Blogs

 

Angels 2B Jahmai Jones Interviews with AngelsWin.com

Interview by David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer Sometimes you meet people who are mature beyond their years. And, sometimes you meet people with amazing talent. Rarely, you meet people with both. One of those people with that combination of maturity and talent is Jahmai Jones, a rising star in the Angels organization. There’s a lot to like with Jahmai Jones as a player. He hits. He steals. He gets on base. He has power. He fields. He does whatever it takes to help his team win. But, what really makes him stand out is his attitude and maturity. He wants to help his team, and he wants to win. This offseason, he was approached by Angels GM Billy Eppler to change positions from the OF (where he’s been playing for the past few years) back to 2B, where he played in high school. Rather than look at it as a challenge, he told me he saw it as an “opportunity”. That’s wisdom way beyond his 20 years. AngelsWin.com sat down with Jahmai to talk about his first Major League Spring Training camp. We found out who really helped him and what he learned. We talked a lot about making the transition to 2B, and how he will make the best of the opportunity that he’s been given. Please click below to watch our interview with Jahmai Jones. And then, head out to the IE66ers to watch him play. You’ll be glad you did. Jahmai Jones Interviews with AngelsWin.com April 3, 2018 from AngelsWin.com on Vimeo.            
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Angels Pitcher Griffin Canning Talks with AngelsWin.com

Interview conducted by David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer One of the many rising stars in the Angels Minor Leagues is pitcher Griffin Canning. A local boy, out of UCLA and Rancho Santa Margarita, Griffin grew up an Angels fan and yearns to pitch for his home town team. The Angels were lucky to get Griffin in the second round of the 2017 draft. After drafting him, the Angels decided to be cautious with him, due to his large workload in college, and shut him down for the remainder of the season. But, that did not diminish either the Angels plans for him, or temper their enthusiasm for him. Instead, after seeing his development in Spring Training, they are challenging him with his initial pro-experience coming at High-A ball, with the Inland Empire 66ers. It’s as if he lost no development and he is up for the challenge. AngelsWin.com got to sit down with Griffin and get to know him as a player and a person better. Based on reports that we have heard about him, we, like the Angels, are very excited to watch Griffin develop as a professional. He has frontline starter material, and he could move through the system quickly. Fans who wish to see Griffin pitch can do so with the Inland Empire 66ers. Griffin is scheduled to pitch the Home Opener this Thursday. But they better do so quickly, as seats are selling fast, and Griffin is someone you definitely want to go see pitch. Please click here to watch our interview with this rising star.
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Angels Shohei Ohtani has historical night at the Big A

Shohei Ohtani became the first player to earn a win and then hit a home run in a start as a non-pitcher in his next game since Babe Ruth on June 13-14, 1921. He also became the first rookie with 3+ hits and 1+ wins in his team’s first 6 games of a season since Dutch Stryker for 1924 Boston Braves per STATS LLC.  
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Shohei Ohtani ignored by teammates after hitting first career MLB home run

There’s been a lot of doubt surrounding Shohei Ohtani hitting DH for the Angels, but he proved the critics wrong in his first career home game on Tuesday night. Ohtani hit eighth in the order, and was listed as the designated hitter. Spoiler alert: He delivered. In just his first career at-bat at Angel Stadium, Ohtani blasted a three-run home run to right. The fans went absolutely nuts. As for Ohtani’s teammates, though, they had some fun with him, and rather than initially giving him dap, they gave him the silent treatment. Not a bad way to get the home fans behind you.
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Last Week in Angels Baseball - The "Hello 2018!" Edition

By Glen McKee, Angelswin.com Staff Writer It wasn’t a full week but it was the first week of real Angels baseball in 2018.  All I can say is: thank whoever made the schedule that we got to start out against Oakland.  Their defense was so abysmal that “abysmal” isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.  Let’s take a look at that series and how it has set us up to face Cleveland and then Oakland again, this time at home.  Just remember, even though it has only been four games, it is never too early to start judging! The good.  Two people stick out: Zack Cozart and Shohei Ohtani.  Zack Cozart is primed to be the best offseason acquisition for the Angels outside of the other dude I mentioned above.  There was worry that his 2017 season would be a fluke, but his start to 2018 gives us hope that it was just the beginning.  Through four games he’s slashing .357/.400/.857/1.257.  Of course those numbers are unsustainable but damn, it’s nice to see an Angel get off to a torrid start.  The Zack Attack is for real. Now, how about Shohei?  Yes, he did give up a 3-run HR but that was his only mistake.  He retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced (again, thank you, Oakland).  He put up one of two QS of the weekend for the Angels, if you care about that kind of thing.  He walked one and struck out six in his Major League debut, after what appeared to be a disastrous spring.  Ohtani gave us hope that he won’t be a bust. Honorary mentions: Tyler Skaggs, Andrelton Simmons, Jim Johnson, Martin Maldonado The bad.  What a difference two pitches can make.  Garrett Richards, the potential ace, was having a decent game and then he gave up a 3-run HR, and then a solo HR.  Whomp Whomp.  The Angels went on to lose that game when the offense went to sleep after getting us excited with an early four runs.  Now Richards will have to find his mojo against a tough Cleveland team. Blake Parker started the year as the apparent closer.  Coming out of the weekend with a 13.50 ERA and a 4.50 WHIP should presumably relieve him of that duty.  There was nothing at all good about Parker this weekend. Kole Calhoun was part of that early excitement in the first game, going 3-6 with a triple and a HR.  He followed that up with an 0-fer in the rest of the games.  His defense is still on spot but seeing his streakiness illustrated so vividly in the first four games was a bit worrisome. Dishonorable mentions: Luis Valbuena, Cam Bedrosian. The rest.  Mike Trout started the season with his first ever 0-6, and then spent the next three games making up for that.  By no coincidence, the Angels won those next three games.  Keynan Middleton appeared in two of the games and might have set himself up to be closer, such is the uncertainty of the bullpen this early in the season. What’s next.  After escaping Oakland mostly unscathed, the Angels have three at home versus Cleveland (1-2), a day off, and then three at home versus Oakland (1-3).  Andrew Heaney, my pick for our surprise pitcher of the year, looks to make his debut sometime during the Oakland season, probably Saturday. Predictions.  The Angels got a lot of luck in Oakland, in the form of errors that were scored as hits.  The bullpen also closed out a few games with the tying run close to scoring and made the games a lot more nerve-wracking than they should have been.  That kind of luck tends to balance out over a season and it will catch up with them a bit this week.  1-2 versus Cleveland, and 2-1 versus Oakland (as long as Khris Davis gets to play in LF again).  Feel free to post your predictions below.
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Check Out What's New at Angels Stadium

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer There have been a lot of words used to describe Angels Stadium by fans over the years. Comfortable. Convenient. Family-friendly. Generic. But there is one word that Angels fans have never used to describe their home, especially when it comes to the food. And that word is “amazing”. Until now. You read it right, the food at Angels Stadium is amazing! For the past 32 years, my family and I have had season tickets. And in all that time, one of the most common refrains I’ve heard from fans is that our stadium food has been subpar, especially compared to other stadiums in the game. But that is about to change. Legends, the Angels Stadium food management partner, spent over $3 million dollars on upgrading the kitchens throughout the stadium. And it shows! On Friday, I attended a media preview event for all the new food and merchandise items, and I was blown away. The sheer number of new and improved food items was staggering. To give you an idea, I couldn’t even try every new item with just a sampler plate as there were too many items to try! Moreover, I couldn’t come up with just one new favorite item. At one restaurant alone, the Changeup, I couldn’t decide between the Pork Katsu, the Teriyaki Chicken, and the Cheesesteak Sandwich. Add in the other restaurants, and I was torn between the Empanadas, the Cubano Grilled Cheese, the Crispy Jidori Chicken Wings (pictured above at the Saint Archer Brewing Co. Restaurant), and the Smoke Ring Spud. As a season ticket holder, one of the biggest challenges in going to all of the games has always been the repetitive nature of all the food in the stadium. But now, there are plenty of options to tickle one’s fancy. What really impressed me was the Changeup Restaurant. Each month throughout the season, Legends created a menu inspired by a different player on the team. Here’s the whole lineup for the season. Not only will the menu change every month, but in many ways, the Changeup will operate as a “test kitchen” for the stadium. If items prove truly popular at the restaurant, they may find their way into other parts of the stadium. Personally, I think it would be really cool if the players got involved and made it a bit of a competition as to who sold the most items during his month with the winner making a donation to a charity of his choice. (And before anyone jumps on me, yes, I know that there are rules and things about advertising that may make this impossible–but it still would be really cool IMHO). I could easily eat at this restaurant once or twice a homestand, and since the menu rotates, I can honestly say that I will eat more at the stadium. For the true stadium foodies, Legends created a unique pin program for fans. With each lapel pin purchase, fans can receive a $5 discount of $25 or more purchased in the team store. When fans collect all 9 lapel pins, they can purchase a unique item in the team store. Here are all the pins. Legends didn’t forget about two other things: families and deserts. I asked, and there will be plenty of family friendly fare at the stadium. In particular, my sons wanted me to ask about Icees and Wetzel’s Pretzels (their two favorite items) and was assured that they will be there. As will most of the usual Concourse items, like hot dogs and things. But, they may be really tempted by plenty of the new options, especially the upgraded deserts. One that I think will really get them is The Mound, a helmet filled with 15 chocolate chip cookies! The hardest part about this desert may be working out how to share it. Legends also is in charge of the merchandising in the stadium, and they added a lot of new gear for fans. Hands down, my favorite was this retro-looking jacket. I’m sure that there will be one hanging in my closet soon. If you want unique gear, Legends created some special items just for the Home Opener. So, be sure to go by a store during the opening home stand to get some of this gear. There were plenty of new and improved merchandise options from all of the partner companies. But again, having a family, I did ask, and yes, there will be plenty of family-friendly items for fans. The $7 hat will still remain, along with an affordable youth T-shirt and an adult T-shirt. In thinking about all of this, it seems that Legends and the Angels truly want to enhance the overall fan experience at the stadium. Between the new scoreboard (which, if you haven’t seen it, is amazing!), the revamped food truly adds value throughout the stadium. Legends motto was “Restaurant quality food in the Concourse”, and I believe that the new items will achieve that. For the premium seat fans, Legends upgraded the experience as well. In the Diamond Club, the upgraded items are truly sumptuous. I really enjoyed the Beer Braised Short Rib with Aged Cheddar Grits, but the other items looked equally as good. And, for fans who have in-seat service, Legends unveiled its RBI program–Restaurant Brought In-Seat. I really enjoyed the improved Carne Asada Nachos (way better than the previous chicken nachos), the Fried Chicken Sandwhich, and the Pastrami Fries. Again, the improved food adds an incredible value for fans in those areas. Besides the lack of variety, the one criticism that I have heard over the years about Angels Stadium food has been the slow lines. So, I asked Legends management about that, and I was assured that they will be monitoring throughput at each restaurant. Additionally, I was told that at the bottom of each ticket will be a way for fans to give feedback on their experience. Obviously the most popular items and eating times will require the most time, but, with the investment in the kitchens, Legends is working to reduce wait times. Normally, in an offseason, Angels fans are always hopeful for the team to make improvements on the field. This year, with Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cozart, and Ian Kinsler, the team didn’t disappoint. But, as much as the team did to improve the product on the field, they did even more to improve things off the field. They really raised the overall stadium experience for fans. Whether it is your first time going to the stadium or your hundredth time, take your time and explore the stadium. You’ll notice plenty of changes, and as a fan, I can’t be more excited! If the pictures alone aren’t enough to make your mouth water, do yourself a favor, go try it. You’ll be happy that you did.      
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

AngelsWin.com Staff's 2018 Predictions

It’s Opening Day. Nothing is better. Baseball is back, and not in a Spring Training way. The games are real. The stats count. For the next 6 months, the chase for October is on! With that in mind, the AngelsWin.com staff (dare I say brain trust?) has put our collective baseball analysis together, and have come up with our 2018 predictions for the Angels. Feel free to copy and paste your own predictions as we count down the minutes until our 1:00 opener in Oakland. What grade would you give the Angels this offseason?   Nate Trop: A- (Would have liked a reliever). Robert Cunningham: A Brent Hubbard: A- The Angels addressed all of their offensive holes and added a future ace pitcher, with the bonus that he is a part time DH. The Minus is only because Kinsler at age 36, while certainly a great candidate for a season, isn’t really a long-term solution. Geoff Stoddart: A Chuck Richter: A Adam Dodge: A Dave Saltzer: A Biggest question going into the season?   Nate Trop: Bullpen. Robert Cunningham: Starting Rotation. Brent Hubbard: Who is the Angels best reliever? Someone will step forward, I just don’t know who. Geoff Stoddart: Will our pitching (starting and pen) be enough for us to compete? Chuck Richter: Bullpen, health of starting pitching. Adam Dodge: Pitching health. Dave Saltzer: Will the starting pitching hold up? (close second question, how will the bullpen do?). Which Angels player or prospect will create a buzz out of the gate?  Nate Trop: Adell Robert Cunningham: Player: Cozart, Prospect: Adell Brent Hubbard: Player: Cozart, Prospect: Jones. Geoff Stoddart: Ohtani Chuck Richter: Ohtani Adam Dodge: Ohtani Dave Saltzer: Player: Ohtani, Prospect: Marsh Who is your Angels’ 2018 sleeper? Nate Trop: Calhoun (lowered wall baby!) Robert Cunningham: Ramirez Brent Hubbard: I don’t know if you can call a player with a .933 OPS in 2017 a sleeper, but Cozart. Last year was borderline MVP caliber. He could be the 2nd or 3rd best hitter in the lineup. Geoff Stoddart: Cozart Chuck Richter: Rivera Adam Dodge: Tropeano Dave Saltzer: Kinsler (he’s going to be the sparkplug this lineup needs and has something to prove). Which Angel player is most likely to disappoint in 2018? Nate Trop: Skaggs or Ohtani, depending on how sky high your Ohtani expectations are. Robert Cunningham: Bridwell Brent Hubbard: Maldonado. If his offense isn’t near a .650 OPS, I don’t think he’s the regular catcher by the end of the year. Geoff Stoddart: Pujols Chuck Richter: Skaggs Adam Dodge: Kinsler Dave Saltzer: Ohtani. With all the hype and pressure in trying to be a 2-way player, it creates a really stressful situation for him. After adjusting to the league, he will do much better, but by then, the media frenzy could be brutal for him. As fans, we need to remember he is 23, and a rookie, and should treat him as such. Which Angel player is your 2018 comeback player of the year pick? Nate Trop: Calhoun Robert Cunningham: Calhoun Brent Hubbard: Pujols. He slumped badly in 2017, but a return to 2012 numbers (in only 140 games) is going to happen. Geoff Stoddart: Calhoun Chuck Richter: Pujols Adam Dodge: Calhoun Dave Saltzer: Richards. He’s back, he’s healthy, and he’ll be our team’s ace! Which Angel starting pitcher will lead the team in strikeouts?  Nate Trop: Ohtani Robert Cunningham: Richards Brent Hubbard: Richards Geoff Stoddart: Ohtani Chuck Richter: Ohtani Adam Dodge: Richards Dave Saltzer: Richards Which Angel reliever pitches in the most games in 2018? Nate Trop: Alvarez Robert Cunningham: Bedrosian Brent Hubbard: Bedrosian Geoff Stoddart: Bedrosian Chuck Richter: Johnson Adam Dodge: Alvarez Dave Saltzer: Bedrosian Which Angel player finishes with the highest batting average? Nate Trop: Trout Robert Cunningham: Cozart Brent Hubbard: Trout Geoff Stoddart: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Trout Adam Dodge: Trout Dave Saltzer: Trout Which Angel player finishes with the most home runs? Nate Trop: Upton Robert Cunningham: Trout Brent Hubbard: Trout Geoff Stoddart: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Upton (45) Adam Dodge: Upton Dave Saltzer: Trout Which Angel player gets the most RBIs? Nate Trop: Upton Robert Cunningham: Upton Brent Hubbard: Upton Geoff Stoddart: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Upton Adam Dodge: Upton Dave Saltzer: Upton Which Angel player steals the most bases? Nate Trop: Trout Robert Cunningham: Trout Brent Hubbard: Trout Geoff Stoddart: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Kinsler Adam Dodge: Kinsler Dave Saltzer: Kinsler Will Mike Trout win the MVP Award?  Nate Trop: No, but he will deserve it. Robert Cunningham: Yes Brent Hubbard: Yes Geoff Stoddart: Yes!!! Chuck Richter: Yes Adam Dodge: No Dave Saltzer: Yes Will Ohtani find more success as a pitcher or a hitter?  Nate Trop: Pitcher Robert Cunningham: Pitcher Brent Hubbard: Hitter. I think he’ll finish the year with a .300 BA, 20 HR and a .850 OPS whereas he’ll be a 3.75-4.00 ERA starter. Geoff Stoddart: Pitcher Chuck Richter: Pitcher Adam Dodge: Pitcher Dave Saltzer: Pitcher Will Ohtani win the ROY award? Nate Trop: Yes Robert Cunningham: Yes, A.L. Rookie of the Year (Acuna wins N.L.) Brent Hubbard: Yes Geoff Stoddart: Yes Chuck Richter: Yes Adam Dodge: No Dave Saltzer: Yes Which Angels prospect will be named the Angels minor league player of the year?  Nate Trop: Adell Robert Cunningham: Adell Brent Hubbard: Ward. Big offensive numbers out of nowhere. Geoff Stoddart: Jam Jones Chuck Richter: Marsh Adam Dodge: Barria Dave Saltzer: Marsh How many runs will the Angels score in 2018? Nate Trop: 815 Robert Cunningham: 828 Brent Hubbard: 835. This is +125 over last year, but Trout’s transcendence into MVP God leads the way and the Angels have 3 hitters with OPS over .900 (Trout, Cozart, Upton) and 6 more over .800. (Pujols, Calhoun, Ohtani, Simmons, Kinsler, Valbuena). Geoff Stradling: 777 Chuck Richter: 750 Adam Dodge: 811 Dave Saltzer: 780 How many games will the Angels win in 2018?  Nate Trop: 96 Robert Cunningham: 92 Brent Hubbard: 96 Geoff Stradling: 88 Chuck Richter: 91 Adam Dodge: 90 Dave Saltzer: 92 (regular season and at least 5 in the postseason) What AL West team will be the toughest competition for the Angels in 2018?  Nate Trop: Astros Robert Cunningham: Astros Brent Hubbard: Astros, but only because they finish at 88 wins. Geoff Stradling: Astros Chuck Richter: Astros Adam Dodge: Astros Dave Saltzer: Astros Which team in any league will give the Angels the most trouble? Nate Trop: Yankees Robert Cunningham: Indians Brent Hubbard: The Cleveland Indians, who are the best team in Baseball. Geoff Stradling: Astros Chuck Richter: Astros Adam Dodge: Blue Jays Dave Saltzer: Astros. Every game with them will be a playoff game. And, we play them more than the Indians. Will the 2018 Angels make the playoffs? Nate Trop: Yes Robert Cunningham: Yes Brent Hubbard: Yes. By Winning the AL West. Geoff Stradling: Yes, wild card. Chuck Richter: Yes Adam Dodge: Yes, wild card. Dave Saltzer: Yes, as the wild card. Your fearless prediction? Nate Trop: Houston struggles a little bit and the Angels win the division. Robert Cunningham: Angels win the World Series vs. the Milwaukee Brewers in six games. Brent Hubbard: Mike Trout has a transcendent year that breaks the 1.250 OPS wall. That only has three names: Ruth, Bonds, and Williams. He has a 50+ 2B, 50+ HR, and 50+ SB season. Geoff Stradling: Ohtani will pitch a no hitter. Chuck Richter: The Angels battle the Astros for the division all season long. Adam Dodge:  Tropeano 15 Wins. Dave Saltzer: Not only do the Angels make the postseason, they advance to play the Indians for the American League Title.
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Last Week in Angels Baseball – The “Hello 2018!” Edition

By Glen McKee, Angelswin.com Staff Writer It wasn’t a full week but it was the first week of real Angels baseball in 2018.  All I can say is: thank whoever made the schedule that we got to start out against Oakland.  Their defense was so abysmal that “abysmal” isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.  Let’s take a look at that series and how it has set us up to face Cleveland and then Oakland again, this time at home.  Just remember, even though it has only been four games, it is never too early to start judging! The good.  Two people stick out: Zack Cozart and Shohei Ohtani.  Zack Cozart is primed to be the best offseason acquisition for the Angels outside of the other dude I mentioned above.  There was worry that his 2017 season would be a fluke, but his start to 2018 gives us hope that it was just the beginning.  Through four games he’s slashing .357/.400/.857/1.257.  Of course those numbers are unsustainable but damn, it’s nice to see an Angel get off to a torrid start.  The Zack Attack is for real. Now, how about Shohei?  Yes, he did give up a 3-run HR but that was his only mistake.  He retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced (again, thank you, Oakland).  He put up one of two QS of the weekend for the Angels, if you care about that kind of thing.  He walked one and struck out six in his Major League debut, after what appeared to be a disastrous spring.  Ohtani gave us hope that he won’t be a bust. Honorary mentions: Tyler Skaggs, Andrelton Simmons, Jim Johnson, Martin Maldonado   The bad.  What a difference two pitches can make.  Garrett Richards, the potential ace, was having a decent game and then he gave up a 3-run HR, and then a solo HR.  Whomp Whomp.  The Angels went on to lose that game when the offense went to sleep after getting us excited with an early four runs.  Now Richards will have to find his mojo against a tough Cleveland team. Blake Parker started the year as the apparent closer.  Coming out of the weekend with a 13.50 ERA and a 4.50 WHIP should presumably relieve him of that duty.  There was nothing at all good about Parker this weekend. Kole Calhoun was part of that early excitement in the first game, going 3-6 with a triple and a HR.  He followed that up with an 0-fer in the rest of the games.  His defense is still on spot but seeing his streakiness illustrated so vividly in the first four games was a bit worrisome. Dishonorable mentions: Luis Valbuena, Cam Bedrosian.   The rest.  Mike Trout started the season with his first ever 0-6, and then spent the next three games making up for that.  By no coincidence, the Angels won those next three games.  Keynan Middleton appeared in two of the games and might have set himself up to be closer, such is the uncertainty of the bullpen this early in the season.   What’s next.  After escaping Oakland mostly unscathed, the Angels have three at home versus Cleveland (1-2), a day off, and then three at home versus Oakland (1-3).  Andrew Heaney, my pick for our surprise pitcher of the year, looks to make his debut sometime during the Oakland season, probably Saturday.   Predictions.  The Angels got a lot of luck in Oakland, in the form of errors that were scored as hits.  The bullpen also closed out a few games with the tying run close to scoring and made the games a lot more nerve-wracking than they should have been.  That kind of luck tends to balance out over a season and it will catch up with them a bit this week.  1-2 versus Cleveland, and 2-1 versus Oakland (as long as Khris Davis gets to play in LF again).  Feel free to post your predictions below.
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

Check Out What’s New at Angels Stadium

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer There have been a lot of words used to describe Angels Stadium by fans over the years. Comfortable. Convenient. Family-friendly. Generic. But there is one word that Angels fans have never used to describe their home, especially when it comes to the food. And that word is “amazing”. Until now. You read it right, the food at Angels Stadium is amazing! For the past 32 years, my family and I have had season tickets. And in all that time, one of the most common refrains I’ve heard from fans is that our stadium food has been subpar, especially compared to other stadiums in the game. But that is about to change. Legends, the Angels Stadium food management partner, spent over $3 million dollars on upgrading the kitchens throughout the stadium. And it shows! On Friday, I attended a media preview event for all the new food and merchandise items, and I was blown away. The sheer number of new and improved food items was staggering. To give you an idea, I couldn’t even try every new item with just a sampler plate as there were too many items to try! Moreover, I couldn’t come up with just one new favorite item. At one restaurant alone, the Changeup, I couldn’t decide between the Pork Katsu, the Teriyaki Chicken, and the Cheesesteak Sandwich. Add in the other restaurants, and I was torn between the Empanadas, the Cubano Grilled Cheese, the Crispy Jidori Chicken Wings (pictured above at the Saint Archer Brewing Co. Restaurant), and the Smoke Ring Spud. As a season ticket holder, one of the biggest challenges in going to all of the games has always been the repetitive nature of all the food in the stadium. But now, there are plenty of options to tickle one’s fancy. What really impressed me was the Changeup Restaurant. Each month throughout the season, Legends created a menu inspired by a different player on the team. Here’s the whole lineup for the season. Not only will the menu change every month, but in many ways, the Changeup will operate as a “test kitchen” for the stadium. If items prove truly popular at the restaurant, they may find their way into other parts of the stadium. Personally, I think it would be really cool if the players got involved and made it a bit of a competition as to who sold the most items during his month with the winner making a donation to a charity of his choice. (And before anyone jumps on me, yes, I know that there are rules and things about advertising that may make this impossible–but it still would be really cool IMHO). I could easily eat at this restaurant once or twice a homestand, and since the menu rotates, I can honestly say that I will eat more at the stadium. For the true stadium foodies, Legends created a unique pin program for fans. With each lapel pin purchase, fans can receive a $5 discount of $25 or more purchased in the team store. When fans collect all 9 lapel pins, they can purchase a unique item in the team store. Here are all the pins. Legends didn’t forget about two other things: families and deserts. I asked, and there will be plenty of family friendly fare at the stadium. In particular, my sons wanted me to ask about Icees and Wetzel’s Pretzels (their two favorite items) and was assured that they will be there. As will most of the usual Concourse items, like hot dogs and things. But, they may be really tempted by plenty of the new options, especially the upgraded deserts. One that I think will really get them is The Mound, a helmet filled with 15 chocolate chip cookies! The hardest part about this desert may be working out how to share it. Legends also is in charge of the merchandising in the stadium, and they added a lot of new gear for fans. Hands down, my favorite was this retro-looking jacket. I’m sure that there will be one hanging in my closet soon. If you want unique gear, Legends created some special items just for the Home Opener. So, be sure to go by a store during the opening home stand to get some of this gear. There were plenty of new and improved merchandise options from all of the partner companies. But again, having a family, I did ask, and yes, there will be plenty of family-friendly items for fans. The $7 hat will still remain, along with an affordable youth T-shirt and an adult T-shirt. In thinking about all of this, it seems that Legends and the Angels truly want to enhance the overall fan experience at the stadium. Between the new scoreboard (which, if you haven’t seen it, is amazing!), the revamped food truly adds value throughout the stadium. Legends motto was “Restaurant quality food in the Concourse”, and I believe that the new items will achieve that. For the premium seat fans, Legends upgraded the experience as well. In the Diamond Club, the upgraded items are truly sumptuous. I really enjoyed the Beer Braised Short Rib with Aged Cheddar Grits, but the other items looked equally as good. And, for fans who have in-seat service, Legends unveiled its RBI program–Restaurant Brought In-Seat. I really enjoyed the improved Carne Asada Nachos (way better than the previous chicken nachos), the Fried Chicken Sandwhich, and the Pastrami Fries. Again, the improved food adds an incredible value for fans in those areas. Besides the lack of variety, the one criticism that I have heard over the years about Angels Stadium food has been the slow lines. So, I asked Legends management about that, and I was assured that they will be monitoring throughput at each restaurant. Additionally, I was told that at the bottom of each ticket will be a way for fans to give feedback on their experience. Obviously the most popular items and eating times will require the most time, but, with the investment in the kitchens, Legends is working to reduce wait times. Normally, in an offseason, Angels fans are always hopeful for the team to make improvements on the field. This year, with Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cozart, and Ian Kinsler, the team didn’t disappoint. But, as much as the team did to improve the product on the field, they did even more to improve things off the field. They really raised the overall stadium experience for fans. Whether it is your first time going to the stadium or your hundredth time, take your time and explore the stadium. You’ll notice plenty of changes, and as a fan, I can’t be more excited! If the pictures alone aren’t enough to make your mouth water, do yourself a favor, go try it. You’ll be happy that you did.      
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AngelsWin.com

AngelsWin.com

 

AngelsWin.com Staff’s 2018 Predictions

It’s Opening Day. Nothing is better. Baseball is back, and not in a Spring Training way. The games are real. The stats count. For the next 6 months, the chase for October is on!   With that in mind, the AngelsWin.com staff (dare I say brain trust?) has put our collective baseball analysis together, and have come up with our 2018 predictions for the Angels. Feel free to copy and paste your own predictions as we count down the minutes until our 1:00 opener in Oakland. What grade would you give the Angels this offseason?   Nate Trop: A- (Would have liked a reliever). Robert Cunningham: A Brent Hubbard: A- The Angels addressed all of their offensive holes and added a future ace pitcher, with the bonus that he is a part time DH. The Minus is only because Kinsler at age 36, while certainly a great candidate for a season, isn’t really a long-term solution. Geoff Stradling: A Chuck Richter: A Adam Dodge: A Dave Saltzer: A Biggest question going into the season?   Nate Trop: Bullpen. Robert Cunningham: Starting Rotation. Brent Hubbard: Who is the Angels best reliever? Someone will step forward, I just don’t know who. Geoff Stradling: Will our pitching (starting and pen) be enough for us to compete? Chuck Richter: Bullpen, health of starting pitching. Adam Dodge: Pitching health. Dave Saltzer: Will the starting pitching hold up? (close second question, how will the bullpen do?). Which Angels player or prospect will create a buzz out of the gate?  Nate Trop: Adell Robert Cunningham: Player: Cozart, Prospect: Adell Brent Hubbard: Player: Cozart, Prospect: Jones. Geoff Stradling: Ohtani Chuck Richter: Ohtani Adam Dodge: Ohtani Dave Saltzer: Player: Ohtani, Prospect: Marsh Who is your Angels’ 2018 sleeper? Nate Trop: Calhoun (lowered wall baby!) Robert Cunningham: Ramirez Brent Hubbard: I don’t know if you can call a player with a .933 OPS in 2017 a sleeper, but Cozart. Last year was borderline MVP caliber. He could be the 2nd or 3rd best hitter in the lineup. Geoff Stradling: Cozart Chuck Richter: Rivera Adam Dodge: Tropeano Dave Saltzer: Kinsler (he’s going to be the sparkplug this lineup needs and has something to prove). Which Angel player is most likely to disappoint in 2018? Nate Trop: Skaggs or Ohtani, depending on how sky high your Ohtani expectations are. Robert Cunningham: Bridwell Brent Hubbard: Maldonado. If his offense isn’t near a .650 OPS, I don’t think he’s the regular catcher by the end of the year. Geoff Stradling: Pujols Chuck Richter: Skaggs Adam Dodge: Kinsler Dave Saltzer: Ohtani. With all the hype and pressure in trying to be a 2-way player, it creates a really stressful situation for him. After adjusting to the league, he will do much better, but by then, the media frenzy could be brutal for him. As fans, we need to remember he is 23, and a rookie, and should treat him as such. Which Angel player is your 2018 comeback player of the year pick? Nate Trop: Calhoun Robert Cunningham: Calhoun Brent Hubbard: Pujols. He slumped badly in 2017, but a return to 2012 numbers (in only 140 games) is going to happen. Geoff Stradling: Calhoun Chuck Richter: Pujols Adam Dodge: Calhoun Dave Saltzer: Richards. He’s back, he’s healthy, and he’ll be our team’s ace! Which Angel starting pitcher will lead the team in strikeouts?  Nate Trop: Ohtani Robert Cunningham: Richards Brent Hubbard: Richards Geoff Stradling: Ohtani Chuck Richter: Ohtani Adam Dodge: Richards Dave Saltzer: Richards Which Angel reliever pitches in the most games in 2018? Nate Trop: Alvarez Robert Cunningham: Bedrosian Brent Hubbard: Bedrosian Geoff Stradling: Bedrosian Chuck Richter: Johnson Adam Dodge: Alvarez Dave Saltzer: Bedrosian Which Angel player finishes with the highest batting average? Nate Trop: Trout Robert Cunningham: Cozart Brent Hubbard: Trout Geoff Stradling: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Trout Adam Dodge: Trout Dave Saltzer: Trout Which Angel player finishes with the most home runs? Nate Trop: Upton Robert Cunningham: Trout Brent Hubbard: Trout Geoff Stradling: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Upton (45) Adam Dodge: Upton Dave Saltzer: Trout Which Angel player gets the most RBIs? Nate Trop: Upton Robert Cunningham: Upton Brent Hubbard: Upton Geoff Stradling: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Upton Adam Dodge: Upton Dave Saltzer: Upton Which Angel player steals the most bases? Nate Trop: Trout Robert Cunningham: Trout Brent Hubbard: Trout Geoff Stradling: Trout!!! Chuck Richter: Kinsler Adam Dodge: Kinsler Dave Saltzer: Kinsler Will Mike Trout win the MVP Award?  Nate Trop: No, but he will deserve it. Robert Cunningham: Yes Brent Hubbard: Yes Geoff Stradling: Yes!!! Chuck Richter: Yes Adam Dodge: No Dave Saltzer: Yes Will Ohtani find more success as a pitcher or a hitter?  Nate Trop: Pitcher Robert Cunningham: Pitcher Brent Hubbard: Hitter. I think he’ll finish the year with a .300 BA, 20 HR and a .850 OPS whereas he’ll be a 3.75-4.00 ERA starter. Geoff Stradling: Pitcher Chuck Richter: Pitcher Adam Dodge: Pitcher Dave Saltzer: Pitcher Will Ohtani win the ROY award? Nate Trop: Yes Robert Cunningham: Yes, A.L. Rookie of the Year (Acuna wins N.L.) Brent Hubbard: Yes Geoff Stradling: Yes Chuck Richter: Yes Adam Dodge: No Dave Saltzer: Yes Which Angels prospect will be named the Angels minor league player of the year?  Nate Trop: Adell Robert Cunningham: Adell Brent Hubbard: Ward. Big offensive numbers out of nowhere. Geoff Stradling: Chuck Richter: Marsh Adam Dodge:  Dave Saltzer: Marsh How many runs will the Angels score in 2018? Nate Trop: 815 Robert Cunningham: 828 Brent Hubbard: 835. This is +125 over last year, but Trout’s transcendence into MVP God leads the way and the Angels have 3 hitters with OPS over .900 (Trout, Cozart, Upton) and 6 more over .800. (Pujols, Calhoun, Ohtani, Simmons, Kinsler, Valbuena). Geoff Stradling: 777 Chuck Richter: 750 Adam Dodge: 811 Dave Saltzer: 780 How many games will the Angels win in 2018?  Nate Trop: 96 Robert Cunningham: 92 Brent Hubbard: 96 Geoff Stradling: 88 Chuck Richter: 91 Adam Dodge: 90 Dave Saltzer: 92 (regular season and at least 5 in the postseason) What AL West team will be the toughest competition for the Angels in 2018?  Nate Trop: Astros Robert Cunningham: Astros Brent Hubbard: Astros, but only because they finish at 88 wins. Geoff Stradling: Astros Chuck Richter: Astros Adam Dodge: Astros Dave Saltzer: Astros Which team in any league will give the Angels the most trouble? Nate Trop: Yankees Robert Cunningham: Indians Brent Hubbard: The Cleveland Indians, who are the best team in Baseball. Geoff Stradling: Astros Chuck Richter: Astros Adam Dodge: Blue Jays Dave Saltzer: Astros. Every game with them will be a playoff game. And, we play them more than the Indians. Will the 2018 Angels make the playoffs? Nate Trop: Yes Robert Cunningham: Yes Brent Hubbard: Yes. By Winning the AL West. Geoff Stradling: Yes, wild card. Chuck Richter: Yes Adam Dodge: Yes, wild card. Dave Saltzer: Yes, as the wild card. Your fearless prediction? Nate Trop: Houston struggles a little bit and the Angels win the division. Robert Cunningham: Angels win the World Series vs. the Milwaukee Brewers in six games. Brent Hubbard: Mike Trout has a transcendent year that breaks the 1.250 OPS wall. That only has three names: Ruth, Bonds, and Williams. He has a 50+ 2B, 50+ HR, and 50+ SB season. Geoff Stradling: Ohtani will pitch a no hitter. Chuck Richter: The Angels battle the Astros for the division all season long. Adam Dodge:  Tropeano 15 Wins. Dave Saltzer: Not only do the Angels make the postseason, they advance to play the Indians for the American League Title.
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It’s the Baseball Fan Aptitude Test (BFAT) 2018! Special “Mostly Pop Culture Reference” Edition.

By Glen McKee, Angelswin.com Senior Triviologist   Yep, opening day is right around the corner (the corner being roughly nine days, depending upon when I publish this), so it is once again time to put your baseball knowledge to the test with a 30-question quiz, one question for each team.  Score this test yourself because you should know which answers you get correct.  Grade yourself however you like but know that if you don’t get a perfect score, you suck.  Good luck! What team won the World Series last season? Brooklyn Dodgers Montreal Expos New York Football Giants Houston Astros   The Cleveland Indians were nominally the subject of one of the best baseball movies ever, “Major League.”  What excellent TV show was based in Cleveland and even had a remake of the song “Cleveland Rocks” by Ian Hunter as a theme? “Joanie Loves Chachi” “Grace Under Fire” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” “The Drew Carey Show”   The Miami Marlins, under the auspices of Derek Jeter, have once again traded away almost every notable player they had. Which one of the following is actually on the Marlins? Derek Jeter Frank Stallone Tommy DeVito Starlin Castro   Dave Martinez was named as the new manager of the Washington Nationals. What sleepy-eyed SOB did he take over from? Emo Phillips Forrest Whittaker Ben Carson Dusty Baker   The New York Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins during the offseason. Does this mean it’s OK to hate them again? Yes Yes Yes Also, yes   The Tampa Bay Rays also traded some of their best players during the offseason, and dsvajnp0advvdasnhp=34grAb…sorry, I nodded off there for a moment. Next question.   Jon Lester, the ace of the Chicago Cubs, had an off year in 2018. During the 2018 season the players had one game where they could wear a nickname on the back of their jersey, and sadly Lester went with “Lester.”  What’s the best nickname for Lester? Johnny Jester Lester is Morester Mo   The Reds play in Cincinnati. The fictional radio station WKRP is also in Cincinnati.  Which character on WKRP in Cincinnati was the coolest? Herb Tarlek Les Nessman Venus Flytrap Johnny Fever   Because I loved WKRP so much, a bonus Cincinnati question: who was hotter, Jennifer Marlowe (Loni Anderson) or Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers)? Jennifer Marlowe Jan Smithers Really, you can’t go wrong with either one   The Colorado Rockies could be very good this season, and if there is a Baseball God He’ll have them surpass the Dodgers. One of the players on the Rockies goes by “DJ.”  What is his last name? Kool Jazzy Jeff Qualls LeMahieu   The Texas Rangers play in, of all places, Texas. What’s the best thing about Texas? Ted Cruz The heat and humidity Easy access to El Paso Texas bar-b-q   The Seattle Mariners are experiencing the joy of having Jerry Dipoto as GM. I know that’s not a question, I just wanted to gloat a little bit.   The Los Angeles Angels made a big splash in the offseason when they signed the most sought-after Japanese player. When will Albert Pujols’ contract end? After this season 2019 2020 Seemingly never   The Oakland Athletics could be the surprise team this year, or they could end up as sellers at the trade deadline as usual because Brad Pitt played Billy Beane. If Oakland decided to trade their stadium, what would they get in return? A pair of rusty cleats Half of a week-old sandwich A two-peckered goat Herpes   The Dodgers made it to the World Series last year and were one game away from winning it all, but their season ended in perhaps the most heartbreaking way a season can end: losing game seven of the World Series.  Again, I don’t have a question, I just wanted to share that.   According to a recent Forbes ranking, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the second-best baseball stadium. What stadium is ranked #1? Madison Cube Garden Tropicana Field Angel Stadium AT&T Park (San Francisco)   The Tigers play in Detroit. What is the best thing to come out of Detroit? Kid Rock, ha ha ha Kwame Kilpatrick Sonny Bono Bob effin’ Seger   The New York Mets play at Citi Field in Queens. Who traveled to Queens to find his Queen? Hakeem Olajuwan Hakeem Nicks Hakeem Jeffries Prince Akeem from Zamunda   Minnesota Twins starting shortstop Jorge Polanco was recently suspended for 80 games for violating MLB policy on Performance Enhancing Drugs. Do PEDs make the game better? Probably Most likely Almost certainly Yeah   In 1979 the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. They had really cool hats back then.  Anyway, what song was associated with them that year that later became a staple at drag queen shows? “It’s Raining Men” “That Boy is a Bottom” “My Ding-a-ling” “We Are Family”   What’s the best thing associated with Philadelphia, the home of the Phillies? A statue honoring a fictional character from a movie Cheesesteak sandwiches The Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride Frank Reynolds   What creature does Boston Red Sox starting 2B most resemble? Jason Statham’s younger, slightly “off” brother Napoleon A ferret Pick any animal from the order Rodentia   Toronto is the home of the Blue Jays. What crotchety old musician came from Toronto? Bono Sting Mick Jagger Neil Young   The Braves are from ATL. What does ATL mean? Ass Too Large Above The Law All Time Low Atlanta   San Francisco is ranked as the gayest city in the US, with a 6.2% population rate of LGBT residents. Who was the guest star on the episode of The Simpsons where Homer was afraid that Bart was gay? John Travolta Tom Cruise Brad Pitt John Waters   The White Sox are always the second child to the Cubs in Chicago. What second child listed below is the worst? Jay Leno Stephen Colbert Prince Harry Donald Trump   The Brewers play in Milwaukee. Which of the following is the best fictional thing to happen in Milwaukee? Fonzie jumping the shark Laverne and Shirley waving at a bottle of beer Mork trying to take Richie to Ork Wayne and Garth meeting Alice Cooper backstage   The Arizona D-Backs have a very good RF named David Peralta. What criminally-unpopular TV show that you should be watching has a lead character named Jake Peralta? Cop Rock BJ & the Bear Lucifer Brooklyn Nine Nine   San Diego is famous for its military bases and its proximity to the donkey shows in Tijuana.  Which of the following is an actual player on the Padres? Ralston Schmidt Langston Hughes Headly Lamarr Chase Headley   A few years ago baseball pundits were falling all over the Cardinals for their method of conducting business, which was later revealed to be kinda shady.  What was the name of that method? The ATM Move The Midwest Scramble The Ickey Shuffle The Cardinal Way   And finally, a question about the Kansas City Royals. What state do the Royals play in? Kansas Puerto Rico Louisiana Missoura   And that’s it.  If you really must know, no matter what you think the correct answer for each question is d.  This isn’t subjective.  Enjoy your baseball season.
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AngelsWin.com

 

Tim Mead’s Spring Training Dugout Talk with AngelsWin.com

For AngelsWin.com fans, one of the highlights of Spring Training is when we get to talk with Tim Mead, the Los Angeles Angels’ Vice President of Communications. Commonly known as the “Dugout Talk”, it’s a chance for fans to get to hear from an insider about all the Angels’ offseason efforts and what’s going on in Spring Training. The best part about it for us, the fans, is that Tim doesn’t pull any punches. He answers questions as best and honestly as he can. And, he doesn’t shy away from the tough questions–whether it’s about an offseason transaction or about part of the overall entertainment experience at the stadium. It’s a chance for fans to get their questions directly answered in an unusually candid conversation. Originally this talk started behind the Angels dugout. But, as the Angels’ Spring Training camp grew, and as the media presence expanded, and with the occasional help from the weather, we have often had to relocate to one of the food court areas in Tempe Diablo Stadium. No matter where it’s held, though, what remains constant is the nature of the questions and answers given. One minor program note: At approximately 17 minutes into the recording, there was a minor technical issue that forced some of Tim Mead’s answer to a question to be cut out. Rather than deleting the entire question and answer, we kept the portions that were salvageable because in that portion, Tim gives worthwhile information. So, relax, put your feet up, and enjoy watching Tim Mead’s talk with AngelsWin.com. It’s some of the best baseball you’ll hear. Tim Mead’s Dugout Talk Spring Training 2018 from AngelsWin.com on Vimeo.  
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AngelsWin.com

 

Five Bold Predictions for 2018 season

So this is my fourth year running this.  At first, I was really full of myself, but as time has passed it has become abundantly obvious that bold predictions are bold for a reason.  They have very little chance of coming to fruition.  A prediction, or even a guess for that matter could be simplified as a 50/50 sort of thing, but each year I go on the hunt for something that’s considerably less likely than 50/50 that I think may happen.  Let’s give a very general background first. 2014: 3/5 (the MWAH days) 2015: 1/5 2016: 0/5 As I said last year, for the sake of my own humility, take these predictions as a source of entertainment value.  Something to ponder, or maybe simply something to get a conversation started.  Just because the first year went well, doesn’t mean any succeeding years would show the same promise.  Now let’s recap my 2017 bold predictions… 1. The Angels will win a playoff game No way around this one, I got it wrong.  It was bold though.  The Angels were coming off a very down season, and they would finally be getting Garrett Richards back healthy.  We had a new LF and 2B, a remade bullpen, things were looking up.  Looking back now, I think we can all see that 2017, like the seasons before it, were ventures into building a competitive team without spending any money.  The Angels were in it all the way until the end, but the Minnesota Twins (of all teams) ended up overtaking the Angels for the second wild card.  0/1. 2. Ben Revere will dethrone Cam Maybin as the starting LF and turn in one of his prototypical seasons when he was healthy.  Should have happened, but didn’t.  I think the spirit of this prediction was to say that Ben Revere would outplay Cam Maybin.  No where in there did I expect the Angels to trade for Justin Upton though.  I was totally robbed!  Revere hit .275 and stole 21 bags in a reserve role while Cam Maybin hit .235 and stole 29 bases in an everyday role.  Still, the prediction itself was that Revere would be the starting LF, and that didn’t come to fruition.  0/2   3. Bud Norris will be the Angels best reliever For a long while, this one looked like it would be true.  Norris found himself closing for the Angels and truly flourishing in the role, until he wasn’t.  The second half of the 2017 season was not friendly to Bud Norris.  The spirit of the prediction was accurate, and it was a good pickup for the Angels, but I think we can all agree that Yusmeiro Petit was likely the Angels best reliever last year, and if not him then Blake Parker.  0/3. 4. Yunel Escobar is traded at the trade deadline, even though the Angels are still in it.  Escobar simply couldn’t get healthy last year.  He hit the ball pretty well when he was healthy, as he usually does, but the defense wasn’t there, and neither was there a market for an injured third baseman that hit for an empty batting average.  0/4. 5. Ricky Nolasco will have the second finest season of his career.   Hey, he kept his ERA under 5.00….barely.  It speaks volumes about the Angels 2017 season that Ricky Nolasco managed to toss 180 innings for them. 0/5. Alright, so now that we know it’s literally been two years since I’ve gotten a single bold prediction right, we can all use the following five predictions as a source of entertainment. BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR THE 2018 SEASON 1. The Angels will win more than 90 games in 2018.  I notice that when it comes to the offseason, everything is the flavor of the moment.  Like back in December, when the Angels had managed to bring in Justin Upton (bring back), Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart….they were the darlings of the offseason.  The clear winner.  No one could improve as much as the Angels had.  They were going to win the wild card, if not unseat the Astros in the AL West.  The Angels were the flavor of the moment.  Three months later, the Angels aren’t even considered one of the most improved teams by a major news article.  Everything seems to be centered around the Twins, Red Sox and Yankees, which is understandable. But the games still need to be played, and I think once they’re played, the Angels will win more than 90 games in 2018.  Despite the Spring Training struggles, adding Shohei Ohtani to the rotation should really do wonders over the long run.  A 23 year old with his repertoire is pretty amazing.  The Angels have Garrett Richards apparently healthy (I know we’ve heard that somewhere before), Andrew Heaney is back and on the flip side of the mound, and looks great.  Nick Tropeano is back and ticketed for AAA.  Jaime Barria is knocking on the major league door after another spectacular season in the minors.  Even J.C. Ramirez has managed to escape the TJ bug and is pumping 98 mph heat this Spring. Every single facet of this team has improved in dramatic fashion, and I think it will lead to 10+ wins over 2017. Why is this bold?  Because the Angels have won more than 90 games once in the last eight years. 2. Ian Kinsler will record his fourth and last 20/20 season at age 36.  Kinsler has two 30/30’s and a 20/20 all under his belt so far in his career, but every single one of those occurred during his twenties.  Not a single one in his thirties.  This isn’t to say he’s been a bad player in his thirties.  Not at all, he’s been great player.  But being slotted atop the Angels lineup, playing for October again, hitting in front of Trout and Upton, I think Kinsler has his stage set for the finest season of his thirties. Though this isn’t part of the prediction, I’ll just throw these numbers out there.  .275/.340 30 doubles 22 home runs and 20 stolen bases.  Good for a 4-win season. Why is this bold?  Because how many 36 year old middle infielders have ever accumulated this power and speed combination? 3. Justin Upton will lead the AL in RBI’s in 2018.   Upton had 109 RBI’s playing the majority of last year of the hapless Tigers.  He had a down year from Ian Kinsler hitting in front of him, and that’s about it (Cabrera and J.D. Martinez hit behind him while Castellanos spent the majority of the season at the bottom of the order).  This year, Upton comes with a rejuvenated Kinsler and the greatest player in baseball, Mike Trout, hitting in front of him.  Albert Pujols managed to top 100 RBI’s last year, and he only hit .241. This isn’t part of the prediction, but I think Justin Upton will clear 140 RBI’s. Why is this bold?  Considering the contingent of hitters Upton will be battling for the RBI crown (Trout, Springer, Correa, Stanton, Judge, Martinez, Donaldson etc..), Upton will need to have a great year to drive in more runs than all of them. 4. Kole Calhoun will have a career year at age 30.  We’ve seen a different Kole Calhoun this Spring, and circumstantially, he couldn’t be in a better position.  Kole was always sort of a misfit at the top of the lineup.  Sure, he’s left handed and can be a bit of a pest, but despite the speed, he doesn’t steal bases and despite the patient approach, his career OBP is still just .330.  Not the best person to slot in front of Trout. But all that has changed this offseason.  Calhoun has tweaked his batting stance a bit, keeping his hands further away from his body, not wrapping the bat and staying more relaxed, more balanced in the batters box.  Teams also really began shifting on him last year, which has led to an offseason worth of focus on hitting the ball the other way, which Calhoun has done an exemplary job of this Spring.  The tall RF wall at Angel Stadium has routinely robbed Kole for five-ish home runs on an annual basis, and now that the Angels have made the awful decision to redo the score board and stick an unsightly yellow line across the bottom eight feet of the wall, Kole’s power output should improve.  The Angels also went out and acquired top of the order hitters, which puts Kole further down in the lineup, where he actually belongs. Again, not part of the prediction, but I think Kole slashes .280/.350 30 doubles 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Why is this bold? Because Kole hit .244 last year, and his career batting average is .261.  Because Kole has never once hit 30 doubles and 20 home runs in a single season and has never come close to driving in 100 RBI’s. 5. The Angels will have five starting pitchers log more than 100 innings with an ERA under 4.00 This one is going to be pretty hard to accomplish.  As exciting as the six man rotation and all the new additions and healthy options are, it still doesn’t change the fact that there is just so much unproven about this staff.  Richards hasn’t ever pitched a full, healthy season.  Not once.  Shohei Ohtani is 23 years old and has never thrown a single inning in the major leagues.  Andrew Heaney is coming off Tommy John surgery and has also, never pitched a full, healthy season in the major leagues.  Matt Shoemaker is coming off a series of ailments.  Tyler Skaggs has never pitched more than half a season in a row before getting hurt.  J.C. Ramirez has roughly one quarter of a major league season as a starter under his belt, and is coming off a PRP injection to avoid Tommy John surgery.  Nick Tropeano is coming off Tommy John surgery.  Parker Bridwell hid a horseshoe, rabbits foot and four-leafed clover inside his glove during 2017 after being traded for practically nothing, and Jaime Barria is still just 21 years old. But yes, I believe that somehow, someway, this collection of starting pitchers will assemble into a quality pitching staff.  Starting with Richards.  It’s his last year before free agency, and while he has all the upside in the world, he’d had none of the health.  He’s playing for a paycheck next year.  Ohtani’s stuff is just too good not to play up in the major leagues and he’ll grow into a staff ace as well.  Andrew Heaney was one of the best LHP prospects for a reason when the Angels acquired him.  Before injury, he showed that he was a very good mid-rotation starter.  Now with a clean bill of health and more experience under his belt, Heaney could take yet another step forward in his development.  Tyler Skaggs has potential as a tall lefty with good downward slope, good velocity and a great curve.  Matt Shoemaker has been great for an extended stretch twice in his career.  I’m not saying he will be again, but I am saying the potential is there.  Jaime Barria posted an ERA under 3.00 in the California League and the Pacific Coast League at age 20.  Those are two of the most hitter friendly leagues in the minors and Barria isn’t even old enough to drink yet.  He posted an ERA of 3.21 in AA.  If given a chance in the majors in his age 21 season, anything can happen.  Jaime has ice water running through his veins and won’t be intimidated at all by facing down the best hitters in the world. Why is this bold?  For all the reasons I explained above.  Health and unproven mostly.    
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Trout and Pujols on “30 Clubs in 30 Days”

Following MLB Network’s visit to Angels’ camp yesterday, AngelsWin.com received some clips from MLBN’s Brian Kenny and Carlos Peña discussing Spring Training and the 2018 season with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on 30 Clubs in 30 Days, which can be seen here and here. On what skills he continues to work on during Spring Training, Trout said, “Obviously there’s always things you can always get better at. Defensively: first step. We’re preaching on that pretty good this year, getting good jumps in the outfield. At the plate, just being consistent and try to limit the little skids and just try to work hard on defense and accuracy with the arm.” On the team’s outlook for the 2018 season, Pujols said, “We have a good team this year. Hopefully we can stay healthy. Last year we had a great team too, but right away we lost Garrett Richards, we lost a couple of guys. When you lose like your starting pitcher, it’s tough to replace those guys. This year, I think we really have a really good team. I think the main thing is to try to take care of our business, don’t worry about the other 29 teams and try to stay healthy. Hopefully we can be one of those eight teams in the Postseason and hopefully win a championship.” To get all the coverage from 30 Clubs in 30 Days, click here. There are great clips from Simmons on his goal of improving,  Richards on his preparation for 2018, Kinsler on joining the Angels,  Upton on returning to the Angels, Calhoun on his style and what being an Angel means to him, and many more. It is coverage definitely worth watching.  There’s even a segment by Jonathan Mayo talking about the Angels’ top prospects. We’re getting closer to the start of the regular season, and it’s great to be back talking Angels baseball!
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The Fringe Players

One of the most exciting parts to Billy Eppler’s offseason has been his willingness to fill out the depth chart with fringe major leaguers.  These are the guys that certainly have the talent to be major leaguers, but there’s just a thing or two holding them back.  It makes them all likely destined to spend another year in AAA, but it also opens up the possibility for a late-career breakout.  Let’s check in and see who Eppler traded us fans with this winter. IF Colin Walsh – Strengths: Switch hitter.  Great plate discipline, pretty decent pop.  Can play anywhere on the infield and corner outfield.  Weaknesses: Not the greatest hitter for average.  Contact issues.  Not a good defender anywhere.  Lottery: A starting 2B/3B that gets on base 37% of the time.  Current Value: Not only a utility infielder, but one that can get on base.  Offers alternative to Kaleb Cowart. IF Jose Miguel Fernandez – Strengths: Great plate discipline, good contact hitter, strong pull-power, can spray hits to all fields.  Can play 1B, 2B and 3B.  Strong record of success in Cuba.  Just a strong offensive weapon.  Weaknesses: 30 years old, not a great defender, and simply “ok” speed.  Lottery: Starting infielder that hits .300 with 15 HR’s.  Current Value: Legitimate offensive depth behind Ian Kindler at 2B and Luis Valbuena at 1B. 1B Chris Carter – Strengths: POWER!  So much of it.  Not bad at taking a walk and working the count either.  Sufficient defensive first baseman.  He’s a former HR King as well.  Weaknesses: Hitting the ball.  Atrocious contact rates.  Defensively limited to first base.  Will not hit for average.  Lottery: .230/.330 and 40 HR’s.  Current Value: If he’s hitting the ball, Luis Valbuena becomes expendable. OF Jabari Blash – Strengths: POWER!  Just an absolute physical specimen.  He has the chance be a very good power hitter in the major leagues.  Solid defensive corner outfielder.  Has logged time with the Padres and the general belief is that he’s only an adjustment or two away from breaking out.  Weaknesses: Contact issues.  Likely will never hit for average.  Despite size and athleticism, not a great runner.  Lottery: Starting corner outfielder that hits .260 and 30 HR’s.  Current Value: Depth with upside. OF Rymer Liriano – Strengths: He can hit for average, power and is a good baserunner.  A solid all around game.  Good defender in the corners and an adequate defender in centerfield.  Still relatively young, entering his age 26 season.  Former top 100 prospect.  Weaknesses: Has not been able to put it together the major leagues to this point.  Had a poor season in AAA last year with the White Sox.  Lottery: .280 15 HR 20 SB corner outfielder.  Current Value: The same as Blash.  Depth with some upside to it. LHP John Lamb (technically acquired a year ago, but was recovering from back surgery last season).  Strengths – Left handed, firm, mid-90’s fastball and a great curve.  Can pitch in a starting or relief role.  Great golden locks!  Former Top 100 prospect.  Weaknesses: Back injuries are pretty serious.  Lamb doesn’t miss bats as much as he did before.    He looks a little like a drug dealer.   Lottery: Mid-rotation left handed starter or an effective lefty specialist in the bullpen.  Current Value: Lamb is the first line of defense in the event that Jose Alvarez can’t figure it out in the bullpen. LHP Ian Krol – Strengths: Good mid-90’s fastball, left handed.  Has had major league success before.  Solid beard.  Weaknesses: Success in the major leagues happened two years ago.  Last year was pretty rough.  Looks like he may have bought some pot from John Lamb.  Lottery: A very effective middle reliever. Current Value: Insurance for Jose Alvarez. RHP Luke Bard – Strengths: Good mid-90’s fastball and excellent slider.  Great command of his pitches.  Lots of success in high minors last year.  Former first round pick.  MLB bloodlines.  Weaknesses: Spotty injury history throughout the minors.  He’s a Rule 5 pick, so the Angels either have to keep him or lose him.  Can’t be optioned to AAA.  Lottery: Could be a legitimate closer option, or can prove his health and be stretched back out into a starter later on.  Current Value: One of many intriguing relief options.    
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Justin Upton vs. JD Martinez and the 100m+ deal

By Jason Sinner, AngelsWin.com In the wake of the JD Martinez deal, and it’s proximity to our deal with Justin Upton, I though it would interesting to take a look at other nine figure contracts for similar players and how they turned out. There have been about 70 or so 100m contracts in baseball history. From what I can tell, Kevin Brown was the first in 1999 at 7/105. First, lets do a quick comparison of the two players. Upton is the more complete player and certainly a better fit for the Halos. He’s one of those guys who is streaky during the season yet at the end of the year he ends up about where you’d expect an All-star player to be. About 3.5 WAR per season and 17th overall for the last 9 years. He’s a solid defender. Defensive metrics like him better the last couple years. Particularly in LF. Eye test from the small sample in ANA last year was pretty bad, but he’s better than that and will be capable of holding his own out there for at least 3-4 more years. He’s entering his age 30 season but will be 31 in Aug. JUp will swipe about 15 bags for you as well and he’s a very good if not excellent base runner. JDM is a one dimensional player but that one dimension is pretty damn good. So good that he’s been able to overcome horrible defense and still be a premier middle of the lineup bat. And he’s a poor base runner to boot. He’s also had his issues staying healthy. But that 149 ops+ over the last 4 years is pretty gaudy. Also entering his age 30 season but 31 in Aug as well. So which of these guys is likely to be worth the money they’re to be paid? Or will either of them be worth it. Trying to find comps in the 100m+ range is actually tough when you subtract out pitchers, roid users, CFers, SS, 2b and 3b. So I included a few guys who got 90mil as well. So what’s worth it? By the numbers, I’m of the mind that about 8mil per WAR is fair. That would mean each guys has to put up around 13.5 WAR or 2.7 WAR per season. While most free agents cost a bit more than that, I tend to put a bit of a production premium on these high value players. Upton comps: Hunter Pence – started his 5/90 deal at age 31 and has one year to go. 6.9 bWAR so far. Avg’d less than 110 games per season. That’s 1.7 WAR per year. While staying healthy is a big part of maintaining value, if he were, prorated, his avg would be about 2.8 WAR per year. So not a complete bust but mostly because he can’t stay on the field Ryan Braun – I included him because he should be clean now in the middle of his 5/105 deal that started in 2016. 5.6 WAR so far with a big drop last year yet he started his deal at age 32. Yoenis Cespedes – only starting his 2nd year of a 4/110 contract. 2.1 WAR in his age 31yo season. Gonna have a tough time making his value. Carlos Beltran – started his 7/119 deal at age 28 putting up 11.2 WAR in the first two years. Yet 21.2 in the next 5 or a avg WAR of over 4. Carlos was a better player than Upton to this point in either of their careers so the expectations were a bit different. But that was a nice contract. Matt Holiday – his 7/120 started at age 30 and he avg’d 3.0 WAR over the entirety yet 19.7 WAR came in the first 5 years. Another solid deal. Josh Hamilton – it’s hard to include him as a comp to Upton as he was all over the place with his production and started his deal at age 32. I just wanted to tweak y’all a bit. Vernon Wells – another tweak. Started his 7/126 at age 29 and probably isn’t a great comp because a huge chunk of his value came as a very good defensive CFer right up until he signed the deal. Carl Crawford – not a good comp imo but included him because he’s a corner OFer. Crawford parlayed his speed into 7/142. 3.4 total WAR over 6 years. Yuck. Jayson Werth – 7/126 started at age 32. A stretch deal at the time with the Nats trying to lure players. Made them a home for Boras clients out of this deal. 8.9 WAR over the 7 years, but the first 4 for age 32-35 weren’t awful with 10.8. So a couple of stinkers but the guys that I think most closely resemble him actually held their own in Pence, Holiday, and Beltran (if you choose to include him). The red flags on Joshy, Wells, Braun and Crawford were pretty obvious and important to bring up because I don’t see any quite so severe as it pertains to Upton. JD Martinez comps. You’ll notice that there are a few 1bmen here. I chose to include them because JDM is bat only and basically a DH. A bunch of the 1st base guys fit into that category as well even though they started out at a different position. Carlos Lee – kind of forgot about him. Started his 6/100 deal at age 31. JDM’s bat over the last 4 years is better, but there are a lot of similarities. 8.4 WAR over those 6 years. Ryan Howard – 5/125 started at age 32. -4.5 WAR. yeesh. Shin-Soo Choo – was gonna include him in the Upton comps but after running the numbers, realized he’s probably better suited to be compared to JDM. Poor defending corner OF. Started his 7/130 at age 31. 4.9 WAR in the first four years. Not so good. Chris Davis – 7/161 started at age 31. Put up -0.1 WAR in the first year. This one is gonna be an all timer. Matt Kemp – 8/160. probably not a fair comp. Just thought I throw it out there as an obvious red flag example. Adrian Gonzalez – 7/154 started at age 30. Also not the best comp as he was a very good 1b defender early in the deal but they are similar in that Gonzalez was a premier offensive bat. The ages match up well too. 17.4 WAR for the first 5 years of the deal with no negative value from defense. So worth the money the first 5 years. Now? not so much. A couple of things to glean from above. One, guys that play decent defense have a much better chance to recoup value. Two, it’s tough to recoup value when you can’t stay on the field. Injury history is important. Three, bat first first basemen rarely live up to their contract regardless of whether they play decent defense. As you know, I didn’t even include a few that clearly aren’t going to or didn’t (Albert, Miggy, Fielder, Tex, even Mauer and Votto are unlikely). Four, anything longer than 5 years is just automatic dead money on books. At the end of the day, both Upton and JDM have a decent chance of being worth what they are paid. I think Upton has the edge but we’ll see.
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AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects: Best Tools

Now that that prospect reports are finished, we’ll look at the prospects with the best individual tools in the Angels minor league system.  If there are any other angles in which fans would like us to view the prospects, as always, let us know! Best Hitter: Shohei Ohtani – While there are questions about how his bat will translate to the major leagues, Ohtani is likely the best overall hitter in the system at this point.  Japanese baseball profiles to be on par with most AAA teams in the United States, and this past season as a 22 year old, Shohei Ohtani hit .332.  As a 21 year old, he hit .322. So it not only appears that Ohtani is well suited to hit at any level, but it’s likely he’s only getting better. Honorable Mention: Jahmai Jones, Brennon Lund Best Power: Shohei Ohtani – Ohtani comes with legitimate 80 grade power.  While everyone loves pull power and it’s quite the spectacle, most reports suggest that Ohtani can hit the ball out to all fields, and is quite adept particularly at driving the ball to centerfield, which also speaks to his general hitting ability. Honorable Mention: Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, Kevin Maitan Best Plate Discipline: Matt Thaiss – Thaiss is again, one of those prospects that no one can seem to agree on.  Floor, ceiling, power, position, glove…..Just about the only thing anyone can agree on is that he has an advanced approach at the plate and will likely reach base at an elite pace regardless of level. Honorable Mention: Leo Rivas, Michael Hermosillo, Shohei Ohtani Best/Fastest Runner: Leo Rivas – While Rivas is not the fastest runner in the system, he is very quick.  But he is the BEST base runner in the system.  This past season as a 19 year old split between rookie and A Ball, he had a 20:1 SB/CS ratio.  That’s fantastic.  Rivas picks his spots well, can read pitchers and has the quickest first step in the system. Honorable Mention: Trent Deveaux, Torii Hunter Jr., Jo Adell, Michael Hermosillo, Jahmai Jones. Highest Ceiling (offense): Jo Adell – Adell has the highest offensive ceiling of anyone in minor league baseball.  Normally, this title would belong to Shohei Ohtani, as he has more power, is a better hitter and has comparable speed to Jo Adell, but Ohtani appears to be destined for two-way stardom, and thus limiting his at bats to roughly a half season worth.  As a full time offensive player, Adell has the sort of output potential of a legitimate superstar.  He’s one of the few prospects in baseball where someone can predict a 30/30 season in his future and not be laughed at. Honorable Mention: Kevin Maitan, Brandon Marsh, Jahmai Jones. Best Fastball: Shohei Ohtani – He’s hit 102.5 mph on the radar gun before and will typically sit 97/98.  The list of starting pitchers that throw as hard as Shohei Ohtani is limited to two: Luis Severino and Noah Syndergaard. Honorable Mention: Chris Rodriguez, Jose Soriano. Best Slider: Chris Rodriguez – Simply put, it’s a legitimate “out” or “plus” pitch by scouting standards. Honorable Mention: Shohei Ohtani, Eduardo Parades. Best Curve: Joe Gatto – Not too many prospects throw a “hammer” curve (a 12-6 curve with harder than average velocity) but Gatto does, and it’s quite good! Honorable Mention: Shohei Ohtani, Jerryell Rivera, Griffin Canning. Best Change: Jaime Barria – Barria’s best pitch is a change up, and Barria is the best pitcher in the Angels system not named Ohtani.  While it’s hard to call any change up an “out” pitch, Barria’s, like Nick Tropeano before him, borders on that. Honorable Mention: Griffin Canning, Jose Suarez. Best off-speed pitch: Shohei Ohtani (splitter) – Ohtani could literally be a one-pitch pitcher with his splitter and still be an effective major league pitcher, like Mariano Rivera was with his cutter. Honorable Mention: Chris Rodriguez (slider), Joe Gatto (curve). Best Starting Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani – The only one in the system that profiles and a legitimate ace and Cy Young candidate. Honorable Mention: Jaime Barria, Griffin Canning, Chris Rodriguez. Best Reliever: Eduardo Paredes – Paredes likely won’t open the season with the Angels because he has options and it’s a numbers game, but this year will likely be the last that he spends at a minor league affiliate.  Parades can do anything the Angels ask of him, close, set up, act a bridge, get lefties out, generate a ground ball, generate  strikeout, go multiple innings.  He figures to be one of the better, more reliable delivers in the major leagues for a long time. Honorable Mention: Jake Jewell (still a starter), Luis Pena (also still a starter). Best Arm (defense): Taylor Ward – Likely the best arm of any catching prospect in the minors. Honorable Mention: Kevin Maitan, Nonie Williams. Best Defensive Infielder: Livan Soto – The Angels signed him for 800k after the Braves were punished. Honorable Mention: David Fletcher, Julio Garcia. Best Defensive Outfielder: Jahmai Jones – Profiles as a good defensive outfielder at all three spots. Honorable Mention: Torii Hunter Jr., Trent Deveaux. All Homegrown Lineup in 2022 C – Taylor Ward 1B Matt Thaiss 2B Leo Rivas SS Andrelton Simmons 3B Kevin Maitan LF Jahmai Jones CF Mike Trout RF Jo Adell DH Shohei Ohtani/Brandon Marsh Starting Pitchers: Shohei Ohtani, Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Alex Meyer, Jaime Barria, Griffin Canning, Chris Rodriguez.          
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AngelsWin Top Prospects: #1 RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani

Prospect: Shohei Ohtani Rank: 1 2016: UR Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher and Designated Hitter Level: Los Angeles Angels Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2018. Height: 6’4” – Weight: 203 lbs Floor: #2 starting pitcher in the major leagues, but not a hitter. Ceiling: The best pitcher and also one of the best hitters in major league baseball. Likely Outcome: Ace starting pitcher and a good hitter in the major leagues. Summary: This is the scouting report I’ve been looking forward to writing since the day we placed Shohei Ohtani atop our top prospect list.  I remember hearing about this kid when he was in high school.  It seems like so long ago, that he was some really talented prep kid from Japan that wanted to play here just like any high profile prep prospect from the states.  Then it didn’t happen.  And then two years later his name resurfaced, and he was trying to hit and pitch in Japan, and they were calling him the Japanese Babe Ruth.  The numbers weren’t too impressive so I didn’t pay much attention until he played for Samurai Japan in the MLB Stars tour.  At age 20, he completely laid waste to our MLB stars.  He made them look overpowered and foolish.  From that point on, Shohei Ohtani stuck in my mind.  I knew exactly who he was.  And the stories just got bigger and bigger.  During the World Baseball Classic he hit a ball through the roof of the Tokyo Dome.  That’s impossible.  And he was routinely clocked at 99-100 mph on the mound. There was some speculation that perhaps Ohtani would jump to the U.S. last year at age 22, but because of an injured ankle, not only did he not play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, but he also didn’t come stateside.  Whatever, he’d probably end up with the Yankees anyway.  Right? I paid casual attention this last year, about the “will he-won’t he” about coming to play ball in America.  And then this offseason when he was declared a free agent, I legitimately began to wonder, “Can he do it?  Can he hit and pitch here?”  Never did it cross my mind that this fantasy would actually be a reality, and it would hit closer to home that I had ever dreamt.  Ohtani narrowed his list down to seven teams, mostly along the West coast, and the Angels were one of seven.  That was really exciting, and entertaining, particularly the Yankees fans response on MLBTR. I think that’s when I really began to understand just how big of a deal Shohei Ohtani is.  Yankee fans, who can already be unbearable to begin with, showed up en masse to voice their displeasure.  That he was wasting everyone’s time and that this was so stupid and that he probably wasn’t even that good anyway. And then I had to hear what I absolutely had grown to dread.  That Shohei Ohtani would probably pick the Mariners.  I don’t like the Mariners.  Not since the Angels playoff collapse of my early childhood years of the 1990’s that was capped by an utterly dominant performance by Randy Johnson and that mustache and mullet of his.  I mean Ken Griffey Jr. was really cool, but no, I don’t like the Mariners.  And possibly my least favorite person associated with professional baseball, Jerry Dipoto was their GM. That’s when it became personal. Every pundit predicted the Mariners.  They’re the safe bet.  They have such a strong Japanese audience and they are Japanese owned and have a history with Japanese players and so on and so forth.  It was enough to make me forget that other than simply being Japanese, Shohei Ohtani was a human that was trying to do something that hadn’t been done in a century.  Then there was Dipoto doing what Dipoto does, which is talk to the media several times a day and making a big show of his pursuit of Ohtani and make statements about how confident his staff was in their pursuit of Ohtani. But Billy Eppler….that’s an easy guy to like.  He also made no secret that he intended to pursue Shohei Ohtani.  He wasn’t as in your face about it and all over the radio and TV, but he made the simple statement that the Angels would in fact be pursuing Ohtani.  Clear, crisp and to the point.  Then came the trades.  That’s when this wasn’t just personal anymore. This was a battle royale. Mariners vs. Angels, winner take the greatest and most fabled player to ever play in Japan (except for maybe Ichiro). The Mariners’ international budget was huge.  They’d made sure of it.  They had more to offer any team in baseball.  Dwarfing everyone else in fact.  But Billy fired the first shot, trading for Jim Johnson and a whole bunch of international money.  Jerry Dipoto fired back, trading one of his top prospects for even more international money, because that’s what Dipoto does, he trades prospects away.  Then Billy fired again, trading Jacob Pearson, undoubtedly a good prospect, though not a top prospect, in return for more international money from Minnesota.  Then Dipoto fired back again, trading yet another top prospect for more money, because….Dipoto.  Then Billy Eppler fired back again, but in a very confusing way, signing Kevin Maitan and Livan Soto, two of the biggest international free agents for three million dollars. Did that mean we were out on Ohtani? As it turns out, because of the special circumstances, MLB had allowed teams to dip into next season’s international budget to sign the former Braves prospects.  So the Angels were still in on Shohei Ohtani. Wouldn’t that be weird if the Angels got Kevin Maitan and Shohei Ohtani?  Man, the top prospect list would be insane! And then came the news. Shohei Ohtani had chosen the Angels.  Billy Eppler had defeated Jerry Dipoto by way of knockout in the third round.  The Angels had defeated the Mariners, and the Yankees, and the Rangers, and the Dodgers, and everyone else.  I announced it to my classroom, to the sound of “Oh my God” and groans from the Giants fans that surrounded me. And that’s when Ohtani became OUR story.  The new chapter in the story of the Angels franchise.  The last chapter was all about how great Mike Trout is, and how the Angels hadn’t won with him.  The new chapter would be about how the Angels have the greatest player in major league baseball, and the greatest international star in major league baseball, the only two-way player in major league baseball, playing side by side, and ushering in a new era of prosperity for the Angels. So at this point, you’re probably thinking, this isn’t a scouting report, this is a story.  Well that’s true, but the reason for that is to simply show you the reader that reading about Shohei Ohtani’s scouting report is a lot like reading a story.  It’s like listening to your great grand-pappy talk about watching Willie Mays play.  He was larger than life.  So was the Mick.  So is Mike Trout.  And so is Shohei to the Japanese people.  Hopefully to the Americans soon too. Well if you want Shohei’s scouting report, then here it is. First, he throws the ball hard.  Really hard.  He’ll probably be the hardest throwing starting pitcher in major league baseball.  Like Justin Verlander when he first came up.  That hard.  And his mechanics are cleaner than clean.  He’ll throw two variations of a breaking ball, a curve and the slider.  I don’t like the slider as much as everyone else does, but I like Ohtani’s curve more than everyone else does.  But then that’s me, always going against the grain.  Really, my favorite pitch of Ohtani’s (fun fact, my computer auto-corrects Ohtani’s to Octane’s) is his splitter.  It’s the best splitter I’ve every seen.  Better than Shoemaker’s.  Better than Haren’s sort of splitter.  Better than Darvish’s.  As good if not better than Nomo’s forkball.  I grade it as a 70 grade pitch, because 70 is the highest I can go before I start saying lofty things.  “Octane’s” fastball is one of those lofty things.  Mike Trout himself is in fact a very lofty thing. Back to Ohtani. Apparently, he can also hit the ball 500 feet.  Watching his swing, his follow through, his loft, I believe it.  I believe Shohei Ohtani can hit the ball 500 feet in practice.  I believe he can hit the ball over 450 feet in games.  There’s a difference between batting practice power and game power, just look at C.J. Cron.  This isn’t to say Ohtani doesn’t have in-game power.  He definitely does.  I just don’t think he has Giancarlo Stanton in game power, where the majority of his home runs seem to travel 450 feet.  This is a moot point really because the only difference between Mike Trout’s 430 foot home runs and Stanton’s 450 footers is that…..well there’s no difference.  Trout usually did it with no men on and so did Stanton. Back to Ohtani….again. Yes, he hits for power.  And the last couple years in Japan, he hit for average too.  Fun fact, I was stationed in Japan for a year back in my Marine days (semper fi) and I’d loved baseball my whole life.  But that was the first time I’d ever had the chance to watch Japanese baseball.  It was a whole different ball game.  The fans were absolutely rabid.  Not hateful, but so passionate.  Filled with joy.  The dirt infields, the smaller fields, the turf, the domes, the identical hitting and pitching styles, the manufacturing of runs, the in-game decisions, the defense….it was baseball in a pure form.  And I’ll say this, a vast majority of Japanese pitchers would be successful in America in the major leagues.  The hitters, not so much.  But the pitchers, absolutely. Back to Ohtani…..again and again. Ohtani showed a greater propensity to swing and miss the last couple seasons in Japan, but the difference in the results came in what happened when Ohtani made contact with the ball.  He made the adjustments, and was able to square up pitches in a way he couldn’t before.  It’s this ability to adjust that will ultimately lead to success in the major leagues as a hitter.  It’s what Mike Trout is better at than anyone, maybe ever.  Adjusting.  Every plate appearance, every pitch. Oh and then to top it all off, as if Shohei wasn’t already a kid of mythic proportions, he’s also really fast.  Cool.  Also, he’s extremely humble and likable and focused and works very hard.  You know, like Trout.  And as both his manager and Ohtani himself said…..he’s driven to be the best baseball player in the world.  No better way to do that than to watch the best player in the world from the dugout and pitcher’s mound. There’s the summary of his scouting report. What to expect: The Angels and Ohtani have both been clear that the need for flexibility will be paramount in how exactly he is deployed.  The general plan for now will likely mirror what Shohei did in Japan.  That would be to pitch once every six days (the Angels plan to deploy a six man rotation).  So if he pitches on Monday, he won’t bat on Monday or Tuesday.  He’ll DH on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and perhaps Saturday if there’s an off day on Sunday, otherwise he’ll rest on Saturday and pitch on Sunday.  So generally speaking, Ohtani should log roughly a half season worth of at bats and 150 or so innings on the mound, assuming he stays healthy. That’s one of the paramount debates about Ohtani, if his body can withstand doing that. We can also expect the Angels to be in the news every night, which will be a pretty big change.  Everyone and their mother will want to know how Shohei Ohtani is doing.  After all, he’s trying to do something that hasn’t been done in 100 years.  A lot of smart people think it can’t be done.  A lot of other smart people think it can be done.  And still, more smart people are googling “What is a Shohei Ohtani?” We can expect Angel Stadium to be overrun by the Japanese media.  We can probably expect Arte Moreno to do something drastic mid-season to try and accommodate the amount of media attention this will bring, not only from Japan, but from America too.  We can expect a greater Asian presence among fans, and a thousand different narratives but ultimately the one that I care about, “Can Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout bring home a World Series title?”  Oh and also “Did you see Trout and Ohtani laughing and joking?  That’s so awesome!  World peace!” We can also expect a fair amount of skepticism, especially when Shohei Ohtani slumps.  AngelsWin may not be a pleasant place when that happens. But as for my own personal expectations, I think Shohei Ohtani will be absolutely brilliant on the mound and surprisingly pretty good at the plate too, as a 23 year old.  By the time he’s 26, this could really be fun. Estimated Time of Arrival: Right now folks.  Right freakin’ now.  Man I’m excited! Grade as a prospect: A+. Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar.  Grade B player is a future regular.  Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.
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AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects: #2 OF Jo Adell

Prospect: Jo Adell Rank: 2 2016: UR Position(s): Outfielder Level: Rookie Ball Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2018. Height: 6’2” – Weight: 195 lbs Floor: Minor League depth. Ceiling: MVP candidate type of player in the major leagues. Likely Outcome: A star starting outfielder in the major leagues. Summary: It’s a rare thing, to have a high school kid with as much upside as  Jo Adell has.  In fact, he has more upside than everyone in minor league baseball not named Shohei Ohtani, who through a series of fortunate events, happens to play in the same organization as Jo Adell.  Of course, when someone so talented plays, there are going to be a lot of doubters, and Adell has had his fair share of them already in his young career.  Though to be fair, even Mike Trout had doubters after his first two MVP caliber seasons in the majors. The Angels drafted Adell with the tenth overall pick of the 2017 draft, and really the only reason he didn’t go 1-1 is simply a lack of track record.  Adell has been on the collegiate radar since he was in the eighth grade, which is mind boggling itself, but Jo really didn’t begin attracting many major league scouts until his junior year.  Even then, the scouting reports had statements like, “swing is too long”, “lack of pitch recognition”, and “very raw”  included in them.  Sure, there were other terms like “projectable”, “quick hands” and “strong athlete” included, but they didn’t fully offset the negatives.  Teams generally want a more proven entity when picking first in the draft.  No one wants to miss with 1-1. But by the time Jo Adell’s senior year was finished, he’d led the nation in home runs, shortened his swing, and was just plain bigger, stronger and faster than any of his teammates, and himself a year earlier.  A few prospects could keep with him in terms of foot speed.  A few older prospects could hit the ball with as much authority as he did. And still a few more threw the ball as hard as he did, and played the outfield as well as he did.  But not a single one could do it all.  Not in this draft, and not in any draft in the last few years. So I can understand why scouts thought it might be too good to be true. But the Angels were more than willing to take that chance. Upon signing, Adell went to the Arizona affiliate and started his professional career off with a bang.  An eight game hitting streak, and it wasn’t just a bloop single here or there.  It was 13 hits in eight games and a batting average near .500.  After scattered hits over the next couple games, Adell then followed with a nine game hit streak (14 more hits across those nine games). After Adell earned himself a promotion half way through the short season, and against the majority of newly drafted collegiate players, Adell collected 34 hits in his last 17 games, which was good for another hitting streak, this one 16 games in length. So as you can see, it turned out that Jo Adell was even better than the scouting report suggested, which was already a glowing report coming out of high school.  When we start looking for weaknesses in his game, we really have to dig deep.  For example, while Adell is a very good hitter, he does have a tendency to swing a miss.  Not a ton, where it’s a problem, but enough to keep an eye on it.  He also didn’t watch too many pitches, though any hitter with his success swinging the bat would be tempted to swing at everything he saw.  He does have a tendency to get out in front on a breaking ball, and because of his long load and how far he brings his hands back, Adell can be susceptible to a good fastball letter high. Again, these are little things.  Nothing major.  And I think the biggest advantage that Adell has is time.  Inevitably, more advanced pitching is going to find holes in his approach or his swing, and it will be up to Adell to make the adjustments.  But at just 19 years old, Adell will have several years to develop and get past those.  The top comp that’s been thrown around for Jo Adell is Byron Buxton, and that seems relatively accurate.  When Buxton was first drafted, he had slightly less power than Adell and slightly more speed.  Adell is a better hitter, but Buxton had better pitch recognition.  Buxton covers a little more room in CF, but Adell has a better arm.  But overall, the caliber of player should be similar. Like Buxton once he reaches his prime, Adell once he reaches his prime will likely threaten to be a 30/30 hitter. What to expect: With the way he torched rookie ball, Adell should start the year in Class A Burlington.  Stepping up to full season ball this quickly is typically a big challenge for even the best prospects, but I believe Adell is up to the task.  If he plays the way he’s capable of, we may even see Jo cover both levels of A Ball in his age 19 season.  For me, I’ll be closely monitoring his K/BB ratio, because that will tell me if Adell’s success is due to legitimate development, or if his natural ability is simply allowing him to cut through the competition.  And like Marsh and Jones before him, as a fan it will be fun to keep track of the HR/SB numbers.  With a player like Adell, it’s also fun to track triples. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, Jordon’s age 22 season. Grade as a prospect: A Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar.  Grade B player is a future regular.  Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.
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POINT/COUNTERPOINT: OFFSEASON/PRESEASON MAILBOX TIME!

POINT/COUNTERPOINT: OFFSEASON/PRESEASON MAILBOX TIME! By Glen McKee and Nate Trop   (Editors note: this was originally written the week before the Super Bowl but Nate and Glen are slackers and took their sweet time posting it) At our nonexistent PCP headquarters, we get a lot (or, to be honest, no) mail and one of the favorite things for Nate and I to do, besides thinking up lousy ideas for a PCP that we ultimately reject, is to answer imaginary mail.  Let’s get to it!   You guys suck!  C. Richter, Pacific Northwest Glen: Well…thanks, I guess!  That’s not a question but I’ll answer anyway.  We’ll try to do better. Nate: You suck, C. Richter, you sound like the type that takes duck face selfies on the beach and runs a fan site for a baseball team nobody cares about.   Do you think that Scioscia will get an extension before or during the season, given that this is the last year of his contract? O. Land, Orange County Nate: I really hope not, I still think the Angels need a new voice, even though he did a good job last year.  What… you didn’t expect me to take a cheap shot about lasagna, did you? Glen: Yes, I do: an extension to the post-game buffet table for more lasagna, amirite?  Somebody shoot me for making that joke.  Seriously, kill me now.  Seriously part II: Giraldi is available, he used to work with Eppler.  You do the math.   Can you guys post your reaction, in gif form, to when the Ohtani signing was announced? Glen:   Nate:    Is the team going to be black enough this year?  T. Hunter, Texas Nate: Vlad is going into the HOF as an Angel, what else can you ask for? Glen: We extended Justin Upton and we have…uh…is Ian Kinsler black?  What?  No?  I’m gonna have to go with no then.     I know this question gets asked every year, but is Albert Pujols gonna bounce back this year?  pooholesfan69@yahoo.com, Brownsville, TX Glen: He’s gonna bounce, all right, like a damn rubber ball!  Seriously though, we all saw the recent pic of him and he looks like he’s in the BSOHAC (AC = Angels Career).  I predict he’ll be slightly better this year than last, stat wise, but he’ll break down sooner from having to play 1B regularly again. Nate:  A bounce back is unlikely, I think if we are lucky, Mr. Ohtani will take a bunch of ABs away from Pujols and maybe the Angels will take a late run on a 1b/DH.  Otherwise, I suspect it will be a painful season if you are a fan of the back door… err Pujols.   The Angels signed Zack Cozart to a three-year deal.  Who is your favorite Zack?  Z. Braff, formerly in Hollywood Nate:  We all know that Zack Morris is the one true Zack. Glen:  I’d prefer to answer this in video form: Guy love   Mike Scioscia told me that he is very flexible and open to trying new things, like letting the pitcher hit, can you confirm? S. Ohtani, Pacific Rim Glen:  Flexible at the post-game buffet, amirite?  Please, again…kill me.  Sosh has actually gotten more flexible lately, or my opinion of him has changed.  I just don’t want to picture him physically trying to be flexible. Nate:  He didn’t call for the contact play with a runner on third and one out once.  Or maybe the runner just missed the sign.   I hope Ohtani chokes on the sweet air of freedom. – Jerry D, Seattle Nate: First of all, Japan is a free country, and this is Anaheim, he is choking on smog. Glen: Hey Jerry, maybe you can use all that international pool money you hoarded for Ohtani to buy a clue, and a better haircut.   Do you guys know any Russians?  I am fed up with the corrupt Hall of Fame.  B. Bonds, San Francisco Glen: I think you should be in the HOF, dude.  That said, check here for Russian hookups: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ Nate:  I don’t know any Russians but I am sure one of your PED dealers can hook you up.   Mark Gubizfddfwsf Gubizczczaaaca Gubikazaa Gubi keeps begging me to take him to the Super Bowl but he is so annoying, what can I do?  M. Trout, South Jersey Nate: I don’t think he is that bad, worst case, Glen knows a good place to dump a body.  GO EAGLES! Glen: Who wouldn’t want to go on a date with Gubi, besides Victor Rojas and everybody else?  Just do a Victor and nod politely, and change the subject.   Which is better, In-N-Out or Five Guys?  S. Straddler, Norco Glen: Five Guys is great for all of the other stuff they have.  In-N-Out is a classic for a reason.  In-N-Out all the way.  And eff all y’all, I love the fries there too.  I even get my double double protein style (occasionally rarely ok, almost never) so I can feel less guilty about pigging out on the fries. Nate: Five Guys… Hey Straddler:  OK, that’s it for this time.  Keep those imaginary questions coming and we’ll do this again soon!  
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AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects: #3 OF Jahmai Jones

Prospect: Jahmai Jones Rank: 3 2016: 2 Position(s): Outfielder Level: Advanced A Ball Age: Entering Age 20 season in 2018. Height: 6’0” – Weight: 220 lbs Floor: Average starting outfielder in the major leagues. Ceiling: 30/30 hitter (HR/SB) that wins a few Gold Gloves and is a perennial all-star. Likely Outcome: 20/20 hitter that carves out a starting role in the major leagues for a decade. Summary: Jones is probably the safest, most complete all-around prospect in the Angels system.  There isn’t a ton of deviation between his ceiling and floor.  He looks like a major leaguer.  The comp Andrew Mccutcheon has been thrown around with Jahmai and while I’m also very hesitant to use these comps, this one is probably the best one you can build for Jones because it’s very accurate.  Jahmai is going to be a decent hitter for average.  I don’t think he’ll bat .300 but .280 is well within reason, and at age 19, he’s just begun to really tap into his power.  There is a chance that around age 25 he takes another big step forward in the power department and starts blasting 30+ HR’s a year, but that just isn’t the sort of thing I or anyone else can predict with any sort of certainty. Jamal will likely always be a good base runner.  He has a quick first step, is very athletic and what I would call “instinctual.”  He makes good decisions on the base path.  This past season he was caught stealing more than expected, but I think that was mostly a product of Jahmai learning that he can’t simply steal second base at will despite increased speed.  He’s a good base stealer but hasn’t yet learned how to become a very good one.  Because Jahmai is as thick as he is in the bottom half, there’s also the chance that he becomes more of a power hitter than a base stealer, but that would require an very unexpected growth spurt and again, is not the sort of thing anyone can predict. More than likely, Jahmai becomes a very pleasant combination of speed and power with decent contact and on base ability. Defensively, Jahmai is fearless.  When he first began in the minors, his routes in the outfield needed some work.  He was more of an athlete than an instinctual defender.  But he would close on fly balls and sacrifice his body if necessary to make the catch.  While Jahmai still has that “all out” streak in him, he’s become a very precise route runner.  He’ll make difficult catches look easy, in much the same way Mike Trout does.  There’s something to be said about a player that always seems to have the right alignment and can cut a ball off before it reaches the gap.  It rarely shows up on the highlight reel, but it’s one of those little things during the game that it seems many fans either take for granted or don’t notice.  Jahmai’s arm is solid average and can work at any defensive position while his glove is very good. Off the field, Jahmai has all of the intangibles that every team in baseball looks for.  He’s a great teammate, a leader in the clubhouse, trains hard, is extremely coachable, media friendly and humble.  It’s this combination of attributes that make Jahmai Jones the sort of player that is more likely to reach his ceiling than even some of his more talented peers (though admittedly, it’s quite difficult to be “more talented” than Jahmai, because he’s already in the upper echelon among athletes in the system). And if that weren’t enough to make scouts drool over the idea of him trolling the outfield, Jahmai comes from strong bloodlines.  His dad Andre was a professional football player.  So is his brother T.J., for the Detroit Lions.  His brother Malachi was a well known college football player as well.  Even his godfather is Rocket Ismael.  Jahmai himself was an all-state wide receiver as a sophomore in high school. As I said, Jahmai Jones is the complete package as far as prospects go.  He checks every box you look for if you’re scouting a kid.  He’ll be a good major leaguer.  The only question is really if he’ll be good, very good or great. What to expect: Jahmai got really comfortable at Inland Empire last year.  As the season wore on he began to put a charge into the ball and run the bases more aggressively.  So I don’t anticipate the Angels putting him back there even though he spent only half the season in the Cal League.  I suspect we’ll see Jahmai start the year in AA Mobile as a 20 year old, which is outstanding.  Still three years ahead of the age curve which more than you can ask for from any prospect.  If the Angels do send Jahmai back to Inland Empire I’ld be shocked, but such conservative placement isn’t out of the ordinary.  But most specifically, I’ll be watching for Jahmai to get himself into good hitting counts and not chase quality breaking balls in the dirt the way that many young prospects do when first introduced to AA. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2020, Jam’s age 22 season. Grade as a prospect: A- Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar.  Grade B player is a future regular.  Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.
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AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects: #4 OF Brandon Marsh

Prospect: Brandon Marsh Rank: 4 2016: 5 Position(s): Outfielder Level: Rookie Ball Age: Entering Age 20 season in 2018. Height: 6’4” – Weight: 210 lbs Floor: Minor league depth. Ceiling: All-star starting outfielder. Likely Outcome: A good starting outfielder in the major leagues. Summary: Brandon Marsh is one of the few cases where I just can’t figure out what the rest of the prospect world is missing.  I mean here we have a kid that’ built like Josh Hamilton and is yet a teenager with huge power potential and enough speed to make him a five-tool threat.  He also marks off the intangibles….a former standout wide receiver in high school, absolutely loves the game of baseball like Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun do, and he’s absolutely dedicated in the weight room.  And if that weren’t enough, he hit .350 in his first taste of professional baseball. So why isn’t this kid on every top 100 prospect list? I can’t answer that, all I can guess is that scouts simply haven’t seen him play as much as others, and the general decade-old stigma that still comes with being drafted by the Angels. Whatever the case, someday people are going to know about Brandon Marsh, and AngelsWin will have added another name to the list of prospects they knew about long before the rest of the publication even had a clue. Drafted out of Buford High School inGeorgia in 2016, many of Marsh’s scouting videos were clearly self made.  We didn’t see him show up at any of the usual suspects (Perfect Game, etc).  He was probably too busy making a name for himself on the gridiron.  Whatever the case, he didn’t garner much attention from professional or college scouts until his senior year, and the Angels definitely liked the upside he brought.  He wasn’t a first round pick, and hadn’t been around long enough to make teams feel comfortable with him in the second round, but the Angels saw the chase to get a first round talent in the second round of the draft and took it (very similar to Jahmai Jones who was drafted a year earlier). There was a bit of a hold up in Marsh signing a professional contract with the Angels however, because of a tree fracture suffered in his back.  While he was looking for an over-slot bonus, the Angels needed to be more confident in him healing before signing him for that much money.  Eventually they agreed to a slot bonus, but with the caveat that Marsh wouldn’t play any baseball until the injury was healed.  So we didn’t get a chance to see Marsh except for a couple snippets during instructional ball, where he really impressed the staff. That’s when us fans began to realize the Angels may have really found something here in Brandon Marsh. Marsh’s power likely won’t show up much in the minors, mostly because it’s the last tool to develop and he’ll hit in a series of pitcher friendly parks before reaching AAA Salt Lake, so Marsh may be able to remain under the radar for a while.  But that shouldn’t bother fans.  He has the type of strength and loft in his swing that he should be a consistent 30 HR threat in the major leagues.  Marsh’s bat in the general sense is what we’d consider “very good.”  He can barrel pitches in the zone and is never cheated, despite having a controlled swing.  Brandon also has the type of speed that could result in as many as 40 SB a year, but will likely hover around 20 on an annual basis. But, if there is one weakness in his game, it’s his plate discipline.  In Marsh’s first taste of rookie ball, he didn’t see many pitches he didn’t like.  So Brandon is susceptible to a good lefty breaking ball or a slider in the dirt.  That will need to change before AA, otherwise Marsh may stall in his development.  Still, givens work ethic and ability, it may only be a matter of time before Marsh’s plate discipline is satisfactory. What to expect: First and foremost, Marsh needs to stay healthy, which he’ll look to do this next year at Burlington, his first foray into full season ball.  I’ll be closely paying attention to Marsh’s ability to cut down his strikeouts and take a walk.  We already know he can hit, but advanced pitchers might find holes in his approach that others haven’t yet. So I’ll definitely be paying attention to that.  And just for fun, I’ll be peeking at the HR and SB totals, just because having a talent like Marsh is fun for that. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, Brandon’s age 23 season. Grade as a prospect: B+/A- Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar.  Grade B player is a future regular.  Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.
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AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects: #5 SS Kevin Maitan

Prospect: Kevin Maitan Rank: 5 2016: UR Position(s): Shortstop Level: Rookie Ball Age: Entering Age 18 season in 2018. Height: 6’2” – Weight: 200 lbs Floor: Minor League Bust. Ceiling: Elite, all-star, hall of fame type of superstar infielder. Likely Outcome: A very good starting 3B/1B in major leagues. Summary: Some scouting reports are easy to write.  The prospect can be close to a finished product, there is a consensus on tools, or perhaps I’d have had a chance to see them play enough to know for sure what I’m doing.  Maitan’s not that kid.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched every video I can on him, and because of the hype surrounding him since age 14, there’s a ton of video on this kid.  I’ve also spoken to others that have had a chance to see him.  So it isn’t as if I’m working off of nothing here. There’s just so many different directions Kevin Maitan can go.  So anything I might predict on him is something I can’t place confidence in.  But I do know a bit about picking apart a swing, and I trust what I’ve read and been told from others. First, let’s provide background. Maitan has been on major league scouts’ radar since he was 13/14 years old.  At scouting tournaments, during inter-agency squad games, during workouts, he torched any pitching he saw.  Teams knew he was the big prize that every organization would be shooting for.  This kid has the size of a teenage Miguel Sano, Chipper Jones or Miguel Cabrera and athleticism to boot.  He’s a switch hitter with developing power from both sides of the plate and excellent plate discipline.  Teams saw him as the sort of kid that would be a major leaguer by the time he was 21 years old, and a superstar by the time he’s 22. These kids do not come along but once every decade or so. The Angels during a previous regime had actually developed a rapport with Maitan’s trainer and were very much in the thick of things while he was 14 or 15.  But because of other teams showing an interest in Maitan, and lofty figures being exchanged, the Angels had come to a crossroads.  See Maitan’s trainer was also training another shortstop.  A young Cuban who would only need a year or two in the minors before being major league ready around age 23.  He didn’t have Maitan’s upside, but he was much more of a sure thing. His name was Roberto Baldoquin. The Angels liked what they saw from Baldoquin so much, that they wanted to know how much it would cost for him to simply forget about any other workouts or showcases he may have with another team (Baldoquin was being showcased with fellow countryman Jose Abreu at the time).  8 million dollars was the number floated and the Angels met that number, thus effectively removing them from the Maitan sweepstakes. But through the twists and turns of this life, the Angels found themselves in a rather unique position.  A new regime was in place, and that GM’s focus has been on rebuilding the Angels farm so that they may become a perennial contender.  The Braves who originally signed Maitan had illegally funneled money through other channels to pay for Maitan and others, and as a result, the Braves lost their rights to Maitan and he was declared a free agent.  The Angels this time, would not be deterred, offering Kevin Maitan a 2.2 million dollar signing bonus.  It’s ironic that they passed on Maitan because they spent 8 million on Roberto Baldoquin who has ended up being a bust and still ended up with Maitan for a fraction of the price. Next, I’d like to lay all the negatives out there, just so we can enjoy the back half of this write up.  First, Maitan put on a ton of weight last season.  It looked to be a soft 30 lbs.  Not the best thing for a wiry shortstop that already isn’t fleet footed.  He had zero range in the middle infield and was working off of athleticism alone, which isn’t a good place to be in.  The Braves had him on no sort of nutrition or exercise regimen and it definitely shows.  Maitan’s swing was also off.  He was out in front of everything, his timing was off and his swing plane didn’t match where he was contacting the ball.  The swing looked slow too.  Anything on the upper half was thrown too hard for him.  There are reports that Maitan clashed with coaches and coordinators and wasn’t willing to listen, that he acted as if he was too good for it all.  Martian has been commonly referred to as a shortstop that will inevitably move to third base, but last season, scouts weren’t sure if he could play anywhere but first base down the line.  His first exposure to America, and Maitan lives at a fast food joint and occasionally hits the ball field? This isn’t the next Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones or Miguel Sano.  It couldn’t be. Now, let’s look at the positives.  Let’s allow Maitan to redeem himself a bit here.  First, Maitan has dropped most if not all the weight he put on.  He isn’t thin like he was at age 15, but thinner and more maneuverable than he was at this time last year.  He’s moving around much better at instructs.  Defensively the difference in six months couldn’t be more stark.  Right now, he look like a kid that might actually stick at shortstop.  The Angels put him on a more strict nutrition and workout regimen, and Maitan has reportedly been passionate about following it.  The swing could still use some work, most notably his left handed swing.  From the right side he looks ok.  His timing has improved but there’s still some work to be done there.  The Angels coaching staff and scouts have had nothing but positive things to say about Kevin’s work ethic.  He moved to Arizona and has been living at the Angels Spring Training complex in Tempe continuously all winter.  Also, if we’re being fair, Miguel Cabrera wasn’t terrible impressive at age 17 either.  Or 18.  Or even 19. So what do I see from Maitan?  The biggest thing I notice from his swing is just the amount of extension he gets on the ball.  Even when his timing is off as it was this past season in Rookie Ball, even in just the BP videos, Kevin Maitan gets his hands extended and can absolutely drive the ball.  It’s a lot like seeing Alex Rodriguez when he was younger.  He stayed inside the ball and kept everything out in front of him.  This doesn’t make him a pull hitter, but it does mean anything on the inner half can fly a very long way.  Kevin swings through the ball in a manner that is largely unseen from prospects his age.  There’s definitely power projection here, from both sides of the plate.  Defensively, his actions are sound and Maitan has one of the better infield arms I’ve seen in the Angels system.  This is partly what generates so much talk about a potential move to third base. Finally, I’d like to talk about where I see Maitan’s career headed.  There really isn’t anything blocking him from progressing through the Angels system quickly and claiming the starting third base job in three years.  Whether Maitan can do that or not, I don’t know.  But the Angels aren’t going to rush him in the same manner the Braves did.  They want to make sure he’s fully ready, which is just a better way of doing things.  It isn’t as if Maitan wasn’t ready for a stateside debut, but the Braves should’ve been quicker to recognize that rolling him out when he was struggling on and off the field, wasn’t the best idea. I see Maitan breaking out in a big way in the Angels system.  First of all, it’s a fresh start and he needed it.  Second, he’s experienced failure and his response to it suggests that Maitan isn’t going to fold or shift blame anywhere else.  His actions suggest that he’s taken ownership of his performance and is now preparing for success, whereas before he wasn’t.  Kevin now looks like a shortstop or third baseman again.  He’s as thrilled to be part of this organization as the Angels are of having him.  And not to make excuses, but reworking your swing in the middle of a season is not the best time to be doing it.  Of course he wasn’t experiencing success.  He was using a swing that wasn’t authentically his yet.  He needed to figure out all of it’s subtle nuances and these just weren’t things he could do last year.  It was too new.  Also, it was Kevin’s first time in the U.S., playing against competition that was much older than he was.  Success just wasn’t going to happen.  He wasn’t ready and the Braves hadn’t prepared him of such.  Both Kevin and the Angels won’t be making that mistake. So the end result in my opinion is that the Angels are going to have an all-star caliber third baseman that hits for average and power from both sides of the plate and is capable of winning a gold glove.  Maitan will be a middle of the order hitter and part of a wave of talent (Adell, Marsh, Maitan, Deveaux) that sweeps through the Angels system and debuts in the major leagues around the same time. Kevin Maitan is going to be a great hitter, a good defender and an asset that will someday make up the core of the Angels. What to expect: The Angels will likely send Kevin Maitan to short season Orem this year as an 18 year old, and that’s really going to be a good fit for him.  It’s a hitter friendly environment where he can experience success, it won’t be a stark step up that full season ball would be, and he can find his niche among other players that are also trying to experience success at the professional level for the first time.  The Angels are adamant about developing Maitan as a shortstop, and I actually think if he remains the same size, he has a chance at sticking there until he plays on the same squad as Andrelton Simmons. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2022, Kevin’s age 22 season. Grade as a prospect: A-/B+ Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar.  Grade B player is a future regular.  Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.
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