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AngelsWin.com Top 30 Prospects: #1 1B Matt Thaiss

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AngelsWin.com

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643490582.jpg?w=640&h=961TEMPE, AZ – FEBRUARY 21: Matt Thaiss of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim poses for a portrait during Angels Photo Day at Tempe Diablo Stadium on February 21, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

 

2015/16: UR                                                 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+

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