced to play chicken with Ohtani’s MLB suitors. There was risk he’d be picked up at the top of the NPB draft and just leave, but Hokkaido took him and convinced him to stay.

He began dominating almost immediately, posting a 2.60 ERA with more strikeouts than innings pitched at age 19. He also slugged .505 that year. In the intervening years, Ohtani’s promising stuff has become god-like. He has an 80-grade fastball that averaged just over 98 mph and touched 103 during the 2016 season. His plus-plus splitter sits in the 89-91 range and has much more movement than is typical for a pitch that speed. His slider is above average and projects to plus (some have a future 70 on it) as Ohtani learns to use it against big-league hitters. Its horizontal movement might make it somewhat ineffective against left-handed hitters, but it should eat up righties. Ohtani also has an average, mid-70s curveball that he can throw for strikes. It will give him to use late in games, when he needs to show hitters something new.

It’s No. 1/2 starter stuff already at age 23, and Ohtani has the kind of athleticism and makeup that allow for continued projection on his secondary stuff and command. Not only is Ohtani’s stuff great, but the underlying physical components that help him generate it are ideal. He has ideal pitcher’s size and body composition, and features an efficient arm action that unfurls like a winding staircase. He generates huge ground forces with his lower half, which often result in the shotgun-like kickback of his landing leg as Ohtani finishes his delivery out over his front side. That he’s not only able to do these things, but also keep his body balanced and under control during this process is astonishing, and the down-mound extension it helps create actually adds a bit of perceived velocity to Ohtani’s fastball.

Ohtani’s athletic prowess is also evident in his hitting, but he’s not nearly as magnificent as he is on the mound. He has plus-plus raw power and will generate exit velocities up near 115 mph at times. He’ll also show clock home-to-first times around four seconds, flat, because of his plus speed and the jailbreak nature of the swing, which helps him get out of the box quicker than most hitters.

He’s got an expansive approach, however, and some length in his swing. As a result, Ohtani struck out at a 27% clip in Japan. Major-league strikeout rates are on the rise but still average just 21%, and pitching in MLB is better than in NPB. The Angels have talked publicly about using Ohtani as a DH, and it’s possible he gets to enough of his raw power in games to make it worthwhile, but there’s real risk that his bat-to-ball skills just aren’t good enough for that. Because Ohtani will only be hitting part-time between starts, he’s less likely to develop those skills than if he were doing it daily.

Hitting also puts Ohtani at increased risk for injury, and he dealt with several of those in 2017. He had blister issues in 2016. An ankle injury he sustained in October of 2016 lingered and prevented him from pitching during Hokkaido’s 2017 spring training in Arizona and the WBC. It required surgery in the fall of 2017. He also missed time with an injured hamstring early in the year and received a PRP injection in October to help remedy a first-degree UCL sprain. Ohtani can’t be totally shielded from injury no matter what the Angels do with him, but he’s baseball’s best prospect as a pitcher and asking him to hit a few times per week inarguably adds to the chances that something bad will happen. That seems somewhat foolish on its face but especially so when we realize there’s real risk that he doesn’t hit enough to matter as an offensive player. We all want to see it, but that doesn’t make it the best thing for Anaheim or for Ohtani.

50 FV Prospects

2. Jo Adell, OF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Ballard HS (KY)
Age 18 Height 6’2 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 60/70 30/60 55/45 40/55 30/60

Adell was a divisive prospect leading up the the 2017 draft. Some teams had him graded as a second-rounder, concerned about his bat-to-ball ability and the sudden pre-draft evaporation of his arm strength. Adell swung and missed quite a bit during summer showcases and faced such poor quality pitching the following spring that some evaluators were unimpressed by the 25 home runs he hit as a senior because they came off of pitchers who were mostly throwing in the low 70s. Others loved his plus raw power, athleticism, and speed, placing him near the very top of their draft boards.

The Angels drafted Adell 10th overall and sent him to the AZL, where he began silencing critics. Scouts with coverage in Arizona generally considered him to be the best of a loaded group of AZL prospects. He hit .288/.351/.542 before he was promoted to the Pioneer League, where he continued to dominate further.

Though he’s still apt to swing and miss, Adell’s post-draft performance began answering questions about his ability to hit pro-quality pitching. He projects as a 50 hitter with plus-plus raw power. That will profile anywhere. Adell has the straight-line speed (many scouts have a 60 on his wheels, though some have him in as a 50) to give center field a try in pro ball, but his frame portends added mass.

Adell had a 60 or 70 arm as a rising high-school senior. He was 89-93 (with a good breaking ball) as a pitcher at Area Codes, but reports coming from area scouts the following spring indicated something was wrong. They had 30s on Adell’s arm. After he signed, Adell only DH’d in games until fall instructional league, where he was still throwing poorly. The Angels hope Adell’s arm strength will return after an offseason of rest, but there hasn’t been a surgery here. A 60 or 70 arm would only be the cherry on top of a power-hitting sundae, but it’s better than the alternative. Adell’s profile has some variance because of the fading (but still extant) questions about his bat. If the hitting comes along and arm strength returns, he’ll be an actual five-tool star.

KATOH: 1.4 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Wesleyan School (GA)
Age 19 Height 6’0 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/50 30/45 60/60 45/55 45/45

After struggling with breaking-ball recognition early in the year, Jones righted the ship and hit .300/.369/.471 from May onward, ending his season with a successful cup of coffee at High-A Inland Empire. Some left 2017 with concerns about Jones’ ability to lay off of sliders away from him and think he also lacks coverage of the outer half of the plate. Others love that Jones made adjustments after a tough first month and hit his way to High-A at age 19. He continues to project as a plus hitter and plus runner whose feel for center field should continue to improve with reps.

Jones has great makeup and is an above-average athlete who was not only a two-sport athlete in high school but also primarily an infielder. He’s fringey in center right now but projects as a 55. Jones’s stocky frame is maxed out, so he doesn’t have big raw-power projection, but a plus-hitting doubles machine who plays good defense in center field is a great outcome for a second-round pick. Jones has a chance to be an above-average regular.

KATOH: 2.2 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA)
Age 19 Height 6’4 Weight 210 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 30/50 60/55 40/50 60/60

Marsh was one of the toolsier prospects in the 2016 MLB draft but wasn’t widely known because he missed time with injury and to play football. The Angels discovered a stress reaction in his back during post-draft medicals and it delayed the eventual deal, which was for slot money. He didn’t play in games the rest of 2016 as a precaution, but looked really good taking batting practice on the side and was quick to implement adjustments suggested by Angels staff.

In 2017, the Angels turned Marsh loose on the Pioneer League. He hit .350/.396/.548 there and really only started hitting for power in August as he got comfortable. He’ll be 20 in the Midwest League next year.

Marsh is big — 6-foot-4, 210 — but still a plus runner underway (average home to first) and capable of playing center field. Scouts are cautiously optimistic about his chances of staying there, or at least think he’ll be passable enough that you live with a 45 glove in center because of what Marsh can do with the bat. Perhaps not coincidentally, the comp scouts are making here, at least as far as physical projection is concerned, is Colby Rasmus.

Marsh has plus raw power projection. His swing has natural loft, but the bat path creates some length to the swing. Marsh tracks pitches well and can guide balls the other way when he’s a little late. He’s very aggressive at the plate and there’s some concern that this, combined with the natural length of Marsh’s swing, could make him strikeout prone. It’s been fine so far.

Though he’d probably benefit from greater discernment at the plate, Marsh has the physical ability to hit and hit for power while playing up the middle. His profile has some variance because there’s some skepticism about the bat, but he has a chance to be a star.

KATOH: 0.8 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela
Age 17 Height 6’2 Weight 190 Bat/Throw S/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 55/60 30/55 30/40 40/55 60/60

International scouts fawned over Maitan for years before he eventually signed with Atlanta for $4.25 million in July of 2016. They saw a good-bodied, switch-hitting infielder who could either be an average defensive shortstop or plus defensive third baseman who would hit and hit for power from both sides of the plate.

Pro scouts who got their first glimpses of Maitan in 2017 didn’t like him. His body had gone backwards and so had his swing. (When I saw him in the fall of 2016, he already looked like a third baseman, but some scouts evaluating him without context in 2017 have him projected to the outfield corners or first base.) When Maitan was made a free agent in the winter of 2017 due to Atlanta’s impropriety on the international market, teams were forced to decide how to weigh his amateur reports with how Maitan has looked as a pro. It seemed unlikely to much of baseball that the entire international scouting community had just whiffed on this kid, and it’s much more likely that a player-development disaster had occurred in Florida.

The Angels signed him for $2.2 million in December. Maitan doesn’t turn 18 until mid-February, rendering his poor performance in the Appy League pretty meaningless, not just because he was comically young for affiliated ball but because the complex is a great place for cultural assimilation if teams do it right. We’re still hopeful, almost optimistic, about Maitan (who is already working out in Tempe), and his tool projections remain close to what they were on last year’s Braves list. He likely ends up at third base where he could be a 55 defender with a plus arm. He could also have plus raw power at maturity and hit for above-average game power as a 50 or 55 bat. This all depends on Maitan remaking his body and swing. He’s just 17, has lots of time to do both.

KATOH: 0.9 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Pace HS (FL)
Age 19 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 60/60 55/55 40/50 40/50

Rodriguez lowered his arm slot a bit in 2017 and his fastball ticked up from 91-94 to 93-96, touching 97. He also has a plus mid-80s slider and above-average low-80s curveball, as well as a changeup that has gone backwards a bit since the arm-slot tweak. He possesses the best stuff in the system and has a pretty advanced idea of how to attack lefties with his breaking balls. He has mid-rotation upside, at least.

Some scouts think there’s relief risk here because either Rodriguez struggled with command in that individual’s look or because he has a relatively violent delivery, but most evaluators think he works efficiently enough to start. He didn’t produce great on-field results in a limited first taste of affiliated ball in 2017, but the stuff to start is clearly here, so Rodriguez should keep developing as one. Should a move to the bullpen eventually occur, Rodriguez has the stuff and makeup for high-leverage innings, especially if his fastball ticks up in relief.

KATOH: 1.4 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

45 FV Prospects

7. Jaime Barria, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Panama
Age 20 Height 6’1 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/45 45/50 50/55 50/60

Barria isn’t going to blow you away with velocity (our reports have him sitting anywhere between 88-91 and 90-92, touching 94) or vicious secondary stuff, but he’s a very advanced strike-thrower who pitched his way to Triple-A as a 20-year-old in 2017. His high arm slot creates a lot of downward angle on his pitches and enables his average changeup and fringey curveball (some call it a slider because it’s shape is something between the two) to play up, and Barria’s command makes him less likely to make a hittable mistake with his fastball. Some see Barria’s delivery and age and still think there’s more velo coming; others think his frame is maxed out and consider him a near-ready No. 4 starter.

KATOH: 1.3 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from UCLA
Age 21 Height 6’1 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
50/50 50/50 50/50 45/55 45/55

Pitchers who possess Canning’s quality four-pitch mix are typically off the board by the back of round one, but he was ridden hard at UCLA, sometimes throwing in excess of 120 pitches in a start, and teams had some concerns about Canning’s medicals ahead of the 2017 draft. He fell to the 47th overall pick and Anaheim, who chose to shut him down after he signed for just shy of $1.5 million.

Canning sits 90-94 and will touch 94-96 early in starts before settling into the low 90s as the game progresses. His changeup might be his best secondary pitch in a vacuum, but his two breaking balls — a vertically breaking curveball and short, tight little slider — play well in concert together, and Canning’s command of them is excellent. He’s a mature sequencer, able to pitch backward with either breaking ball, and is likely to make the most out of an unspectacular, but deep, repertoire. Assuming he is and stays healthy, he could move through the minors quickly. He’s throwing bullpens now and projects as a No. 4 starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic
Age 18 Height 6’3 Weight 168 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
50/60 50/55 30/50 40/55

Soriano is the best of several teenage Latin American pitching prospects whom the Angels have had at the team’s complex in Arizona for the last two years. He is a fluid and graceful 6-foot-3 righty with an easy, athletic delivery and a broad-shouldered frame with room for growth. Soriano was sitting 87-92 in April of 2017. By late summer, he was 91-95 and flashing an above-average breaking ball. His changeup barely exists, but scouts are optimistic about it because of the delivery and athleticism.

Soriano is the same age as most junior-college prospects (and, I’d argue, has more physical projection than they typically do), and his stuff lines up with recent JUCO arms who have been taken late in round one or early in round two. He’s a potential No. 3/4 starter who is a great distance from the majors.

KATOH: 0.9 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

40 FV Prospects

10. Matt Thaiss, 1B
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Virginia
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 195 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 35/45 30/30 40/50 50/50

We know Thaiss can hit — he’s a career .280 hitter as a pro and only struck out 16 times as a junior at Virginia — and he continued to do so throughout a 2017 campaign split between High- and Double-A. Thaiss’s lightning-quick bat lets him get away with a bit of a bat wrap; his hand-eye coordination and barrel control lead to quality, all-fields contact; and continued focus on patience and approach has helped Thaiss produce premium OBPs as a pro.

Scouts are as resolved about Thaiss’s deficiencies as they are his strengths. He doesn’t hit for much power (a narrower batting stance that more incorporates Thaiss’ lower half doesn’t seem to have moved the needle) and doesn’t project to, as Thaiss is 22 and his modest frame lacks projection. He also remains a below-average defender at first base, and while he’s only been there for a year and a half and has improved during that time, some scouts are bothered by the undersized target he presents for infielders. Thaiss’ path to an everyday big-league job is going to have to be paved by his ability to reach base. As he lacks prototypical power for the position, it’s tough to project him as anything more than a fringe-average regular.

KATOH: 1.6 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 28th Round, 2013 from Ottawa HS (IL)
Age 22 Height 5’11 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 50/50 20/30 55/55 45/50 50/50

Hermosillo continued to build on his 2016 breakout with a strong showing across three minor-league levels, slashing .267/.366/.397 in 2017 and closing the year with a strong month at Triple-A Salt Lake. He is a big-league-caliber athlete and above-average runner, with above-average bat speed, but his timing and all-around feel for hitting are not polished.

So, while Hermosillo’s terrific hand-eye coordination allows him to spoil tough pitches, the quality of the contact he makes is mediocre, and he doesn’t project to hit for much power despite his physical tools. He was a two-sport high schooler and has missed time as a pro with injury, so there’s still hope, among scouts, for some late growth in this area. There’s also a strong possibility, however, that this deficiency limits him to a bench outfield role, which is still really great for a late-round, $100,000-bonus prospect.

KATOH: 1.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

12. Leo Rivas, INF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela
Age 19 Height 5’10 Weight 150 Bat/Throw S/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 30/40 20/30 70/70 40/50 50/50

Rivas has an amazing eye for the strike zone and grinds out long, arduous at-bats that frustrate pitchers who see the wee Rivas enter the batter’s box and expect to blow him away. He is small but has enough physicality to make viable, all-fields contact as a left-handed hitter. It’s very unlikely that he hits for power at any point but he’ll put the ball in play often.

Rivas is a 70 runner with good baseball instincts. His defensive hands and footwork are just good enough for him to stay at short; same goes for his average arm. Most scouts consider him a utility prospect because there’s no power and Rivas is just okay at short, but a dissenting few love his advanced feel for all facets of baseball, think the tools play up because of it, and think he’ll reach base enough to play everyday.

KATOH: 1.3 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas
Age 17 Height 6’2 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 30/50 20/45 70/70 40/55 45/55

Signed for $1.2 million out of the Bahamas, Deveaux is a projectable 6-foot-2, has plus speed, and exhibits precocious feel for center field. His bat speed is fringey and his swing is a bit long. That said, it has some natural loft, and Deveaux has time to grow into his body. There’s pretty considerable hit and power projection here because of the frame.

Deveaux isn’t as advanced as some of his J2 2017 peers, neither physically nor from a baseball standpoint, but there’s already lots to like here. The frame, athleticism, speed, and defensive profile are all very promising.

14. Jose Suarez, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela
Age 20 Height 5’10 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/45 45/50 50/60 45/55

Suarez is a squat, maxed-out, 5-foot-10 lefty with plus changeup projection and advanced command. His fastball averages about 91 and will touch 93, while his humpback curveball is fringey and projects to average. Suarez’s advanced touch and feel enabled him to strike out a whopping 71 hitters in 54 Low-A innings with a fringey fastball. There’s concern about how the fastball will play as he reaches the upper levels, as there is about every command/changeup lefty who doesn’t throw hard, but lots of those guys work out. Suarez has a chance to have a plus changeup, above-average command, and average everything else, which would make him a No. 4/5 starter.

KATOH: 4.0 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

15. Luis Pena, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 5’11 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command
55/60 55/60 40/45

Pena pitched as a starter for all of 2017 but profiles in relief due to the max-effort nature of his delivery and fringey command. He’ll touch 96 and sit 90-93 with good extension. That might all play up out of the bullpen. His slider projects to plus. He should be an effective reliever and arrive in the next couple of years.

KATOH: 0.8 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 165 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/50 50/55 40/50 45/55

The wiry Castillo doubled his 2016 innings output in 2017, throwing 124 frames and pitching his way to Double-A. His windup has a pause not unlike that of many prominent Japanese players from the early 2000s, and he finishes strong far down the mound with grace and fluidity. Castillo’s fastball only sits 89-91, but it sneaks past hitters up in the zone. He could have above-average command at peak. His 12-6 curveball has good snap and projects to a 55. He can vary its shape and show hitters something more slider-ish on occasion, but his changeup has yet to develop.

Scouts like Castillo’s arm action and his ability to repeat; they also think his frame still has some room for mass. He profiles as a fifth starter.

KATOH: 1.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela
Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/50 55/55 45/50 45/50

Paredes threw 22.1 very medium big-league innings in 2017. He’s a low-slot righty with a catcherly build and fastball/slider combination that should enable him to help in a middle-relief role. He’ll sit 92-94 with some arm-side life and an above-average, mid-80s slider. His low arm slot could limit his effectiveness against lefties, and there’s not really enough changeup here to offset that.

KATOH: 1.3 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

18. Jake Jewell, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from NE Oklahoma
Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 55/60 50/50 40/40 40/45

Jewell’s results (especially his ability to miss bats) have been very medium, but his stuff is not. He’ll sit 93-96 with natural cut and a bevy of average secondaries (sinker, slider/cutter, sweeping low-80s curveball), all of which are hard. Scouts generally have him projected to the bullpen and would like to see if his velo ticks up in that role, but Jewell’s repertoire is deep enough and his strike-throwing just sound enough to keep trying him in a rotation. He could be a fifth starter or effective reliever.

KATOH: 0.5 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

19. Luke Bard, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2012 from Georgia Tech
Age 26 Height 6’3 Weight 202 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command
60/60 55/55 45/45

The 42nd overall pick in 2012, Bard had trouble staying healthy and threw just 20 innings combined from 2012 to 2014. Then he failed to miss many bats when he did return. This past year, however, Bard upped his delivery’s tempo and struck out 99 hitters in 65.1 innings. He sits 93-95 with an above-average slider that he locates consistently to his glove side. He’s a middle-relief flier from December’s Rule 5 draft.

KATOH: 1.1 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Fresno State
Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 40/40 20/20 30/30 45/50 55/55

While Ward remains a fine defensive catching prospect, scouts remain skeptical about his ability to hit. He gets very little from his top hand and just sort of slices away at pitches with his bottom one, which enables Ward to get the bat on the ball but also causes him to constantly slice the ball into shallow right field. His peripherals were strong in 2017 — he walked a lot and barely struck out — which is especially interesting at catcher, and the physical demands of catching often take a toll on a prospect’s offensive output, but scouts unanimously pan Ward’s offensive tools. His peripherals should also be taken with a grain of salt because of his advanced age. He continues to project as a backup.

KATOH: 3.0 WAR

KATOH Likelihood of Outcomes Graph

*****

Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)

Stiward Aquino, RHP – Though his posture and delivery look a bit awkward, Aquino, who signed for just $100,000 in 2016, has been up to 96 and has terrific changeup feel. His 6-foot-6 frame is projectable and creates great downhill plane on his pitches, he has a good arm action, and he’s athletic for his size, if a fringe athlete overall. It’s hard to say what Aquino will become, but he’s got many promising early traits.

Brennon Lund, OF, 0.6 KATOH – An 11th-rounder out of BYU in 2016, Lund had success at Low- and High-A in 2017 before a dour final month at Double-A Mobile. Given his advanced age and the hitter-friendly nature of the Cal League, Lund’s success at those stops is not all that surprising, but he does have some interesting physical characteristics. Both of Lund’s parents were Division-I college athletes. He’s an above-average runner with big-league physicality (I had one source body comp Lund to Kole Calhoun), and though he lacks premium bat speed, his swing is simple enough that he’s usually on time. He can move the barrel around the zone, and his swing has gentle, natural loft that generates some extra-base contact to his pull side. Lund will golf out some balls down and in but doesn’t have huge power because of his lack of bat speed, nor is he a pure center-field prospect. Instead, he projects as a bench outfielder, still a great outcome for an 11th-rounder.

Osmer Morales, RHP, 1.2 KATOH – The Angels scooped up Morales as a minor-league free agent after he had a strong 2016 at High-A (albeit as a 23-year old) during which he struck out 27% of hitters faced against a 6% walk rate. Now 25, Morales has had some success up through Triple-A with Anaheim, who moved him into a minor-league rotation spot full time in 2017. His stuff isn’t great on the surface, the fastball sitting at only 87-90 and touching 91 or 92, the visually pleasing 12-6 curveball arcing in with plenty of depth but little bite. Morales has above-average command, and his release point and extension create some awkward angles for hitters. There’s probably not enough stuff for Morales to be considered a firm fifth-starter prospect, but he could get a chance to make some impactful spot starts for a playoff hopeful in 2018.

Livan Soto, SS – Soto got $1 million from Atlanta in 2016 and was cut loose as a free agent due to the club’s international scandal. The Angels signed him for $850,000. He’s a skinny 6-foot, 150 pounds and has no power, but Soto has high-end makeup and plus-plus defensive hands and instincts. He’s only an average runner with an above-average arm, which isn’t necessarily a slam dunk at shortstop, but that’s a good starting point for a 17-year-old.

Julio Garcia, SS, 0.3 KATOH – Garcia finally started having statistical success in 2017, but scouts are still concerned about his ability to hit. His swing is visually beautiful, but Garcia’s bat control and offspeed recognition are both still very raw. He’s similarly inconsistent — if also, at times, spectacular — on defense. Some of Garcia’s inconsistencies could be attributed to injuries (facial fracture and concussion due to foul ball in 2016) that have limited his reps. The presence of Rivas and Nonie Williams in the lower levels have also forced Garcia all over the diamond despite his superior defensive tools. He’s a high-variance prospect who has a small, but non-zero chance to do some offensive damage and play an above-average defensive shortstop. He’s just light years from the majors.

David Fletcher, UTIL, 1.8 KATOH – A fringey defensive shortstop with some bat-to-ball skills and well-below-average power, Fletcher profiles as a utility man for some scouts while others consider him an up-and-down infielder.

Luis Madero, RHP, 1.3 KATOH – A still-skinny 20-year-old acquired from Arizona for David Hernandez in 2017, Madero only touches 92, but he has a good arm action and his body appears projectable. He takes a big stride off the mound, creating good extension, and will flash an above-average breaking ball.

Jose Rodriguez, RHP, 0.6 KATOH – Rodriguez had a rough go at High-A Inland Empire but that’s not unexpected: the Cal League treats players like Rodriguez (a strike-thrower with mediocre stuff) with extreme cruelty. He’ll touch 93 and sit around 90 while mixing in a fringe curveball and changeup. He profiles as an up-and-down arm.

Torii Hunter Jr., 0.0 KATOH – Hunter played wide receiver at Notre Dame and was technically part of the baseball team, as well, but only had 12 career at-bats for the Irish. He suffered a broken femur as a senior in high school that kept him off the baseball field that spring and prevented him from playing football as a freshman at South Bend. He suffered a concussion (which left him briefly unconscious) and knee injury in his final year of football. So Hunter hadn’t regularly swung a bat since he was a high-school underclassman and was thrust right into affiliated ball in 2017. He hit well for Orem (.350/.430/.440) and his advanced age (he’s 22) should somewhat be discounted due to his inexperience. Hunter is a 7 runner with above-average bat speed, but he’s still learning how to impact the baseball in a meaningful way, often slicing the ball the other way. He remains an interesting low-level prospect of advanced age because of his rare physical tools.

D’Shawn Knowles, OF – A twitchy 6-foot outfielder signed out of the Bahamas for $850,000, Knowles is loose, athletic, has average bat speed, and features some natural loft in his swing. He runs well enough to try center field but is slight of build. Scouts aren’t sure what kind of physicality he’ll develop and think he might be short on raw pop when all is said and done, profiling as more of a bench outfielder. It’s really too early for that, as Knowles only turned 17 in mid-January. He has several interesting characteristics for someone that age.

Jerryell Rivera, LHP – Signed for $450,000 as an 11th-rounder out of Carlos Beltran’s Puerto Rico academy, Rivera is a size/athlete projection lottery ticket lefty. He’s a well-built and fluid 6-foot-3, with a workable delivery. He saw a significant uptick in velo last year. His fastball sat 86-87 early and was to up to 92 late in the year. He’s a somewhat of a 2018 breakout candidate if that trend continues.

Adrian Almeida, LHP – A minor-league Rule 5 pick from the Mets in 2016, Almeida will flash an above-average curveball and sit 92-96 from the left side. He’s wild and walked 32 in 42.1 Low-A innings. He’s a lefty relief prospect whose movement through the minors is solely bound by his inability to throw strikes.

Nonie Williams, SS – Nonie was an unpolished but athletic third-rounder from the 2016 draft to whom the Angels have continued giving low-level reps at shortstop. He hasn’t developed as a defender there and scouts now think there’s a good chance he moves to the outfield, which will put more pressure on a bat that hasn’t yet shown signs of developing.

Jimmy Barnes, OF – Barnes missed much of 2016 with injury but looked good during fall instructional league and carried that success into 2017 when he hit .273/.338/.468. His long levers make him strikeout prone, but his swing has some natural loft, his frame is very projectable, and he’s still just 20.

Erik Manoah, RHP, 0.3 KATOH – Manoah was acquired from New York for Fernando Salas late in 2016. He’ll touch 96 and show you a plus slider but he’s wildly inconsistent. His four-pitch mix (also throws a curveball and change) probably merits continued development as a starter, but Manoah is now 22 and it might just be better to limit his focus to two pitches in effort to make him more consistent because he’s got big-league stuff.

Nate Smith, LHP, 1.3 KATOH – Smith was hurt late in 2016, then barely pitched in 2017 and now is expected to miss much of 2018 due to shoulder surgery. When Healthy, he has a 40 fastball, two fringe breaking balls, and an above-avearge changeup.

Daniel Ozoria, INF – Ozoria is a speedy little 17-year-old Dominican shortstop who has promising bat control and makeup. He’s listed at 5-foot-9, 135 and desperately needs to add strength to be a viable prospect, but his build is such that I’m optimistic. He projects as a utility man.

Cristopher Molina, RHP, 0.6 KATOH – Molina has interesting stuff — an average fastball, above-average slider — and a projectable frame. Despite a relatively smooth delivery, though, his strike-throwing in games has been bad. He walked 20 hitters in 28 Pioneer League innings last year. He’s at risk of being a 21-year-old in Rookie ball during the summer because of his command, but his stuff merits continued following. He projects in relief.

Michael Barash, C, 1.7 KATOH – Barash has some contact/on-base ability and he’s a fine receiver. He has a 40 or 45 arm, which some scouts consider a disqualification, while others think he could be a backup catcher.

Keith Grieshaber, UTIL, 1.2 KATOH – A 2016 16th-rounder out of Jefferson CC in Missouri, Grieshaber has amassed a .296 career average up through High-A in parts of two pro seasons. Scouts buy his ability to hit but are skeptical of the power profiling at third base. He’s seen time at second and in the outfield, so perhaps he’ll be a versatile bench bat.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Sherman Johnson, UT, 0.7 KATOH
Johnson’s collection of skills hasn’t really changed since he appeared atop both the 2015 and 2016 end-of-season Fringe Five Scoreboards. While more of the Five alumni have experienced major-league success than a reasonable person would have reasonably thought, Johnson isn’t a member of that happy demographic. Indeed, despite his proximity to the majors and the parent club’s infield needs over the past fewer years, Johnson has yet to earn a big-league appearance.

Johnson still controls the plate wonderfully, finishing in the 70th percentile among all PCL batters by contact rate and in the 98th percentile by swing rate. That selectivity allows him to maximize his modest tools. As for the defense, Johnson expanded his resume in 2017, not only recording a career-high number of appearances at first base but then also making 13 starts at shortstop for Double-A Mobile.

System Overview

The Angels’ cupboard was quite bare just two years ago. The upper levels of the system are still quite without talent but, thanks to three consecutive drafts that netted promising high-school draftees and a surge of talent from Latin America, the lower levels are suddenly full of athletic up-the-middle position prospects and several loose, good-bodied pitching prospects with breaking-ball feel. The big-league club is still trying to patch things together to be competitive, and the Angels have already traded some of this fresh-faced young talent, Elvin Rodriguez and Wilkel Hernandez, to acquire Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler. Both would have been 40 FVs on this list.

Teams in the midst of long-term rebuilds tens to be more willing to take on talented four- or five-year developmental projects like Anaheim has to offer in exchange for a major-league talent during the summer. So the Angels have enough minor-league pieces to make another couple of moves without going full Dipoto, but it’ll probably require a pretty specific fit.

We hoped you liked reading Top 20 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Bryan
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Any thoughts on left handed reliever Conor Lillis-White?