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Los Angeles Angels Minor League Hotlist (4/29-5/12 2019)

By Tres Hefter, Columnist While lower-level pitching has been dominant for the Angels farm so far this year, multiple strong performances made it difficult to identify individual standouts – during this time, quietly, several hitters have made strides over the last two weeks. 1) Jared Walsh – 1B/LHP, AAA:
Walsh picked up seven multi-hit games over the last two weeks, clubbing seven doubles and three home runs along the way, resulting in a .388/.484/.714/1.198 slash over 14 games, while also drawing 9 walks. Oh yeah, and he also made three relief appearances, picking up one save. With Bour, Pujols, and Ohtani all ahead of him on the depth chart, his path to Anaheim isn’t abundantly clear, but he’s certainly stating his case.
2019 hitting (AAA): .299/.394/.976 with 11 doubles, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 18 BB, 41 K in 36 G/160 PA
2019 pitching (AAA): 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .238 BAA, 2 BB, 4 K across 5 IP in 5 G 2) Jarrett Parker – RF/LF, AAA:
Nearly matching Walsh’s offensive production over the last two weeks is quasi-big leaguer Jarrett Parker, recently returned from injury. Playing the corner outfield positions, the 30-year old posted a slash of .326/.473/.674/1.147 boosted by 6 doubles, 3 homers, driving in 13 runs, and drawing 12 walks to 15 strikeouts. While there is no longer a clear path for Parker to support the main cast in Anaheim, he remains intriguing AAA depth.
2019 (AAA): .324/.467/.620/1.086 with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 19 BB, 22 K in 21 G/90 PA 3) Cesar Puello – CF/LF/RF, AAA:
Puello is surprisingly the only hitter carry-over from the last hotlist, as he maintained a .293/.396/.561/.957 slash over the last two weeks. High contact skills have long boosted the offensive profile for Puello, 28, whose power finally flashed in recent weeks, adding 2 doubles and three homers. Like Parker, Puello is out of options and not on the 40-man, so he isn’t likely to see Anaheim barring serious injury issues on the big-league club, so he’ll remain as AAA insurance. He’s already been hit by a pitch 10 times.
2019 (AAA): .302/.444/.500/.944 with 6 doubles, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 17 BB, 28 K in 31 G/133 PA 4) Francisco Del Valle – RF/LF, A:
The first of a few surprise hotlist entrants, 20-year old Del Valle, a 2016 14th rounder out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, has been a steady bat for Burlington, slashing .289/.413/.500/.913 since returning May 1st. While his upside is likely limited to that of a 4th OF, he has demonstrated good discipline and doubles-powers in his brief career, and could open some eyes once he reaches the friendly hitting environments of the California League.
2019 (A): .229/.319/.390/.710 with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 10 BB, 28 K in 30 G/120 PA 5) Leonardo Rivas – SS/CF/3B/2B, A+:
The switch-hitting 21-year old infielder reached base safely in all 12 games he played the last two weeks, earning a hit in all but one, giving way to a .320/.370/.520/.890 slash, popping 5 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 HR along the way. While he’s still striking out quite often – 16 times in that time – the increase in power has brought his prospect pedigree back into focus. The infielder also added a couple appearances in CF in this time, also furthering his value.
2019 (A+): .246/.333/.435/.768 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 18 BB, 43 K in 34 G/156 PA 6) Nonie Williams – LF/CF/RF, A:
??? What? Yes! Once again, Nonie has responded to one of his lowest lows by posting one of his highest highs. Days shy of turning 21, the 2016 3rd rounder has shaken off another poor start by responding with a .250/.348/.525/.873 slash so far in the month of May, exhibiting some power (5 doubles, 2 homers) and a bit of an eye – 6 walks, though 21 strikeouts is still worrisome – as his career continues to trend away from the sweet-swinging infielder he was drafted as and more towards an all-or-nothing power-hitting outfielder.
2019 (A): .187/.320/.336/.657 with 7 doubles, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 6-7 in SB attempts, 19 BB, 47 K in 32 G/129 PA 7) Kevin Maitan – 3B/2B, A:
Shaking off another slow start, Maitan, the youngest player on Burlington’s roster, has been showing signs of life since mid-April, and that’s continued the last two weeks. Posting a .295/.340/.477/.818 over the last two weeks, Maitan is showing power (2 doubles, 2 HR) and some improved hitting. He even stole two bases.
2019 (A): .215/.278/.306/.584 with 2 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 11 BB, 34 K in 32 G/133 PA Honorable mention, hitters:
D.C. Arendas (1B, A): .353/.450/.794/1.244 with 3 3B, 3 HR –  at 25, he’s 4 years older than the league average.
Taylor Ward (LF/1B/3B, AAA): .286/.444/.714/1.159 with 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB, 6 K – not quite enough playing time (8 G/36 PA)
Dustin Garneau (C, AAA): .217/.400/.478/.878 with 3 2B, HR, 6 BB, 8 K – also not enough playing time
Jhoan Urena (3B/1B, AA): .250/.372/.417/.789 with 3 2B, HR, 7 BB, 9 K – only 24, worth keeping an eye on, good pop, discipline 8 ) Jose Soriano – RHP, A: 
Soriano, one of the Angels’ most intriguing pitching prospects who offers considerable upside, spun two great performances over the last two weeks, striking out 14 over 11 innings, allowing only two hits (.065 BAA) to go with an 0.82 ERA. Control continues to be a bit of an issue – he also walked 6 – but his 5/09 start at Dayton showed his potential brilliance, generating 19 swinging strikes on 88 pitches, allowing no hits over 6 IP.
2019 (A): 1.72 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .196 BAA, 20 BB, 32 K across 31.1 IP in 7 G/6 GS 9) Jose Suarez – LHP, AAA:
With Griffin Canning’s ascension to the Anaheim rotation, Suarez is now the #1 SP prospect on the farm. Suarez started the year with a balky shoulder, but returned to AAA action (as one of the youngest in the league) with two starts against two very good offensive teams in great hitter-friendly environments, showing his promise in both appearances. Capping at 5 IP/~80 pitches in each start, Suarez was stingy, surrendering one, only allowing 6 hits and 4 walks vs. 8 strikeouts.
2019 (AAA): 0.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .171 BAA, 4 BB, 8 K across 10 IP in 2 G/2 GS 10,tied) Cristopher Molina – RHP, A:
The lanky 22-year old has yet to allow more than 2 runs in a game this season, and only allowed one earned, good for a 0.60 ERA, over the last two weeks across three ‘starts’, two of which were conventional, one in relief. Across 15 innings, Molina struck out 19, limiting opponents to a .204 BAA, only walking 6. He’s yet to allow a HR on the season, and is likely making a case for a promotion to Inland Empire in the near future.
2019 (A): 1.35 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .178 BAA, 11 BB, 41 K across 33.1 IP in 7 G/4 GS 10,tied) Robinson Pina – RHP, A:
Equally impressive as Molina and therefore tying for the last spot on the list, the even lankier 20-year old Pina delivered similar success in two ‘starts’ (one in relief), capped by a 5-inning, 0 BB, 10 K performance against Bowling Green on May 8th. While he doesn’t possess the same swing-and-miss stuff as Molina, Pina has generated very similar results, each averaging 6 hits allowed, 3-4 walks, and 11 strikeouts per nine innings.
2019 (A): 2.01 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .204 BAA, 14 BB, 39 K across 31.1 IP in 7 G/4 GS Honorable mention, pitchers:
Patrick Sandoval (LHP, AA/AAA): 12.2 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 14 K, 3.55 ERA in 3 GS – earned the promotion to SLC
Denny Brady (RHP, A+): 14.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 20 K, 4.30 ERA in 3 games – could be a AA promotion candidate before long
Oliver Ortega (RHP, A+): 10.1 IP, 6 H, 11 BB, 17 K, 3.48 ERA in 3 games – including a 5 IP, 1-hit, 9 K start
Jason Alexander (RHP, AA): 8 IP, H, 0 BB, 9 K – delivered a dominant 8 IP one-hitter in his lone eligible appearance
Jesus Castillo (RHP, AA): 12.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 2.13 ERA in 2 games – had a chance to break top 10 yesterday, but game was PPD
Andrew Wantz (RHP, A+): 13 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 12 K, 2.08 ERA in 3 games – feels like a multi-inning RP candidate in near-future
Jeremy Rhoades (RHP, AAA): 8 IP, 4 H, BB, 9 K, 1.13 ERA in 5 games – could play into Anaheim depth relief again
Connor Higgins (LHP, A): 5.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA in 3 games – lanky lefty comes with upside
View the full article Interviews Former Angel Adam Riggs

Adam Riggs captured wearing the “Angees” uniform. Interviewed by David Saltzer, Senior Writer One of the things I love most about baseball is when I have the chance with former players. No one knows the game like they do, as they have insights that fans won’t always catch. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a former Angel–Adam Riggs. When I first heard that I would get the chance to interview him, I immediately thought of the time he ran out to left field with one of the greatest uniform malfunctions ever (pictured above). So, of course, I had to ask him all about that, and it turns out, there was more to the story. But, in talking with Adam, I learned so much more. I learned about how he came to play for the Angels, and how that helped save his career, what it was like as a player in Scioscia’s clubhouse, spring training ordeals, and his favorite memories and players. And, I got to fill in some key details about a key episode in Angels history involving Jose Guillen. Many fans remember that situation, but few will recall that it was Adam Riggs who went out the next day to play left field for a team trying to make the playoffs. Adam helped fill in some key details of what it was like for him as that player to live through that experience. Since retiring from baseball, Adam has started a podcast on the BLEAV Podcast Network. Along with his co-host Matt Gallant, they do a weekly Angels podcast talking all things baseball. It’s well worth listening to, as Adam provides baseball knowledge and experience having scrapped together a solid career with several teams. With his background, he can talk about what it’s like to be an athlete having to constantly prove himself and earn his playing time. Fans can catch up on all of Adam Riggs’ podcasts by clicking here. Fans can also subscribe to catch all of the weekly shows. I’d recommend it, as Adam is planning on getting other veteran players to have even more in depth discussions to share different perspectives from the industry. Please click below to listen to our interview with Adam Riggs.   
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Los Angeles Angels Minor League Hotlist (5/13-5/26 2019)

By Tres Hefter, Columnist 1) Spencer Griffin – OF, A: 
Perhaps the greatest surprise of the 2019 hotlist is this week’s top entrant, Burlington outfielder Spencer Griffin! Despite going hitless in four straight games a week ago, Griffin (2017, 16th Rd.) led all Angel farmhands with a 1.122 OPS over the last two weeks, slashing .350/.422/.700, ripping 2 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs, paced by 5 BB vs. 11 K. Only 22, continued strong play could lead him into future discussion on the 4th OF depth charts alongside names like Michael Hermosillo, Brennon Lund, and Torii Hunter, Jr., as Griffin is comfortable at all three outfield positions.
2019 hitting (A): .238/.341/.411/.752 with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 23 BB, 59 K in 44 G/176 PA 2) Cesar Puello – CF/LF/RF, AAA:
The one-time Top 100 prospect continues to play well, earning his third consecutive placement on the Top 10 hotlist. Playing mostly CF over the last two weeks, Puello continues to do what he’s done all season – get on base (.419 OBP), hit for contact (.308 BA), and hit for power (.577 SLG). Only 28, Puello is likely cast as a quad-A player (potential Japanese/Korean league star?) but opportunity remains for him to be an interesting, unexpected contributor to the Angels – or another MLB club – should need arise.
2019 (AAA): .303/.439/.515/.954 with 7 doubles, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 22 BB, 37 K in 41 G/164 PA 3) Taylor Ward – LF, AAA:
Over the last two weeks, Ward has teetered on topping the list, or falling off completely, but in the end, his strong plate discipline (11 BB to 12 K) and power (3 doubles, 3 home runs) kept him in the mix, as he posted a .220/.396/.512/.908 slash in the second half of May. Notably, Ward has played only LF defensively during this time, save for a few innings at 3B yesterday, along with a couple games at DH.
2019 (AAA): .279/.422/.590/1.012 with 11 doubles, 9 HR, 20 RBI, 28 BB, 30 K in 33 G/155 PA 4) Brandon Marsh – CF, AA:
Finally! The talent and athleticism from 21-year old Brandon Marsh has translated into the production we’ve waited for, bringing him onto the hotlist on the strength of a .306/.443/.429/.871 slash, knocking 6 doubles in 14 games, while drawing 12 walks to 18 strikeouts. Playing CF almost exclusively, Marsh will likely soon cede to one of the corners upon the return of Jo Adell, but Marsh’s .935 May OPS, defense, and plate discipline might give him the slight edge on MLB-readiness between the two.
2019 (AA): .273/.377/.350/.727 with 8 doubles, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 24 BB, 50 K in 40 G/167 PA 5) Matt Thaiss – 3B/1B, AAA:
After starting the month of May in a cold spell (.205/.294/.318), Thaiss warmed as the month continued, swatting three home runs and a double, driving in 8, and walking 9 times vs. 13 strikeouts, giving him a .271/.386/.479/.865 slash. Also worth noting, Thaiss played a majority  of this time at 3B, eight games, as the infielder continues to improve upon his versatility and thus, his MLB chances.
2019 (AAA): .260/.367/.409/.776 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 31 BB, 36 K in 47 G/215 PA 6) Jose Rojas – DH/1B, AAA:
Mirroring Matt Thaiss, at least offensively, is Jose Rojas, who also started the month of May ice-cold (.159/.174/.273) before re-emerging on the strength of his power (1 double, 1 triple, 2 HR) and a much-improved stretch plate discipline (9 walks to 7 strikeouts), leading him to a .243/.375/.486/.861 slash. One difference between the two is their performance in the field, as Rojas’ limitations defensively have increased his playing time at DH and 1B. Rojas hasn’t appeared in LF since 4/27.
2019 (AAA): .262/.326/.482/.808 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 17 BB, 37 K in 42 G/184 PA Honorable mention, hitters:
Michael Cruz (DH/C, A+): .333/.345/.519/.863 with 2 3B, 1 HR –  not enough playing time (8 G/29 PA)
Jarrett Parker (RF, AAA): .282/.417/.436/.853 with 3 HR, 8 BB, 11 K
Bo Way (LF/RF, AA): .279/.340/.488/.829 with 6 2B, HR, 4 BB, 7 K
Jordyn Adams (OF, A): .283/.309/.434/.743 with 2 2B, 2 HR but only 1 BB in 55 PA 7) Jesus Castillo – RHP, AA: 
Castillo continues to re-assert himself as an interesting Angels pitching prospect, adding three more strong starts over the last two weeks, only allowing three earned runs across 17 innings (1.59 ERA) and only walking four. While not blessed with overpowering stuff, only 10 strikeouts in that time, Castillo has helped himself by keeping the ball in the yard (zero HR allowed all year, save for one disastrous performance in late April) and painting the corners with great command. No longer on the 40-man, Castillo still serves as rotation depth, but might also find himself catching the eye pitching-starved teams such as Baltimore, Miami, Kansas City, should the Angels wind up buyers and seek rental help from those clubs.
2019 (AA): 4.01 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .262 BAA, 15 BB, 39 K across 49.1 IP in 10 G/8 GS 8 ) Jose Soriano – RHP, A:
Just like the last hotlist, Soriano surged into placement with a dominant performance at the end of the week, pitching into the 7th for the first time this year, striking out 10 across 6.1 innings on 5/26, punctuated by 19 swinging strikes. The 20-year old didn’t have the prettiest ERA over his last three starts – 5.79 in 15.1 IP – but he did manage 23 strikeouts in that time, keeping walks in check with 7 allowed. Now nearing 50 IP on the year, Soriano is regularly throwing 85 pitches per game, and is likely growing into the Angels top RHP SP prospect, now that Griffin Canning has graduated to the majors.
2019 (A): 3.09 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .224 BAA, 27 BB, 55 K across 46.2 IP in 10 G/9 GS 9) Luis Madero – RHP, AA:
Madero continues to settle in following his recent promotion to AA Mobile, as the 6’3″ 22-year old posted two strong starts over the last two weeks, totalling 11 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, and 12 K. Throwing just shy of 90 pitches per game and currently on the 40-man, Madero’s likely starting to creep into the MLB depth charts and with strong results, could be in line for a September call-up for an audition as a future multi-inning reliever or Felix Pena-esque stater.
2019 (A+/AA): 2.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .235 BAA, 13 BB, 44 K across 33.1 IP in 9 G/8 GS 10) Brett Hanewich – RHP, A+/AA:
Control has long been an issue for 2017 9th Round pick Brett Hanewich, who walked 6 per 9 innings in his first two years of pro-ball. That has not been the case this year however, as Hanewich has halved that total down to a respectable (for a reliever) 3.1 per 9 innings – while boosting his strikeout totals. Hanewich earned a promotion to AA Mobile this week, and continued where he left off in Inland Empire – throwing perfect relief. In his last three games, Hanewich has thrown 5 IP, allowing 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs, and striking out 11.
2019 (A+/AA): 0.89 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, .119 BAA, 7 BB, 29 K across 20.1 IP in 14 G Honorable mention, pitchers:
Patrick Sandoval (LHP, AAA): 7.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA in 2 GS – settling in to AAA SLC
Kyle Bradish (RHP, A+): 9.2 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 16 K, 2.79 ERA in 2 GS
Jason Alexander (RHP, AA): 14 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 19 K, 5.79 ERA – dramatic increase in strikeouts is worth watching
Luis Alvarado (RHP, A+): 10.2 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 18 K, 1.69 ERA in 3 games 
View the full article Interviews Angels Outfield Prospect Torii Hunter, Jr.

Interview Conducted by David Saltzer, Senior Writer April 2, 2019. Ever get the feeling of deja vu? The very first Major League player that I interviewed in the Angels clubhouse was Torii Hunter. And he was a pleasure to interview. I had followed his career for quite a while, long before he was an Angel, as I have many cousins in Minnesota who would rave about him as a player. I was thrilled that we got to see him play as an Angel for a while. I recently had the opportunity to interview his son, a rising outfield star in the Angels system. Like his father, Torii Hunter, Jr. is a pleasure to talk to. And, like his father, he provides great defense in the outfield with a blend of speed and power. Torii will be starting the 2019 season with the IE66ers tonight at home. You can purchase tickets for them here. It’s well worth the drive out there to see him and all the other players develop into future Major Leaguers. With the rising pool of talent that the Angels have, you will want to make the trip out there many times. While you too may experience a bit of deja vu when you see Torii Hunter, Jr. in the outfield, remember, he’s his own man with his own destiny. And he will go as far as his tools and talent will take him. You can watch our interview with Torii Hunter, Jr. by clicking on the image below. Interviews Torii Hunter, Jr. April 2, 2019 from on Vimeo.  
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Los Angeles Angels Minor League Hotlist

By Tres Heftner, Columnist Here are Top-10 Minor League Performers in the Angels Farm System 4/22/19 – 4/28/19 1) Jose Rojas – IF, AAA: 
The 26-year old infielder continued to build upon his hot spring with an even hotter April, slashing a firm .407/.429/.889/1.317 over the past week, driving in 13 runs in only 6 games, including a 2 HR, 6 RBI performance on 4/22 against Sacramento. Playing 3B primarily, Rojas also made two appearances at LF and one at 2B this week.
2019: .333/.388/.603/.991 with 3 doubles, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 7 BB, 12 K in 20 G/85 PA 2) Matt Thaiss – IF, AAA: 
Coming into the week, Thaiss was mired in a 3-35 slump (.086 BA), but the BAbip gods smiled upon thee.  Thaiss went 10-17 (.588) to go with 7 BB against 1 K over his last 25 PA, with a double and HR leading to his .588/.680/.824/1.504 slash on the week – boosted by a .563 BAbip. Thaiss also continued to see time at 3B, playing twice more at the hot corner vs. Albuquerque.
2019: .289/.406/.434/.840 with 4 doubles,1 triple, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 16 BB, 12 K in 22 G/101 PA 3) Taylor Ward – IF/OF, AAA: 
Ward added LF to his pro resume this week, making a nice sliding catch vs. Albuquerque, while also adding two more appearances at 1B. The increased versatility should boost his odds and value to the Angels as the season goes on, as could his offense, if he maintains it. Ward added 3 doubles and 2 homers to his season over the week, slashing .429/.478/.857/1.335 across five games.
2019: .305/.408/.559/.968 with 6 doubles, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 BB, 16 K in 16 G/72 PA 4) Torii Hunter, Jr. –  OF, A+: 
2019 is a key year for Hunter, still acclimating to the life of pro baseball, and the Angels pinned high expectations on the 24-year old OF by counting on him to help lead the offense at Inland Empire. While Torii Jr. might never have the game-changing power, defense, or baserunning his father possessed, he’s continued to make improvements to his offensive profile suggesting he might yet have a future as a 4th OF. Hunter slashed .333/.467/.542/1.008 over the week, adding a triple, a home run, 6 RBI, and 2 more SB to his season totals. Since the first week of the season, Torii Jr. has 12 BB to 14 K and a .413 OBP and his 15 walks rank third on the Angels farm.
2019: .250/.384/.338/.721 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 21 K in 23 G/99 PA 5) Cesar Puello –  OF, AAA:
While he may be walking along the precipice of being no more than a career 4A journeyman, Puello undoubtedly continues to produce. Seeing time at all three positions in the outfield, the 28-year old Puello continues to demonstrate advanced plate discipline to go with good contact and good power, drawing 4 BB, hitting three doubles, and adding one HR to give him a slash of .429/.571/.714/1.286 for the week. While he may not see time outside of SLC, he offers some intriguing depth for the Angels if he continues to post hefty OBP results.
2019: .303/.465/.455/.920 with 4 doubles, 2 HR, 12 BB, 14 K in 20 G/86 PA Honorable mention, hitters:
Gleyvin Pineda (IF, A): .357/.500/.500/1.000 with triple, 4 BB, 5 K
Connor Justus (IF, AA): .294/.400/.529/.929 with one walk-off HR
Jarrett Parker (OF, AAA): .333/.481/.524/1.005 with 2B, HR, 6 BB, 5 K 5) Kyle Bradish – RHP, A+: 
The 2018 4th Rounder has looked like a strong pick all season, and the past week only added to that excitement. The 6’4″ righty provided 4 innings of a 9-inning ‘no-hitter’; between starter Aaron Hernandez (4 IP) and Austin Warren (1 IP) on April 23rd vs. Rancho Cucamonga, and followed that up by allowing only one hit across 5.1 IP days later against Lake Elsinore. Over the week, Bradish held hitters to a .033 BAA, allowing 4 BB, 1 ER, and striking out 13 in 9.1 IP, and might find himself in AA Mobile before long.
2019: 1.80 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .159 BAA, 10 BB, 22 K across 20 IP in 5 G/3 GS 6) Hector Yan – LHP, A: 
One of the Angels’ more intriguing pitching prospects, the 20-year old, 5’11” lefty flashed some of that brilliance this past week across two appearances, reining in some early control issues and striking out 15 hitters across 9 IP, while only allowing 6 hits, one run, and four walks. The Angels continue to piggyback their young starters, as Yan closed out the game on 4/22 with four scoreless innings before a more traditional start later in the week on 4/28.
2019: 4.82 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .242 BAA ,12 BB, 26 K across 18.2 IP in 5 G/3 GS 7) Jeremy Beasley – RHP, AA: 
Never considered a top prospect, Beasley continues to will his way into the discussion and might find himself entering the fray for the SLC-Anaheim shuttlebefore long. Like Yan, Beasley appeared in two games this week, starting one and closing out another, striking out 13 across 10 IP, only allowing 1 run, 5 hits, and 2 walks along the way. Only 23, the 30th round draft pick out of Clemson back in 2017 continues to prove his mettle.
2019: 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .197 BAA, 9 BB, 26 K across 20.2 IP in 5 G/4 GS 8 ) Cole Duensing – RHP, A:  
While he flashed some potential in 2016 after being selected by the Angels in the 6th round, the 6’4″ RHP had a future in doubt following 9.74 ERA over 28 games and 93.2 IP in 2017-2018, a stretch where he allowed a staggering 136 hits, 21 HR, 102 runs, 58 walks, and only 64 strikeouts. 2019 has been entirely different, as the 21-year old Duensing continued to add to a solid turnaround year by posting a 1.86 ERA, .176 BAA over 9.2 IP, allowing only 6 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 11.
2019: 2.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .240 BAA ,14 BB, 20 K across 21.1 IP in 5 G/4 GS 9) Jorge Tavarez – RHP, A+: 
The diminutive (5’10”, 150) reliever was lights-out last season, and it’s continued into 2019. Over the last week, Tavarez made three appearances, all for multi-innings, and delivered 7 innings of spectacular relief, allowing one run, zero walks, only three hits, and striking out 12. Blessed with an above-average 12-6 curveball with elite spin rate, the 23-year Tavarez might be pitching his way into the Angels depth charts before long.
2019: 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .196 BAA, 4 BB, 21 K across 14 IP in 9 G 10) Adrian De Horta – RHP, AA: 
Signed as a minor league free agent in March 2018, De Horta didn’t show much last year, but opened eyes with a gutsy appearance in this year’s ST exhibition series against the Dodgers, and he’s followed up on that with a strong April, capped by a solid start on 4/24 vs. Pensacola, allowing one hit and striking out 7 across five innings. As the Angels continue to promote arms, De Horta could be in AAA Salt Lake before long.
2019: 2.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .156 BAA, 8 BB, 23 K across 13.1 IP in 3 G/2 GS Honorable mention, hitters:
Oliver Ortega (RHP, A+) 4 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 BB, 9 K
Aaron Hernandez (RHP, A+): 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K
Luis Madero, RHP, A+/AA): 9 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, and a promotion to AA Mobile
Cristopher Molina, RHP, A): 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
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Mike Trout absolutely dominating MLB All-Star voting

Angels slugger Mike Trout is a five-tool player, and, aside from Mookie Betts, is really the only player currently in MLB that fits that mold. But Trout is having a much better season than his counterpart, as his numbers, per usual, are just off the chart. And the All-Star Game voting reflects that as well. Trout is light years beyond everyone else both on the field, and in the All-Star voting as well. Check out the numbers below. Both fans and analysts know that Trout clearly is the most valuable player in the American League this year, and the Angels would be a cellar-dweller without him on the roster.
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Jo Adell Returns on Top: Angels Prospect Hotlist (5/26-6/10 2019)

(Photo Cred: Travis @BullPenSeats) by: Adrian Noche, Columnist 1.) Jo Adell – OF, AA: There were no cobwebs for Jo Adell upon his return from an ankle sprain and hamstring strain sustained in spring training. Adell is hitting .333/.388/.622 in 11 games this year with 3 stolen bases. On a double header played on June 9th, Adell collected 4 hits in 7 at-bats with a double, a homer, 4 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases. 2019 hitting (High-A, AA): .333/.388/.622  2.) Hector Yan – RHP, Low-A: On June 9th, Hector Yan recorded a season-high for strikeouts with 12 in 5.0 innings pitched. Yan is currently in 4th place in strikeouts in the midwest league with 66 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched. After a rough start to the season, Yan has only given up 10 earned runs in his last 34.2 innings pitched. 2019 pitching (low-A): 44.IP, 3.86 ERA, 66 SO, 26 BB, .220 AVG., 1.40 WHIP 3.) Jose Soriano – RHP, Low-A: Jose Soriano has been brilliant this year. Soriano is currently tied with the aforementioned Hector Yan in strikeouts with 66 across 58.0 innings pitched.  Soriano’s ERA stands at 2.48 while hitters are only hitting .205 against him this season. Soriano’s last two starts saw him pitch a combined 11.1 scoreless innings while striking out 11 and only giving up 4 hits and 4 walks. 2019 pitching (low-A): 58.0 IP, 2.48 ERA, 66 SO, 31 BB, .205 AVG, 1.24 WHIP 4.) Jesus Castillo – RHP, AA: Jesus Castillo is continuing to put his rough 2018 campaign behind him. Over Castillo’s last 8 starts, his ERA has lowered from 8.62 to 3.39, the lowest it has been all season. Castillo pitched 11.2 innings while only giving up a single earned run in his last two starts, striking out 8 while only walking 2. 2019 pitching (AA): 61.0 IP, 3.39 ERA, 47 SO, 17 BB, .252 AVG, 1.23 WHIP  5.) Denny Brady – RHP, AA: Denny Brady has been as consistent as they come for the Inland Empire 66ers. Brady has never given up more than 3 earned runs this season. In 53.0 innings pitched, Brady has struck out 65 batters with 20 walks. His ERA sits at 3.06 on the season with a WHIP of 1.25. Brady struck out 8 batters and walked none in 5.0 innings pitched of one-run ball in his last start. 2019 pitching (High-A): 53.0 IP, 3.06 ERA, 65 SO, 20 BB, .228 AVG, 1.25 WHIP 6.) Brett Hanewich – RHP, AA: Brett Hanewich capped a breakout campaign in 2018 by representing the Angels in the Arizona Fall League. Hanewich has managed to improve on his impressive 2018 numbers so far this season. Across 2 levels, (High-A and Double-A) Hanewich has struck out 32 batters in 23.1 innings pitched. His ERA stands at 0.77 with a WHIP at 0.99 while hitters are only hitting a miniscule .152 against him. 2019 pitching (High-A, AA): 23.1 IP, 0.77 ERA, 32 SO, 11 BB, .152 AVG, 0.99 WHIP 7.) Brandon Sandoval – OF, AA Sandoval has been a hitting machine as of late. During his last 8 games, Sandoval has seen his average climb from .264 to .297. Overall, Sandoval’s slash line is .297/.344/.360 in 51 games for the Baybears this season. 2019 hitting (AA): .297/.344/360 8.) Aaron Hernandez – RHP, High-A: Aaron Hernandez missed almost all of May due to injury. In his two starts since returning, Hernandez has thrown 6.2 IP while striking out 8, walking 2 and giving up 2 earned runs. Hernandez was shut down upon being drafted in the 3rd round last season. (a trend for plenty other pitchers in the system )Hernandez has a 3.95 ERA in 27.1 IP and 29 strikeouts in his first year of professional ball with the 66ers. 2019 pitching (High-A) 27.1 IP, 3.95 ERA, 29 SO, 19 BB, .286 AVG, 1.79 WHIP
View the full article’s 2017 Top-30 Los Angeles Angels Prospects

Following Angels prospects requires an unhealthy obsession with uncertain possibilities, an unjustifiable optimism in a brighter future, a unnatural curiosity and an eye to see things that may or may not be there.  And so of course, only a few Angel fans are actually crazy enough to undertake this mission.  From myself (going on seven years in a row), DocHalo’s memory of obscure details, Inside Pitch’s calculations, Dave’s traveling to different minor league parks and interviewing guys other people never heard of, and finally Chuck for organizing all of it, this year’s Top 30 is a conglomeration of countless man hours and different areas of expertise.  There’s no “one” person that can take credit for making this list, which offers readers a different perspective.  This isn’t one knowledgeable person’s perspective, this is, and this is a list of men we’ve debated over and assigned a value to. Without any further ado, here are your AngelsWin Top 30 Prospects! 1. 1B Matt Thaiss
2. OF Jahmai Jones
3. RHP Alex Meyer
4. C Taylor Ward
5. OF Brandon Marsh
6. RHP Keynan Middleton
7. IF Nonie Williams
8. OF Michael Hermosillo
9. RHP Chris Rodriguez
10. LHP Nate Smith
11. RHP Grayson Long
12. LHP Manny Banuelos
13. IF David Fletcher
14. RHP Jaime Barria
15. RHP Jesus Castillo
16. RHP Vicente Campos
17. RHP Cole Duensing
18. OF Troy Montgomery
19. RHP Eduardo Paredes
20. IF Hutton Moyer
21. OF Brennon Lund
22. RHP Brooks Pounders
23. RHP Joe Gatto
24. LHP Chris O’Grady
25. LHP Jonah Wesely
26. OF Jared Foster
27. OF Zach Gibbons
28. RHP Jordan Kipper
29. IF Leonardo Rivas
30. IF Sherman Johnson     #1 Prospect: Matt Thaiss    Position(s): First Base Level: Class A Ball     Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017. Height: 6’0”   Weight: 195 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         50  65 Power                       40  55 Base Running         40  40 Patience                    40  55 Fielding                    50  60 Range                       50  60 Arm                           55  60 Overall                     50  60 Floor: Pinch hitting specialist in AAA/MLB.  Ceiling: All-star caliber first baseman that hits in the middle of the lineup. Likely Outcome: Above average starting first baseman that is best suited to bat 2nd, 5th or 6th in the order. Summary: Thaiss spent his time at Virginia behind the dish, and while reports were divided as to his ability to remain a catcher in the major leagues, the Angels brass felt his bat was more than enough to play up at first base.  This is a very similar scenario the Cubs found themselves in with Kyle Schwarber, though the difference being Schwarber’s upside considerably outweighs that of Thaiss, and the Cubs were willing to at least roll the dice on his questionable defense behind the plate. Thaiss shouldn’t be the type of player that needs to spend a lot of time in the minor leagues before a promotion, and perhaps this, along with a decreased price tag was the Angels motivating factor in selecting Thaiss as high as they did.  There were questions surrounding Thaiss’ ability to play a competent first base, but those have since been answered by Thaiss’ impressive showing in Spring Training.  The Angels brass raved at his hard work and athleticism he showed in learning a new position.  Part of the reason they were willing to pick him s high as hey did was because Eppler and company asked him to play first base for them before the draft and felt he had the necessary instincts and approach to someday become a passable first baseman.  After camp, the hope now is that Thaiss could eventually be a gold glove level first baseman. There were also questions as to whether his power will show as the over the fence variety or the gap to gap sort.  Early showings indicate a bit of both.  During big league camp, Thiass was found spraying the ball to all gaps with authority.  His approach at the plate is highly simplistic.  Couched low in the zone, with feet spread apart, Thaiss’ feet don’t extend, but remain in place as his weight transfers and he rotates the bat through the zone.  Thaiss’ bat spend a ton of time in the strike zone and his swing is geared toward high line drives. What isn’t questionable however. is Thaiss’ floor.  He’s a safe bet to become a major league ball player.  The only question is when, and how good will he be? In my opinion, Thaiss will a very good starting first baseman in the major leagues, and if the Angels do end up moving him off first base, I think he could succeed in the corner outfield. What to expect next season: Before Spring Training, I would’ve told you Thaiss is a solid bet to begin next season at Advanced A Ball Inland Empire.  After the performance he put on this Spring, and what he was able to do last year after being drafted, I wonder if Thaiss should start the year in AA Mobile.  If Thaiss continues to hit, it shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see him in Anaheim later this year.  I admit, this isn’t likely though.  The most likely path will be a full yea rat Inland Empire and another full year next year in AA, and onto the majors after that.  I still think he climbs higher than that. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2018, as a 23 year old. Grade as a prospect: B+ — #2 Prospect: Jahmai Jones Position(s): Outfield Level: Class A Ball    Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2017. Height: 6’0”    Weight: 215 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         40  55 Power                       40  55 Base Running         60  60 Patience                    40  55 Fielding                    50  60 Range                       60  60 Arm                           40  50 Overall                      45  60 Floor: Defensive specialist/4th outfielder in MLB/AAA.  Ceiling: All-star caliber top or middle of the order hitter with gold glove level defense. Likely Outcome: Above average starting outfielder and top of the order hitter in the major leagues. Summary: Jahmai is a perfect example of what happens when a team drafts high upside players coming out of high school.  For such a long time under the Dipoto regime, the Angels focused on pitching, specifically collegiate pitching.  This approach netted the organization a dearth of back of the rotation starters and swingmen, and not much else.  The philosophy was that you can never have enough pitching, and prep hitters took too long to develop and were too big of a risk.  And while this is true in theory, in practice it actually means that you’ll never come away with game changing talent (this is normally the part where I’d say “Like Mike Trout”, except of course, there isn’t any player like Mike Trout). The Angels spent over their bonus in the second round two years ago to bring in Jones, and ever since, he’s been wowing scouts with his blend of unique athleticism, understanding of the game and general personality and work ethic. Jahmai has all the necessary physical tools to be a star someday.  He’s strong enough to develop into a power hitter, fast enough to steal 30 bases a year, athletic enough to implement adjustments on the fly, and smart enough to recognize real-time changes and play an instinctual game.  Jones’ older brother is a wide receiver in the NFL and his father was a standout football player at the University of Notre Dame.  Jones is still a raw player.  His mistakes aren’t so much mental as much as they’re related to experience versus top level play.  Though he can use the whole field, his power is almost exclusively pull side.  Defensively, he plays a solid CF and LF, though his arm plays up better in LF. The Angels knew they had a good player on their hands entering last season, but upon reaching Orem, they experienced just how good of a player Jahmai is at such an early stage.  In 48 games, Jones hit .321/.404 with 12 doubles 3 triples 3 home runs and 19 stolen bases and a high amount of walks to go with a low amount of strikeouts.  Though this isn’t applicable, if Jones were to play a 150 game season, he would’ve been on pace for 36 doubles 9 triples, 9 homeruns and close to 60 stolen bases.  That’s the Pioneer League for you. Once he was promoted for a short stint in A Ball, Jones had to face more refined pitching for the first time in his career. This resulted in a .242 batting average with a double, homer and a stolen base across 16 games.  It still was a solid performance though.  He clearly wasn’t over-matched by the competition, and he was beginning to make adjustments as the season concluded. What to expect next season: Jones had a breakout season at Rookie Level Orem playing against competition that’s generally a few years older than he island his play warranted a late season promotion.  Unless Jones takes another giant step forward in a short amount time, I’d expect him to play at Class A Burlington for most of this season as a 19 year old.  This park, and the Midwest League in general suppresses offensive numbers, so don’t be surprised if Jones numbers don’t mirror those that he put up in the hitter friendly Pioneer League.  There’s a slight chance that could be bumped up to Advanced A Ball this season as a 19 year old, but I wouldn’t count on it. Even Mike Trout spent a full season in A Ball before being promoted (he played in Advanced A Ball in the playoffs that year). Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, as a 23 year old. Grade as a prospect: B   Check out our interview with Jahmai Jones — #3 Prospect: Alex Meyer Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: AAA Salt Lake/ LA Angels    Age: Entering Age 27 season in 2017. Height: 6’9”     Weight: 220 lb.    Present – Future Fastball          70  70 Slider             65  65 Change          50  50 Mechanics    40  50 Command    40  50 Control         45  50 Overall         50  60   Floor: A power reliever/closer in major leagues. Ceiling: Ace starting pitcher. Likely Outcome: An inconsistent but extremely dynamic #3/4 starter. Summary: Meyer is a former first round draft pick out of the University of Kentucky and consensus Top 50 MLB prospect.  With his long, lean, 6’9” frame, Meyer delivers power fastballs clocking in at over 100 mph, but typically sitting around 96-97.   Because of his abnormally large frame, mechanics have always been an issue with Meyer, but it didn’t truly begin leading to control problems until he reached the high minors.  Meyer’s slider has always been a true “out” pitch, as it comes in with high 80’s velocity and a big break.  What’s more impressive is that Meyer has never had any trouble throwing this pitch for a strike.  Even as a kid just learning the ropes, Meyer’s slider has left major league hitters with buckled knees. Upon being traded to the Angels, Meyer began sacrificing velocity for control.  What was once a 98 mph unguided fastball is now a 95 mph semi-guided fastball.  His ability to command this pitch is key to Meyer’s future.  After moving to the bullpen in the Twins organization, the Angels believed in Meyer’s arm, and have placed him in the rotation, and fully intend to allow him to develop as a starter. Though it’s a bit abnormal for a prospect of Meyer’s age to be so well regarded, it should be noted that at age 24, Meyer had breezed through AAA and was ready for the majors.  The Twins kept him down to manage her service clock.  In his age 25 season, shoulder injuries and fatigue robbed him of effectiveness.  At age 26 this past season, injuries again struck, though in his brief time in AAA, Meyer was again dominant. The Angels have tinkered with Meyer’s delivery a bit to try and save his shoulder from becoming completely detached.  Typically, I’m opposed to altering any elite pitcher’s delivery, but in Meyer’s case it’s a completely worthwhile gamble.  If the Angels can harness his frame, reach, torque/whipping motion and strength while take the pressure off his shoulder, Meyer could very well join Garrett Richards atop the Angels rotation.  And if the new motion saves his shoulder, yet Alex is still unable to fully command his pitches, then he still would make for an Andrew Miller-level reliever.  You know the type, tall lanky, former starting pitcher that throws in the high 90’s and can go multiple innings. The early results are pretty much exactly what you would expect.  His first outing was shaky, but he got through it.  Meyer’s second outing was a disaster, walking four batters and sacrificing velocity in an attempt at control.  His third outing was about as good as it gets.  Two scoreless innings, velocity back up at 96-99.  Scioscia described him as throwing “BB’s” (not base on balls, but the smaller metal projectiles).  And that’s how good Meyer can be.  He can be completely, and utterly dominant when it’s going right. What to expect next season: Meyer appears to be destined for AAA Salt Lake to begin the season.  This is a shame, because Meyer has never been challenged at AAA, and sending him there as a 27 year old is just silly.  But other factors have played a part in this assignment.  For one, Jesse Chavez, his primary competition for the 5th starter spot has looked very good this Spring, and there are indicators that suggest that Chavez may be in line for a career year in Anaheim.  There’s also Meyer’s new throwing motion that he’s ironing out and getting more comfortable with.  It’s better to get this under control in AAA than the majors.  Inevitably, Meyer will be up with the Angels at some point this season. Estimated Time of Arrival: He has arrived. Grade as a prospect: B — #4 Prospect: Taylor Ward   Position(s): Catcher Level: Rookie Ball    Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2017. Height: 6’1”     Weight: 190 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         40  50 Power                       50  55 Base Running         40  40 Patience                    45  50 Fielding                    50  60 Range                       50  60 Arm                           70  70 Overall                      45  55 Floor: Defensive specialist/back up catcher in MLB.  Ceiling: All-star caliber catcher that is capable of winning multiple gold gloves and hitting for considerable power. Likely Outcome: Platoon catcher with good defensive and solid power. Summary: The Angels were certainly an excited bunch when they had the opportunity to draft Ward, despite the rest of the baseball world scratching their head, trying to figure out just what the Angels saw in Ward.  Taylor was a very good defender in college at Fresno State, and as he grew older and filled out, the power began to come into into play.  While most of baseball rated Ward as a 2nd or 3rd round pick that may become a backup catcher in the major leagues, the Angels felt they’d landed a future star backstop.  During his first taste of pro ball, Ward lit the world on fire, and larger audiences began to take notice of Ward.  He was sent to Inland Empire this year, and we really got a handle on who Ward actually is as a player. His game calling and defense weren’t quite as good as previously believed, though the arm is unquestionably strong.  Offensively, Ward had no timing whatsoever in the first half of the season, and appeared destined to be a Jeff Mathis type of backup catcher, which is something many Angels fans feared when they selected Ward in the first round.  Then the second half of the season came, and Ward made an adjustment with his stance and timing mechanism.  The end result was a batting average 50 points higher and nine of his ten homers hit in a matter of 63 games, leading many to believe that Ward could end up hitting 20+ homers a year. It’s also important to note that Ward’s home field in San Bernardino was the only pitching friendly park in the Cal League.  At home, he hit a meager .187.  On the road, he hit .304.  Upon arriving in Arizona for the heralded Fall League showcase, scouts raved over Ward’s ability to hit the ball with authority and “howitzer” arm.  Clearly, there’s something here to work with.  Until Ward can put it together for a longer stretch of time, scouts will remain skeptical, but putting up numbers in the Texas League could go a long way in silencing those pesky critics. What to expect next season: Ward will be ticketed for AA Mobile.  The game tends to speed up considerably when reaching the high minors.  I won’t be paying attention to Ward’s offensive or power output as much as I’ll be focusing on his defensive progression.  The Southern League and Hank Aaron Stadium are both generally unfriendly toward the long ball, so I don’t expect Ward to do much to impress the box score checkers. But it’s his defense that will get Ward to the major leagues, and most scouts agree that he is a major league quality catcher.  The big thing to take away here is that Ward has considerably more growth needed in order to reach his potential.  He isn’t as polished as many collegiate players.  So Ward’s path to the major leagues likely won’t be a quick ascension as much as it will be a slow progression. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2019, as a 25 year old. Grade as a prospect: B-   Check out our interview with Taylor Ward — #5 Prospect: Brandon Marsh  Position(s): Outfield Level: Rookie Ball  Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2017. Height: 6’2”             Weight: 190 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         40  50 Power                       50  65 Base Running         60  60 Patience                    TBD Fielding                    50  60 Range                       50  60 Arm                           60  65 Overall                      45  55 Floor: Toolsy minor league outfielder Ceiling: All-star caliber outfielder Likely Outcome: Too early for any sort of prediction. (NOTE: I have not had a chance to watch Marsh yet, other than short video snips of him taking BP, playing the OF, etc.  The scouting grades are a consensus taken from other sites.  I should have a more accurate reading on Marsh and can update his profile after Spring Training, or once short season starts in June. Summary: Marsh is a very strong, ultra-toolsy outfielder the Angels were able to grab in the second round of the draft.  The most notable thing we can say so far about Marsh’s career is that there was quite a lot of drama surrounding him signing with the Angels.  Marsh had a commitment to Kennesaw State (not exactly a powerhouse), and most expected him to sign.  He even said upon being drafted, “I will sign with the Angels.”  When they met with Marsh a couple weeks later to go over his physical and sign the contract, the Angels discovered a pre-existing back injury.  The blog “Halos Heaven” which has come under turmoil multiple times for hateful rants and false rumors quoted Marsh as saying “I won’t sign”.  Marsh quickly quoted with a more reputable source that he was working things out with the Angels.  While Marsh was obviously looking to sign for above slot, he ended up singing for right at slot value with the Angels, but did not play in Rookie Ball, in an effort to fully heal the back injury.  He worked out in the instructional league and reports indicate that Marsh is very strong, much more so than previous reports indicated and extremely fast.  He’s eager and has a strong work ethic and has impressed coaches so far.  He also reported to Spring Training visibly stronger than he looked back in high school where his form was more built for speed, like the all sate wide receiver he is. What to expect next season: Marsh is likely ticketed for Rookie Ball Orem next season, though a trip to the AZL wouldn’t be a huge surprise either.  It’s important to remember that despite the immense tools, Marsh is as raw as they come.  If he makes tremendous strides, a trip to Burlington could be in the cards, though I’d call that a long shot, just from where I’m standing right now.  A trip to Arizona would slot the Angels second round pick a year behind the developmental curve, which is certainly not what you’d expect to see from a high draft pick. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2022, as a 24 year old. Grade as a prospect: B- — #6 Prospect: Keynan Middleton Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: AAA Salt Lake    Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2017. Height: 6’2”      Weight: 190 lb.    Present – Future Fastball          70  70 Slider             50  60 Change          40  40 Mechanics    50  50 Command    40  50 Control         45  50 Overall         50  65   Floor: Dynamic, yet inconsistent middle reliever. Ceiling: Dominant, elite, all-star caliber closer. Likely Outcome: A very good set up man. Summary:  Once upon a time, Keynan Middleton was a projectable Junior College arm out of Oregon of all places.  In 2014, he topped out at #21 on MWAH Top 30, never to return again until now. He was a standout collegiate basketball player and sat in the low-90’s on the mound.  His off-speed pitches showed promise, but no polish.  The same could be said for his mechanics and his command.  In 2014 and 2015, the Angels tried keeping Middleton in the rotation, but it just didn’t go as planned.  His velocity was inconsistent, his breaking balls were nothing more than “show me” pitches which were hit hard, and Middleton never materialized as the mid-rotation starter they thought he could be.  The Angels made the wise decision to move Middleton to relief in Spring Training, and he opened some eyes with his velocity climbing up over 95 for the first time in his professional career last March. He returned to the Cal League where he was torched as a starter, only to dominate for long stretches.  The Angels moved him up to AA, and he was even better, posting an ERA of 1.20 with more than a K per inning. More importantly, Middleton found the strike zone and his fastball went from 95-96 to 97-98.  The dominance in AA was short lived however, as the Angels saw enough and moved him up to AAA.  In AAA, Middleton was inconsistent.  At times, his fastball sat at 100, and others it sat 95-96.  Some appearances he was unhittable, and others his stuff just did not move or break.  On the whole, it was enough to excite scouts (and myself). A 22 year old hitting 102 on the radar gun is pretty serious.  While it has occurred to me the radar gun was probably hot, it has also become clear that Middleton can bring high 90’s heat night in and night out.  That alone is enough to merit a major league appearance.  It should be noted, that the slider is an average pitch at this point.  Middleton has progressed with his slider to the point where we saw a rather sharp break with the pitch, but until he can consistently spot it where he wants, it remains simply an average pitch, which could leave him susceptible to major league hitters.  We can equate this with Cam Bedrosian’s recent breakout as a reliever.  The velocity was always there, but it was Cam’s developed ability to spot his slider that made him a weapon, and effective in the majors. I also believe that Middleton began to tire at the end of the year, which was the reason behind the velocity fluctuation.  It’s hard to picture one night throwing 98-99 and the next night throwing 94-95 and not think there’s something wrong.  With Middleton, it comes down to the adjustments he’s made, and keeping his stamina in check.  If he can do this, he should be able to hang around 97-98 on a regular basis, which is the building block for something special.  At the end of the day, I think the Angels have a lethal set up man on their hands, one that can bridge the gap, or take the ball in the 9th if necessary. What to expect next season: Middleton should return to AAA next season unless he’s promoted to the majors.  The Angels will for sure be focusing on Middleton’s command of his slider and if he can repeat his mechanics and spot the fastball.  If he locates his slider, it’s reasonable to expect the Angels to break camp with Middleton.  If they’re worried about controlling his clock (typically a moot point with relievers) then they may choose to wait a month or two.  If Middleton does return to AAA, keep an eye on his GB% and HR/9.  Both looked solid in the PCL, which is a bit of a revelation.  If that continues, it’s reasonable to expect to see Middleton in Anaheim for the majority of the year. Estimated Time of Arrival: June, 2017. Grade as a prospect: B- — #7 Prospect: Nonie Williams Position(s): Shortstop Level: Rookie Ball    Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2017. Height: 6’2”              Weight: 200 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         40  50 Power                       50  65 Base Running         65  60 Patience                   40  50 Fielding                    50  50 Range                       50  50 Arm                           60  65 Overall                      45  55 Floor: Utility Infielder in the high minors. Ceiling: All-star caliber infielder or outfielder. Likely Outcome: A starting third baseman in MLB. Summary: Nonie Williams may have the highest upside of any player in the Angels minor league system.  And believe it or not, that actually means something now, with other upside prospects like Jahmai Jones, Matt Thaiss, Brandon Marsh and Michael Hermosillo in the system.  While he was taken in the third round of the draft, the consensus was that the Angels genuinely got a steal when they scooped up Williams.  It is true that several sourced had Nonie ticketed for the second round, and it’s also true the Angels signed him for borderline first round money.  That’s what it costs to get someone with Williams potential.  Had Williams waited one more year, it’s hard to say where he might’ve gone in the draft.  He technically would’ve been a high school senior but because of home-schooling schedules being slightly modified, he’d also be 19 years old instead of 18 like the rest of the prospects he’d be compared with.  The age difference certain could’ve hurt him, but one additional year of development, one additional year of scouts having the opportunity to come watch him play, it’s likely Nonie would’ve left the board in the first round. Upon reaching the Angels training facility, they immediately realized what they have, may truly be special.   It starts and ends with his bat speed, which has long been observed but only recently quantified.  Not only did Williams come with the highest bat speed in the 2016 draft class, but also the highest amount of bat speed in perhaps all of minor league baseball.  We’ve yet to fully understand whether or not this will transfer over to game time production, sometimes it does sometimes it doesn’t.  But what we do know is that it makes for a potential offensive juggernaut.  Comparable bat speeds in the last five years are Randal Grichuk and Bryce Harper, who both are incredibly strong individuals, but as we’ve seen, sometimes it just doesn’t transfer into the game.  So we’ll see with Williams. Nonie’s intangibles are off the charts, but in a more tangible sense, his foot speed, bat speed and power are very well charted, and very impressive.  He has the chance to hit 30 homers in the future and steal 30 bases.  While he began his career as a shortstop, few scouts envision this being Nonie’s permanent home.  He has the athleticism, arm strength and glove to stick at shortstop, but not necessarily the grace or range.  It’s for this reason scouts openly wonder where his future home may be.  He has the size and tools of a third baseman, but the range to potentially be an excellent second baseman as well.  There’s also some talk of moving out to the outfield.  As of right now, third base and second base seem the likeliest future homes for Nonie.  Williams is a switch hitter and offers different looks from each side.  From the right hand side, Williams is more contact oriented, with a more line-drive approach.  From the left side his natural power comes into play and he whips the bat through the zone with eye-popping speed and loft.  This swing is longer and more prone to a swing and miss, but there also seems to be more power from the left-handed side. Most of the time, there’s at least some discussion as to whether a player will hit for power or not, but with Nonie, there’s only observation.  He has the strength to hit oppo homers or turn on a ball.  Williams can also fly down the line.  It isn’t a freight train type of fly like Mike Trout or a dear gracefully gliding across the land like Peter Bourjos was, but it is somewhere in between.  There’s effort, but as Williams gets bigger and stronger, he’ll likely lose a step, which is fine, he’ll always likely have above average speed, at least until his mid-30’s if he’s fortunate to still be playing ball.  While Nonie’s numbers from this past season aren’t terribly impressive (.244 BA, gap power and speed, but no home runs and poor plate discipline), he continued to improve as the year went on, enough so that there shouldn’t be any cause for concern. What to expect next season: Nonie should be ticketed for Orem next season, though there is some talk about him making the jump to A Ball.  While the talent is certainly there, I’d expect Williams to continue to refine his approach at the plate in the Pioneer League in 2017.  It’ll be interesting to see where the Angels decide to play him.  It usually isn’t good to move players around too much this early in their professional career, as it’s a lot to take in, so the Angels won’t give him the utility role just yet.  But my guess is Williams will play the majority of his games at third base in the future.  As for the pace of his development, that’s really dictated by his own progression.  Being as raw as Nonie is, it’s probably best to simplify the game by keeping him at shortstop for now, and allowing him to really get his feet under him by spending an additional season in short season ball in Orem.  I know Angels fans are likely clamoring to get this upside talent into A Ball as soon as they can, but with guys like Williams, you just have to let them grow first. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, as a 23 year old. Grade as a prospect: B- — #8 Prospect: Michael Hermosillo Position(s): Outfield Level: Advanced A Ball      Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017. Height: 5’11”     Weight: 190 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         45  50 Power                      45  55 Base Running         55  55 Patience                   55  60 Fielding                    50  60 Range                       55  60 Arm                           50  50 Overall                      40  50 Floor: 4th OF in MLB. Ceiling: Starting OF in MLB and top of the order hitter. Likely Outcome: Starting OF in MLB, bottom of the order hitter. Summary: There really wasn’t much in the way of expectations for Hermosillo coming into 2016, but that’s simply a reoccurring pattern in his career.  Hermosillo wasn’t expected to be a baseball player at all coming out of high school.  While he was obviously a good athlete, Michael experienced far more success on the gridiron, so much so that he had a scholarship offer to play running back at Illinois.  The Angels picked Michael up late in the 2013 draft (the 28th round) and shocked many when they signed Hermosillo to an over-slot bonus to play baseball rather than play football collegiately.  Even after he signed, it was the consensus that while Michael was athletic, he lacked the necessary refinement to someday be a major leaguer. Undeterred, Michael did a solid job in the Arizona Summer League. Still, there was a belief that he was more of an athlete than a ball player. The next season in Orem, Michael again surprised many when he showed an advanced feel at the plate and increased pull-power (.358 OBP and 17 XBH in 54 games), you know, some of that “refinement” they like to talk about with baseball players.  This was done against competition that was generally a couple years older than him and for the first time, there were actually some expectations, though not many given his lack of pre-draft hype, and his unsightly .244 batting average.  The next season as a 20 year old in A Ball, Michael struggled.   Sure, he got on base and ran a little, but his batting average dwindled down to .218 and his defense was subpar in the outfield.  This sort of experience isn’t uncommon, as it was Michael’s first time in full season ball, and the step up from Rookie Ball to A Ball can be pretty steep.  In fact that sort of performance is generally what’s expected from players from the prep ranks that come off the draft board in the late rounds as Hermosillo did. Michael entered 2016 with no hype or expectations yet again.  In his career, he’d been a Top 30 prospect only once (by yours truly back in the MWAH days), and even then it wasn’t a repeat performance.  The plan in 2016 was for Michael to perhaps get some time in at Orem and maybe give it another go in A Ball.  Except this time, through circumstances out of his control, Hermosillo was sent to A Ball without ever going to Orem, which turned out to be a very good thing.  Once Hermosillo landed in Burlington, he lit the Midwest League on fire.  In 37 games as a 21 year old (which is still younger than the average player in the league), Michael hit .326/.411 with notably better defense.  This was a surprise, not only because no one was expecting Hermosillo to do it, but also because he was doing this in rather considerable pitcher friendly conditions.  There was no way to fake that sort of success, Michael had clearly turned a proverbial corner. In yet another surprise, the Angels found themselves promoting Hermosillo to Advanced A ball.  Typically, the Cal League would be a more inviting environment for hitter, except Angels prospects play their home games at Inland Empire, the only pitcher friendly park in the league.  This tends to even things out a legitimize their numbers.  Against better competition, Hermosillo hit an astounding .328 at Inland Empire with four doubles, four triples and a home run.  Hermosillo was equally as successful on the road, doing more damage with the long ball.  The end result here was a .309 batting average with a .393 OBP.  As if on cue, it appears the Angels brass, much like the fans, wanted to see more of Hermosillo’s breakout than a half season.  So the Angels sent him to the Arizona Fall League, to test his abilities against minor league baseball’s best talent.  Hermosillo didn’t disappoint, hitting .267/.353 with his signature solid blend of speed, power and defense. Michael passed every test he faced in 2016.  And what we’re left with is a bit of an enigma.  Michael can hit for power, but he isn’t a power hitter (yet).  He can flat out run, but he isn’t a base stealer (yet). Michael is a good hitter, but typically won’t wow you in the batting average department as much as he will in the on-base department.   He’s a good defender, but not a defense-first outfielder.  What we can say is the way Michael plays, is reminiscent of Mike Trout went his was 18 or 19.  Now obviously we aren’t claiming Hermosillo will be Trout, in fact I don’t think any prospect anywhere deserves that connection (though to be fair, many said the same thing when Trout was compared to Mickey Mantle).  But Hermosillo’s strength, grace of movement, coordination, athleticism, and effort are all reminders of the most exceptional athlete to ever grace the Angels system. And that in a nut shell wis why Hermosillo looks like a major leaguer out there.  It’s one thing to be strong and athletic, it’s another entirely to have that, plus strike zone judgement and a good head on your shoulders. As for the tools, Michael has exceptional “quick twitch” reflexes, solid pitch recognition and bat control.  He’s lowered his hands and narrowed his stance slightly from earlier in his career.  This has created a clearly stronger load than he had before, but also more control.  Michael absolutely explodes through the ball.  There’s a ton of power here, but it’s the line drive type, so you won’t see many moonshot home runs because of a lack of loft.  A perfect example of this was against the Cubs this Spring when Michael turned on an inside fastball.  The ball got out in a hurry and wasn’t a wall-scraper, but at the same time, coming off the bat, it didn’t look like anything more than a line drive.  That’s how strong this kid is. What to expect next season: Michael will likely be promoted to AA Mobile to begin next year, thought it wouldn’t surprise me if the Angels had him spend a month or so at Inland Empire.  Given what I saw Hermosillo do in, Spring Training, the Fall League and Burlington, another trip to Inland Empire would appear to be a waste of time.  But the Angels have been known to take such conservative routes before.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Hermosillo torched AA pitching, because of his ability.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if Michael struggled in high minors because it’s his first time facing this quality pitching.  But if I were to give it an official prediction, I’d say he goes to AA Mobile, and has a solid season for the Bay Bears. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2018, as a 23 year old. . Grade as a prospect: B- Check out our interview with Michael Hermosillo — #9 Prospect: Chris Rodriguez   Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: Rookie Ball      Age: Entering Age 18 season in 2017. Height: 6’2”       Weight: 190 lb.    Present – Future Fastball          60  65 Slider             50  60 Change          45  55 Mechanics    50  50 Command    55  60 Control         50  60 Overall         45  55   Floor: Middle reliever in the high minors Ceiling: A front of the rotation starter in MLB. Likely Outcome: A mid-rotation starter or a late inning reliever in MLB. Summary:  The Angels made a slough of upside picks in this past draft, which is the first time this has happened is five years.  It’s no coincidence that many consider the 2016 Angels draft class to be the strongest since 2009.  Chris Rodriguez is a big piece of that puzzle. He’s a prep right handed pitcher from Miami with a fastball that ranges from 91-93 to 94-96 (should likely reside in the middle, around 93-95) with lots of movement,  a good slider and tons of upside.  Rodriguez does throw a change up more frequently than one might expect from a prep pitchers, but so far, it doesn’t appear to be anything more than a “show me” pitch.  Rodriguez uses a hitch in his hands right after his leg kick that will temporarily disrupt the timing of the hitter.  He uses it in a little over half his pitches, but it adds just another wrinkle to the potential task of batting off this kid.  As a 17 year old in the Arizona Summer League, Rodriguez tossed 11 innings, gave up only 2 earned runs, walked only three batters and struck out 17!  This small sample size makes it evident that not only did hitters just not make any consistent contact with Rodriguez, but Chris likely wasn’t challenged enough at the lowest levels. Scouts are split on whether Rodriguez profiles best as a relief pitcher or starter.  Many side with reliever because a slightly unorthodox motion, firm fastball with life and sharp slider.  Still, others see an athletic kid with good command of all his pitches, and the right stuff to play up in the front of the rotation.  Regardless of where he profiles, there’s a strong contingent (myself among them) that believe with the exception of Alex Meyer, Rodriguez is currently the best pitching prospect in the Angels system.  In fact, with a strong showing this Spring, Rodriguez could find himself in the Midwest League next year, and if pitches as well there as I think he can, Chris could be a Top 100 prospect before long. I’m really excited about what the future holds with Chris Rodriguez and Cole Duensing pushing each other. What to expect next season: In his age-18 campaign, I’d expect Rodriguez to spend half of the season at instructs, refining his game and the other half of the season in Orem.  The gaudy strikeout numbers can be expected to continue, but a fair warning; if you’re someone who fancies ERA, it might be best to look away.  The Pioneer League is notoriously brutal on even the best pitching prospects, and Rodriguez is our best.  It only really says something if a pitcher comes to Orem and is dominant, like Garrett Richards was.  Otherwise, don’t bother looking at the numbers.  Pay more attention to LD%, BB/9, and if Rodriguez can effectively deploy a change up. Having said that, I hope to see Rodriguez in Burlington instead. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, as a 22 year old. . Grade as a prospect: B- — #10 Prospect: Nate Smith  Position(s): Left Handed Pitcher Level: AAA Salt Lake      Age: Entering Age 25 season in 2017. Height: 6’3”     Weight: 210 lb.    Present – Future Fastball          45  50 Slider             55  60 Curve             50  50 Change          60  60 Mechanics    60  60 Command    55  60 Control         55  60 Overall         45  55   Floor: Swing Starter or lefty specialist in MLB. Ceiling: A workhorse #3/4 starter in MLB Likely Outcome: A consistent #4/5 starter in MLB Summary:  It’s been difficult for Nate Smith to get any love as a pitcher, which is unfortunate because there really isn’t much more he could’ve done up to this point.  Drafted in the 8th round out of very little known Furman University, Smith was tabbed as a finesse lefty.  And for the most part, that was true.  He came to the Angels throwing 86-89 with a decent curve and solid change up.  Since then, Smith has gotten stronger at every level.  Now his fastball sits 88-89, and on nights he’s feeling particularly good, he’ll throw 92-93. which would classify him as a hard throwing lefty.  His curve ball is still decent, but has since been surpassed in effectiveness by his slider, which at times can resemble a plus pitch.  The solid change up has also turned into a legitimate plus pitch.  All of this progression was accomplished while still maintaining his roots in attacking the strike zone. Until this last season, Nate Smith had never once posted an ERA above 3.86 in the minor leagues. He even played for Team USA and led them to an eventual silver medal in the Pan-Am games.  Still, every talent evaluator doesn’t classify Smith as anything remarkable.  And that’s true, Smith isn’t a high upside pitcher.  He simply doesn’t have any real weakness to his game either, and that’s why he doesn’t get any love from big publications the way he should.  Smith is basically the Kole Calhoun of pitchers.  Nate’s just that pitcher other teams don’t have a ton of success against, but they also don’t remember why.  Well the truth is, Nate’s stuff isn’t that bad, and he spots his pitches in a manner that generates weak contact or swings and misses. If the Angels were in any sort of contention last season, it’s likely Nate Smith would’ve been promoted.  But since they weren’t, and Nate was injured down the stretch (which also explains the poor showing in August he had), the Angels chose to play it safe and delay his promotion until 2017.  While Billy Eppler has done a solid job building depth around Nate Smith like Manny Banuelos, Victor Campos, Alex Meyer and Jesse Chavez, we can still expect to see Nate Smith with the Angels in some capacity in 2017. What to expect next season: Nate was navigating the extremely hitter friendly environment in Salt Lake and the PCL until August, when I suspect Nate was injured and attempted to just pitch through it.  Smith can strike batters out, but for the most part he out-smarts them and allows hitters to get themselves out by keeping them off balance and hitting his spots.  If he continues this gameplay, we should see Smith in Anaheim by the all-star break, but regardless, I expect Nate Smith to break camp in AAA again.  But with all the uncertainty involving the Angels pitching staff, Smith finds himself in a free-for-all competition for the 5th starter spot and bullpen spots.  He’ll need to outpitch Alex Meyer, Manny Banuelos, Vicente Campos, Yusmeiro Petit, Brooks Pounders, Daniel Wright and more….  But he can do it, Smith has that capability to be sure. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2017, as a 25 year old. . Grade as a prospect: C+   Check out our interview with Nate Smith — #11 Prospect: Grayson Long  Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: Advanced A Ball     Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2017. Height: 6’5”       Weight: 230 lb.    Present – Future Fastball          55  55 Slider             50  55 Change          55  60 Mechanics    50  50 Command    55  60 Control         55  60 Overall         45  55   Floor: Swing Starter in AAA Ceiling: A workhorse #3/4 starter in MLB Likely Outcome: A workhorse #4/5 starter in MLB Summary:  Long is one of those prospects that’s constantly overlooked when the rest of the world is too busy talking about how terrible the Angels farm system is.  The apparent lack of depth doesn’t apply to Grayson Long I guess.  Long is a big bodied strike thrower that pumps a 91-93 mph “heavy” fastball.  It’s a difficult pitch to square up because of it’s strong downhill action, though hitters do make consistent contact due to a relative lack of side to side movement.  It’s a straight, heavy fastball with a downward plane.  Low-ball hitters probably love it.  But for the average prospect in the lower ranks, it can give them fits and cause a lot of early count groundouts to the shortstop. Long will also throw a good slider, which he gets over for strikes consistently.  His best pitch however, is his change up.  While he uses it to generate weak groundouts and popups, Long was able to generate a fair amount of swing and miss with it at the lower levels.  This likely won’t last as he reaches the upper minors, but it’s still a solid pitch. After being drafted by the Angels in the 3rd round out of Texas A&M, the organization really limited his innings in Rookie Ball due to fatigue.  The Angels somewhat surprisingly opted to keep Long in A Ball after Spring Training this year, which was absolutely puzzling.  As expected, Long was completely and utterly dominant in Burlington.  Across eight starts, he carried a 1.58 ERA with 45 K’s in only 40 innings.  Then injury occurred, and Long was shut down for much of the rest of the season, save for a few rehab appearances and short-lived promotion to Inland Empire. What to expect next season: Unfortunately, since Long was injured for a large chunk of the season in 2016, he lost what was essentially a half season to a full season worth of development.  I anticipate Grayson making a return trip to Inland Empire, at least for a couple months in 2017.  If things go well, we should see him spend a large chunk of the season in AA in 2017. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2019, as a 25 year old. . Grade as a prospect: C+   Check out our interview with Grayson Long — #12 Prospect: Manny Banuelos  Position(s): Left Handed Pitcher Level: AAA Salt Lake    Age: Entering Age 26 season in 2017. Height: 5’10”     Weight: 215 lb.    Present – Future Fastball         55  55 Curve            55  55 Change         55  60 Mechanics    50  50 Command    45  50 Control         45  50 Overall         45  55 Floor: Lefty Specialist in MLB. Ceiling: A #3/4 starter in MLB Likely Outcome: #4/5 starter in MLB Summary: Tommy John surgeries aren’t always a complete success.  Though the success rate is drastically higher today than it was 10-20 years ago, there are still some players that have trouble coming back, if ever making it back.  Manny is one of those stories.  Before surgery, Banuelos was part of the Yankees “Killer B’s prospects, all of which were labeled “front-line” starters.  It didn’t work out for any of those three, but then again, Yankee prospects in general are pretty overrated so it didn’t come as a complete surprise.  Still, in Betances and Banuelos, I can certainly see why the distinction was given.  In Banuelos, New York had a young lefty that sat in the mid-90’s and could reach back and touch the upper 90’s if needed.  He had decent control and an average curve, slider and “plus” change up. Manny went under the knife in 2013 though and missed the entire season.  When he returned in 2014, the kid just wasn’t the same.  What was once a dominant fastball and difficult collection of off-speed pitches had turned into a very average fastball and no feel for his other pitches whatsoever.  The Yankees traded Manny to the Braves, and after he was dealt, Banuelos began to recover the lost control of his curve and change up and began to dominate in AAA.  Once he reached the majors, Manny’s fastball velocity began to dwindle back into the high 80’s as he tired out.  Banuelos entered 2016 in the mix for a rotation spot with the Braves again, but the fatigue he experienced in the latter half of 2015 still hadn’t subsided.  He tried to pitch through it, he even reared back and started firing in the mid-90’’s for a hot moment, but none of it was sustainable. Upon being let go by the Braves, former Yankee AGM and current Angels GM Billy Eppler was eager to bring Banuelos in.  Though he was able to sit 91-92 at instructs in Arizona and expressed a willingness to transition into relief, Eppler made certain that Banuelos would have the chance to finally undergo a full recovery.  No one would press him into duty and there was no pressure put on him by prospects behind him or players in front of him.  So Banuelos has been given a very extended off-season of sorts.  The current plan is to have Banuelos remain in the rotation, but he could also see time in the bullpen.  It’s unlikely that Banuelos, even with rest, will ever recover the mid-90’s velocity he once had, but he should also throw harder than the 88 mph he was tossing back in 2015 with the Braves.  It’s more likely that 91-92 is the new norm for Banuelos.  But he’s proven in AAA before that he can still mow hitters down at that velocity.  The change up will be his go-to off-speed pitch to generate weak contact and quick outs, so as to keep his pitch count down.  The slider and curve are expected to be inter-mixed as he sees fit.  Both are average major league pitches. For Manny, this appears to be his last shot at the majors.  The Angels aren’t counting on him, but they also don’t have anyone so nailed down in the 5th starter spot that Banuelos couldn’t claim it with a healthy, and solid Spring.  Equally as important, the Angels also appear to have quite a few openings in the bullpen, so if Manny handles short appearances better, there’s nothing preventing him from claiming a spot.  For the Angels, Banuelos is a lottery ticket.  They certainly aren’t counting on him, because they still have Jesse Chavez, Alex Meyer, Nate Smith, Brooks Pounders and Bud Norris around him.  But if Banuelos regains his form, none of those players I mentioned, with the possible exception of Meyer, could out-pitch Manny. It is also important to note that across 42 career starts in AAA, Banuelos owns a lifetime 3.39 ERA. What to expect next season: Banuelos will likely be ticketed for AAA to start the season, and will be in a continual open competition for the 5th rotation spot or swingman in the bullpen all season long.  I expect we’ll see Banuelos in Anaheim at some point next season, but at this point it’s almost importable to predict which version of Banuelos we’ll see. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2017, as a 26 year old. . Grade as a prospect: C+ — #13 Prospect: David Fletcher Position(s): Infield Level: AA Mobile   Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2017. Height: 5’10”   Weight: 175 lb.                Present – Future Hitting Ability         45  50 Power                      30  30 Base Running         55  55 Patience                   45  50 Fielding                    65  70 Range                       60  60 Arm                           60  60 Overall                      40  50 Floor: Defensive Specialist in MLB Ceiling: Starting second baseman or shortstop in MLB Likely Outcome: High quality, glove first – utility infielder. Summary: Fletcher is one of the few prospects where what you see is inevitably what you get.  Normally we use this in the context that a prospect simply won’t improve, but with Fletcher it’s not a bad thing.  Coming out of unheralded regional powerhouse Loyola Marymount, Fletcher was so far developed that he gave scouts a bit more certainty in who they were drafting than is common.  Fletcher is a very good defensive middle infielder with solid bat to ball skills, but little in the way of power and speed.  It isn’t the sexiest package, but he is a near certain lock to be a major leaguer, especially under an Eppler-led organization that puts so much emphasis on defense.  Fletcher continues to draw comparisons with Angel legend David Eckstein and those comps are pretty fair.  Fletcher has a very short path to the ball and is a line drive hitter.  His offensive game is rather simplistic.  If it’s a strike, he’ll hit it.  If it isn’t, he won’t swing. Defensively, Fletcher has a sure glove, quick transition, good footwork and a strong arm.  His range is above average at best, but the rest of his game is solid, consistent.  Fletcher profiles best as a utility infielder because of his defense first skill set, however, there are some that believe Fletcher has enough bat to hold down a regular job in the majors.  I don’t completely disagree with this.  Fletcher reminds me a lot of David Eckstein or even Maicer Izturis, and coming up they both profiled as utility infielders, but once in the majors, they made the adjustments and were capable of holding down a regular job.  At any rate, Fletcher is a major leaguer, is some capacity. From a production standpoint, Fletcher was highly successful last year.  He really opened some eyes in Spring Training, and logged some time in major league camp.  Every time the Angels got him into the game, he started getting clutch hit after clutch hit, including a run scoring double off Dodgers super-prospect Julio Urias.  Fletcher had injury woes while in the Cal League and thus the numbers didn’t match his ability.  Once he was healthy, he started to really get into a groove.  That .300 batting average in AA is a result of Fletcher coming in hot and staying hot.  David was simply ok in the Arizona Fall League, he was a reserve so he didn’t get the playing time other more hyped prospects got.  Still, he was solid. What to expect next season: Fletcher is expected to make a return trip to AA next season.  He logged 20 games in Arkansas last year, and he hit .300, and it doesn’t look like it was a fluke.  But Fletcher could still use a little more time to fine tune his current skills.  We’ll see if David can see the same success next year as he did last year.  If he does, we may see Fletcher in the majors in 2017.  There’s also the off chance Fletcher opens camp in AAA, which makes his appearance in Anaheim next year all but certain.  Though it’s completely unlikely, Fletcher could potentially unseat Cliff Pennington as the utility infielder at some point this season.  More likely, he’ll inherit the job next year. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2018, as a 24 year old.   Grade as a prospect: C+ — #14 Prospect: Jaime Barria  Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: A Ball      Age: Entering Age 20 season in 2017. Height: 6’1”      Weight: 210 lb.    Present – Future Fastball         50  55 Curve            45  50 Change         55  60 Mechanics    60  60 Command    70  70 Control         70  70 Overall         55  60 Floor: Fifth starter or swingman in the majors. Ceiling: A #3 starter in the major leagues. Likely Outcome: Reliable #4 starter in the majors. Summary: Barria is one of those prospects every system should have.  Normally, when I think of a Latin American pitcher coming stateside, I think of a kid that was signed at age 16 from the Dominican Republic that pumps mid-90’s gas but has no idea what an efficient throwing motion might be, or what he needs to do to keep throwing strikes and getting hitters out.  Those guys are good.  They mostly end up as relievers, but there’s just a ton of room for error when you can throw 97.  Barria on the other hand is from Panama, he’s already physically mature, throws in the low-90’s with a beautiful throwing motion, and has the look of a starting pitcher in the long run.  He gets hitters out by locating his pitches in parts of the zone that hitters are forced to swing at, but can’t necessarily do a ton of damage with.  Furthermore, because he gets ahead in the count so often, Barria frequently forces hitters to hit the type of pitches they’ll tend to roll over on or pop up. Jaime will pitch backward or traditional in the count, which is to say he’ll throw any pitch he wants at any time, and he’ll throw them for strikes.  While his fastball  sits 91-93, it’s the location and movement that have given hitters fits.  Barria frequently will spin off a curve ball, and while he throws it for strikes, it doesn’t strike me as anything more than a change of pace pitch.  It’s his change up that is the “plus” pitch.  Hitters spend 7 innings a night rolling over at the third baseman or first baseman because of this pitch, and while he doesn’t necessarily use it as a strikeout pitch, hitters are left so off-balance that Jaime will rank of a few K’s during the game.  The arm speed, angle and delivery all closely mirror his fastball, so it’s darn near impossible to detect when he’ll drop a change up.  To make matters worse for hitters, he’ll throw it whenever he thinks he can get an out, and not just with two strikes. Now admittedly, at first, when Barria was on the Burlington roster, I didn’t give it a ton of thought.  He seemed like filler to me, someone that I’d seen a couple times but really didn’t separate himself.  But as a 19 year old in full season ball, once he started to get rolling, I began asking myself what it was about this kid that was generating such success especially against older competition.  The more I watched Barria, the more I became curious, why minor league hitters just couldn’t square him up.  This is what eventually made his starts that were broadcast on a must see, at least for a few innings until the major league game came on.  It was in these starts that I began to acquire an appreciation for Barria.  Nothing shakes his nerves or gets to him.  He’s calm and collected at all times.  He goes about his business methodically, and gets a lot of 2-3 pitch at bats that result in outs.  He works quickly so as to stay in a rhythm and not bore his fielders and gets back to the dugout as quickly as he can.  He isn’t flashy, isn’t striking out 12 batters a night, he’s just getting outs, quickly, and a lot of them. Typically, I avoid making specific playing comps, but this one is just so accurate, it’s hard not to make this connection.  Jaime Barria, reminds me a lot of Nick Tropeano.  Nick wasn’t exactly heralded when the Angels acquired him from the Astros, but his track record spoke for itself, and the longer you watch his starts, the more masterful you begin to see him as.  That’s the way Barria is.  He isn’t quite at Tropeano’s level in terms of quality pitches, but in a couple of years, he could go toe-to-toe with Tropeano and be a worthy comp. What to expect next season: Barria should head to the Cal League as a 20 year old, and typically, this would be a recipe for disaster.  A contact heavy pitcher in a very friendly offensive league.  But Barria works so quickly, and doesn’t get rattled that I doubt he’ll be as torched as other pitchers when they reach Advanced A Ball.  In fact, after he turns 21 late in the season, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Angels bumped him up to AA. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2019, as a 22 year old. . Grade as a prospect: C+ — #15 Prospect: Jesus Castillo  Position(s): RHP Level: AAA/MLB     Age: Entering Age 21 season in 2017. Height: 6’2”         Weight: 165 lb.    Present – Future Fastball         50  55 Curve            45  55 Change         55  60 Mechanics    70  70 Command    50  60 Control         60  60 Overall         55  60 Floor: Swingman or long reliever in the majors/AAA depth. Ceiling: A #3-4 starter in the majors. Likely Outcome: A steady #4-5 starter in the majors/ Summary: The work Billy Eppler has done so far to restock a barren and broken Angels farm system has been nothing short of amazing.  In only one season, he’s managed to draft eight of out Top 30 Prospects, and traded for another five.  Roughly half (7) of our Top 15 Prospects were acquired by Billy Eppler in the last year alone.  Jesus Castillo is just one example of Eppler knowing when to strike.  Joe Smith was pitching half-way decent for the Angels in the final year of his contract, and at the trade deadline, teams were looking to get deeper in the bullpen.  So Eppler dealt Smith, who really wasn’t going to make a difference for the Angels at that point in the season, for a promising 20 year old pitcher that the Cubs had buried so deep on their depth chart, they might’ve forgotten they even had him. After being a high profile signing as a 16 year old by Arizona, Castillo was traded to the Cubs and simply wasn’t developing as quickly as they thought he would.  At 16, he was skinny, under-sized with beautiful mechanics, and mid-80’s fastball and a solid change up.  That works for scouts, because they project more growth.  But for Castillo, he was still generally the same kid up through age 19, which had caused the Cubs to keep him buried in Rookie Ball, and even a transition to the bullpen.  Then Castillo started his age 20 season.  He showed up to camp more filled out (I’m guessing the 165 lb listing is dated at this point), and his 86-87 mph fastball had crept up to 90-92.  His curve which had been a “show me” pitch before came in with tighter spin and bigger break to it.  Castillo was maturing as a pitcher, and not a moment too soon. The Cubs still chose to keep him in short season ball, and Castillo responded with tossing 33 innings, striking out 38, walking only three batters per nine innings, and carrying a sparkling 3.27 ERA.  Then he was traded to the Angels at the trade deadline and things got really interesting.  The Angels aggressively moved him to full season A Ball in Burlington, and he hurled 29 innings with 23 K’s, cut his BB/9 down to 2.1 and his ERA down to 2.43.  What’s even more impressive, the reported 90-92 mph fastball in Chicago’s camp was showing up as consistently 92-93 with the Angels.  His change up was as advertised and the curve ball started to turn into a “swing and miss” pitch. While we can’t say for sure that Castillo’s transition will continue, we do know he’s a better pitcher than he was a year ago, and he was awfully impressive as a 20 year old down in A Ball.  But it is fair to expect physical maturation to continue.  Of course, hardly anyone is done growing at age 20, but if he is, Castillo has enough strength to succeed at the upper levels.  There’s always the chance that Castillo could hit another physical maturity level in another couple years and start pumping mid-90’s heat, you never know. What to expect next season: The Angels can go a couple different directions here.  If they feel Castillo’s ready for the pressure the California League offers pitchers than they can move him up.  In fact, I think this is probably the likeliest scenario as Castillo just didn’t look challenged at all in A Ball.  The curve could use a bit more polish and command so he could generate more swings and misses, but that’s really nit-picking.  The Angels could also opt to go a more conservative route with Castillo and keep him in A Ball a full year.  I’ve been critical of the Angels seeming unwillingness to promote or challenge prospects in the past, but honestly, I think they’d be justified in either case here. Estimated Time of Arrival: 2020 season, Castillo’s age 24 season. Grade as a prospect: C+ — #16 Prospect: Vicente Campos   Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: AAA/MLB    Age: Entering Age 24 season in 2017. Height: 6’3”        Weight: 230 lb.    Present – Future Fastball         65  65 Curve            50  60 Change         55  55 Mechanics    50  50 Command    60  60 Control         60  60 Overall         55  60 Floor: Middle reliever with upside in the majors. Ceiling: A #2-3 starter in major leagues. Likely Outcome: A late inning reliever or a dynamic #5 starter. Summary: Campos is an easy prospect to get excited about.  Let’s just get the single most important detail out of the way first.   EVERY single potential outcome for Campos is dependent upon his health.  If Vicente Campos is healthy, you have yourself Garrett Richards-lite.  Someone that can come in and dominate for 7 innings every fifth day.  If Campos can only stay healthy in short spurts, and his physical prowess deteriorates with increased use, then he can be one of the best relievers in baseball.  If the repeated elbow injuries take their toll and his tuff is diminished, his career could be over. Now obviously the reasons for excitement, and for the Garrett Richards-lite and elite receiver possibility is based off his stuff.  Campos’ fastball is an ever changing pitch that he can dial up and back at will.  Sometimes, he’ll come in and blow upper-90’s heat by you.  At other times, he’ll decide to take a little more off, and stay at 90-91.  For the most part, he seems to use two different fastballs that he can spot basically wherever he wants.  The first is a firm 4-seam fastball that hovers around 95-96, and the second seems to be a cut fastball that he throws 93-94.  Lately, he’s been using the second option more liberally, and has found success with it.  Campos throws a very firm curve ball that he can spot at the knees or bury in the dirt.  This is a true swing-and-miss pitch and is already at least an average major league pitch with the possibility of being more.  Personally, one of my favorite offerings (other than the high heat), is Campos’ change up, which tails down and in on a RHB.  It’s lethal against LHB with two strikes as it acts as almost another breaking ball.  He can also push it down at the feet of a RHB as another look in what can be an uncomfortable at bat. I think what makes Campos so special are all the ways he can get you out.  If he isn’t feeling his fastball on a particular night, he’ll dial back to 90-91 and live off movement.  IF the curve is working especially well, he’ll snap it off in any count, because it doesn’t matter if a batter is keying on it, it’s still a tough pitch to hit.  IF he’s feeling aggressive, he’ll attack under a batter’s hands in the mid-90’s.  If he’s facing a lefty heavy lineup, he’ll typically live firm on the inside to set up his change up away.  With righties, he’ll rely a little more on what looks like a cutter and get K’s via the curve. But again, this all depends on his health, and that’s a big question mark.  After signing with he Mariners at age 16, Campos blossomed into a very promising prospect, before being dealt to the Yankees in the Pineda-Montego deal.  Just a few starts into his Yankee career, he suffers an elbow fracture, and loses basically all of 2012. Vicente returns in 2013 after a surprisingly quick rehab and is back in form for the Yankees down in Advanced A Ball.  But clearly, the rushed rehab from 2012 had taken it’s toll and Campos needed Tommy John surgery, which ended his 2014 season before it even began.  He returned for half of 2015, and showed diminished stuff and less command than before, which can be expected. Campos again returned to form in 2016 and dominated in AA before being dealt to the D-Backs for Tyler Clippard.  After successful stints in AA/AAA for Arizona, he got the call to the major leagues and operated as a mop up man in the bullpen.  However, after just one appearance, where he did well without his best stuff, Campos was shut down again and again diagnosed with a fractured ulnar.  Upon hearing this, the D-Backs were under a bit of a roster crunch and tried to slip the injured Campos through waivers, which obviously didn’t work because Billy Eppler was very familiar with his kid from his days as the Yankees AGM. Now the good news with this is apparently there hasn’t been any damage sustained tot he ligament, just the bone.  So the rehab for Campos is supposed to be shorter.  However, as we saw from his first Ulnar fracture rehab, if he’s pushed, injury can follow.  Rehab for this type of break is expected to be around eight months, so more than likely, we won’t see Campos in Spring Training.  It’s likely he’ll spend April on site in Arizona getting his own mini-Spring Training and return to active duty in May. What to expect next season: Normally, this would be where I tell you what’s likely to happen next year, but if we’re being honest, I don’t have a clue with Campos.  Sure, he isn’t expected to be healthy until May, but what if he’s ready to start his rehab in March instead of April and gets time in Spring Training?  What if he’s so dang impressive (as he definitely can be) that the Angels choose him over Chavez, Meyer, Smith and Pounders for the 5th starter position?  I couldn’t tell you if the Angels are going to move him to relief or have him start again. There are just too many directions this can go to confidently provide you with what to expect. The only thing I will say is that Campos is one of my personal favorites among the Top 30, and I expect to see him in Anaheim at some point, in some role this year.  If he’s healthy, he’s just too good not to be a major leaguer. Estimated Time of Arrival: July, 2017. Grade as a prospect: C+ — #17 Prospect: Cole Duensing  Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher Level: Rookie Ball     Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2017. Height: 6’4”      Weight: 190 lb.    Present – Future Fastball         55  65 Curve            45  55 Change         50  60 Mechanics    60  60 Command    50  55 Control         50  55 Overall         50  55 Floor: Lefty Specialist bouncing between upper minors and majors. Ceiling: A #2-3 starter in major leagues. Likely Outcome: A mid-rotation starter in the major leagues. Summary: When I see Duensing throw, I see a lot of Tyler Skaggs when the Angels first drafted him (minus the left-handedness).  Long, lean, flexible, fiercely competitive, tons of projection, room to grow physically, and an already impressive low-90’s fastball from a kid that still looks like a kid.  I don’t mean any offense by that, it just means that when this guy turn 21 or 22, there will be a lot of scouts attending his games, which explains why the Angels offered Duensing a well above slot bonus to sign.  Also similar to Skaggs, Duesning’s name is probably going to be brought up if the Angels wanted to make a trade in the future.  He’s the type of kid that’s good now, and has the work ethic and God-given ability to be great soon.  Blessed with a fastball that sits 91-92, already solid change up and a looping curve that with some tinkering and command could become a third viable pitch, there won’t be any question as to whether Duensing has the stuff to compete.  While he weighed in at just 175 lbs upon being drafted, reports indicated that late during the instructs and on into the winter, Cole had put on almost 20 lbs of muscle and added a tick or two on his fastball.  As for his performance this year, there wasn’t a lot to be gained from limited exposure.  He was good in the Arizona Rookie League, both the stats (1.38 ERA 13 IP 11K’s), and scouts said so.  During the Fall Instructs,  Mike LaCassa called Duensing one of the “breakout pitchers”.  So obviously since signing, this kid has impressed the team.  There don’t appear to be any current plans to use Duensing in any role other than starter, which looks like the role he’s meant for.  Angels fans that follow the minor leagues will want to make their way over to the minor league fields this Spring Training to check this kid out.   As a side note, though it isn’t quantifiable, some guys just look like major leaguers, if that makes sense.  Like you see them pitch, and you kind of just know, that’s going to be a major leaguer someday.  That’s what Duensing looks like, just someone you expect to see toeing the slab at Angels Stadium in the future. What to expect next season: This really depends on if the Angels plan to be aggressive or if they want to offer maximum opportunity to develop.  Judging by the reports, and Duesning’s sparkling performance, there’s little doubt he’s probably ready to make the jump to A Ball.  But if the Angels don’t feel the need to push him, and still want him to really get his feet under him and keep a closer eye on his development, he could be sent to short season Orem.  Either choice is justifiable.  Personally, I’d love to see the Angels move him up to A Ball, but it’s only for selfish reasons (more opportunity to catch him on  But if I were the Angels, I’d take it slow with Duensing.  With his sort of projection, and the maturity still to come, there’s nothing wrong with allowing Cole to fully develop at every level. Estimated Time of Arrival: Middle of 2021, Cole’s age 22 season. Grade as a prospect: C+ — #18 Prospect: Troy Montgomery    Position(s): Outfielder   Level: Class A Ball    Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017   Height: 5’10”      Weight: 185 lb.   Present –  Future    Hitting Ability: 40 – 50 Power: 45 – 50 Base Running: 65 – 65 Patience: 55 – 60 Fielding: 60 – 60 Range: 60 – 60 Arm: 60 – 60 Overall: 45 – 60   Floor: AAA Depth. Ceiling: Starting outfielder and leadoff hitter in the major leagues. Likely Outcome: Dynamic 4th outfielder   Summary: Montgomery is one of my favorite types of players to get drafted.  The type that don’t have any hype, and don’t come with the over-used “5-tool” moniker.  Just really good ball players, that do just about everything average or better on a baseball diamond.  The type that perform well at a big-time college, but fall to the 8th round of a draft because they’re only 5’10” tall.  The type that play a game with such intensity, that others can’t help but look up to this player.  Just good old fashioned, blue-collar hard work and the will to win.   If you haven’t caught on, I just described Kole Calhoun.  In fact, Troy even looks a bit like Kole Calhoun out there, minus the fiery red hair, and slightly less muscular.  Same left-handedness, similar skill-set, athleticism, same passion and competitive spirit.   That’s what we’ll see if everything breaks right for Troy Montgomery, a Kole Calhoun type of regular.  It’s no wonder the Reds asked for Montgomery in return when they were discussing trading Brandon Phillips to the Angels.  At Ohio State, Montgomery logged more BB than K, stole 56 bases between his junior and senior season, owned an OBP well north of .400, played in competitive scouting leagues during the offseason and performed spectacularly, and to top it off, was an elite defender.   It still makes me shake my head that guys like this last until the middle rounds of the draft when at bare minimum, you have yourself a useful depth piece between AAA and the majors.  Once drafted by the Angels, Montgomery torched Orem and the Pioneer League in general, and was promoted to Burlington, where he was quite solid, if not “pretty good”.   From the scouting side of things, Troy is a left handed hitter with more pop than the numbers show. Sure, he’s a speedy leadoff hitter that reaches base and can hit for average, but Troy swings hard, yet under control.  There’s “plus” bat speed and an advanced feel at the plate.  Every once in a while he’ll swing out of his shoes, but not too often.  Defensively, Montgomery can cover a ton of ground in CF and has a rocket for an arm, though the Angels have been using him in the corner outfield to start.   What to expect next season: Montgomery should head to Advanced A Ball at Inland Empire next season, and I’m guessing he’ll put up the gaudy HR/SB numbers (at least on the road) that will really open the eyes of more casual fans, and thus his ranking as a prospect will climb.  Personally, I’ll be watching to see how much contact Troy makes, if he’s using the whole field, and continues to show patience as many patient hitters don’t do in the Cal League environment.  With Troy, there is the off-chance the Cal League is too easy and he’ll be bumped up to AA for the season, but I wouldn’t count on it. Even Kole Calhoun was kept at Inland Empire for a full year.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Mid 2019, Troy’s age 24 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+: Projects to be a borderline MLB starter. — #19 Prospect: Eduardo Paredes    Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher   Level: AA      Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017.   Height: 6’1”      Weight: 190 lb.      Present – Future   Fastball         65  65 Curve            50  60 Change         50  50 Mechanics    60  60 Command    55  60 Control         70  70 Overall         55  65   Floor: Middle Reliever in the Major Leagues Ceiling: A closer in the Major Leagues. Likely Outcome: A 7th-8th-9th inning option, doesn’t matter.   Summary: It’s a shame we don’t rank relievers as high on prospect lists, otherwise Paredes would be getting a lot more notoriety among fans.  Everywhere Eduardo has gone, he’s succeeded, and he’s still very young.  When the Angels signed Eduardo as a 17 year old, he was completely and utterly dominant in the Dominican Summer League.  For reasons unknown, the Angels decided it would be a good idea to have Paredes repeat the DSL as an 18 year old, which he did and was again dominant. The Angels then brought him stateside as a 19 year old and put him in the hitter paradise that is Orem in the Pioneer League.  No matter, Paredes dispatched them with no problem at all. In fact, he finished with a 1.33 ERA and 31 K’s in one 20 innings.  That’s how easy Orem was for Eduardo.   You’d really think by now the Angels would start aggressively promoting Paredes, but still they’re going a level a year, and so for most of the next season, Eduardo Paredes fools hitters in A Ball to the tune of a 1.77 ERA with a 12.6 K/9 and an even more impressive 1.7 BB/9.  The Angels decide it might be a good idea to promote Paredes after he’s completely fatigued from an unusually large workload in A Ball and he gets to the Cal League and is simply “OK” for the first time in his career.   The Angels send him back to Inland Empire to start 2016 and Paredes, armed with a fresh arm sits batters down with no issues, so he is promoted to AA, as a 21 year old, which is pretty remarkable. While in Arkansas, we see a strange thing happen.  Parades’ ERA remains a very solid 3.35, but for the first time in his career, he isn’t striking out as many batters, which suggests that after five years of the Angels playing it conservative, they seem to have finally found a level in which Eduardo can grow by facing competition that challenges him.  It’s about time.   From the scouting side of things, Paredes attacked hitters with a low three-quarters, borderline sidearm release.  He still uses his legs to generate plenty of momentum going forward, and there doesn’t appear to be too much stress put on his shoulders or elbow.  Eduardo uses two different fastballs.  The first is a 4-seam fastball that sits 95-97 with cut action, the second is a 2-seam fastball that sits 92-94 with sinking action.  Both are regarded as “plus” pitches.  Parades also throws a curve that he keeps low in the zone.  It isn’t a “plus” pitch, but it does serve as a consistent change of pace pitch.  Finally, Eduardo has been experimenting with a change up the past couple seasons that has improved to the point where he can use it.   Paredes is a guy that has a few different ways to get a hitter out.  The heat will generate lots of swings and misses, but the curve and change up have created quite the uncomfortable at bat for both lefties and righties.   What to expect next season: Eduardo should head to AAA after being protected on the Angels 40-man roster this offseason.  But, with the way the Angels have handled Paredes so far in his career, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back in AA again, even after showing that he should be promoted.  If the Angels bullpen doesn’t round into form, and if they find themselves contending for a playoff spot, we should see Paredes in Anaheim this season.  If things go south quickly, it’s likely the Angels will delay Paredes’ arrival until 2018 so as to gain an additional year of control.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Middle of 2017, Paredes’ age 22 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+ — #20 Prospect: Hutton Moyer    Position(s): Utility Infielder   Level: Advanced A Ball      Age: Entering Age 24 season in 2017   Height: 6’1”       Weight: 185 lb.   Present –  Future    Hitting Ability: 45 – 50 Power: 45 – 50 Base Running: 50 – 50 Patience: 40 – 40 Fielding: 50 – 50 Range: 50 – 59 Arm: 50 – 50 Overall: 45 – 50   Floor: AAA Depth. Ceiling: Starting second baseman in the major leagues. Likely Outcome: Offensive-minded utility infielder.   Summary: Moyer had a pretty good year.  That’s me putting it in the simplest terms possible.  To elaborate, Moyer proved a lot of doubters wrong/  He still has a way to go, but the foundation is set for justified future promotions.  When Moyer was selected in the 7th round by the Angels out of Pepperdine, I was immediately intrigued, but surprised. For starters, Moyer wasn’t that great at Pepperdine.  It took until his final year there before we saw any sort of  promising tools, that being his power, begin to manifest. So yeah, there was a degree of suspicion that perhaps Moyer was selected as a bit of a hat tip to his father, Jamie Moyer, who spent 23 years pitching in the big leagues. This notion was only further supported by Moyer’s poor showing at Orem last year after being drafted. But a guy I talked to kept saying Moyer has some power, that I’ll be surprised.  And he was right.   Hutton hit 33 doubles 17 home runs and stole 13 bases between two levels of A Ball this year.  As a middle infielder, that’s pretty awesome.  His .276/.341 batting line isn’t too shabby either.   What’s even more impressive is Moyer’s performance in the Cal League.  Most of the extra base hits came at home, at Inland Empire, the only pitcher friendly venue in the California League.  This only serves as more proof that the power Moyer displayed is real.  More accurately, Moyer’s pull power is real. When his timing is down and he turns on a pitch, it can fly a very long way.   But speaking of timing, here’s where my skepticism creeps right back into the picture.  It’s Moyer’s approach at the plate.  There are a ton of moving parts.  Pre-pitch, his hands are all over the place. While the pitcher is mid-delivery, we see Hutton’s hands drop down to his waste before returning to shoulder height.  While this is happening, we see a very high leg kick and then a swing.  I’m certainly not opposed to leg kicks, but when you see Moyer’s you realize his timing mechanism is about as complicated as the come.  In fact, it’s likely a big reason why Moyer struck out 143 times in only 124 games!  This is something the Angels will need to iron out before Moyer reaches AA and AAA next season, because more advanced pitchers will be better prepared to exploit these timing and contact issues.  The trick here will be to keep his timing, while eliminating the movement and still maintaining the power he had before.  Not an easy thing to do.   Defensively, Moyer can be seen at second, third and shortstop. At second base, he’s a plus fielder, showing the range, arm, footwork and instincts of a truly impressive defensive asset.  When he moves over to third base, we see a lot more of an unsteady approach.  It seems like Hutton isn’t sure of the path the ball is taking or how much time he has to throw it to first base, or what to do with his feet.  At shortstop, Moyer is certainly better than he is at third base, but so much of this seems based purely off of Hutton’s athleticism and not his actual familiarity with the position.  Undoubtedly, Moyer will need to improve at third base if he wants to be a utility infielder in the major leagues, but if his bat continues to produce the way it did last year, then Hutton may not have to worry about it so much.  Most of his playing time should come at second base, where he is clearly comfortable.   What to expect next season: Moyer will be on the move to AA Mobile.  This is where we separate the prospects you dream on versus the prospects you can actually count on.  Success at the AA level is much more transferrable to the major leagues than anything in  A ball or Advanced A.  It’s the biggest jump in the minors.  I also expect Hutton to be able to settle in second base, seeing as he’ll have more gifted defenders around him to play shortstop and third base.  If Moyer cuts down on the stirekoputs and continues to hit for power, I’d be looking at a possible starting second baseman in the majors.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2019, Moyer’s age 26 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+: Projects to be a reserve infielder.   Check out our interview with Hutton Moyer   — #21 Prospect: Brennon Lund    Position(s): Outfield   Level: A Ball     Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017   Height: 5’11”    Weight: 185 lb.   Present –  Future    Hitting Ability: 50 – 55 Power: 30 – 40 Base Running: 60 – 60 Patience: 50 – 50 Fielding: 50 – 50 Range: 55 – 55 Arm: 45 – 45 Overall: 45 – 50   Floor: AAA Depth. Ceiling: Borderline starting outfielder. Likely Outcome: 4th/5th outfielder.   Summary: Brennon Lund is a case study in when do the numbers become legitimate? From a tools standpoint, he shouldn’t be THAT good.  He should be decent, but not team leader type of good.  He’s smaller in stature in terms of professional athletes, he doesn’t have any power, there’s some speed but not enough to be a base stealing threat at the highest level.  He’s a good defender, but not so good that you’d consider him a defensive replacement that will give you anything but decent performance.   When we take all of that into account, Lund is just minor league depth.   Except for the simple fact that he just keeps hitting.  His freshman year at BYU, he hit .303.  Not bad, especially considering it was his first year of college ball. His sophomore year, we see a modest jump up to .308, again, pretty good.  Then in his junior season, Lund just exploded, hitting .387 with career highs in every offensive category.  The Angels picked him up in the 11th round, which worked out in their favor.  Apparently other teams were scared off because he’s mormon, and kids that are mormon and his age tend to wear ties, ride bicycles and knock on doors.  But Lund made it clear to the Angels that he doesn’t intend to make a mission trip.   Just breaking down Lund’s swing, we see extremely simple mechanics.  His hands remain pretty close to the chest, he doesn’t have a big load which can elongate his swing.  In fact, Lund has barely any load mechanism at all.  It’s simple.  Hands fly through the zone, barrel of the bat to the ball, finish with hands high to ensure driving through the ball and not to the ball.  Lund uses the whole field, but being left-handed, occasionally he’ll drop the barrel of the bat on a low and inside pitch and get himself a round-tripper.   Lund’s first stop after signing with the Angels was the offensive paradise which is Orem in the Pioneer League, where he hit .397.  That’s over 18 games, which is a bit of a small sample zine, but still, .397, this kid was crushing the competition, even against his fellow collegiate athletes.  Then as a sort of mercy to everyone else, Lund was sent to Burlington.  His performance against competition quite a bit older and more experienced than him led to Lund’s numbers dropping to a modest .271/.320, but it still came with 9 doubles and 8 stolen bases in just 45 games.  Extrapolated across a full season, and without any improvement whatsoever (which is silly because of course Lund would improve, he was just drafted), Lund would’ve hit 27 doubles and stole 24 bases on the season.  Again, just solid numbers, especially for a kid that’s young and inexperienced for his league.   So this leads to the logical question, that if Lund continues to hit so well, when do the numbers become legitimate?   When do we just say, he’s a good hitter.  Good hitters are in the majors.   And that in a nut shell is exactly why Lund is ranked #21 on our list.   What to expect next season: Lund will almost assuredly find himself at Inland Empire next season. Since he isn’t a power hitter, the environment really shouldn’t have much of a positive effect on his overall performance.  I expect Lund should post numbers rather similar to Bo Way.  At Inland Empire he hit .277/.349 with 27 stolen bases.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2020, Lund’s age 25 season   Grade as a prospect: C: Projects to be a reserve outfielder. — #22 Prospect: Brooks Pounders   Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher   Level: AAA        Age: Entering Age 26 season in 2017.   Height: 6’5”      Weight: 265 lb.   Present – Future   Fastball         55 55 Curve 50 50 Change 60 65 Mechanics 60 60 Command    45 60 Control         55 55 Overall         50 55   Floor: Swing Starter or bullpen depth. Ceiling: A mid-rotation, workhorse starter.   Likely Outcome: A back-end starter, or swing starter. Summary: Pounders may end up being quite the steal for Angels GM Billy Eppler, a man known to have an eye for buying low.  The Angels traded Top 30 Prospect Jared Ruxer to Kansas City for Brooks Pounders early on in the offseason, and so far, it looks like a very interesting swap.  In Ruxer, the Angels dealt a pitcher with mid rotation upside (or better) that has been bit by the injury bug thus far in his career (very similar profile to former Angel prospect Michael Clevinger who was traded to Cleveland when his value was low after injury).  Ruxer still has a way to go before ever reaching the majors, so the Angels traded him for more of a sure thing in Pounders.  Pounders has shifted between the bullpen and rotation in his career, and always seems to be a guy that’s overlooked, which isn’t an easy thing to do considering his size and draft position (2nd round).  It’s likely that Pounders’ weight is precisely the reason why he gets overlooked by many scouts.  They have this idea of an ideal pitcher’s body being tall, lean, flexible, like a quarterback in football.  But when a player comes in that might be bigger or smaller than that, they can be met with skepticism.  Pounders mechanics have always been clean, and he comes downhill hard on his delivery, which gives the illusion of a ball “jumping” on a batter.  Because of his hight, there is a bit of sink or downhill motion to his pitches which can make Pounders a ground-ball specialist in the future.As far as arsenal, Brooks throws a heavy fastball at 92-93, a pretty decent slider in the low-80’s and a “plus” changeup in the mid 80’s.  To give you an idea of what the Angels managed to land her win Pounders, consider that in 2015, across 8 starts in AA he pitched to a sparkling 2.19 ERA, which the peripheral numbers seem to support.  That Fall, he went to the heralded Arizona Fall League, and pitched three consecutive scoreless outings before being shut down for the Winter.  Last season in AAA, posted a 3.14 ERA in the Pacific Coast League, logging 90 strikeouts across only 80 innings, working as a spot starter and piggy-necking other starters, so as to limit his innings.  His brief foray into the major leagues didn’t go well, but if nothing else, we can say that Pounds can strike batters out. And so we have a very good prospect on our hands, that is major league ready.  He won’t project to be much more than he is now, and that’s ok because right now, Pounders is already good. What to expect next season: Pounders will enter Spring Training in open competition for the 5th starter and long reliever spot along with Jesse Chavez, Alex Meyer, Nate Smith, Manny Banuelos, Chris O’Grady, Vicente Campos and more.  Naturally, only tow of these guys are likely to open the season with the Angels, so Pounders is going to need to be incredibly impressive to leapfrog Chavez and Meyer on the depth chart.  The likeliest outcome here is that Pounders goes to AAA, where he’ll again serve as a piggy-back starter or swingman along with Chris O’Grady.  Pounders’ previous success in AAA probably puts him first in line for a promotion, though admittedly, he’s going to have some very talented pitchers around him in AAA, so it could go any direction.  Inevitably, because Eppler likes to keep his arms fresh, Pounders will be part of a carousel of pitchers that log a lot of miles between Salt Lake and Anaheim.  But as it goes with the rest of those pitchers, all Pounders has to do is impress in his time in Anaheim, and Eppler will be forced to keep him around.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Middle of 2017, Pounders’ age 26 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+ — #23 Prospect: Joe Gatto   Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher   Level: A Ball     Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017.   Height: 6’3”     Weight: 220 lb.   Present – Future   Fastball   55 60 Curve       55 60 Change    40 50 Mechanics 60 60 Command    45 60 Control         45 50 Overall         45 55   Floor: Swing Starter or bullpen depth. Ceiling: A mid-rotation, workhorse starter.   Likely Outcome: A back-end starter that can go 180+ innings. Summary: Gatto’s career hasn’t taken off the way many thought it would after being taken in the second round of the draft.  Generally speaking, prep pitchers taken in the second round have quite a bit of upside and can climb the ladder rather quickly.  Gatto sort of bucks that trend.  While he has some upside, it isn’t the front of the rotation type attached to prep arms from his draft position.  But his floor is also higher than that of most pitchers taken in that position, because it looked like from the get-go that Gatto is all starter.  He has the right frame, mechanics and arsenal to log a lot of major league innings.  His upside is that of a John Lackey type of starter, which Angels fans are familiar with.  Joe comes straight downhill with his pitches, all of which have sink or a straight downward break, which makes Gatto a ground-ball inducing machine.  His fastball sits 92-93, his curveball in the low 80’s with a 12-6 break and his change up at times can look like a bugs-bunny type of pause.  For the most part, his change up still isn’t a consistent weapon yet, and he’s missing low a lot with his fastball and curve (could be worse).The results this past season in A Ball weren’t quite what I or anyone else was expecting.  Gatto was shelled in a pitching friendly environment to the tune of an ERA over 7.00 and only 15 starts.  The Angels mercifully shut him down for the remainder of the year to rest his arm and try to figure out exactly what was happening.  But the thing that Gatto has in his favor is time.  He’s only 21 years old, and repeating A Ball wouldn’t be the worst thing for a pitcher like himself.  Once Gatto is settled in and figures out how to get hitters out, he should have a steady climb to the majors.  At that’s something we can say with a degree of relative certainty, is that Joe Gatto looks like a future major leaguer.  He has all the tools, now he just needs to put it all together. What to expect next season: We should see Gatto get another shot as a starting pitcher in the Midwest League this year.  He’ll likely spend the entire season there, which isn’t a bad thing by any means.  What Gatto needs right now are quality innings, and if he can rack those up in A Ball and get his season innings up into the 150 range, the foundation will be set and we could see Gatto experience considerable future success.  It may not be a make or break season for Joe, but I do think this will likely be his final opportunity to show he can succeed as a starting pitcher before the Angels try tinkering with him in the bullpen.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Middle of 2020, Gatto’s age 25 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+   Check out our interview with Joe Gatto — #24 Prospect: Chris O’Grady   Position(s): Left Handed Pitcher   Level: AA      Age: Entering Age 27 season in 2017.   Height: 6’4”     Weight: 225 lb.   Present – Future   Fastball        50 50 Slider           45 55 Change        50 55 Mechanics  50 50 Command   55 60 Control        45 55 Overall        45 55   Floor: Lefty Specialist. Ceiling: A setup man, or potentially a back-rotation starter.   Likely Outcome: A 7th inning setup man. Summary: O’Grady’s had a pretty interesting ride in professional baseball so far.  As a mid-round draft pick out of George Mason, there weren’t a ton of expectations on O’Grady to perform.  He’s a tall lefty with a pulse, and those tend to get drafted.  But it’s O’Grady’s growth as a pitcher that’s truly led to a surprising run toward a major league roster.  O’Grady sits 89-90 with both sink and cut on his fastball (referred to as his cutter – definitely his best pitch), and can generate more weak contact than swing and misses with it.  In fact, it’s the re-development of his cutter which has led to so much success.  He used it in college, but moved away from the cutter early in his career because he couldn’t get a feel for it with MLB’s standard baseball.  However, upon being shown a new grip, O’Grady re-integrated the cut fastball to his arsenal and took off.  Chris also throws a “show me” slider to keep hitters off balance and a surprisingly effective change up that can generate its fair share of swings and misses.O’Grady is what I refer to as an “average” pitcher in that his velocity or breaking ball aren’t the sort that stand out.  But O’Grady gets outs by spotting his pitches and staying ahead of hitters, which makes him considerably better than your average pitcher.  He still lives low in the zone. which is good in that O’Grady can make hitters hit his pitches, but it also tends to lead to control issues due to less room for error. If all this were taken into consideration, O’Grady would probably still be a Top 30 prospect, but more specifically, it’s what he did in 2016 that has him placed on this list.  O’Grady was picked up in the Rule 5 Draft by the Reds.  It may not have gone as well as he or they had hoped in Spring Training, but it does make it clear that other major league teams feel O’Grady is big league caliber.  But the most surprising development was the Angels use of O’Grady in the rotation. It makes sense because O’Grady has the arsenal of a starting pitcher, but in this specific case, once O’Grady moved to the starting rotation in AA, he posted a 1.68 ERA across 50+ innings.  Though this was a small taste (roughly one third of a season), it was still enough to show fans and scouts that O’Grady can successfully operate in multiple roles, which makes him more valuable, and more likely to have a career in major league baseball.  He can be used as a situational lefty, a set up man, a closer, or a starter. What to expect next season: If he remains a starter, Chris will likely be back in AA this year, though not because his performance bears repeating the same level.  This is more of a result of Billy Eppler building a great deal of starting pitching depth in the majors and AAA this offseason.  If the Angels intend to deploy him as a reliever, or in a variety of roles, he should be in AAA Salt Lake.  The pitching environment won’t be so favorable, but if O’Grady keeps the ball in the yard and spots his pitches as well as he can, he could find himself in Anaheim this season.  For what it’s worth, when asked, O’Grady hadn’t been informed by the team if they intend to keep him as a starter or even if he’ll be invited to big league camp.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Beginning of 2018, O’Grady’s age 28 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+ — #25 Prospect: Jonah Wesely   Position(s): Left Handed Pitcher   Level: A Ball     Age: Entering Age 22 season in 2017.   Height: 6’1”      Weight: 215 lb.   Present – Future   Fastball  50 55 Slurve    65 70 Change  40 50 Mechanics 50 50 Command    40 55 Control         45 55 Overall         40 55   Floor: Lefty Specialist. Ceiling: A closer, or potentially a mid-rotation starter.   Likely Outcome: A 7th inning setup man. Summary: It feels like we’ve been talking about Jonah Wesely forever, and that’s because in the ever-changing baseball world, it has been forever. Wesley was drafted three years ago, and was seen as the “steal” of the draft by numerous non-Angel experts.  Here’s a kid with a large frame, left handed, throws in the low-90’s with a great off-speed pitch, coming out of the baseball mecca that is California, and was signed away from his commitment to UCLA.  For good reason, most teams steered clear of Wesely in the early going precisely because he was likely a 3rd or 4th round talent (or better) that should require 1st or 2nd round compensation to forego college, where it’s likely he would’ve been a first round pick in a few years.  Still, the Angels scooped him up in the 11th round and in a surprising turnoff events, managed to sign him.  even more surprising, the Angels felt Wesely fit better as a reliever than a starter.As a reliever, Jonah throws in the low-90’s, reaching as high as 94 before needing Tommy John surgery.  He has an excellent “slurve” (slider-curve mix) that is death on lefties, but is similarly intimidating to RHB.  Wesley also throws a change up than he’ll “push” too much at times, and thus it isn’t anything more than a “show me” pitch right now, but if he ever gets a handle on it, it could be a third major league caliber pitch.  Jonah has a good head on his shoulders and has a fiery competitive nature that cannot simply be taught, which is a big reason why the Angels felt a future as a reliever could be the way to go.  Coming back from TJ surgery, Wesely will likely remain a relief pitcher in the near future, but there is still the possibility that he makes the transition back to the rotation at some point. Still, Jonah has a long journey ahead of him.  He’s going to need to fully recover from his surgery first, and once that happens, he’ll need to fully get a handle on his off-speed pitches again.  Then, Wesely will still need to progress normally as a prospect would, which means throwing more strikes, hitting his spots.  But even then, it’s easy to dream on what Wesely could be someday, which is a dominant, hard-throwing reliever that racks up a high number of strikeouts, is effective against both LHB and RHB, and can go multiple innings at a time.  Basically, as a reliever, Wesely’s ceiling could be that of lite-version of Andrew Miller. What to expect next season: Jonah made several appearances in Orem this year, but there were no expectations there.  Just him shaking off the rust.  I’d expect Jonah to return to Burlington (A Ball) for a bit, just to get his feet under him at first.  This may seem like a step backward because Wesely was already so effective in Burlington before his surgery, but this is a process that takes time.  It wouldn’t be surprising if Wesely truly didn’t round back into form until after the all-star break.  If he does before then, it’s basically just a bonus.  I’d expect Wesely to spend the second half of the season at Inland Empire.  I’ll be specifically looking at his second half stats for numerous reasons.  He’ll be fully recovered, and I’d like to see if he becomes too fatigued as the year rolls along.  Baseball season can be long and grueling.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Mid 2019, Jonah’s age 24 season.   Grade as a prospect: C+   Check out our interview with Jonah Wesely — #26 Prospect: Jared Foster  Position(s): Outfield   Level: Advanced A     Age: Entering Age 26 season in 2017.   Height: 5’10”     Weight: 190 lb.   Present –  Future    Hitting Ability: 40 – 45 Power: 50 – 55 Base Running: 50 – 50 Patience: 40 – 50 Fielding: 55 – 60 Range: 55 – 55 Arm: 55 – 55 Overall: 45 – 50   Floor: AAA Depth. Ceiling: Borderline starting outfielder.   Likely Outcome: 4th/5th outfielder.   Summary: Jared Foster is a completely different prospect depending on who you ask.  When the Angels drafted him, they were excited to get a player of Foster’s raw talent.  There’s power, speed and athleticism to work with (all pointing back to his days as QB at LSU), but not much in the way of refinement.  Foster was basically a lottery ticket.  He’d played baseball sparingly the two years before being drafted, but the Angels felt that if he focused all of his talents on one sport, that he could take off.  In his first full season, we’ve seen that the Angels weren’t totally wrong in this line of thought.  Foster really did improve by leaps and bounds throughout the season.  He didn’t necessarily because a superstar talent, but he did show glimpses of being a quality major leaguer on his way to a combined .276/.317 line, which included 27 doubles, 9 homeruns and 9 SB.  Not overly impressive numbers, but enough to show that Foster could hold his own.  But now that he’s had a full year and a half under his belt of focusing solely on professional ball, it’s time to see if Foster really has the breakout potential envisioned.   As far as Foster in a specific scouting sense, there is some to be liked.  His batting stance is open and when he gets a pitch to hit and stays within himself, he produces as easy flowing yet beautiful swing, capable of line drives and putting back spin on the ball (homeruns).  His hands begin high, then move back, which offers plenty of extra whip in his swing, but also makes him highly susceptible to anything up.  His timing is choppy, and he tends to foul off a lot of pitches he should be driving, but this is something that can be corrected with further instruction and development.  Defensive, Foster has a very good glove, covers his fair share of ground and can competently play any of the three outfield spots.   What to expect next season: Foster had a pretty successful campaign overall.  His numbers were skewed from playing in Burlington, but at the same time, his numbers were inflated by the Cal League (.247 BA at home in the only pitching friendly park, .342 elsewhere).  I’d expect Foster to spend a few months at Inland Empire just getting his feet wet before moving onto AA Mobile.  I’ll be particularly interested in seeing if his power further develops, or if Foster can picks his spots better when running.  He also needs to reach base at a better clip.  All of this will be taken into account for a promotion, because moving up to AA is the real test for prospects.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2019, Foster’s age 26 season   Grade as a prospect: C: Projects to be a reserve outfielder.   —   #27 Prospect: Zach Gibbons    Position(s): Outfield   Level: AA         Age: Entering Age 23 season in 2017. Height: 5’8”     Weight: 186 lb. Present         Future    Hitting Ability: 50 – 55 Power: 35 – 40 Base Running: 55 – 55 Patience: 55 – 65 Fielding: 50 – 55 Range: 55 – 55 Arm: 50 – 50 Overall: 45 – 50
Floor: AAA Depth. Ceiling: A leadoff hitting starting OF in the major leagues   Likely Outcome: A solid 4th OF.   Summary: Gibbons won’t be ranked as high on other prospect list mostly because other prospect lists tend to focus on potential rather than present ability.  And present ability is precisely why Gibbons makes it into our top 30.  There isn’t a ton of question about what Zach’s abilities are and aren’t.  He’s exactly what you see, and when you watch him, you see a ball player, through and through.  He’s smart, he works counts into his favor, and if he doesn’t get the pitch he wants, Gibbons will walk to first base.  Once he reaches base he’s of course a threat to steal, but much more than that, he’s aggressive, he’ll get bigger leads and annoy pitchers, he’s hustling and taking that extra bag.  Gibbons is also just a rock solid defensive outfielder with plus athleticism.  His swing is the most basic, compact, straight-to-the-ball approach you can imagine.  He’s a pure line drive hitter that will use the entire field, but can get into one and pull it over the wall.  Zach clearly wasn’t challenged by the Pioneer League, and given his success at Arizona, that was no surprise.  In fact, he just flat out torched the Pioneer League, hitting .351 with 17 SB and more walks than strikeouts.  Gibbons should be abler to climb the minor league ladder rather quickly, I don’t anticipate him being too caught up on any level.  Minor adjustments are always needed, especially as the quality of play increases, but Gibbons’ present ability suggests that with continued coaching and development, he should be a major leaguer.  I don’t think you’re looking at the next Mike Trout by any means, but a career as a Reggie Willits type is certainly within play.  That’s something the Angels have been without for a while.  A true reserve outfielder that can pinch run, pinch hit, pinch bunt, is a defensive replacement, and won’t hurt you if he gets a few starts to rest the regulars.   What to expect next season: Gibbons should be at Inland Empire next year, and I expect him to do pretty solid there.   The Angels may go the conservative route as they did with Jared Foster this year and give him a half season in A Ball before moving to the Cal League, but regardless, I think Gibbons can be done with the low minors by the end of next year.  I’ll keep an eye on his BA/OBP.  They were definitely inflated in Orem, but at the same time, it’s reasonable to expect Gibbons to hit .280+ at any level.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2020 – Gibbon’s age 26 season.   Grade as a prospect: C: Projects to be a 4th OF. — #28 Prospect: Jordan Kipper   Position(s): Right Handed Pitcher   Level: AA         Age: Entering Age 24 season in 2017.   Height: 6’4”     Weight: 185 lb.   Present – Future   Fastball         50 55 Slider            55 55 Change         40 50 Mechanics  65 65 Command   55 55 Control        55 55 Overall         40 50   Floor: AAA Depth or long reliever. Ceiling: #4 starting pitcher.   Likely Outcome: A 5th starter or swing man in the majors.   Summary: Kipper is an easy pitcher to like from a scouting perspective.  He’s just solid across the board.  He doesn’t need any major tweaks to his delivery, he has a good head on his shoulders and is projectable.  After serving as a de facto ace for TCU, Kipper was drafted for the third time in four years back in 2014.  The Dodgers and Phillies didn’t have any luck singing him, but the Angels fared better after selecting him in the 9th round.  Kipper is a tall, lean (though not skinny) pitcher.  He has a very clean, fluid delivery without excess effort.  Jordan’s fastball is of the hard sinking variety, sitting 90-91.  As he fills out, some in the organization believe he could sit 93 regularly.  There’s also some question as to whether he’ll continue as a starter or move to relief.  But after last season, it appears the Angels best bet is to keep him in the rotation, despite a lack of a third pitch.  Kipper throws a decent slider.  It comes in around 83, with similar downward motion as his fastball, and he keeps it in the strike zone, which is particularly dangerous.  Kipper’s been messing with a change up or curve ball as a third pitch, but neither appear to be something he can use with any consistency at the top level yet.  Even if they develop into a “show me” pitch, Kipper could experience more success than he has so far.  The big thing for Jordan will be surviving AAA Salt Lake.  Kipper is a smart pitcher that pitches to contact, and generates a metric ton of weak grounders and pop ups in foul territory.  This works at the lower levels, and especially in AA. where hitters are more confident and will swing at a pitch, even if it results in a two-hopper to shortstop.  In the PCL, pitching to contact is a very dangerous game.  Those shallow flys turn into medium depth sac flys, and the medium depth flys will go into the gaps or over the fence.  The pop ups in foul territory will leave into the stands.  It’s pretty much the hardest place to succeed.  But because of Kipper’s heavy downward motion on both his fastball and slider, he shouldn’t be as affected by the environment.    What to expect next season: Kipper should be in AAA.  Currently, the Angels have a lot of pitching depth on the back end with Jesse Chavez, Alex Meyer, Nate Smith, Manny Banuelos, Troy Scribner, Vicente Campos and Kyle McGowin.  This means there’s the off chance that Kipper could find himself repeating AA after so thoroughly succeeding at that level.  I still expect to see Kipper in Salt Lake though, and if he does succeed there, we could see him in Anaheim soon.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2018, Kipper’s age 25 season.   Grade as a prospect: C: Projects to be a long reliever or back end starter. — #29 Prospect: Leo Rivas   Position(s): Shortstop, Second Base and Third Base   Level: Rookie Ball Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2017.   Height: 5’10”   Weight: 150 lb.      Present – Future    Hitting Ability        40    50 Power                      30    40 Base running         65    60 Patience                  70    70 Fielding                  60    65 Range                    60    60 Arm                        45    50 Overall                   45    55   Floor: A defensive specialist and pinch runner.  Ceiling: Starting second baseman.   Likely Outcome: A utility infielder and pinch runner.   Summary: Rivas didn’t exactly come out of nowhere as much as he came from relative obscurity.  He wasn’t signed as a 16 year old the way most Latin American prospects are, instead Leonardo had to wait until age 17, and even then he signed with the Angels, a team that’s only signing the players that other teams don’t want.  That’s what happens when you repeatedly have to rebuild your scouting staff and have restrictions due to the Baldoquin signing.  Still Rivas made a nice first impression at age 17, but last year he really took off. Before coming stateside midway through the season (an uncommon practice), Rivas was among the best hitters in the DSL.  Upon reaching stateside, he played in the Arizona Summer League, and again was pretty solid there.  He’s shown a knack for getting on base, being put in motion and being a sure handed fielder.  While he doesn’t have the arm to remain at shortstop at the major league level, he offers more than enough to be a solid candidate for second base or a third baseman like Chone Figgins.  Rivas isn’t a slap hitter like Ayendy Perez is, but he is a light-hitter.  Leo has a solid line drive approach and is more of a ground ball hitter.   What to expect next season: Coming into his age 19 season, I expect Rivas to play in the instructional leagues and at Orem.  If things go right, he may even make an appearance in Burlington.  So far, he’s proven capable at all three infield positions he plays, so I’d expect more of him moving around.  Inevitably, second base should be his home though.   Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021 – Leo’s age 24 season.   Grade as a prospect: C: Projects to be a utility infielder.   —   #30 Prospect: Sherman Johnson    Position(s): 2B, 1B, 3B, OF   Level: AAA      Age: Entering Age 26 season in 2017.   Height: 5’10”   Weight: 190 lb.   Present –  Future    Hitting Ability: 45 – 50 Power: 45 – 50 Baserunning: 55 – 55 Patience: 60 – 60 Fielding: 60 – 60 Arm: 50 – 50 Overall: 45 – 50   Floor: AAA Depth. Ceiling: Starting second baseman in the majors.   Likely Outcome: A utility infielder.   Summary: Sherman Johnson has generated a cult-like following among Angels fans and FanGraphs due to his reoccurring appearance in their “Fringe Five” articles, which detail five fringe major leaguers that could end up being better than expected.  Sherman is basically the prototype for this type of article because Sherman isn’t supposed to be this good.  As an under-sized high school graduate, Sherman had to work his way onto Florida State’s team, and even then he wasn’t supposed to be a star.  But then he was, and even then, he wasn’t supposed to be drafted, his skills just didn’t translate.  Except he was drafted in the mid-rounds by the Angels and his skills are translating.  So of course, the next step in this progression will be “he shouldn’t be a major leaguer, he isn’t good enough”, except he likely will be a major leaguer, precisely because Sherman Johnson is good enough.  Sherman Johnson wants it more than you and I, he wants it more than the guys standing next to him in the field.  As if the grit he’s shown weren’t enough, it should be noted that Sherman is regarded as a clubhouse leader for every team he’s played for.  He’s just a natural, someone that gets along with everyone, and can be counted on to remain level headed and do his job.   From a baseball-specific standpoint, Johnson is a left handed hitter with considerable strength for his frame.  He uses the whole field, but the majority of his homeruns come when he gets his hands inside of a fastball on the inner half.  He’s fast on the bases, but not overly fast.  His speed plays up because he’s such a smart, aggressive baserunner.  Johnson is a very good defensive second baseman, showing decent range with a “plus” glove and arm for the position.  As a third baseman, he grades out more as average.  His range is “plus” on that side of the field, but his arm grades out slightly  below average.  At shortstop, Johnson is simply good enough not to hurt you for a few games.  He isn’t necessarily a shortstop, but his tools and athleticism allow him to play the position.  Sherman has also recently added LF to his resume, and by most reports he’s passable there too.   What to expect next season: Johnson is typically old for each level, but one thing is undeniable, Sherman will adjust and conquer each level of the minors.  it may not be in his first go-around, but he’ll make it happen. For example, Sherman hit just .204 in his first stint in AA.  Last year in a 19 game stretch, he hit .369/.481 with 10 XBH and more BB than K’s.  He may have only hit .226 in AAA this past season, but it’s safe to assume that if he’s healthy, Sherman Johnson will likely prove worthy of promotion beyond AAA.  So I expect Sherman Johnson to play a few months in Salt Lake before receiving his first promotion shortly before the all-star break and another promotion in September.  Come 2018, Pennington’s spot at the utility infielder will be Johnson’s to have and to hold onto.   Estimated Time of Arrival: Late 2017, Johnson’s age 26 season   Grade as a prospect: C: Projects to be a utility infielder.   Grades are given from the 20-80 scouting scale.  20-being non-existent ability, 80-being the best I’ve ever seen.  MLB average is 50. And now, our Honorable Mentions…. SS Connor Justus – A fine defensive shortstop with the tools to stay there permanently.  A refined approach at the plate.  The only question is, will he hit enough to make it to the majors?   LHP Kevin Grendell – A left handed reliever that can touch the mid-90’s and the mentality to attack hitters. OF Johan Sala – 18 year old outfielder from the Dominican Republic that just oozes upside.  He should come stateside next year. RHP Jose Rodriguez – Soft tossing righty with a solid curve and change up.  Spots his pitches well.  An efficient pitcher, gets the easy outs. RHP Jared Ruxer – Would have been a first or second round pick out of Louisville, but needed TJ surgery.  Back in action now.  Sits 92+ with a good breaking ball and advanced feel for a change up. Dominant in A Ball, roughed up in Cal League, though still logged strikeouts. 2B Jordan Zimmerman – 7th round pick from Michigan State.  A middle infielder with considerable power. RHP Troy Scribner – Soft tossing righty with a chip on his shoulder.  Upper 80’s to low 90’s fastball, good change up and good curve ball.  Has succeeded at every level despite an average arsenal.  Buried on the depth chart, but if he continues to out-pitch his competition, he’ll make it to the majors. Good trade for the Angels.
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Next Wave of Los Angeles Angels Starting Pitching Prospects

Jose Soriano, RHP Burlington Bees By Tres Hefter, Columnist We’ve hit a point in the season where it’s time to acknowledge what’s been going on with our pitching in the minors. Especially Burlington and Inland Empire. We’ll likely start seeing a couple of these guys move up to IE/Mobile within the next month or so. Last season, the Angels minor leagues saw only 13 pitchers start 20+ games – and of those, only 11 topped 100 innings. Within that group only three had an ERA below 4.00: Suarez at 3.92, Canning at 3.65, and Madero at 3.49. Eight had an ERA over 4.50, and four of those had an ERA over 6. It was not pretty. This year is shaping up to be quite different – even with Canning and Suarez having hardly thrown any minor league innings. PATRICK SANDOVAL – 6’3″, 190, LHP, 22 years old, drafted in 2015 (11th Rd.) (AA/AAA): 4.47 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, .278 BAA, 21 BB, 57 K in 44.1 IP across 12 G/11 GS Dominant in Mobile (32 K in 20 IP), Sandoval has slowed some in SLC (5.18 ERA, 2.14 WHIP) but is still the Angels next-best SP prospect. LUIS MADERO – 6’3″, 185, RHP, 22 years old, signed in 2013 (Intl. FA), acquired by LAA via trade (A+/AA): 3.04 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .251 BAA, 17 BB, 59 K in 56.1 IP across 12 G/10 GS Madero has had no issues adjusting to AA, and could find himself working in the Angel bullpen in September. JEREMY BEASLEY – 6’3″, 215, RHP, 23 years old, drafted in 2017 (30th Rd.) (AA): 3.33 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .256 BAA, 24 BB, 51 K in 54 IP across 12 G/11 GS Bulldog Beasley continues to exceed expectations. Strong GB (55%) and swinging strike (16%) tendencies, sort of like pre-2019 Cahill. Allowed 2 R or fewer in 9 of 12 games. JESUS CASTILLO – 6’3″, 205, RHP, 23 years old, signed in 2011 (Intl. FA), acquired by LAA via trade (AA): 3.41 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .265 BAA, 17 BB, 51 K in 66 IP across 13 G/11 GS Currently leads the org in innings pitched, has rebounded from a poor 2018. Has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 11 of 13 appearances. ANDREW WANTZ – 6’4″, 235, RHP, 23 years old, drafted in 2018 (7th Rd.) (A+/AA): 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .211 BAA, 19 BB, 64 K in 54 IP across 12 G/7 GS After posting a gaudy 47 K in 23 relief IP last year, Angels surprisingly stretched him out to a starter. He hasn’t missed a beat. K/9 near 11. DENNY BRADY – 6’1″, 200, RHP, 22 years old, drafted in 2017 (7th Rd.)
(A+): 3.06 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .228 BAA, 20 BB, 65 K in 53 IP across 12 G/7 GS As steady and consistent as a minor league arm can be, has yet to allow more than 3 R in a game. KYLE BRADISH – 6’4″, 190, RHP, 22 years old, drafted in 2018 (4th Rd.)
(A+): 3.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, .228 BAA, 20 BB, 58 K in 43.2 IP across 11 G/7 GS A little wild, a little inconsistent, but has shown flashes of straight dominance in a trio of starts: 4/23: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, 5/9: 5 IP, 7 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K, 5/21: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K OLIVER ORTEGA – 6’0″, 165, RHP, 22 years old, signed in 2015 (Intl. FA) (A+): 3.26 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .203 BAA, 33 BB, 74 K in 58 IP across 12 G/11 GS Who would have guessed Oliver Ortega would be leading the Angels org in strikeouts in mid-June? Who even knows who Oliver Ortega is? AARON HERNANDEZ – 6’1″, 170, RHP, 22 years old, drafted in 2018 (3rd Rd.) (A+): 4.26 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, .279 BAA, 21 BB, 35 K in 31.2 IP across 9 G/7 GS. Yet to find a groove, but still posting decent numbers with swing-and-miss stuff, and a decent repertoire of pitches. CRISTOPHER MOLINA – 6’3″, 170, RHP, 22 years old, signed in 2013 (Intl. FA) (A): 2.61 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .193 BAA, 22 BB, 65 K in 58.2 IP across 12 G/9 GS Stumbled a bit in last three games, but prior, had posted a 1.25 ERA and .167 BAA through first 9 appearances. JOSE SORIANO – 6’3″, 168, RHP, 20 years old, signed in 2016 (Intl. FA)
(A): 2.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .201 BAA, 35 BB, 70 K in 62 IP across 13 G/11 GS Not far behind Sandoval from being the Angels best SP prospect – only 2 HR allowed, a 55% GB rate, a little erratic, but big-time potential. HECTOR YAN – 5’11”, 180, LHP, 20 years old, signed in 2015 (Intl. FA)
(A): 3.86 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, .220 BAA, 26 BB, 66 K in 44.1 IP across 12 G/8 GS Lots of swing-and-miss stuff could lead Yan into top-of-rotation potential, but he’ll need to work more efficiently and get a handle on the walks. Only 1 HR allowed. COLE DUENSING – 6’4″, 175, RHP, 21 years old, drafted in 2016 (6th Rd.) (A): 4.36 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .250 BAA, 33 BB, 51 K in 44.1 IP across 12 G/9 GS Absolutely awful in 2017-2018, with an ERA near 10.00, Duensing’s dramatic turnaround offers hope for brighter days still ahead. KYLE TYLER – 6’0″, 185, RHP, 22 years old, drafted in 2018 (20th Rd.)
(A): 4.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .217 BAA, 19 BB, 53 K in 54.1 IP across 12 G/9 GS Another reliever converted to the rotation, Tyler throws strikes (65%) coupled with a strong GB rate (53%), quietly producing and putting himself into the mix. ROBINSON PINA – 6’4″, 180, RHP, 20 years old, signed in 2017 (Intl. FA) (A): 3.22 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .193 BAA, 32 BB, 61 K in 50.1 IP across 12 G/7 GS Steady and consistent, in three pro seasons, has yet to allow an ERA over 3.68, averaging over 10 K per 9, only 7 hits per 9, and a total of 5 HR in 145.2 IP. LUIS ALVARADO – 6’4″, 210, RHP, 22 years old, drafted in 2018 (17th Rd.) (A): 2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .186 BAA, 22 BB, 60 K in 48 IP across 12 G/7 GS Has allowed 2 or fewer earned runs in all but one game, and only 3 ER in the other. Even more exciting is that still doesn’t take into account the 2019 draftees who could ultimately join this list – Jack Kochanowicz, Erik Rivera, Garrett Stallings, Zach Peek, Davis Daniel, Zach Linginfelter – or the legitimate SP prospects who have been injured – Chris Rodriguez, James Swanda, Stiward Aquino – or the other arms who either have had enough prospect pedigree or success to still enter the picture, such as Cooper Criswell, Luke Lind, Connor Van Scoyoc, Jose Natera, Emilker Guzman, Jerryell Rivera, Kelvin Moncion, or Jason Alexander. The growth we’ve seen this year – both in terms of development and depth added – is quite frankly, staggering, and given the number of arms drafted in 2019, only likely to grow. With Eppler’s aggressive promotions, the use of multi-inning relievers. 6-man rotations, and ‘tandem’ starters, there’s a chance we see a lot of these arms start reaching the majors as soon as late 2020 or in 2021.
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Jarrett Parker slugs his way to the top: Angels Prospect Hotlist (6/10-6/23 2019)

By Tres Hefter, Columnist Much has been spoken about the Angels emergence of arms this year, but the last two weeks has shown the Angels hitting prospects make a mark – thirteen hitters had an OPS over 1.000 meaning not all could even make the hotlist, so the honorable mention list could be its own hotlist after this one. 1) Jarrett Parker – RF/1B, AAA:  With Puello now in Miami, Parker is one step closer to the big leagues, and his recent performance has only further stressed that. Parker has homered in six straight games, giving him 18 on the year in 251 plate appearances, paired up with a .364/.453/.909/1.362 slash in the last two weeks. Additionally, Parker has added 1B to his defensive portfolio, giving him added usefulness to help the Angels should Bour again falter, or Pujols’ health give out. 2019 hitting (AAA): .307/.438/.639/.1.077 with 11 doubles, 1 triple, 18 HR, 53 RBI, 45 BB, 64 K in 57 G/251 PA 2) Matt Thaiss – 3B, AAA: Thaiss continued building his momentum (he had an .800 OPS from mid-April leading up to 6/10) by posting one of his hottest two-weeks to date; .372/.518/.791/1.309 with 3 doubles, 5 homers, and 13 walks to 7 strikeouts – with only a .355 BAbip in that time – all while playing exclusively 3B. Thaiss currently leads the Pacific Coast League with 52 walks, tied for tenth in HR with 13, and tied for sixteenth with 132 total bases. 2019 (AAA): .273/.387/.475/.862 with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 52 BB, 55 K in 71 G/333 PA 3) Jo Adell – CF/RF, AA: Adell has continued to assert himself as one of the game’s top prospects, completely dominating AA since his return. Over the last two weeks, Adell has slashed .395/.477/.684/1.161 in 11 games, clubbing 5 doubles, 2 home runs, and only striking out five times – matched by five walks. Soon enough, it will simply just become a matter of time before Adell finds himself in Anaheim. 2019 (A+/AA): .361/.430/.651/1.081 with 9 doubles, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 19 K in 22 G/93 PA 4) Orlando Martinez – CF/LF/RF, A+: Vaulting into the prospect hotlist, and perhaps a new prospect legitimacy, Martinez has started showing some power in the last two weeks – six doubles, three home runs – during his recent .367/.456/.673/1.130 slash – adding to an already longstanding offensive profile of good contact and good discipline. The 2018 signee out of Cuba is almost undoubtedly in the mix for a future 4th OF job, but this increased power could bring him into an everyday conversation. 2019 (A+): .302/.377/.466/.842 with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 BB, 29 K in 26 G/130 PA 5) Jared Walsh – 1B/LHP, AAA: Walsh has taken his AAA demotion in stride, picking up right where he left off with significant offensive production. Walsh has slashed .364/.481/.591/1.072 with four doubles, two home runs, and eight walks to 11 strikeouts. With Bour back in Anaheim, Walsh might be in Salt Lake for a lengthy stint, but should remain a versatile option at the ready. 2019 hitting (AAA): .306/.399/.566/.965 with 18 doubles, 13 HR, 33 RBI, 29 BB, 68 K in 60 G/258 PA
2019 pitching (AAA): 4.50 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 2 BB, 5 K across 6 IP in 6 games Honorable mention, hitters:
Brennon Lund (OF, AAA): .459/.500/.757/1.257 with 5 2B, 2 HR –  yup, even a 1.257 OPS couldn’t crack the top 5. Jose Verrier (3B/2B, Orem Rk.): .321/.500/.750/1.250 with 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 6 K
Jeremiah Jackson (SS,  Orem Rk.): .286/.386/.657/1.044 with 4 2B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 14 K
Rainier Rivas (RF, DSL Rk.): .407/.500/.519/1.019 with 3 2B with 5 BB, 4 K
Michael Stefanic (SS/2B, A+): .310/.396/.619/1.015 with 2 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 5 BB, 4 K – starting to adjust to A+
Taylor Ward (LF, AAA): .268/.423/.585/1.008 with 2B, 4 HR but only 8 BB, 11 K – playing only LF recently
Jose Rojas (2B/3B, AAA): .289/.382/.622/1.004 with 5 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 13 K
Jordan Zimmerman (3B, A+): .341/.391/.610/1.001 with 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 7 K – a 1.109 slash in June now
Franklin Torres (C/2B, A+): .378/.431/.533/.965 with 2B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 6 K – splitting time between C and 2B
Gareth Morgan (OF, A+): .256/.298/.605/.903 with 5 HR, 1 BB, 26 K in 47 PA
Spencer Griffin (RF, A): .351/.385/.614/.898 with 2B, 3B, HR, 2 BB, 14 K, 3-3 in SB attempts
Jahmai Jones (2B, AA): .318/.362/.500/.862 with 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 K, in 48 PA
D’Shawn Knowles (OF, Orem Rk.): .278/.400/.444/.844 with 2 HR, 8 BB, 12 K, 4-4 SB attempts 6) Hector Yan – LHP, A: 
You can’t really be much better over a two-week span than what Hector Yan has done. Two starts, 11.1 innings pitched, zero runs – and zero hits allowed. Yan also struck out 12, but did allow five walks, a sign of his continuing issues of control and durability which could limit his ceiling, but the 20-year old lefty continues to climb up the ranks of Angels pitching prospects. 2019 (A): 3.07 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .182 BAA, 31 BB, 78 K across 55.2 IP in 14 G/10 GS 7) Cooper Criswell – RHP, A+:  The 6’6″ righty threw his most dominant game 6/22, striking out nine in 5 IP – capping a two-week span where he made three appearances, striking out 21 in 11.2 IP, allowing only 3 walks and nine hits, including a .209 BAA – despite a .409 BAbip. While his overall results have been mixed, Criswell comes with the right frame and decent repertoire to pitch himself into the top Angels pitching prospect discussions if he continues his June production. 2019 (A+): 4.82 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .273 BAA, 20 BB, 54 K across 52.1 IP in 13 G/10 GS 8 ) Jesus Castillo – RHP, AA: Castillo continues to place among the Angels top pitchers on the prospect playlist – his consistency has led him to lead the Angels org – majors including – in innings pitched, and his ERA has now dropped to an even 3.00. Over the last two weeks, Castillo made two starts and two one-inning relief appearances – combining for 14 innings, 1.29 ERA, and 1 BB with 8 K – perhaps hinting at some potential usefulness as a reliever on the MLB depth charts. 2019 (AA): 3.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .264 BAA, 18 BB, 55 K, only 3 HR allowed across 75 IP in 16 G/12 GS 9) Cole Duensing – RHP, A: The miraculous rebirth of the 2016 draft pick’s career continued over the last two weeks as he made three appearances, led by a 6.2 IP start against Clinton where he struck out 8 and walked zero, and followed by two relief appearances – one good (4 IP, 0 BB, 4 K, and one not so good (0.2 IP, 3 BB), further demonstrating the volatility of the lanky righty’s stuff. Duensing might be best suited in the future as a high-lev, multi-inning relief arm. 2019 (A): 4.32 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .241 BAA, 36 BB, 55 K across 58.1 IP in 14 G/9 GS 10) Alejandro Duran – RHP, DSL Rk.: Little is known about the equally diminutive (5’11”, 150) 17-year old Venezuelan righty, but he’s made quite an intro to the Angels Dominican summer league team, making four appearances, throwing 18 innings, striking out 20, and only walking two, surrendering a 3.00 ERA in that time. 2019 (DSL Rk.): 3.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .119 BAA, 2 BB, 20 K across 18 in 4 G/2 GS Honorable mention, pitchers:
Isaac Mattson (RHP, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.00 ERA in 3 games – no signs slowing now that he’s in AA Luis Alvarado (RHP, A): 11.2 IP, 12 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 3.86 ERA in 2 games Danifer Diaz (RHP, DSL Rk.): 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA in 2 GS 
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Mike Trout hits restaurant in outfield with home-run moonshot (Video)

Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the prototypical five-tool player — he truly can do it all. Trout can make plays with his glove, he can steal bases and man, he can hit. That was on display during Wednesday’s Blue Jays-Angels game, when he put on an absolute show, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs. He hit one home run so hard that it ended up hitting a restaurant window in the upper deck at Rogers Centre. The ball traveled 420 feet, and you can check out the moon shot below. Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman showed plenty of respect for Trout during the game, calling him the “best player ever” after getting a deep fly ball out. He’s a special player.
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Shohei Ohtani making impact for Angels as DH while recovering from Tommy John Surgery

Most Major League Baseball players in baseball history have not been able to have any impact whatsoever to his team while recovering from the serious Tommy John elbow surgery. However, what Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani has been able to accomplish in 2019 is quite frankly remarkable. On October 1, the day after the Angels finished their 2018 regular season schedule with a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics, Ohtani had Tommy John surgery. The surgery prevented him from pitching during the 2019 Major League Baseball season. However, Ohtani is not your prototypical baseball player. That is because he is not only used by the Angels for his pitching skills, but his hitting skills as well. Since starting this season with the Angels on May 7, Ohtani has been used as the Angels regular designated hitter and is batting a very respectable .283 with nine home runs and 30 runs batted in. He has also found himself batting third regularly in the Angels lineup. It has been in the last week that Ohtani has heated up offensively. In his last six games, Ohtani is batting .440 with six runs scored, two doubles, one triple, three home runs, eight runs batted in, two walks and two stolen bases. Ohtani’s most magical game during the streak was on June 13 in a 5-3 Angels win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Ohtani became the first Japanese born player in Major League Baseball history to hit for the cycle. Even though the Angels have two of the most exciting players in Major League Baseball in their lineup (Ohtani and outfielder Mike Trout), the Angels are still only an average team in the standings. They currently have a record of 37 wins and 37 losses and are 11.5 games back of the Houston Astros for first place in the American League West. A major reason for the Angels struggles has been their pitching depth. That could be drastically improved in 2020 when Ohtani returns to the starting rotation and could just be their ace. In 2018, while on the mound, Ohtani had a record of four wins, two losses, an earned run average of 3.31, 63 strikeouts and 22 walks while pitching in 51.66 innings.
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"The Best Player(s) In Baseball"

By Jonathan Northrop, Columnist We know its Trout – that is pretty much universally agreed by all but the most biased fans of this or that franchise player. We also know that it isn’t particularly close, although there are always contenders in any given year – even players that have better years than Trout, although never by a huge margin. This year Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich are comparable, although both in the NL. Last year it was Betts; in 2017, Trout finished a career-worst 4th in fWAR, although due to missing almost a third of the year to injury. We can go back to his rookie year and look at the top four ranked players by fWAR: 2019: Bellinger 5.4, TROUT 5.3, Yelich 4.6, Marte 3.7 2018: Betts 10.4, TROUT 9.8, Ramirez 8.0, Bregman/Lindor/Yelich 7.6 2017: Judge 8.2, Altuve 7.6, Stanton 7.3, TROUT 6.9 2016: TROUT 9.7, Betts 8.3, Bryant 7.8, Donaldson 7.6 2015: Harper/TROUT 9.3, Donaldson 8.7, Votto 7.3 2014: TROUT 8.3, Lucroy 8.1, Posey 7.8, McCutchen 7.4 2013: TROUT 10.2, Cabrera 8.6, McCutchen 8.1, Y Molina 7.8 2012: Posey 10.4, TROUT 10.1, Y Molina 7.7, Cano 7.4 Now that record is ridiculously impressive: Trout has ranked #4 or higher in each of his eight full seasons (assuming the pattern holds for the second half of 2019), and #2 or better in all but one season – a season he would have finished 1st if he hadn’t lost 48 games to injury. Even more impressive is the fact that not a single player has finished in the top 4 more than twice, and only half a dozen have done it twice: Posey, Y Molina, McCutchen, Donaldson, Betts, and Yelich. In other words… Top 4 fWAR finishes 2012-19 8 Trout 2 Yelich, Betts, Donaldson, Posey, McCutchen, Y Cano 1 Bellinger, Marte, Ramirez, Bregman, Lindor, Judge, Altuve, Stanton, Bryant, Harper, Votto, Lucroy, Cabrera, Cano So, yeah: Trout has clearly been the best player over the course of his career, and it isn’t particularly close: Total fWAR 2012-19 (so far) 69.5 Trout 46.2 Posey 38.6 Donaldson 37.7 McCutchen 36.3 Goldschmidt 34.8 Votto 33.7 Cano The reason I list that out to seven is to make another point: Not only has Trout produced 50% more fWAR value over the course of his career than anyone else, but he’s produced twice as much fWAR value as all but five other players.  BUT WHAT ABOUT RIGHT NOW? Right now is 2019, but we can’t exactly say that half a season determines who the best player is right now. But we don’t want to go back too far, so how about 2018-19, or the last season and a half? Certainly that will even out any outliers or fluke hot (or cold) starts or breakthroughs that may or may not be sustained? Without further ado, here are the ten best current position players in MLB: 2018-19 fWAR (through 6/25) 1. Mike Trout 15.1 2. Mookie Betts 12.8 3. Christian Yelich 12.2 4. Alex Bregman 11.1 5. Matt Chapman 9.7 6. Francisco Lindor 9.6 7. Anthony Rendon 9.5 8. Cody Bellinger 9.0 9. Nolan Arenado 8.9 10t. Xander Bogaerts 8.5 10t. Manny Machado 8.5 Rounding out the top 20 are Javier Baez, Jose Ramirez, Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman, Yasmani Grandal, Trevor Story, JT Realmuto, JD Martinez, and Whit Merrifield. (If you’re wondering, Andrelton Simmons is #22 and would likely be in the top 20 if he hadn’t been hurt this year) Most notably absent in the top 20 are Paul Goldschmidt (#30) Jose Altuve (#33), and of course Bryce Harper (#42). TROUT as a Hitter, using wRC+ 2012-19 wRC+ 1. Trout 175 2. Votto 154 3. Judge 153 4. Cabrera 150 5. Ortiz 150 2019: Bellinger 192, TROUT 187, Yelich 185, Rendon/Alonso 161 2018: TROUT 191, Betts 185, Martinez 170, Yelich 166 2017: TROUT 181, Judge 172, Votto 164, Altuve 160 2016: TROUT 170, Ortiz 163, Votto 158, Donaldson 157 2015: Harper 197, Votto 174, TROUT 171, Cabrera 164 2014: McCutchen/Martinez 168, Abreu/TROUT 167 2013: Cabrera 193, TROUT 176, Davis 168, Werth 159 2012: TROUT 167, Cabrera 166, Posey 164, Braun 159 Interesting to note here that Trout has actually become more dominant as a hitter, leading the majors in each of the last three years, with a good  chance of passing Bellinger and leading the majors again this year. Anyhow, I feel comfortable saying that not only is Trout the best player in baseball, but Betts and Yelich–in some order–are #2 and #3, with Bregman a solid #4. Then you have a group of comparable players in Chapman, Lindor, and Rendon. If the trend holds, Yelich will be #2 by year’s end and Bellinger could climb a bit, even challenge Chapman for #4. Well, there you have it. Nothing new was really discovered, just a few details clarified: not only how much better Trout has been during his career than everyone else, but that he is still the head-and-shoulders best player right now.
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An Angel for Life

May 13, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) celebrates after scoring off a solo home run against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports By David Saltzer, Senior Writer   If the rumors are true, and at this point they appear to be so, Mike Trout has agreed in principal to a deal that will make him an Angel for life. Wow. What a way to turn around the offseason. Prior to today, I would have given the Angels a “B-” for their efforts during the offseason, but all that changed today. This deal changes all that because the biggest potential issue for the next two years has been settled. Mike Trout will be here for another 12 years. If the proposed numbers hold true, Mike Trout will sign the largest sports contract in history. And well he should. No other player in the history of the game has been as good and productive as Mike Trout at a similar age. If I could start a baseball team with any single current player in baseball, by far my first choice would be Mike Trout. Not only is he an incredible talent on the field, he is a an incredible asset off the field. His interactions with fans are not forced or reluctant. He genuinely engages with fans before the games. His love for baseball and enthusiasm to play is infectious. He reminds people of all that is good and right in sports, He is humble and honest. He lets his actions speak for themselves and doesn’t seek the limelight. He brings us back to a time when we played baseball and demonstrates our love for the game. When Mike Trout signs this contract, he will do the one last thing that separated him from the pantheon of baseball greats: he will create a specific time and place for his legacy. Just as Cobb, DiMaggio, Koufax, Ruth, Williams, etc. are all associated with one team and one time, Trout will be forever remember for the time he played and the Angels. Fifty years from now, whether they are Angels fans or not, baseball fans will tell their grandchildren how they saw Mike Trout play for the Angels, just as our grandparents told us about seeing their greats play. In 2014, When Mike Trout signed his first contract extension, I asked him at the press conference what it meant to him that an entire generation of Angels fans would grow up seeing him play. I compared it to Trout’s hero Derek Jeter, a lifelong Yankee. With this contract extension, multiple generations of Angels fans will grow up seeing him play. And like his hero, it will all be for one team. That’s something special. But, even more special, is that Angels fans will get to see him evolve. When Mike Trout first broke into the Major Leagues, Torii Hunter took him under his wings and helped show him the ropes. After Torii left, Albert Pujols helped to mentor him. But, in an interesting story written by Bob Nightengale for USA Today, Mike Trout watched video of the Angels’ top prospect Jo Adell, and even gave Adell his phone number to help him. Mike Trout made an integral part of the Angels’ presentation to Shohei Ohtani by calling and speaking with him, and has since done a lot to help Shohei adapt to life playing baseball in America. That’s the evolution of Mike Trout–from a rookie to a face of a franchise to a mentor to his teammates. This is the Mike Trout team. This is the Mike Trout era. After the Angels won the World Series in 2002, my favorite moment was seeing Tim Salmon–Mr. Angel–hoist the trophy. Knowing that there were several points where Tim could have left for more money to play for other teams, watching him hold that trophy was magical. Everyone could see that his loyalty and dedication to the team had been rewarded, and the fans loved him for it. When Mike Trout hoists the World Series trophy–which he will do as an Angel–it will be something even more magical. Just as Salmon was rewarded and loved, so will Trout be. We, the fans, know how much he did (and will do) to earn that moment, and we will thank him for it. There will be a bonding between us and him that will forever connect us in that moment. An Angel for life. Not many players can say that. But that’s what Trout chose to be, and we are so lucky that he did.        
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David Saltzer, Senior Writer When I was in high school, I had an economics teacher who used to say to us (often at random times) “Class, it’s time to get in touch with the sounds of the universe.” At the time, we all thought he was a bit crazy. Now, as I’m older, I realize, he was just a bit “eccentric.” My old economics teacher probably was onto something, though. There are times when the universe is clearly trying to tell us something. I wrote about one such sign from baseball a few years ago. It was my proof that there is a G-d, and that G-d is a baseball fan. You can read it here. Last week, I was extremely busy. I didn’t have time to watch every Angels game and have only recently caught up on them all. I saved the games on my DVR, because I knew that one of them would be Tim Mead’s last game with the Angels. Anyone who has spent any time on knows how much Tim meant to this site. I consider him a friend and a role model. He is honest and kind. He takes the time to get to know and understand people. He listens and helps where and when he can. will forever be indebted to him. As will I. Over the past few days, I had time to catch up on the Angels games. I watched Tim’s last game against the Dodgers. It was emotional for him to get through the interview with Victor and Gubi. And, it was emotional watching it as a friend and as a fan. If there is any place where Tim belongs, other than with the Angels, it has to be the Hall of Fame. The outpouring of love from around and across the baseball world shows that Tim is a Hall of Fame member for the Front Office part of the game. And, if there is anything that could pull Tim away from the Angels, it had to be Hall of Fame. There is no doubt that Tim loves the Angels. He bleeds Halos red through and through. But, if there is anything that he might love more, it’s the game of baseball itself. He respects and treasures it. He will protect it and all the players who enter into the Hall of Fame. As Tim was interviewed by Victor and Gubi, he said he would love to see more Angels getting into the Hall of Fame. Certainly Pujols and Trout will get there (although I’m in no rush to see Trout inducted anytime soon–I’d rather see him continue a long and productive career with the Angels). As a fan, I’d love to see more Angels in the Hall of Fame. In the next day’s game, against the Rays, something interesting happened. And, as I thought about it, I realized that it was a sign. The game after Tim Mead left the Angels for the Hall of Fame, Shohei Ohtani hit for the cycle–the first Japanese born player to do so in the Major Leagues. The very next Hall of Fame worthy event in baseball came from the Angels. The very first item that Tim will get to curate for museum will be from his beloved team. This wasn’t irony. This was a sign that the universe agreed with his decision to move. I will miss Tim’s presence when I go to the ballpark. And I know AngelsWin will forever miss his talks with us. But sometimes, it seems, we really do need to listen to the sounds of the universe.
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The baseball world remembers Tyler Skaggs

It has been said that sports can be an escape from reality. When something is bothering you the thrill of the game can take all of the pain away. Both worlds are supposed to be separate. They tragically intertwined on Monday afternoon when Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was pronounced dead by the Southlake Police Department in Texas. The 27-year-old was found unconscious in his hotel room in Texas as the Angels were set to face the Rangers this week. No foul play is expected at this time, and the investigation is ongoing. Drafted by Los Angeles in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft (40th overall), he made his debut after being traded to the Diamondbacks. Skaggs went back to the Angels in 2013. Skaggs was 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA in seven seasons. This season Skaggs was 7-7, and he just pitched a few days ago. Skaggs was beloved by many in the baseball world. He recently discussed wanting to play inside Dodger Stadium and was just married before the start of this year. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had the following to say about Skaggs: “I am deeply saddened by today’s tragedy in Texas. All of us at Major League Baseball send our deepest condolences to Tyler’s wife Carli, their family, their friends and all of his Angels’ teammates and colleagues. We will support the Angels’ organization through this most difficult period, and we will make a variety of resources available to Tyler’s teammates and other members of the baseball family.” Skagg’s passing comes ten years after the Angels lost Nick Adenhart in a car crash as a result of a drunk driver. Along with the deaths of Jose Fernandez, Yordano Ventura and Oscar Tavares, among others, it is a reminder of how life is short. Several members of the baseball community sent out tributes to Skaggs, from teammate, friends and baseball leaders all the way to those who have lost teammates themselves like Giancarlo Stanton.
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In tragic death, Tyler Skaggs still got what we all need

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Baseball Essential and was written by Tom Dorsa. A few days ago, a friend of mine committed suicide. According to the Carrollton, Texas police department, the lonesome middle-aged man passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, leaving little but a memory of a solitary, quirky personality and the wisdom he tried to pass on to me and many others. Whether he knew it or not, he touched many lives and left an indelible mark on those around him through his pure and delightful peculiarity. About 60 hours later, news broke of the passing of Los Angeles Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs. The Southlake, Texas police department found the 27-year-old unresponsive at the Hilton hotel in Southlake, about 20 minutes north of Globe Life Park in Arlington, where the Angels were set to kick off a series against the Texas Rangers on Monday afternoon. Skaggs was pronounced dead at the scene, and an autopsy to find out the cause of death — as foul play, as well as suicide, were ruled out — is scheduled for Tuesday. In the aftermath of his sudden, tragic death, the game was postponed. It was the proper move and the same one ordered by the Miami Marlins during the afternoon of Jose Fernandez‘s death, but like the cancelled Marlins game nearly three years prior, the status of the contest was secondary to the response to the surprising passing of the pitcher. To read the rest of this article, click here and head over to Baseball Essential. About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book and created an online class about how to get started as a sports blogger. Check those out and more helpful tips on sports blogging at his website. Twitter

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Jarrett Parker slugs his way to the top: Angels Prospect Hotlist (6/10-6/23 2019)

By Tres Hefter, Columnist Much has been spoken about the Angels emergence of arms this year, but the last two weeks has shown the Angels hitting prospects make a mark – thirteen hitters had an OPS over 1.000 meaning not all could even make the hotlist, so the honorable mention list could be its own hotlist after this one. 1) Jarrett Parker – RF/1B, AAA:  With Puello now in Miami, Parker is one step closer to the big leagues, and his recent performance has only further stressed that. Parker has homered in six straight games, giving him 18 on the year in 251 plate appearances, paired up with a .364/.453/.909/1.362 slash in the last two weeks. Additionally, Parker has added 1B to his defensive portfolio, giving him added usefulness to help the Angels should Bour again falter, or Pujols’ health give out. 2019 hitting (AAA): .307/.438/.639/.1.077 with 11 doubles, 1 triple, 18 HR, 53 RBI, 45 BB, 64 K in 57 G/251 PA 2) Matt Thaiss – 3B, AAA: Thaiss continued building his momentum (he had an .800 OPS from mid-April leading up to 6/10) by posting one of his hottest two-weeks to date; .372/.518/.791/1.309 with 3 doubles, 5 homers, and 13 walks to 7 strikeouts – with only a .355 BAbip in that time – all while playing exclusively 3B. Thaiss currently leads the Pacific Coast League with 52 walks, tied for tenth in HR with 13, and tied for sixteenth with 132 total bases. 2019 (AAA): .273/.387/.475/.862 with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 13 HR, 46 RBI, 52 BB, 55 K in 71 G/333 PA 3) Jo Adell – CF/RF, AA: Adell has continued to assert himself as one of the game’s top prospects, completely dominating AA since his return. Over the last two weeks, Adell has slashed .395/.477/.684/1.161 in 11 games, clubbing 5 doubles, 2 home runs, and only striking out five times – matched by five walks. Soon enough, it will simply just become a matter of time before Adell finds himself in Anaheim. 2019 (A+/AA): .361/.430/.651/1.081 with 9 doubles, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 19 K in 22 G/93 PA 4) Orlando Martinez – CF/LF/RF, A+: Vaulting into the prospect hotlist, and perhaps a new prospect legitimacy, Martinez has started showing some power in the last two weeks – six doubles, three home runs – during his recent .367/.456/.673/1.130 slash – adding to an already longstanding offensive profile of good contact and good discipline. The 2018 signee out of Cuba is almost undoubtedly in the mix for a future 4th OF job, but this increased power could bring him into an everyday conversation. 2019 (A+): .302/.377/.466/.842 with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 BB, 29 K in 26 G/130 PA 5) Jared Walsh – 1B/LHP, AAA: Walsh has taken his AAA demotion in stride, picking up right where he left off with significant offensive production. Walsh has slashed .364/.481/.591/1.072 with four doubles, two home runs, and eight walks to 11 strikeouts. With Bour back in Anaheim, Walsh might be in Salt Lake for a lengthy stint, but should remain a versatile option at the ready. 2019 hitting (AAA): .306/.399/.566/.965 with 18 doubles, 13 HR, 33 RBI, 29 BB, 68 K in 60 G/258 PA
2019 pitching (AAA): 4.50 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 2 BB, 5 K across 6 IP in 6 games Honorable mention, hitters:
Brennon Lund (OF, AAA): .459/.500/.757/1.257 with 5 2B, 2 HR –  yup, even a 1.257 OPS couldn’t crack the top 5. Jose Verrier (3B/2B, Orem Rk.): .321/.500/.750/1.250 with 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 6 K
Jeremiah Jackson (SS,  Orem Rk.): .286/.386/.657/1.044 with 4 2B, 3 HR, 7 BB, 14 K
Rainier Rivas (RF, DSL Rk.): .407/.500/.519/1.019 with 3 2B with 5 BB, 4 K
Michael Stefanic (SS/2B, A+): .310/.396/.619/1.015 with 2 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 5 BB, 4 K – starting to adjust to A+
Taylor Ward (LF, AAA): .268/.423/.585/1.008 with 2B, 4 HR but only 8 BB, 11 K – playing only LF recently
Jose Rojas (2B/3B, AAA): .289/.382/.622/1.004 with 5 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 BB, 13 K
Jordan Zimmerman (3B, A+): .341/.391/.610/1.001 with 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 7 K – a 1.109 slash in June now
Franklin Torres (C/2B, A+): .378/.431/.533/.965 with 2B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 6 K – splitting time between C and 2B
Gareth Morgan (OF, A+): .256/.298/.605/.903 with 5 HR, 1 BB, 26 K in 47 PA
Spencer Griffin (RF, A): .351/.385/.614/.898 with 2B, 3B, HR, 2 BB, 14 K, 3-3 in SB attempts
Jahmai Jones (2B, AA): .318/.362/.500/.862 with 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 K, in 48 PA
D’Shawn Knowles (OF, Orem Rk.): .278/.400/.444/.844 with 2 HR, 8 BB, 12 K, 4-4 SB attempts 6) Hector Yan – LHP, A: 
You can’t really be much better over a two-week span than what Hector Yan has done. Two starts, 11.1 innings pitched, zero runs – and zero hits allowed. Yan also struck out 12, but did allow five walks, a sign of his continuing issues of control and durability which could limit his ceiling, but the 20-year old lefty continues to climb up the ranks of Angels pitching prospects. 2019 (A): 3.07 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .182 BAA, 31 BB, 78 K across 55.2 IP in 14 G/10 GS 7) Cooper Criswell – RHP, A+:  The 6’6″ righty threw his most dominant game 6/22, striking out nine in 5 IP – capping a two-week span where he made three appearances, striking out 21 in 11.2 IP, allowing only 3 walks and nine hits, including a .209 BAA – despite a .409 BAbip. While his overall results have been mixed, Criswell comes with the right frame and decent repertoire to pitch himself into the top Angels pitching prospect discussions if he continues his June production. 2019 (A+): 4.82 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .273 BAA, 20 BB, 54 K across 52.1 IP in 13 G/10 GS 8 ) Jesus Castillo – RHP, AA: Castillo continues to place among the Angels top pitchers on the prospect playlist – his consistency has led him to lead the Angels org – majors including – in innings pitched, and his ERA has now dropped to an even 3.00. Over the last two weeks, Castillo made two starts and two one-inning relief appearances – combining for 14 innings, 1.29 ERA, and 1 BB with 8 K – perhaps hinting at some potential usefulness as a reliever on the MLB depth charts. 2019 (AA): 3.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .264 BAA, 18 BB, 55 K, only 3 HR allowed across 75 IP in 16 G/12 GS 9) Cole Duensing – RHP, A: The miraculous rebirth of the 2016 draft pick’s career continued over the last two weeks as he made three appearances, led by a 6.2 IP start against Clinton where he struck out 8 and walked zero, and followed by two relief appearances – one good (4 IP, 0 BB, 4 K, and one not so good (0.2 IP, 3 BB), further demonstrating the volatility of the lanky righty’s stuff. Duensing might be best suited in the future as a high-lev, multi-inning relief arm. 2019 (A): 4.32 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .241 BAA, 36 BB, 55 K across 58.1 IP in 14 G/9 GS 10) Alejandro Duran – RHP, DSL Rk.: Little is known about the equally diminutive (5’11”, 150) 17-year old Venezuelan righty, but he’s made quite an intro to the Angels Dominican summer league team, making four appearances, throwing 18 innings, striking out 20, and only walking two, surrendering a 3.00 ERA in that time. 2019 (DSL Rk.): 3.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .119 BAA, 2 BB, 20 K across 18 in 4 G/2 GS Honorable mention, pitchers:
Isaac Mattson (RHP, AA): 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.00 ERA in 3 games – no signs slowing now that he’s in AA Luis Alvarado (RHP, A): 11.2 IP, 12 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 3.86 ERA in 2 games Danifer Diaz (RHP, DSL Rk.): 4.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA in 2 GS 
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Four More Moves The Los Angeles Angels Need to Make: 2018 Midseason Edition

By Tres Hefter, Contributor Piggybacking off this thread from the winter…with so many threads jumping up each day on different bullpen trade ideas, I thought it might be a good time to create one centralized “What would you do?” thread for all to post their ideas in. We’re still 6 weeks out from the trade deadline, but signs point to an earlier than usual trade market developing this year, and the Angels certainly are in a position where they may need to move sooner rather than later to stay in the race. Needs and costs will obviously change over the next month and a half, but we’re probably at a point where we can generalize these ideas enough to come close to the mark. Here’s my ideas… 1) Acquire a controllable SP // Angels trade LHP Jose Suarez, OF Michael Hermosillo, and IF Leonardo Rivas to Miami for RHP Jose Urena The Angels receive Urena (2-8, 4.18 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 1.16 WHIP) immediately steps into the back of the Angels rotation and offers stability with significant upside at a great value, as he’s making league-minimum and is under control through 2021. His presence allows the Angels to utilize Tropeano and Pena as additional bullpen depth, and he helps fill a 2019 rotation void if Richards leaves via FA. The Marlins receive an MLB-ready SP prospect in Suarez who would have been titled an Angels’ rotation too far left, an OF prospect they can play everyday instead of Shuck and Maybin, and a promising potential lead-off hitter and IF prospect in Rivas. Expansion Idea: The Angels add OF Brandon Marsh (and perhaps RHP Cam Bedrosian) to the deal, and receive either RHP Kyle Barraclough (1.11 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 0.77 WHIP, 9.5 K/9) or RHP Drew Streckenrider (3.55 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 10.9 K/9) as well, replacing the #2 trade on my list. Comparable Targets: Dylan Bundy (BAL), Jake Junis (KCR), Aaron Sanchez (TOR), Zack Wheeler (NYM), or Jameson Taillon (PIT) with Marsh added into the deal. 2) Acquire a controllable RP // Angels trade RHP Joe Gatto, RHP Jesus Castillo, and RHP Cam Bedrosian to Toronto for RHP Ryan Tepera The Angels acquire a steady reliever in Tepera (2.75 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.17 WHIP, 9.5 K/9) who comes under control through 2021 and cheaply, on the verge of entering arbitration. The Blues Jays receive a change of scenery project in the option-less Bedrosian who is squeezed out of the ‘win-now’ Angels pen, as well as 12 years of control of projectable arms who should see MLB innings in Gatto and Castillo who are a little less crucial after the acquisition of Urena and growth of Canning, Barria, Pena, and Jose Rodriguez, as well as the ’18 draft class. Comparable Targets: Adam Cimber, Kirby Yates (SDP), Mychal Givens (BAL), Ryan Stanek, Jose Alvarado, Chaz Roe, Matt Andriese (TBR), Jared Hughes (CIN), Tony Barnette (TEX), Bruce Rondon, Luis Avilan, Xavier Cedeno (CWS), Sam Freeman, Jesse Biddle, Dan Winkler (ATL), Alex Wilson, Shane Greene, Louis Coleman (DET), Kevin McCarthy (KCR) 3) Acquire another RP, either a pending FA or expensive vet // Angels trade RHP Cole Duensing and OF Nonie Williams to Chicago for RHP Joakim Soria The Angels add another layer of depth to the pen, absorbing a few million in salary for veteran presence and potentially declining talent. Soria (3.00 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 10 K/9) provides an option with closer experience. The White Sox receive salary relief, but also two once-heralded prospects who have failed to achieve any real results, but still have time on their side. Comparable Targets: Darren O’Day (BAL), Tyler Clippard (TOR), Bud Norris (STL), David Hernandez (CIN), Yusmeiro Petit (OAK), Anthony Swarzak (NYM), Trevor Cahill (OAK), any of the names mentioned in #2 4) DFA Luis Valbuena…and maybe Jefry Marte. Luis, I’ve been one of your strongest supporters, but you haven’t been able to find a rhythm this year and the future is nigh. Cut bait and send him packing, maybe he gets warm enough Eppler is able to replicate a Cron for Rengifo or David Hernandez for Luis Madero heist. Jose Fernandez replace Luis, and while he won’t match the power numbers, he’ll be a far steadier and balanced offensive player, costing pennies and able to play additional positions. If Marte returns and also fails to produce, he too finds an end to his Angel days, replaced by Fletcher, Cowart, or even Thaiss or Ward. …and, cheating a bit by throwing a hypothetical fifth move (or first post-midseason move?) one post-deadline August trade possibility: 5) Acquire Adam Jones or Andrew McCutchen
Either would handle 4th OF/RF during a stretch run or playoff series, should Calhoun, Young, and Blash fail to ever amount to anything. Their salaries and age are high enough that it likely wouldn’t cost much more than one or two of names like, at most, Jewell, Pena, Rodriguez, Barash, Lund, Walsh, Houchins. Resulting roster: 
SP: Likely Richards, Skaggs, Heaney, Barria, Urena, with Lamb, Felix Pena, Luis Pena, Miguel Almonte, and Canning as depth, and Ohtani, Trop, Shoemaker on DL and possible to return. RP: Soria, Parker, Tepera, Anderson, Alvarez, Noe Ramirez with above SPs, Jewell, Paredes, Morris as depth and Johnson on DL.
Line-up: Remains the same.
Bench: Fernandez IF, Briceno/Rivera C, Marte/Fletcher/Ward/Thaiss/Cowart IF, and Chris and Eric Young/Liriano/Blash/Revere as 4th OF options New Top 30 Prospects:
Adell, Canning, Marsh, Jones, Thaiss, Ward, Maitan, Jordyn Adams, Rengifo, Jeremiah Jackson, C. Rodriguez, Soriano, Lund, Rivera, Deveaux, Hunter Jr., Pena, Knowles, J. Rodriguez, Soto, Walsh, Gibbons, Bradish, Hernandez, Yan, English, Uceta, O. Martinez, A. Ramirez*, Bonilla* Graduates: Barria, Fletcher, Jewell, Paredes Departures: Suarez, Hermosillo, Rivas, Gatto, Castillo, Duensing, Nonie Williams I tried to make moves that took advantage of our farm, without eating into our best prospects, and still securing MLB-ready players who would help for the long-term without breaking payroll. It also sets up the team well enough to still conceivably push for the playoffs now, but definitely doesn’t boost our chances significantly.
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How Tyler Skaggs has emerged to be the Angels ace

By Steve Zavala, Columnist When the season began, the Angels starting rotation was much of an unknown filled with questions and concerns. Andrew Heaney, Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano were all coming off three straight injury-riddled seasons. Prized prospect Shohei Ohtani was coming over from Japan with high expectations. Alex Meyer and J.C Ramirez hurt the Angels depth early on with season-ending injuries. The team had several promising pitching prospects in the minors but did not have a set timeline as to when they would be ready for a call-up to the majors. And most importantly, the team has been waiting for a pitcher to step up and finally have an All-Star caliber season to lead the rotation. In the midst of it all, the starting rotation has overachieved expectations as they have been led by the emergence of a new ace, Tyler Skaggs. The 26-year-old left-hander is currently having a breakout, near All-Star type season and by far the best year of his career. Skaggs is currently on pace to set career highs in ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts while also sporting an impressive 2.3 WAR– which is higher than his first five seasons combined (0.8). His eight quality starts this season has already tied a career from that of his 2014 season but he has done it in three fewer starts so far. Skaggs is most notably impressing with his 2.69 ERA, which leads all Angels starters and currently ranks 9th among qualified AL starters. June has arguably been his most impressive month. Among qualified AL starting pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched, Skaggs leads all starters with an outstanding 0.67 ERA in June.   Now while ERA does not paint the entire picture as to why a pitcher is having major success or is struggling, Skaggs has in large part been able to successfully minimize damage when in trouble and finish with a quality start. While Skaggs has allowed a mediocre .246 opponents batting average (BAA), he has been fair in allowing a .226 average with runners in scoring position (RISP) and an overall .199 average with men on base. This can be credited also to his success against lefties as he has held them to a .178 average. Seeing a pitcher be able to take command of a situation when in trouble such as when the opposing team has RISP is like a breath of fresh air for Angels fans. The fan base has had to endure seasons with starting pitchers who struggled mightily to escape RISP situations such as with Joe Blanton, Ricky Nolasco and C.J Wilson. Skaggs has delivered the most when needed by the Angels, whether it has been to end a losing streak or to clinch a pivotal series win. Over the course of the first half of the season, Skaggs has earned the trust of Angels manager Mike Scioscia to go deeper into games and fight his way through difficult innings. From his seven scoreless innings performance against the Astros in April to his latest start which saw him go seven scoreless against the Royals, Skaggs has been the workhorse pitcher that the Angeles desperately needed this season. Now when digging deep to examine his pitch arsenal, he uses four pitches: four seam fastball, curveball, changeup and sinker. None of his four main pitches are a nasty, lights out pitch that can fool batters time after time even when the opponent has an idea of which pitch to expect. Instead, Skaggs has been effective with his command and aggressive when ahead of the count. Starting with his four seam fastball, the pitch has undergone gradual improvement over the years. His fastball is not an Aroldis Chapman type that would light up the radar gun or a Max Scherzer type with excellent command in the high 90s. Instead, it ranges in the low 90s with an average speed of 92 mph. It is not outstanding like Scherzer’s or atrocious like Jered Weaver late in his career but at the end of the day, it is effective. Skaggs utilizes his fastball 41% of the time, most of any pitch. Last season in 16 starts, opponents were hitting .290 off of his fastball but in comparison to this season, opponents are hitting .235. Also last season, he recorded a .303 on batting average on balls in play (BABIP) while having a .295 BABIP this season. As alluded to before, it is not great nor atrocious but it gets the job done. One trait about his fastball is that he is beginning to throw it high out of the zone. This is preferable for Skaggs especially when he is ahead in the count and looking to fool a batter. As seen in this pitch, Skaggs goes for the high 92 mph fastball to strike out Jake Marisnick. Onto his curveball, the pitch has become one that Skaggs is relying on more but has not had consistent results with it. Last season, he threw the curve 432 times in 113 plate appearances while recording a .208 BAA. This season, he has thrown the curve 455 times in 116 plate appearances but opponents are hitting .264 against it. The .264 BAA is not something to worry about but rather a pitch that could need vast improvement, especially down in the zone. When used effectively and with control in the zone, it could be his biggest strength pitch. A 75 mph curve, which he has recorded 40% of his strikeouts with, can be his nasty pitch if developed well. Skaggs’ curveball has a good, late drop as seen in his last start against the Royals with his 6th inning strikeout of Salvador Perez. Skaggs’ 84 mph changeup, his 3rd main pitch, has also undergone a positive transformation with superb direction and movement. Opponents are hitting .180 against the pitch. He has also doubled the SwSTR%, swings and misses percentage, up to 14.8%. To an extent, his changeup success can be credited to playing behind an outstanding Angels defense as the pitch has a .207 BABIP. With his 4th and final pitch, Skaggs’ 91 mph sinker is far from what he had hoped it would deliver this season as opponents are hitting .300 against it. He has recorded just three strikeouts from it with a 40.2 Swing%. If he can get the sinker to suddenly become a reliable one that can be used as a strikeout pitch, it would only give him more flexibility and options to finish off a batter. Even with his success this season, there is still room for improvement. His fastball and changeup are two pitches that he has had promising success with when located in the zone but he must still work to perfect his sinker and curveball. At this stage in his career, Skaggs is a work in progress but there is promise in his pitch arsenal. The Angels are finally starting to see Skaggs’ potential as a starter but at this rate, the best is yet to come. Skaggs is one of the bright spots on an unbalanced Angels team that is currently on a rough patch over the past month. If the team begins to pick it up with the offense producing up to their capabilities and bullpen suddenly becoming a reliable force, then Skaggs could very well be leading the pitching staff into a tightly contested playoff race. Among others, the Angels hope that Skaggs performances over the past three months are not a one-hit wonder but rather the beginning of a new chapter as the Angels prominent ace.
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Angels pitching and the case of Homer-itis

The Angels just completed the 3rd week of the 2017 season and the results have not been pretty. After starting the season 6-2, which included 2 miraculous comeback wins, the team has totally stalled out, going 2-10 in their last 12 games. Recently, the Angels offense has been the problem, struggling to receive any production beyond Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar. To start the year, the starting pitching could barely get the team through the 5th inning and put up bad results in the process, although they’ve picked it up recently. One huge problem for the Angels that has been consistent so far, however, is the alarming rate the pitching staff is allowing home runs at. Both the bullpen and the starting rotation are responsible here, a disturbing trend for a team that is aspiring to compete in 2017. The Angels staff allowed 9 home runs in 7 games in the 1st week of the season. Week 2 saw the team allow 11 home runs in 6 games. Week 3 didn’t get any better, as the Angels allowed 11 home runs in 7 games, bringing the season total up to a MLB high 31 home runs in 20 games. This pace probably won’t keep up but right now, the Angels are on pace to allow 251 home runs across 162 games. The all time single season record for home runs allowed was set just last year by the Cincinnati Reds, who allowed an absurd 258 home runs. Through 20 games, the Angels are allowing home runs at a historic rate, posting a 1.57 HR/9. After allowing 208 home runs last year, maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising the team is allowing a lot of home runs again, especially with Garrett Richards, their toughest starting pitcher to square up, out for an extended period of time. There isn’t just one player to put the blame on for these home runs. It’s been a team wide issue. Ricky Nolasco is the main culprit with 7 home runs allowed in 22.1 innings. Matt Shoemaker hasn’t been much better with his 6 home runs allowed in 21.1 innings. Tyler Skaggs and Jesse Chavez have allowed 3 apiece, albeit their home run rate isn’t too outrageously bad. J.C. Ramirez, Mike Morin, Deolis Guerra, Brooks Pounders and Kirby Yates have allowed 2 apiece. Pounders allowed those home runs on Sunday in 1.1 innings of work and Yates allowed his 2 big flies on Saturday night in 1 inning of work. Yusmeiro Petit and Jose Alvarez have each allowed 1 home run. Garrett Richards, Andrew Bailey, Bud Norris, Daniel Wright, Alex Meyer, Blake Parker and Cam Bedrosian are the only 7 pitchers that have not allowed home runs this year. It’s no surprise that those 7 pitchers have combined to strike out 47 batters and walk 15 batters and post a 2.35 ERA in 46 innings pitched. Why are the Angels having these home run issues? Well, you can look no further than how many balls are being put in the air and how hard the Angels are throwing as a team. The Angels pitching staff as a whole is not doing a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, which is a huge culprit to the home run issues. Their 41.2% ground ball rate is the 6th lowest mark in baseball. Their 39.8% fly ball rate is the 3rd highest mark in baseball. The Angels pitching staff is averaging 92.1 mph on their fastballs, which is the 7th lowest velocity among pitching staffs. Those same fastballs have a -13.6 wFB(Weighted Fastball Runs), which is the 3rd worst mark in baseball. In this day and age, fastball velocity(or spin rate) is necessary to miss bats and not allow hard contact. From what we have seen, the Angels pitching staff isn’t throwing hard enough and keeping the ball down enough to avoid serious damage when the ball is put in the air. Here’s some good news: The Angels are allowing home runs but they’re missing plenty of bats, ranking 10th in strikeout percentage(22.5%) among all MLB teams. They’re not walking many batters either, posting the 5th lowest walk rate so far(7.5%). As a result, the Angels pitching staff as a whole has a 3.89 xFIP, which ranks middle of the pack at 14th. Last year, the Angels had the league’s lowest strikeout rate at 18.6% and were middle of the pack with a 8.1 walk%. If there’s any bit of hope with this Angels pitching staff, you can at least squint and see the potential for an average pitching staff if they can mitigate these home runs problems moving forward. The other good news is Ricky Nolasco and Matt Shoemaker won’t have a combined 2.68 HR/9 rate the rest of their season, albeit they’ll still allow more home runs than most pitchers. A 15.6 HR/FB% probably won’t keep up either, which is the 3rd highest mark in the league, but that’s partially a byproduct of allowing so many home runs. Hopefully, the Angels can just experience some regression towards the mean(mathematical term for not being so unlucky) and see their home run rate drop a bit. Home runs can be fickle sometimes, in regards to predicting them moving forward, and we are only looking at a 20 game sample of a 162 game season. The other aspect of this that isn’t encouraging for the Angels is when you include context for these home run totals. The Angels play at a very friendly home ballpark(8th lowest Runs/Park Factor in 2016, 2nd lowest in 2015, 5th lowest in 2014), which means the team should hypothetically have an advantage with keeping the ball in the yard so far. The Angels haven’t gotten that message as they’ve allowed 16 of their 31 home runs in 9 games at home this year. They’ve allowed 15 home runs on the road in 11 games, coming in more pitcher friendly parks such as the Oakland Coliseum and Kaufmann Stadium and the not so pitcher friendly Minute Maid Park. The Angels have had huge home run issues and only 4 of the first 20 games, or 20% of their games, have taken place in a bandbox ballpark geared for high offense. The other scary aspect of including context is acknowledging that home runs generally increase as the year moves along, due to the weather getting warmer and helping more fly balls leave the yard. If the Angels don’t get a hold of these home runs issues, the warm summer games could have the Angels allowing home runs at an even higher rate. The Angels pitching has not been good, which shouldn’t surprise too many people. Injuries have played a part early but it was very predictable to see this Angels staff struggle some this year. The way they have struggled so far, however, has been a bit surprising. The Angels are missing bats and not walking many batters but they are allowing home runs at an enormous rate. One could be optimistic and say the Angels could have a good staff, or even an average staff, if the home runs start to come down. Regression to the mean is the more likely future scenario, however, so think less strikeouts, less home runs and more walks going forward. The home run rate will likely come down but will it come at the expense of walking more batters in the process? It’s very unlikely the Angels will allow 250 or so home runs in 2017 but the early signs for the Angels pitching staff aren’t good. For the Angels to be competitive this year, they need to start keeping the baseball in the yard or the team will likely be selling in July and many pitchers will be tweaking their necks after watching so many balls leave the yard.

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Angels Pitcher Griffin Canning Talks with

Interview conducted by David Saltzer, 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. 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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2017 Trade Deadline Series: Bud Norris

2015-2017 Split vs. LHH as of June 20, 2017 2015-2017 Split vs. RHH as of June 20, 2017 We started the Trade Deadline Series with Cameron Maybin because he probably has the most overall value in trade out of all of the players with less than one year of control but right-handed reliever Bud Norris is not too far behind him in the market. Bud has taken to the closer role quite well once Street and Bedrosian hit the disabled list. Not only is his fastball velocity sitting in the mid-90’s but he is complimenting that pitch with a quality cut fastball and slider. The four-seam fastball has been a weakness against both RHH’s and LHH’s but the cutter and slider have been very effective against both sides of the plate per Perhaps a lot less noticeable is the fact that, as a reliever, his LOB% has risen significantly against both sides of the plate and his batting average against has gone down considerably particularly against LHH’s. Norris has less than $1M left on his contract so he is a very attractive asset from both a performance and team payroll point of view. Relievers are almost always in high demand at the deadline so there should be quite a strong market for someone like Bud who can effectively get LHH’s and RHH’s out. After we have executed our basic analysis we will also discuss David Hernandez and Yusmeiro Petit who happen to have profiles that are similar to Norris so keep that in mind when reading the rest of the article. Let us take a look at some teams that have a need for Norris’ services. Twins Minnesota is in dire need of relief help against both sides of the plate. Overall their rotation and bullpen rank 25th vs. LHH’s and dead last vs. RHH’s in K-BB%. When you dig deeper the only member of the Twins bullpen getting it done against both sides of the plate is Tyler Duffey. Even Brandon Kintzler, the team’s current closer, is struggling against left-handed hitters. All of this simply means that Minnesota needs to solve its bullpen woes if they really want to compete, particularly in a playoff series where reliever use is critical. Twins Likely Target(s): OF Cameron Maybin, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, RHP Jesse Chavez, and RHP David Hernandez Angels Likely Target(s): AA LHP Stephen Gonsalves, AA LHP Tyler Jay, R OF Alex Kirilloff, R SS Wander Javier, AA RHP Fernando Romero, AA RHP Kohl Stewart, AAA C Mitch Garver, AAA OF Zack Granite, A+ LHP Lewis Thorpe, AAA RHP J.T. Chargois, AA RHP Nick Burdi, A 1B Lewin Diaz, AA OF Lamonte Wade, AA RHP Felix Jorge, R RHP Huascar Ynoa, A+ LHP Lachlan Wells, R RHP Brusdar Graterol, AAA RHP Aaron Slegers, AA RHP John Curtiss, A+ 2B Luis Arraez, R RHP James Jax, and A RHP Sean Poppen Trade Scenario(s): The Twins really could use a more productive outfielder and are in dire need of right-handed and left-handed relief help. Additionally adding a lead-off hitter would move Dozier to the 2-hole and strengthen and lengthen their lineup as a whole.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Twins in exchange for AA LHP Stephen Gonsalves and R RHP James Jax
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris and RHP Yusmeiro Petit to the Twins in exchange for AAA OF Zack Granite, A+ LHP Lewis Thorpe, and A+ 2B Luis Arraez
Angels trade OF Cameron Maybin and RP Bud Norris to the Twins in exchange for AA LHP Stephen Gonsalves, R OF Alex Kirilloff, A+ 2B Luis Arraez, and R SS Wander Javier Rangers Standing literally right behind the Twins in rotation and bullpen suck-age is our A.L. West opponent, the Texas Rangers. They currently rank 27th versus LHH’s and 29th against RHH’s in our tables we generated in the second submission of the series (the Methodology article). Obviously this is an issue that needs to be addressed if the Rangers want to succeed moving forward. When you examine the Rangers bullpen two names, Jeremy Jeffress and Dario Alvarez, stand out as under-performers. The former is a bit surprising as he was the other guy in the Lucroy trade (and boy is that looking not so good for Texas now) and there was an expectation he would make an impact. Most of Texas’ woes are in the back-end of the rotation and in set-up (Jeffress) and middle relief (Alvarez). Normally the Angels might not want to bargain with a team in their own Division but if the trade asset is only a pure rental it should not be an issue for Billy Eppler to strike a deal (although Texas may be loathe to do so). Rangers Likely Target(s): RHP David Hernandez and RHP Yusmeiro Petit Angels Likely Target(s): AA LHP Yohander Mendez, A OF Leody Taveras, AA RHP Ariel Jurado, R LHP Cole Ragans, AA C Jose Trevino, A+ LHP Joe Palumbo, A+ LHP Brett Martin, AA 2B Andy Ibanez, AA RHP Connor Sadzeck, A RHP Michael Matuella, RHP Josh LeClerc, AAA UTIL Drew Robinson, R 2B Kole Enright, A+ RHP Jonathan Hernandez, AAA C Brett Nicholas, A RHP Kyle Cody, AA OF Jose Cardona, and AA RHP Pedro Payano Trade Scenario(s): The Rangers, just like the Angels, are on the outskirts of the Wild Card race. If they do close the gap adding one of our relievers as a pure rental piece is the most likely outcome if Eppler chooses to do business with a Division rival.
Angels trade RHP David Hernandez to the Rangers in exchange for AA RHP Ariel Jurado and A RHP Michael Matuella
Angels trade RHP Yusmeiro Petit to the Rangers in exchange for A+ RHP Jonathan Hernandez and A RHP Kyle Cody
Tigers Detroit is doing a touch better than the previous two teams as their pitching staff is ranked 16th against LHH’s and 27th versus RHH’s. Clearly they need to improve as a whole against the latter but a deeper look shows where the real problem lies. When you peel back the layers you quickly realize that 40% of the Tigers rotation (Zimmerman and Verlander) are really under-performing against both sides of the plate as are relievers LHP Daniel Stumpf and RHP Alex Wilson. There may be very little the Tigers can do about the former when you consider the contracts owed but the latter could be alleviated by acquiring a reliever or two to reinforce their bullpen if Detroit stays in it. Tigers Likely Target(s): OF Cameron Maybin, OF Eric Young Jr., RHP David Hernandez, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, RHP Blake Parker, and RHP Bud Norris Angels Likely Target(s): R RHP Matt Manning, AA RHP Beau Burrows, AA LHP Tyler Alexander, AA OF Mike Gerber, RHP Joe Jimenez, SS Dixon Machado, A+ RHP Kyle Funkhouser, AA RHP Adam Ravanelle, A+ RHP Gerson Moreno, A+ RHP Sandy Baez, R 2B Hector Martinez, A+ RHP Spencer Turnbull, R RHP Wladimir Pinto, AA RHP Myles Jaye, AA LHP Jairo Labourt, A+ RHP Drew Smith, A+ LHP Matt Hall, and AA RHP Artie Lewicki,
Trade Scenario(s): Detroit, in the current standings, are still in the mix for a shot at the Division and Wild Card. If that holds they could certainly use a shot in the arm in center field. Additionally the Tigers rotation has been quite ineffective against RHP so that is likely a concern for their management although it is unclear how they can address the issue. Finally Detroit probably needs an additional reliever or two if they want to make a run at a Wild Card spot.
Angels trade OF Cameron Maybin and RHP Yusmeiro Petit to the Tigers in exchange for RHP Joe Jimenez, R RHP Wladimir Pinto, A+ RHP Kyle Funkhouser, and A+ LHP Matt Hall Angels trade RHP Yusmeiro Petit to the Tigers in exchange for AA RHP Adam Ravanelle Angels trade RHP David Hernandez to the Tigers in exchange for A+ RHP Kyle Funkhouser and A+ RHP Spencer Turnbull Brewers Milwaukee, like Anaheim and Texas, sits on the fringe of the Wild Card race waiting to see how things firm up before the All Star Break. If the Brew Crew finds themselves as buyers at the deadline they will have to account for their current 13th place ranking versus LHH’s and 26th place ranking against RHH’s if they want to sustain a run through the rest of the year. Relievers like Carlos Torres, Paolo Espino, and Wily Peralta along with starters Zach Davies and Junior Guerra are dragging down Milwaukee’s pitching numbers due to bland results and under-performance. Brewers Likely Target(s): RHP Bud Norris, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Blake Parker, and RHP Yusmeiro Petit
Angels Likely Target(s): RHP Brandon Woodruff, A+ 3B Lucas Erceg, A+ RHP Marcos Diplan, A+ RHP Phil Bickford, AAA OF Ryan Cordell, AA RHP Jorge Lopez, A+ RHP Cody Ponce, AAA OF Brett Phillips, AA RHP Corbin Burnes, A+ LHP Kodi Medeiros, AA RHP Freddy Peralta, A C Mario Feliciano, A+ RHP Jordan Yamamoto, AAA OF Kyle Wren, AA RHP Adrian Houser, R RHP Nash Walters, A+ OF Troy Stokes, AA RHP Jon Perrin, and AA RHP Aaron Wilkerson
Trade Scenario(s): Milwaukee has been hanging in the playoff hunt and recently they have indicated they are open to potentially adding bullpen help as they near the deadline. The caveat to that need is that they are unwilling to trade any of their top tier pieces, per, so in light of that we will only consider certain Brewers prospects and players in this discussion. The Brewers primary need is relievers that can put away right-handed hitters.
Angels trade RHP Yusmeiro Petit to the Brewers in exchange for AA RHP Aaron Wilkerson and A+ LHP Kodi Medeiros
Angels trade RHP David Hernandez to the Brewers in exchange for AAA OF Ryan Cordell and R RHP Nash Walters Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Brewers in exchange for AA RHP Jorge Lopez and A+ RHP Phil Bickford Angels trade RHP Blake Parker to the Brewers in exchange for AAA OF Ryan Cordell, AA RHP Corbin Burnes, and A+ RHP Cody Ponce Rays
When you look closer at Tampa’s bullpen you see a group that is a little bit split in their efficiency against both sides of the plate. Danny Farquhar in particular has had his troubles and frankly this is an area where the Rays could improve by adding a reliever that can get both LHH’s and RHH’s out if they want to compete more effectively down the stretch and especially if they make the playoffs. Rays Likely Target(s): OF Cameron Maybin, OF Eric Young Jr., SP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, and RHP David Hernandez Angels Likely Target(s): AAA RHP Brent Honeywell, RHP Jose De Leon, A OF Jesus Sanchez, AAA RHP Chih-Wei Hu, AA OF Justin Williams, RHP Jacob Faria, AAA RHP Ryne Stanek, AAA RHP Diego Castillo, R LHP Resly Linares, A+ 3B Kevin Padlo, AAA RHP Taylor Guerrieri, AA RHP Hunter Wood, AAA RHP Jaime Schultz, AA RHP Greg Harris, A+ C David Rodriguez, LHP Jose Alvarado, A+ RHP Brandon Koch, A+ LHP Genesis Cabrera, AAA LHP Ryan Yarbrough, A RHP Deivy Mendez, A- Vidal Brujan, A+ RHP Blake Bivens, A RHP Adrian Navas, A RHP Kevin Gadea, A RHP Peter Bayer, R C Ronaldo Hernandez, and A LHP Kenny Rosenberg Trade Scenario(s): The Rays have had their fair share of bullpen injuries so reinforcing their relief corps by adding one good, two-way reliever might be prudent.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Rays in exchange for AAA RHP Jaime Schultz and A+ RHP Brandon Koch
Angels trade OF Cameron Maybin and RHP Bud Norris to the Rays in exchange for AAA RHP Diego Castillo, AAA RHP Jaime Schultz, and R C Ronaldo Hernandez
Angels trade OF Cameron Maybin, SP Ricky Nolasco, and RHP David Hernandez to the Rays in exchange for AAA Chih-Wei Hu, AAA RHP Jaime Schultz, LHP Jose Alvarado, and A+ LHP Genesis Cabrera. Angels absorb $2MM of Nolasco’s remaining 2017 salary Mets New York has been taking on water recently and finds themselves on the bubble of completely falling out of the Wild Card race. Realistically the Mets season might be done but like every other team on this list they are one large winning streak away from putting themselves back into the discussion. When you examine New York’s bullpen you can see that they are more match-up based with only their closer, Addison Reed, being a true two-way reliever. It would probably be in their best interest to acquire one more bullpen piece if they are in it at the deadline. Mets Likely Target(s): 3B Yunel Escobar, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Blake Parker, and RHP David Hernandez
Angels Likely Target(s): AAA 1B Dominic Smith, A+ RHP Justin Dunn, A SS Andres Gimenez, A OF Desmond Lindsay, A LHP Thomas Szapucki, AA C Tomas Nido, OF Brandon Nimmo, R SS Gregory Guerrero, AAA 2B Gavin Cecchini, A+ 1B Peter Alonso, A+ OF Wuilmer Becerra, A RHP Merandy Gonzalez, AA RHP Marcos Molina, UTIL T.J. Rivera, A C Ali Sanchez, A RHP Harol Gonzalez, AA RHP Chris Flexen, R OF Anthony Dirocie, R RHP Michel Otanez, R OF Raul Beracierta, A+ RHP Nabil Crismatt, and A+ 3B Jhoan Urena
Trade Scenario(s): The Mets need another reliable reliever and based on the lackluster performance of some of their middle infield, someone like Yunel Escobar might be a rental they would be interested in.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Mets in exchange for AAA 2B Gavin Cecchini and R RHP Michel Otanez
Angels trade RHP David Hernandez to the Mets in exchange for OF Brandon Nimmo and R OF Anthony Dirocie Angels trade RHP Bud Norris and 3B Yunel Escobar to the Mets in exchange for AAA 2B Gavin Cecchini, A+ 1B Peter Alonso, and AA RHP Chris Flexen Yankees The Bronx Bombers actually have a pretty good bullpen with the likes of Chapman, Betances, and Chad Green being able to control both sides of the plate. However when you look a little closer it is clear they may want to beef up their middle right-handed relief before the deadline as they are a little heavy the other way. To be clear New York does not have to do anything here and they could probably get by adequately particularly in a playoff situation with the three listed above. A move to increase the length and breadth of their bullpen would be a depth one, perhaps even a luxury, which, of course, the Yankees can afford. Yankees Likely Target(s): 3B Yunel Escobar, RHP Bud Norris, RHP Blake Parker, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, and RHP David Hernandez
Angels Likely Target(s): A+ RHP James Kaprielian, A+ SS Jorge Mateo, AAA OF Dustin Fowler, AA LHP Justus Sheffield, A+ RHP Albert Abreu, AAA RHP Chance Adams, AAA 3B Miguel Andujar, A+ RHP Dillon Tate, AAA UTIL Tyler Wade, A OF Estevan Florial, AAA RHP Domingo Acevedo, R 3B Dermis Garcia, A+ LHP Ian Clarkin, AAA RHP Gio Gallegos, R RHP Rony Garcia, A+ SS Kyle Holder, AAA RHP Ben Heller, A- RHP Jorge Guzman, AA RHP Yefry Ramirez, R SS Eduardo Torrealba, A RHP Nick Green, A SS Diego Castillo, AA RHP Zack Littell, AAA RHP Adonis Rosa, R RHP Deivi Garcia, AA RHP Travis Hissong, AA RHP Nick Rumbelow, A+ RHP Erik Swanson, and AA 2B Thairo Estrada
Trade Scenario(s): The Yankees might take a flyer on Escobar as part of a platoon with Chase Headley but if they were to inquire on anyone first it would probably be one of our available relievers, particularly one that can get RHH’s out well.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Yankees in exchange for AAA 3B Miguel Andujar and R RHP Deivi Garcia
Angels trade RHP David Hernandez to the Yankees in exchange for AAA RHP Domingo Acevedo and R RHP Rony Garcia
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris and 3B Yunel Escobar to the Yankees in exchange for AAA OF Dustin Fowler, A- RHP Jorge Guzman, and AA RHP Travis Hissong
Nationals Washington’s bullpen woes have been fairly well documented since the beginning of the season. When you look at the current state of their bullpen it becomes clear that they probably need one more reliever that can get lefties out and preferably that person should be a two-way guy that can get RHH’s out too. Nationals Likely Target(s): OF Cameron Maybin, UTIL Danny Espinosa, UTIL Cliff Pennington, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Blake Parker, and RHP Bud Norris Angels Likely Target(s): A+ OF Victor Robles, A OF Juan Soto, AAA RHP Erick Fedde, DSL SS Luis Garcia, A 3B Carter Kieboom, RHP Koda Glover, AAA C Pedro Severino, AA 1B Jose Marmolejos, A OF Daniel Johnson, A C Jakson Reetz, A LHP Tyler Watson, and AA RHP Ryan Brinley Trade Scenario(s): Certain members of the Nat’s bullpen are not performing well so adding someone like David Hernandez or Bud Norris would give them more firepower, particularly against left-handed hitters, in later innings. Also Washington may be a serious player to acquire Cameron Maybin if the Angels are out of it near the trade deadline. Finally a left-handed hitting defensive-minded utility backup like Espinosa (questionable considering the way he argued with Nat’s management before they traded him to the Halos) or Pennington might be in the cards.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Nationals in exchange for AAA RHP Erick Fedde and A C Jakson Reetz
Angels trade OF Cameron Maybin and RHP David Hernandez to the Nationals in exchange for RHP Koda Glover, AA RHP Ryan Brinley, A OF Juan Soto, and A LHP Tyler Watson
Angels trade OF Cameron Maybin, UTIL Danny Espinosa, and RHP Bud Norris to the Nationals in exchange for AAA Erick Fedde, RHP Koda Glover, A OF Juan Soto, and A LHP Tyler Watson
Red Sox Boston has the best reliever, hands-down, in baseball right now in the form of Craig Kimbrel so they are operating off of a great base. However behind Craig the only other two-way guy is Heath Hembree. The rest of the bullpen can play match-ups reasonably well but the Red Sox could use a third two-way reliever to add depth and prepare them for a playoff run. Realistically the Sox are a likely trade partner as they may be on the lookout for a 3B to replace the struggling Pablo Sandoval so they may have interest in Yunel Escobar if the Angels are out of it at the deadline or decide that Kaleb Cowart or Luis Valbuena can replace his production. Red Sox Likely Target(s): 3B Yunel Escobar, RHP Bud Norris, RHP David Hernandez,  UTIL Danny Espinosa, UTIL Cliff Pennington, and RHP Blake Parker
Angels Likely Target(s): AA 3B Rafael Devers, A LHP Jay Groome, A 3B Bobby Dalbec, A SS C.J. Chatham, A+ RHP Roniel Raudes, AA RHP Travis Lakins, A+ 1B Josh Ockimey, AAA RHP Ben Taylor, AA 3B Michael Chavis, AAA RHP Kyle Martin, A RHP Bryan Mata, A+ RHP Shaun Anderson, A+ OF Trenton Kemp, AAA RHP Chandler Shepard, A+ RHP Marc Brakeman, A+ RHP Stephen Nogosek, R 1B Pedro Castellanos, and AAA RHP Jaime Callahan
Trade Scenario(s): Boston almost assuredly would like to beef up their bullpen for a stretch run in the very competitive A.L. East, preferably a two-way type reliever that can impact both sides of the plate. Also the Red Sox are running out their 6th 3B over the last week and might have serious interest in Yunel Escobar as a less expensive option. Finally Boston might have interest in a quality defensive utility player so Espinosa and Pennington might be in play too.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris to the Red Sox in exchange for AA 3B Michael Chavis and A+ RHP Marc Brakeman
Angels trade RHP David Hernandez and 3B Yunel Escobar to the Red Sox in exchange for A LHP Jay Groome, A+ 1B Josh Ockimey, and AAA RHP Kyle Martin Angels trade RHP Blake Parker and 3B Yunel Escobar to the Red Sox in exchange for AA 3B Rafael Devers and A LHP Jay Groome Angels trade RHP Bud Norris, 3B Yunel Escobar, and UTIL Danny Espinosa to the Red Sox in exchange for AA 3B Rafael Devers, A+ RHP Stephen Nogosek, and R 1B Pedro Castellanos
Indians Cleveland’s pitching as a whole, despite the actual results, has been pretty darn good and is a testament to the front office and coaching staff. However like many teams they do have some holes and one of them may be a lack of middle relief that can effectively close out LHH’s. The Indians have a strong and competitive playoff team and they may be in need of a utility infielder that can hit LHP in addition to a bullpen arm. Indians Likely Target(s): RHP Bud Norris, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Blake Parker, LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Cam Bedrosian, UTIL Danny Espinosa, and UTIL Cliff Pennington
Angels Likely Target(s): AA C Francisco Mejia, AAA 3B Yandy Diaz, AA OF Greg Allen, AA 1B Bobbie Bradley, A- 3B Nolan Jones, AA SS Yu-Cheng Chang, A LHP Brady Aiken, A LHP Juan Hillman, A+ OF Anthony Santander, AAA RHP Shawn Armstrong, A+ RHP Triston McKenzie, A LHP Sam Hentges, A- OF Oscar Gonzalez, A C Logan Ice, A RHP Yoiber Marquina, AA RHP Perci Garner, A+ RHP Shane Bieber, A+ RHP Aaron Civale, and A+ OF Andrew Calica
Trade Scenario(s): Cleveland could certainly use another strong reliever that can get left-handed hitters out at the minimum. The Indians are one team that have a plethora of different prospects that the Angels actually need (OF, 3B, and C) so certain Angels players that Eppler may not be offering to other teams might be in play here. Besides relief pitching Cleveland may want a more experienced, defense-first utility player like Espinosa or Pennington that can hit LHP.
Angels trade RHP Bud Norris and A RHP Joe Gatto to the Indians in exchange for 3B Yandy Diaz and A+ RHP Shane Bieber Angels trade LHP Jose Alvarez and UTIL Danny Espinosa to the Indians in exchange for AA OF Greg Allen and A RHP Yoiber Marquina Angels trade RHP Blake Parker and UTIL Danny Espinosa to the Indians in exchange for 3B Yandy Diaz and A+ RHP Triston McKenzie Angels trade RHP Cam Bedrosian to the Indians in exchange for AA C Francisco Mejia, AAA 3B Yandy Diaz, and A LHP Juan Hillman Conclusion In terms of overall trade value, Bud Norris certainly has a lot for any team looking to strengthen their relief corps leading up to the trade deadline. Realistically Norris, like Maybin, should bring back a good quality prospect plus a secondary piece of some sort. It won’t be quite the return Cameron generates but it will be in the ballpark. The 10 teams above, the Twins, Rangers, Tigers, Brewers, Rays, Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Red Sox, and Indians are all likely suitors based on our initial analysis. Certainly a couple of these teams are close to being out of the running for Norris’ services but that could mean that there are other teams inching closer to competing that could have a need. To be clear the author examined each of the non-listed teams in detail to determine if they had a need. A bit surprisingly certain teams such as the Astros (Giles, Devenski, and Feliz), Diamondbacks (Bradley, Chafin, and Delgado), Cubs (Davis, Edwards Jr., and Duensing), and Blue Jays (Osuna, Smith, and Barnes) have excellent bullpens with, in the author’s opinion, virtually no holes at this point in time. Essentially this is a season of the have’s and the have not’s which will add a layer of complexity to the trade market. However reliever volatility and injury is quite random and occurs often so any of those squads not mentioned could, at a moment’s notice, become a buyer for an Angels bullpen piece if the need arises. Bud will definitely not be the only reliever on the market so trade competition will be fierce. This is one area the Angels have been very strong in and when you consider the return of Cam Bedrosian to the bullpen, the Angels, if they stick in the playoff hunt, can afford to part with one of their other relievers to bolster the team now or continue building the farm system with prospects. Also what applies to Bud Norris would also apply to David Hernandez as seen below: 2015-2017 Split vs. LHH as of June 20, 2017 2015-2017 Split vs. RHH as of June 20, 2017 In fact there is a compelling case that Hernandez should bring in slightly more than Norris based on the comparison of their splits in 2017. Norris obviously has the more recent high leverage (closer) experience but Hernandez is no stranger to that role either as he spent some time closing for the Diamondbacks a few years back. Based on this similarity between Bud and David we will forego writing a separate article on the latter and simply use this list of teams as a guideline for interested trade partners. One or both should bring in a reasonably good return on investment for the Angels, netting at least one mid-tier prospect and perhaps a secondary piece. We should all applaud Billy Eppler and his staff for the great cherry-picking effort off of the free agent market and waiver wires last year. One other Angels pitcher that does not have closer experience but is, to a lesser degree, similar to Norris and Hernandez is RHP Yusmeiro Petit who has more of an extreme platoon split as seen below: 2015-2017 Split vs. LHH as of June 20, 2017 2015-2017 Split vs. RHH as of June 20, 2017 Yusmeiro has been lights out against right-handed hitters this year in relief. He has given up a large number of walks (12.5%) to left-handed hitters but has managed to suppress their batting average against (.194) through poor contact. Teams in need of specific right-handed relief should find Petit quite appealing in terms of price and ability. Some of those clubs would include the Tigers, Twins, Brewers, and Rangers among others. Yusmeiro will not bring in as much value as Norris or Hernandez but he could snag a reasonably decent prospect in a deadline sale. Because of Petit’s similarity to Norris and Hernandez, he too will not have his own separate article written for this series. Yusmeiro’s interested suitors, as noted above, will be a sub-set of Norris’ gentlemen callers but should draw just as much interest based on his stronger ability to punch RHH’s out. Author’s Best Guess: This is a close call between the Red Sox and the Nationals. I’m going with the former because if the Angels are still in the playoff race Boston still makes some sense as a deadline trade partner for 3B Yunel Escobar (who can be potentially be replaced by Valbuena or Cowart) and one of either Bud Norris or David Hernandez (because one or the other is expendable with the return of Cam Bedrosian).
If the Angels sell-off completely here are my predictions for all three: Bud Norris to the Red Sox David Hernandez to the Nationals Yusmeiro Petit to the Brewers

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The Eddie Bane Archives (2006-2010)

Q&A sessions with Eddie Bane (2006-2010) Eddie Bane the Angels’ former scouting director top pitching prospect himself as a standout pitcher for the Sun Devils from 1971-73, Eddie anchored two College World Series runner-up teams, in 1972 and 1973. His college accolades read like a laundry list of virtually every honor possible: A first-team All American, an All-College World Series selection, the 1973 Sporting News Player of the Year — and later, a first-round draft pick. More specifically, Eddie led the ASU pitching staff to the tune of 130 strikeouts and a 2.18 era in 1971, 213 strikeouts and a 0.99 era in 1972, and 192 strikeouts in 1973. Over time, his accomplishments have proven to be timeless. Eddie’s numbers are as phenomenal today as they were some 25 years ago. He still owns several ASU pitching records, including the single-season record of 43 consecutive scoreless innings in 1972. He posted a school record 0.99 era and 7 shutouts that same year. His 505 strikeouts top the Sun Devil career charts, and he owns the great distinction of throwing the only perfect game in ASU baseball history. For you trivia buffs, it was against Cal State Northridge on March 2, 1973. Eddie was a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1973 (11th pick overall), and went on to spend the 1973, 1975 and 1976 seasons with the club. In fact, since major league baseball began its free agent draft in 1965, eddie is one of only 18 players to ever advance directly to the major leagues without first playing in the minors. He shares this distinction with such players as Dave Winfield and Bob Horner. In 1994, Baseball America named Eddie to its All-Time College All-Star Team. Angels’ Director of Scouting Eddie Bane has been named to the 2008 induction class for the College Baseball Hall of Fame, the College Baseball Foundation announced. Bane will join Floyd Bannister in this year’s class to bring the number of ASU Sun Devils in the Hall of Fame to five, joining coaching legends Bobby Winkles and Dr. Jim Brock as well as former Golden Spikes Award winner Bob Horner. Bane begins his sixth campaign as Director of Scouting for the Angels. He oversees the scouting of amateur and minor league players as well as the signing of domestic amateur players and international players. Under his direction, Angels’ scouts have been responsible for drafting and signing highly-regarded Angels’ prospects such as Jered Weaver, Kendry Morales, Nick Adenhart, Trevor Reckling, Jordan Walden and Hank Conger. The Chicago, IL, native attended Westminster (CA) High School. Bane has four children: Jaymie, Kacey, Corey and Veronica.Check out our exclusive interview with Eddie Bane back in 2013 as he reflects on his past drafts, Angels Baseball, his relationship with Tony Reagins, Mike Trout, his time in Detroit with the Tigers and his new gig with the Boston Red Sox.  Read the entire interview here! Note: These links will direct you back to our old blog which is still live, but only for archival purposes. Enjoy! Here’s some past LIVE chats we had with Eddie Bane to check out:
The Bane Connection – The July – August Edition (2010) The Bane Connection – The April – June (2010) The Bane Connection – The February – March Edition (2010) The Bane Connection – The January Edition (2010) The Bane Connection – The September Edition (2009) The Bane Connection – The July Post Draft Edition (2009) The Bane Connection – The May-June Pre-Draft (2009) Edition By Chuck Richter – Executive Editor June 11th, 2009 Eddie Bane: Guys, this is Eddie Bane if anyone is here already Shane: Nice! Congrats on the draft Mr. Bane. Wow, Eddie you made it before Just wanted to say (This is Chuck) great job on the draft. Eddie Bane: Hey Shane. Please it is Eddie if you can. Yes. I am a bit early Eddie… First off, were you excited to see Grichuk and Trout available at 24 and 25? Give us your thoughts on these two kids. Eddie Bane: We really like our draft, but everybody likes their draft right afterwards so let’s see what happens. Eddie Bane: Of course we were happy with 24 and 25 being Grichuk and Mike Trout. We had some guys targeted and we were lucky enough to get them. Shane: Is there a certain round where you just draft players knowing they won’t sign? Or do you try to sign them all. Going into this draft, what were the Angels trying to accomplish the most? How well would you say you accomplished those goals? Upperdeck: Hi, Eddie: What’s the plan for Jake locker? Will you try to persuade him to give up football, or sign him but allow him to keeping playing baseball, basically just to obtain his right for the next 6 years? Also Selman and Nesseth seem to be good talents but tough signs, any plan to make run of them? Eddie Bane: The funniest thing was that one of the talking heads at ESPN, Keith Law said, “I dont have Randell Grichuk in my top 100 players.” I thought about it and realized that Jeff Malinoff, Ric Wilson, Ron Marigny and Kevin Ham all liked Randell in their top 10, That was good enough for me. Eddie Bane: We were looking at trying to add some power and some LHP. We would not have jumped guys just to get that, but it worked out well. What does Keith Law know? I wonder if he’s ever swung a bat or suited up for a game. Eddie Bane:Jake Locker is an incredible athlete. Could not pass him any longer. Jake is going to play qb at UW. We understand that. We still would like to work with him and see what we can do. He can do things on the baseball field that others cannot. Plus, at some point you have to get tired of taking a lot of shots from defenders. Shane: If Matt Davidson was around for pick #40, would the Angels have took him? I was a bit surprised to see him passed up in the first round. Eddie Bane:Not real worried about Keith as most people that know me should know. We try and do what we think is right and go from that point. Eddie Bane: Matt Davidson was a nice draft. He will be a real value for professional baseball Shane: Do the Angels get more satisfaction selecting projects and turning them into something over drafting the consensus top 100 pick? What is your take on Jamie Mallard, Eddie? This kid looks like he might be something special. Nice on base pct., incredible power. Looks like a right-handed hitting Prince Fielder. Thoughts? Guest: Eddie , is there a player you drafted that you knew would be available after the 1st few rounds, that you felt would be a sleeper? Eddie Bane: Shane, we have so many scouts running around the country and guys with tons of experience. Cannot really watch what ESPN or Baseball America has to say. You do read it afterwards as part of the job though. baseballmom: I don’t really have a question….just wanted to say I appreciate all you did at WHS back in the day….I was in your sister’s class….Go Lions! Eddie Bane: Obviously, most ot the attention was on Locker, but look at the fireplug we took from Norco HS. Wes Hatton is a great competitor with talent. Shane: Great pick on the Norco guy. Eddie Bane: Wow. Go WHS. Pardon me folks. That is our high school Eddie Bane:We were worried that when everyone came to see Hobgood that they would get an extra look at Hatton, but it worked out our way. Upperdeck: Do you agree with the baseballamerica ranking of Angels system at 25th? The last two years we spent the least amount of money on the draft among all 30 teams. Do you think we should’ve spend some extra to sign guys like Matt Harvey and Brian Matusz? Guest: Keith made a mistake with that knee-jerk comment. I think it was more a reflection of his own work, and he was attempting to justify it. No one else said “it was the worst pick in the first round” afterward, and funny, Keith hasn’t said it since then… Eddie Bane: Believe it or not some of the BA people got ahold of me and apologized for the 25th ranking(I had not seen it). They were overreacting to not signing Matusz and Harvey. Then they looked at our 2A roster and realized that it was stacked. Shane: Where are the guys from last year’s draft? Boshers, Gomez, Farnsworth, Washington, etc What’s a realistic timetable for judging how well this draft went? 1 year, 3 years or 5 years? What would be a success for this draft? Eddie Bane: Sure folks, Keith Law is fine. I just trust Malinoff and Wilson more. Shane, they’re tuning up for the Orem Owlz.. Eddie Bane: Most of our hs picks from last year will be in Orem. Some of the guys like Tyler Chatwood are already in Cedar Rapids. Both Chatwood and Chaffee made the MWL all start team Greg: which player drafted do you feel will be a “project” for the coaching staffs, but with huge upside? Eddie Bane: 4,5 even 6 years for a hs draft is reasonable. It is just a lot better now with sites like this that keep an interest in the players in the minor leagues. That is great for the players when they receive the attention. Shane: Was an autograph from the father in on the drafting of Asaad Ali? Eddie Bane: Our coaches do a great job building up our projects from the ASU guys to the hs players from Connecticut. Eddie, did the new focus on plate discipline affect how we selected in the draft? baseballmom: I loved seeing Trout there for the moment. Do you draft players for the intangibles that they may bring to the team? Guest: I’m actually a UA Wildcat and am interested in your thoughts on 11th rounder Dillon Baird. Seems like a good left-handed bat. Looks like you drafted some quality SunDevils too! Eddie Bane:Asaad was drafted because we saw some ability. The fact his father is the “Greatest” was just a cherry on top. Somebody had to tell me that Ali was his father after I read the report. Eddie Bane: Plate discipline has always been a play in our system, but yes it is an extra look now. Baird led the pac10 in hitting. Last guy I drafted that won that crown was Paul LoDuca. Hope the same happens with Dillon Shane: Is there a sleeper pick this year that we should look at for? Eddie Bane: Jon Bachanov will get his professional debut this season (soon). Tough breaks for the young man have really hurt him so far physically. Eddie Bane: Look at high draft Spence in the CWS. He does not throw hard, but can really carve up hitters. Shane: Is this the Trevor Bell you guys expected? Eddie Bane: Sure is fun to watch TBell have a big year. We have insights into some other stuff and Trevor’s velocity and command are much improved. It really pumps you up Eddie, as we always do after a draft. Let’s rate best tools for the Angels selected players. Shane: But at the same the high gets set back with performances like we’re seeing from Mark Trumbo. Eddie Bane: Wes Hatton will play 2B for us, but he does have a big arm so we may try him at other spots to see where he is best. Give Eddie some time on the longer question about the “Best Tools” guys.. Eddie Bane: I will wait to rank those players until after we sign a few of them. Cant give agents too much ammo. Best arm though is Richards and best breaking ball would be Skaggs. Trout fastest runner and Grichuk bat and power along with Jamie Mallard who has incredible power. Fair enough, Eddie… Eddie Bane: On the Mark Trumbo front I will say that we are still in the middle of June. Let’s play this season out and see what happens. Last year Hank Conger just started playing at this point. But, of course we would like to see Mark hit some homeruns and get his confidence going. Shane: Beau Brooks is the second best catcher in the system. True or false. Thanks for the quick list though.. I’m excited about Mallard, Grichuk and Trout… Richards and Skaggs are solid arms too. Good stuff. Bryan: OK…I’ll ask. What’s up with Wood playing first base? Eddie Bane:I saw where BW played 1st the other day. I like to see stuff like that as everyone can use increased versatility at the big league level. dochalo: Hi Eddie. Thanks for all your hard work and meeting with us tonight. I am very excited about this draft Upperdeck: It seems to me this couple years we start to draft outside of box more. Guys like Grichuk who can really hit, but is a LF, are not often drafted very high out of high school. We also took some short right hander but with big arms like Chatwood and Reynolds. Josh Spence can really pitch but without a blazing fastball. I didn’t see these kind of guys drafted high by us in the years past. Can I interpret this as an effort by Angels Scouting staff to go beyond the traditional scouting ideology? Maybe a different kind of “moneyball”? baseballmom: I am excited about talking to our CIF quarterback….let alone all the other stuff Eddie Bane: Thanks doc. Long last few days, but mine is the easy part. How about my area scout that ran all over the place for 6 months and then did not get any players in the draft. That is really tough. Eddie Bane:I have never been compared to Moneyball. Not a big fan. I think we see some other teams now drafting hs players like we have been for awhile so the water is a little more crowded. 8:03 Upperdeck: What do you think the long term roles of Richards and Kehrer are? Some scouting reports think they are likely going to be a power reliever and left-hand specialist. Are they capable of more than that because I read both can maintain the velocity of their fastball deep into game? Eddie Bane: I dont have a distinct like or dislike for shorter RHP’s. I do like guys that can pitch or that have huge velocity. I think people have this idea of Grichuk as a hitter only. Not so fast folks. Randell has power and can hit, but he is also a good athlete. Eddie Bane: I saw Richards in the Big12 tourney and he was throwing 96-97 in the 6th inning. Saw Kehrer the next day and he was 92 and had a real nice cutter. I like both as starters at this point. Shane: Do you think playing in the Cal League hurts a pitchers development and you want to get them the hell out of there as quick as possible if they have success, like with Reckling? dochalo: Eddie, I noticed that in the mid to late rounds that a lot of the hitters you selected were college products. Was this just coincidence or does it represent a bit of a change in philosophy? Or did I not realize this is similar to most years? Guest: How do you typically approach later round draft picks like Harris, Santigate, and Barkley now that there is no longer the draft-and-follow process? Do you work them out and evaluate them over the next couple of months to determine if you’ll sign them? Eddie Bane: If you have trouble in the Cal League then it might be a little tough on you in the Big Leagues. AngelDave: Hi Eddie, Seeing Trout at the draft, and being drafted by the Angels was very nice. I imagine it made the org happy too Eddie Bane: In the later rounds of the draft I try and look for at least one big tool. It is a good way to possibly find a big leaguer. That was the thinking with LoDuca and some others Angelsjunky: Hi Eddie, thanks for the good work. A couple questions: 1) Any thoughts on Howie Kendrick’s struggles this year? 2) Understanding that it is WAY too early to tell, who do you compare Grichuk and Trout to in terms of upside? In other words, if all goes well what sort of major leaguers do you think they can become? And where do you place those two in comparison to other Angels hitting prospects in terms of talent? Eddie Bane: Yeah, you cannot fake the emotion that Mike Trout showed at the draft. That was cool for everyone. I agree with Harold Reynolds. More guys should show up. Shane: Where did Sean Rodriguez’s plate discipline go? Eddie Bane: Someone said Mike Trout remind them of Aaron Rowand. I like Rowand, but Trout has a much better future than Aaron Rowand. Grichuk’s bat would be like an aggressive Todd Zeile. Speaking of Sean Rodriguez, how about that power? Leads the minors in Home Runs with 21. Eddie Bane: Tough to rank their bats this early and especially before they have signed. Depends on what you look for in hitters. Petit is a great hitter and hopefully the power will come a bit more. dochalo: Eddie, Any comments on Segura making the jump to AAA? Eddie Bane: Yeah, a little tough to get on Sean Rodriguez’s plate discipline. That is like saying that Halle Berry has a bad haircut. I’ll take 21 homeruns in the middle of June from anyone. Shane: As an organization, do the Angels keep track of a scouts record? As in, who’ve they drafted and what the success rate of the draftees are? Shane: LOL. Nice.


The tragic downfall of Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is 5 home runs away from reaching the prestigious 600 home run mark, a number only 8 other players in MLB history have reached. His 3,000th hit is in sight to be reached possibly next season. It should be a time for celebration for Albert Pujols and the illustrious Hall of Fame numbers he’s accumulated. Yet, there is still a huge feeling of dissatisfaction among the Angels fan base and, presumably, the Angels organization. The feeling of wanting just a bit more from “The Machine” has been in existence since the very first month Albert Pujols played in an Angels uniform and it’s still present today. On December 8th, 2011, the Angels shocked the baseball world when they signed Albert Pujols to a 10 year 240 million dollar deal. At the time, Pujols was arguably one of the most valuable players in all of baseball and was on a surefire Hall of Fame path. The Angels knew the deal would likely not end very well on the backend years but the rationale behind it was to get a ton of production up front, plus a World Series title or 2, and deal with not so great production on the back end. As you may know by now, the Angels received neither great production up front nor any World Series titles. The first 5 years of the Pujols deal paid him 100 million dollars. On the open market, free agents are generally paid 8 million dollar per 1 Win Above Replacement(WAR). If you include inflation that has occurred since 2011, Pujols should’ve roughly been paid 7-8 million dollars per 1 WAR. Pujols, through his 1st 5 years as an Angel, racked up 9.8 WAR, which comes out to a rough estimate of 68.6-78.4 million dollars that he should have earned. In the years that were supposed to be the most productive years of the deal, Pujols fell short, by a wide margin, mainly due to declining plate discipline, athletic ability and constant injuries. If the original deal had been a 5/100 deal, the bad press that Pujols has received likely wouldn’t have occurred. The issue is he is owed a whopping 140 million dollars for the next 5 seasons, which doesn’t include incentives Pujols may make, including 3 million dollars for his 3,000th hit. Entering the 6th year of the deal, expectations were moderate for Pujols, with the simply hope that he could avoid declining even more. The signs so far in 2017 are not pretty, as the 37 year old is really struggling out of the gate. After undergoing another offseason surgery on his foot, Pujols came into Spring Training a tad rusty, just like in 2016 and the seasons before, and he has started slow as a result. While the previous seasons saw a slow start due to a little bit of bad luck, this year doesn’t just look like bad luck. Through 138 plate appearances, the numbers are down across the board in every possible way. Here are his career numbers lined up next to his 2017 numbers, all of which would represent career worst marks. Pujols is striking out more than ever while walking less. He’s pulling the ball more than ever but not in the way you’d want him to: he’s hitting a bunch of ground balls into the shift. He’s making less hard contact, hitting the ball on the ground more than ever and he’s hitting more infield fly balls. A look into his Statcast numbers line up exactly with his statistics he has posted so far. Albert Pujols has a 87.3 mph average exit velocity this year, compared to 92.5 mph in 2016 . He has only barreled up 4.9% of his batted balls in 2017(balls expected to have .500+ batting average and 1.500+ slugging percentage) compared to his 9.5% mark in 2016. Sure, he’s driving in runs, as evidenced by his 24 RBIs, which rank 19th in baseball, but it’s a byproduct of hitting behind the best player in baseball. Many fans and writers have claimed that Pujols is a “clutch hitter”, which is an argument that just isn’t factually correct and is an argument that has had plenty of research done on it. Many hitters hit better with runners in scoring position due to the fact that plenty of pitchers struggle to pitch out of the stretch compared to the windup so Pujols isn’t some special case. Pujols has been better with runners in scoring position(208 wRC+) compared to no runners on(16 wRC+) this year in a small sample. He was also better with runners on base last season. However, he was worse with runners on by a wide margin in 2015 and 2014. He was better with runners on in an injury shortened 2013 year and was just about equal in 2012, his 1st year with the Angels. Since he became an Angel, Pujols has a 112 wRC+ with no runners on compared to a 121 wRC+ with runners in scoring position. That’s a bit better but again, most hitters do a bit better with runners on. Pujols has driven in runs because Mike Trout is consistently on base in front of him. There’s also a theory floating around that Albert Pujols changes his approach with runners on base, essentially trying to put the ball in play, drive the ball away from the shift and just drive guys in. Pujols does have a significantly higher BB/K ratio with runners on(1.36) compared to the bases empty(0.42). Part of that is due to teams deciding to not pitch to Pujols and just loading the bases to face whoever is hitting behind him. Pujols does deserve some credit for that but those 52 intentional walks he’s received since 2012 have bloated his walk rate without him changing too much, which isn’t helping support the changed approach theory. Nothing changes with the way Pujols tries to hit the ball, however. With the bases empty since 2012, Pujols has a 43.2% ground ball rate, 38.6% fly ball rate, 49.4% pull rate and 17.4% opposite field rate. With runners on, Pujols has a 44.7% ground ball rate, 37.3% fly ball rate, 49.4% pull rate and 17.7% opposite field rate. So there is something to the idea that Pujols is better at putting the ball in play and has a more selective eye with runners on but he’s doing nothing differently with the way he’s hitting the baseball and the overall results don’t really portray a better Albert Pujols with runners on. Albert Pujols may be a shell of his former self but he does deserve credit for a number of achievements. Since he became an Angel, Pujols has posted a 118 wRC+ and 9.7 WAR, hardly disastrous numbers, just numbers that fall well short of the expectations you receive from signing a mega contract. Pujols has played through a number of injuries throughout this process, which is better than the Angels simply paying him to be on and off the disabled list and provide nothing for the team. He’s also still one of the most respected players in baseball, providing a clubhouse presence for many Angels players and has apparently been a huge help for Mike Trout since he arrived in his rookie year, which was coincidentally in 2012. The reality is Albert Pujols has performed at a level that would earn him half of the contract he signed but he hasn’t been a complete zero with the Angels. Unfortunately, Albert Pujols will be getting a raise each year until his contract ends in the year 2021. Barring Pujols retiring before the contract is up, something that probably shouldn’t be counted on, there are some potentially ugly years coming up in this deal. At 37 years old, Father Time is starting to really creep in and sap Albert Pujols of any baseball skills he might have remaining. The hope for the Angels is that Pujols is just starting slow and he can still be a 110-115 wRC+ bat just for a few more years but the early signs point to a potentially league average or worse bat going forward. It has been a remarkable career for Albert Pujols but the days of the elite level MVP performer, even above average player, may be gone.  

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