Angels Top 30 Prospects 2022

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Scouts have said for years that a good organization may have 10-to-15 prospects, and a weak one may have five or less. The rest can be defined as “suspects” or “projects.”

The Angels organization is filled with suspects and projects, well over prospects, in part to the recent graduations of Jo Adell, Chris Rodriguez, Griffin Canning, Patrick Sandoval, Jared Walsh, David Fletcher, Jaime Barria, and Brandon Marsh. The upside from athleticism brought in by Billy Eppler and Matt Swanson is prevalent, and a new boost of pitchers drafted and traded for by Perry Minasian have built depth, but most of the organization is still bound by questions as opposed to answers.

You’ll see plenty of position players with questionable hit tools, and pitchers who have relief upside based on velocity but little command. The Angels organization has a long way to go before turning in the threshold of staples similar to the early 2010’s and 2000’s, but there are positive signs.

Beyond the 30 ranked prospects, there are 92 more players mentioned by name with a miniature report (some a paragraph, some a sentence) who have merited some form of my attention over the last calendar year. Enjoy:

For reference, here is a link to all players under contract with the Los Angeles Angels that is updated weekly.

* AUTHOR’S NOTE: All statistics and reports are effective as of 4/1/2022. Listed heights, weights, and age are based on the player’s Baseball-Reference page and may not be fully updated. Future Value (FV) will express a similar pattern to that of FanGraphs where you will see 40+/45+ which is solely a separator between middle grades. Players who have exceeded 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days on the active roster at the Major League level are exempt from prospect rankings. All reports are from Taylor Blake Ward who either shares in-person evaluations or those shared by scouts employed by Major League organizations. Taylor Blake Ward is not a professional scout or evaluator. He is not affiliated with any Major League Baseball organization. Taylor Blake Ward is not responsible for any wagers based on these projections/rankings.*

RankPlayerPo.B/THtWtAgeAcquiredMLB Comp’21 RankFV
1.Reid DetmersLHPL/L6’221022Drafted 1st Rd 2020 – $4.67MScott Kazmir155
2.Sam BachmanRHPR/R6’123522Drafted 1st Rd 2021 – $3.8475MKendall Graveman550
3.Kyren ParisSSR/R6’016520Drafted 2nd Rd 2019 – $1.4MMiguel Rojas645+
4.Arol VeraSSS/R6’217019Int’l Sign 2019 – $2MJonathan Villar445+
5.Ky BushLHPL/L6’624022Drafted 2nd Rd 2021 – $1.7475MCole Irvin945+
6.Jordyn AdamsOFR/R6’218022Drafted 1st Rd 2019 – $4.1MAmed Rosario*345
7.Jeremiah JacksonSSR/R6’016522Drafted 2nd Rd 2018 – $1.194MWilly Adames845
8.Denzer GuzmanSSR/R6’118018Int’l Sign 2021 – $1.9MRamon Urias1445
9.Edgar QueroCS/R5’1117018Int’l Sign 2021 – $200KOmar NarvaezUR45
10.Janson JunkRHPR/R6’117726Trade w/ NYY 2021JP Feyereisen2745
11.Alexander RamirezOFR/R6’218019Int’l Sign 2018 – $1MDerek Fisher*1040+
12.Davis DanielRHPR/R6’119024Drafted 7th Rd 2019 – $172.5KChris Stratton1540+
13.Landon MarceauxRHPR/R6’017922Drafted 3rd Rd 2021 – $765.3KJosh Tomlin2340+
14.Mason AlbrightLHPL/L6’019019Drafted 12th Rd 2021 – $1.2475MTJ McFarland2840
15.Orlando MartinezOFL/L6’018524Int’l Sign 2017 – $250KRobbie Grossman*1940
16.Adrian PlacenciaSSS/R5’1115518Int’l Sign 2019 – $1.1MAbraham Toro740
17.Jack KochanowiczRHPL/R6’622021Drafted 3rd Rd 2019 – $1.2475MNick Pivetta1240
18.Chase SilsethRHPR/R6’021721Drafted 11th Rd 2021 – $485KTrent ThorntonUR40
19.Alejandro HidalgoRHPR/R6’116018Int’l Sign 2019 – $30KN/A1340
20.Ryan SmithLHPL/L5’1118524Drafted 18th Rd 2019 – $3KJoe Palumbo2040
21.Werner BlakelySSL/R6’318520Drafted 4th Rd 2020 – $900KJake Lamb2140
22.Austin WarrenRHPR/R6’017026Drafted 6th Rd 2018 – $7.5KAustin WarrenUR40
23.Nelson RadaOFL/L6’217516Int’l Sign 2022 – $1.8MN/AUR40
24.Luke MurphyRHPR/R6’519022Drafted 4th Rd 2021 – $747.5KBen Bowden*UR40
25.Mason ErlaRHPR/R6’420024Drafted 17th Rd 2021 – $125KKyle CodyUR40
26.Coleman CrowRHPR/R6’017521Drafted 28th Rd 2019 – $317.5KGriffin JaxUR40
27.Michael StefanicIFR/R5’1018026UDFA 2018Johnny Giavotella2540
28.D’Shawn KnowlesOFS/R6’016521Int’l Sign 2017 – $850KEric Young Jr.1140
29.David CalabreseOFL/R5’1116019Drafted 3rd Rd 2020 – $744.2KMallex Smith1740
30.Jose SalvadorLHPL/L6’217022Trade w/ CIN 2020Kyle Bradish*2940
* – Indicates out of position (position player only) or opposing hit/throw (i.e. RHP to LHP, RHH to LHH) MLB comparison

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1. Reid Detmers, Left-Handed Pitcher

Viewed as a polished pitchability college southpaw who could move through the system quickly, few expected Reid Detmers to be establishing himself in the rotation just one year removed from his draft selection with improved stuff across the board. Detmers has a simplistic and athletic delivery that he repeats which helps him throw strikes at an immensely high rate. He has shown the ability to command all four of his pitches east-to-west and north-to-south, working them all in and out of the zone with ease with great sequencing leaving hitters constantly guessing. Detmers worked 88-94 in college, but has found a new gear to his velocity, averaging 92-94 (92.9 average in his brief MLB stint) and touching 97, which is only improved by his ability to command the pitch. The pitch has flattened with the new velocity making him more home run prone but with something as new as this velocity, it will have these growing pains. His low-to-mid 70’s curveball is his best swing-and-miss option with a giant arching shape (85th percentile in both horizontal and vertical break among 2021 MLB pitchers (min. 20 IP)) that he can land both in and below the zone at any given time. It can be identifiable due to its big hump but was near unhittable against Major Leaguers (.150 BAA), with a whiff rate of 33.3%. With a focus of development of his slider and changeup once hitting pro ball, some scouts have dubbed his slider as his best pitch even while being a work in progress. It’s a mid-80’s offering that he can alter, and has used it well against right-handers, burying it on their back foot and was a usable put away pitch (35.5%). His changeup has taken massive strides forward as well, with arm-side sink best utilized against right-handers. All four pitches have distinct break and with one sure fire swing-and-miss breaker, and two growing in his back pocket, Detmers has already shown a knack for missing bats. Well advanced at a young age (he’ll be 23 in July), Detmers gives the Angels something they haven’t had in years – a homegrown pitching talent who could be a mid-rotation option for multiple years.

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2. Sam Bachman, Right-Handed Pitcher

Showing up to fall ball with newfound premium velocity, Sam Bachman started to establish himself as one of the biggest and best arms in the 2021 draft class. As fall turned to winter, and winter turned to spring, Bachman’s stock continued to rise, as he showed improved command and control while flashing two 70-grade pitches. It was enough for the Angels to pass on some more well-known names in the draft and take him ninth overall. Bachman now works 95-97 with his fastball with serious arm-side run and sink, touching 99-100 regularly enough to say it’s going to be there at any given time (he was 94-97 in his brief pro outings). With an opposing break to his fastball, he’ll throw a mid-to-upper 80’s power slider with late break and life, giving it almost cutter action when it’s not getting its full break, making it a real weapon against hitters on either side of the plate. Coming in on the same plane and altering paths as they reach the plate, Bachman has a pair of 70-grade pitches that make for an uncomfortable at bat. Bachman’s changeup is a distant third pitch that was and has been the focus of development in the early stage of his pro career. The early returns on the mid 80’s offering have been positive and he’s worked with Ky Bush as a throwing partner to continually harness the pitch. The changeup and Bachman’s ability to hold velocity late in games are the key markers to whether or not he’ll be able to remain a starter and be able to work through an order multiple times. There is relief risk with Bachman as he’s a bit undersized – though he has a durable frame and has improved his overall physique – throws hard with only recently improved command of his primaries, some recent arm fatigue, and a funky arm action that doesn’t always translate to rotation future. If he can throw strikes consistently, improve his changeup, and maintain velocity, there’s some faith. If not, he has an aggressive nature on the mound with two premier pitches that screams high-leverage reliever, which is not a bad fallback option (he could even be a relief option as early as this year).

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3. Kyren Paris, Shortstop

Draft models favored Kyren Paris in 2019, where he was in the conversation for multiple first round picks, including the Angels at 15. The Halos were able to swing him 40 picks later, signing him for near $100,000 over slot as the youngest player in the draft class by nearly two months. Three games into that first summer, Paris broke his hamate bone ending his first taste at pro ball. He was given an invitation to the alternate site where he hit a now well-known home run to dead center off Patrick Sandoval – at Blair Field nonetheless which is not a common feat. Paris has a compact swing from the right side which is more oriented to line drives to the gaps. Aided by strong wrists and good bat speed, Paris tends to show most of his power driving pitches away (breaking balls included) to right-center where his greatest asset – speed – plays its part in his overall slugging. There is current strength in his swing as he has added plenty of muscle to his athletic frame, though his power is fringy and will likely never grow to average. Paris is a real burner who often uses his speed on the base paths, whether it be turning routine singles into doubles, or doubles into triples. He is an aggressive base stealer who has shown a knack for having a constant green light and could be a regular 20+ base stealer. With his speed and balanced approach, he profiles as a potential throwback leadoff man who rarely strikes out and utilizes his speed. Paris has a natural feel for the middle infield where he covers the middle of the diamond well, and his arm is likely enough (though I think more arm strength will be needed) to remain at shortstop. Spending last season in Low-A as a 19-year-old (minus two months with a lower leg injury) and not facing a pitcher younger than he was, the Angels have plenty of time to work with Paris to gain strength, something he has already done, and tap into more power and arm strength which should answer some long-term questions. He has the initial makings of a two-way impact player, particularly with his speed and on-base ability, but it will take time.

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4. Arol Vera, Shortstop

After being financially handicapped on the international front after the Roberto Baldoquin signing in 2014, the Angels have been aggressive on the international front the last handful of years. Arol Vera received the second largest bonus of any international signing for the Angels since being lifted of their limitations, only trailing some guy named Shohei Ohtani ($2.315M). Vera, who signed for $2 million, was part of a $3.1 million investment to the middle infield depth and came with lofty expectations that he has been able to keep in check in his brief time with the organization. Vera, a switch-hitter, is seen as a better hitter from the left side where he stays short to the ball with intent and builds energy through the barrel giving him some explosion at extension. He has lessened his movement from the right side with a minimal swing tweak that has quickened his load, but there is still a lot of work before he can get to much power from that side. He is contact over power at the moment, as he has above-average bat-to-ball skills but has bat speed from both sides and decent raw power to believe in average-or-better power down the road. Praised for his strike zone judgement prior to signing, the early returns have had Vera a bit aggressive which could be in part to the success he’s having making hard line-drive contact. Vera has enough twitchy athleticism and actions to stick at shortstop long term with the best odds of anyone in the organization to stick at the position. He has soft hands, a plus arm with a quick release, and can throw from different angles, looking very natural at the position. There have been concerns about Vera’s mass, as he put on some excess weight during the pandemic but has already trimmed down a bit and still has the up-the-middle athleticism that made him so alluring to the Angels in the first place. He’ll stick at shortstop through early development, but a move around the infield may not be an unexpected move deeper into development.

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5. Ky Bush, Left-Handed Pitcher

Throwing for his third collegiate program in three years, Ky Bush suddenly skyrocketed up draft boards his junior year after showing an improved delivery, better command, and an arsenal pickup that nearly landed him in the back of the first round. A physical specimen (there’s a lot in the Angels system) at six-foot-six and 240 pounds (listed weight, looks trimmer), Bush has the look of a durable strength-based back-end rotation option, with the Angels hoping for more as he continues to refine his game. Bush can get long in the back of his delivery but remains balanced with an athletic finish – especially for a guy his size. His fastball will sit 93-95 with some boring action and late sink, and he commands it well to the bottom of the zone and will work it in the hitter’s kitchen. Though he is physically peaked, belief is he could get into the upper 90’s in relief stints. Bush’s best pitch off of his fastball is a slider with more depth than horizontal break, which seems to have a second gear mid-way through travel and revs up to finish. He does well in throwing it to the backfoot of right-handed hitters, making it more effective and giving a better chance to play multiple times through an order. He’ll throw a fringe-average changeup and curveball that gives him some third and fourth options, with the curve being the better of the two due to his ability to land it for strikes. Repetition and consistency will be key for Bush to reach his ceiling, but with his arsenal and current ability to command his primary pitches, he should remain a back-end rotation option.

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6. Jordyn Adams, Outfielder

A standout wide receiver recruit, Jordyn Adams was expected to head for the gridiron at North Carolina where his father coached. Then, at the 2018 NHSI Tournament, Adams showed the ability to compete against superior talent. The raw baseball skillset and other worldly athleticism was enough for the Angels to take him in the first round of the 2018 Draft, signing him well over slot. Raw as frozen chicken from a baseball perspective, Adams over performed in his first full pro season in Low-A, hitting above league-average (110 wRC+), earning him a last week promotion to High-A, and an invitation to the alternate site during the pandemic. There likely aren’t enough superlatives to explain Adams’ athleticism, and simply saying he’s one of the best athletes in baseball probably isn’t justice enough. He’s a real 80 runner, who uses his speed well in all aspects of his game. In center field, he looks like a pro-level receiver tracking downfield deep passes and has become more consistent getting to the ball and knowing what to do when he gets there. His speed should permit him to be a constant base-stealing threat and place him among league leaders with full playing time. Adams arrived at Spring Training as a non-roster invite with new swing mechanics, with similarities to his original upper body-based swing, bat drag, and linear bat path, but a lengthier load and bat wrap making him longer but with more loft. His bat-to-ball skills are impressive for someone so raw, but there’s a lot of work left in his swing development, particularly the difference between his batting practice swing and in-game swing. Adams possesses natural strength and has plenty of bat speed which gives him some average-or-better power projection, and the tweaks to his swing have already showed more of his raw power. In his first pro season, Adams showed a well-advanced skillset at identifying strikes and will commonly work deep into counts and gain his fair share of walks. In his first few months of pro ball, he would be too passive and strikeout looking (18 of his first 51 strikeouts in Low-A were looking), which is something that will only improve with reps and baseball growth, but pitch identification was a struggle for Adams in 2021. For someone who was viewed as a football player trying out baseball just two years ago, the Angels are happy with how Adams has developed into a ballplayer as he’s already shown the ability to adjust and compete against much more advanced talent. Athletes such as Adams rarely come along, but it does take time for their skillset to translate. With hopes of gaining more reps, Adams lost over a month early this year with a leg injury and he has not been as up to speed in High-A this season, which may be a lost year of development as he’s clearly not comfortable upon return to action. With less than 200 pro games under his belt, there is time to tap into his athleticism and make him an impact player at the Major League level, though he’s already shown signs of doing so at a quicker rate than expected.

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7. Jeremiah Jackson, Shortstop

Seen as a hit-over-power prospect when taken in the second round of 2018, Jeremiah Jackson flipped the script by hitting a Pioneer League record 23 home runs in 2019. Though the offense friendly league usually merits inflated power numbers, the raw exit velocities and swing angle suggested real power output. Jackson can do damage at the plate due to explosive bat speed and strong wrists that has impressed the Major League coaching staff, but his swing has some work to do as he’ll often dip his front shoulder and cut open with his hips leading to minimal contact or abrupt misses entirely. The foundation of his swing is there, but it’s distanced from being enough to hit his way to his ceiling or even the next level. Of note, Jackson did improve steadily at the alternate site with repetition as he did in his short playing time this year with Low-A Inland Empire. That chance for repetition has been lost due to an oblique injury at the end of 2020, and a high leg injury that held him to just 39 games in 2021. Playing time, some tweaks to the swing, and a bit more refinement in his approach (he’ll chase breaking balls away at times as is common for power hitters), will be a difference maker in lessening the sky-high variance on Jackson. Defensively, I think Jackson has a good chance to stick at shortstop after seeing him in Spring Training and early Low-A season. He’s athletic and moves well side-to-side and comes in on the ball well. He has a strong enough arm and can throw from different angles giving me more reason to believe. Prospects of this kind of variance exist in each organization, and some flame out to lengthy development careers, but mixing Jackson’s age and foundation, it’s like starting with an upside college pick who already has three years of professional coaching and performance under his belt.

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8. Denzer Guzman, Shortstop

Due to the International Signing Period being moved from early-July to mid-January, Billy Eppler’s final transaction as General Manager came 110 days after his departure from the club, as most verbal commitments from the initial July date stayed intact through January, and the Angels were still able to sign Denzer Guzman for $2,000,000. An offense-first infielder, Guzman drew attention during extended spring, and has been performing in remarkably small sample with the Dominican affiliate. Guzman has an advanced feel for hitting and utilizes his rhythmic and loose cut (almost looks lackadaisical due to its natural cut) from the right side to spray the ball with line drives. He has strong barrel and zone control, which leave little holes in his current swing. He’s been swinging with more intent which could be leading to natural deceleration albeit some youthful bat drag tendencies. Matched with his good bat speed, you could see average power appear in time, though it will take physical maturity to reach those levels (I question his 180-pound listing, particularly looking at his upper half and arms). Guzman has a good plan at the plate, and has shown to be a bit more aggressive, but has a good enough approach and minimal holes to believe strikeouts will ever be problematic, and more walks will come. Guzman should stay on the left side of the infield due to his strong and accurate arm (plus grade) and decent lateral movements, though he’s a lesser athlete than most who stick at the position and lacks the twitchiness you’d expect. He’ll remain a shortstop throughout development but a future at third or second may be expected.

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9. Edgar Quero, Catcher

The quickest rising prospect in the system is the young switch-hitting catcher, Edgar Quero. Signed out of Cuba for $200,000 in early 2021, Quero was a standout performer for the Complex affiliate, reaching base safely in 26 of his 29 games while holding down a .946 OPS and 151 wRC+ before being tested in Low-A for three weeks. Quero has a linear, barrel-based swing with strong wrists from both sides of the plate which aid in regular hard contact. He has some loft from the left side and shows more current power from that side, though his raw power is moderate from the right side. Most of his strength is based on his above-average bat speed, so it’s unlikely he’ll grow into average in-game power but keep pitchers honest. Compact both in physicality and behind the plate, Quero is a decent defender with side-to-side blocking skills and pop times simmering around or below 2.0. Receiving will be the key to Quero’s future success as a defender and may be aided by an automated strike-zone but he’ll spend the entirety of the season as a 19-year-old so there’s plenty of time to harness his craft(s) and attempt making him an in-house everyday catcher, something the Angels haven’t developed since Hank Conger in the early 2010’s and the Jeff Mathis/Mike Napoli combo in the mid 2000’s.

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10. Janson Junk, Right-Handed Pitcher

The Angels swung two immediate depth arms in the Andrew Heaney trade with the Yankees, getting Elvis Peguero who could have some relief impact in 2022, and Janson Junk who could spend a generous portion of his season with the Angels in 2022. In college and early development, Junk was a power arm with some potential in his changeup. One pandemic later, he became one of the biggest rising arms from the YPDF (Yankees Pitching Development Factory (looking to trademark)) in 2021 upon showing better fastball command due to his easy delivery and on-mound athleticism, and more refinement of his breaking balls. He now operates 92-95 with his fastball, averaging 93 and topping out around 96, having it be his primary setup pitch and allowing it to play up in the zone (a trend the Angels have looked at in acquiring outside organization talent). Sparsely using and nearly scrapping his changeup, Junk now incorporates a slider and curveball which have both been swing-and-miss offerings. His slider stays on a fastball line and snaps below the zone while his downer curve gives him an altering shape (mostly used against left-handed hitters as a changeup substitute). Junk has started to establish himself on the depth chart and was an option to break spring camp with the big club but will instead be sent to an affiliate where he may be called upon at any given time during the campaign for spot starts or relief assistance. He spent the latter half of his 2021 season with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, so make your jokes now about trash and racoons and the likes to make your dad laugh while you can.

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11. Alexander Ramirez, Outfielder

Alexander Ramirez signed with the Angels the day he turned 16-years-old for $1,000,000, giving the Halos one of their biggest international upside bets in some time. Ramirez, already physically mature, came into professional baseball as a teenager who possessed present plus raw power due to solid bat speed and has now grown into his large athletic frame to see that power upside increase. Often, Ramirez will take harsh daddy hacks, hoping to explode on balls left in his hot zones, but will come unraveled and roll over or simply miss too often. He can simplify at the plate, which seems to be a focus point of his development, but that explosiveness and power to all fields is what makes him so intriguing in the first place. The strikeout rates aren’t sustainable, so swing refinement, a more reasonable aggression with his approach, and pitch off-speed recognition will be vital to Ramirez becoming anything more than a violent swinging project. Only 19-years-old though, the Angels have plenty of time to work out the kinks and hope to get enough contact to let him become even a middling product of his potential peak upside. Ramirez is enough of an athlete with enough speed to manage himself in center field with an off chance of remaining there, but it’s likely he’ll move to a corner where he should be better suited with his strong arm. It’s a real boom or bust profile, but the boom is too exciting to ignore.

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12. Davis Daniel, Right-Handed Pitcher

Following Tommy John surgery during his junior season at Auburn, Davis Daniel didn’t make his organization debut until instructional league of 2020 where he impressed and eventually earned a spot in Spring Training as a non-roster invite. Since then, Daniel has dominated Single-A and Double-A hitters with a predominantly two-pitch arsenal, but a good one at that. One of many high-release pitchers in the Angels system, Daniel creates good angle and spin with his high-spin fastball that sits 90-93 and can touch the mid 90’s (was mid 90’s in relief in college). It has good action up in the zone and he commands it well in all quadrants of the zone. He’ll live mostly off of his fastball, and will scarcely use his changeup that is improving, but still has a long way to go. Daniel’s curveball has improved with a high arch that breaks late and away to his glove side, proving his best swing-and-miss offering. He also works in a spin-efficiency based slider that has progressed to more than a fringe third offering. Daniel is an easy operator on the mound with a clean delivery and has the physicality to be a workhorse, with steadily improving control, giving him a better chance at starting long term. With improvement of his changeup and effectiveness against left-handed hitters, he could be a back-end rotation option in the coming years, or year, as he’s started to establish himself in the depth charts for 2022. He’ll be set to be a member of the Salt Lake rotation where he’ll work to be more pitch efficient with already promising returns from late-season mid-level affiliates.

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13. Landon Marceaux, Right-Handed Pitcher

A three-year starter and performer at a premiere SEC program, Landon Marceaux signed with the Angels for $2,500 under slot after being taken in the third round. The common terms of being either a thrower or a pitcher, Marceaux is as far to the latter you can be. Marceaux has a low-effort delivery that looks like he’s playing catch in the backyard. With middling stuff in general, he is a control artist who has pristine command of his fastball and an advanced touch for his off-speed. Marceaux will sit in the low 90’s with some later outing fluctuation into the upper 80’s and early touches of 93-94, all with command east-to-west in the lower quadrants of the zone. He comes equipped with three off-speed pitches, with arguments as to which is the better pending which scout you speak to and what night they saw him, but all range average with flashes of above. He’ll manipulate his changeup similar to his fastball and will show tendencies to use it as a swing-and-miss pitch. His slider comes in like his fastball and changeup with a short late break, which is part of his success in keeping those three pitches in line and tunneling each throughout a single battle. Marceaux’s curveball is loopy, and can be predictable at times, but has been his primary out pitch when used. It’s purely floor over ceiling for Marceaux, who would need a velocity jump to really establish himself as more than a future back-end rotation option.

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14. Mason Albright, Left-Handed Pitcher

Signed for a post 10th-round record bonus of $1,247,500, Mason Albright received late second-round slot money as an 12th-round pick. Transferring to an advanced prep sports program at IMG Academy for his draft year, Albright has an advanced feel on the mound where he shown the ability to locate his pitches as desired, and change tempos, which is likely part of the top-notch coaching staff at IMG. He’s a bit smaller statured for a pitcher at six-foot, but he does create good angle to the plate. His long and funky arm action (somewhat similar to Paco Rodriguez in college) helps create deception which is his bread-and-butter. His fastball on paper isn’t really remarkable in any fashion, sitting 89-94, but it was his primary out pitch through a strong summer showcase circuit and spring mostly due to the deception. Albright shows good arm speed and feel for his changeup, and the organization believes it can be a good pitch. His mid 70’s curveball has progressive signs of being a better than average pitch but has a long way to go and is a fringe offering at current. Turning 19 at the end of the 2021 campaign, the Angels have plenty of time to tap into the low ceiling pitchability prep. If he ends up being a two-pitch undersized southpaw, he could play a multi-inning role with continual changeup advancement.

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15. Orlando Martinez, Outfielder

Orlando Martinez is an easy player to forget because nothing comes overtly flashy, but he generally just does everything natural and well. Average works, and you can tend to ignore or miss a guy who is at times the best player on the field. Martinez’s swing is smooth and well-synced from the left side that is based for barrel-driven contact. He’ll sell out for power at times and loose his rhythm, leading to some swing-and-miss and a downward bat angle, but it’s not common enough to be problematic. He has a balanced approach, leaning more towards aggression, but will draw his fair share of walks. Though he’s a fringe/average runner on the base paths, he has enough quickness in the field to play all three outfield positions and does so with ease. He takes direct routes, doesn’t overdo things, makes smart decisions, and simply plays fine defense with a strong and accurate enough arm to manage the corners. It’s likely his offense will hold him to a fourth outfield or platoon/bench bat (his splits show enough to suggest he’d struggle against lefties at the upper echelons) and could be similar to a non-switch-hitting Robbie Grossman who blossoms more around peak ages. He’ll start the year in Salt Lake.

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16. Adrian Placencia, Shortstop

Part of the $3.1 million international investment to their middle infield depth, Adrian Placencia showed the ability to get on base and drive the ball on occasion against older talent last summer as an 18-year-old. Placencia, a switch-hitter, looks natural from both sides of the plate with strong plate coverage and barrel control, staying short to the ball and showing natural loft as he extends. Passiveness as opposed to pitch selection were a challenge for Placencia in his brief stint in the Complex league, but he’s had higher praise as an amateur on his pitch recognition, something to stow in the back. His offense will be limited to what it is until he adds some bulk to his miniscule frame, though he has already worked towards some added muscle and physical growth which will aid to some power potential with his explosive bat speed. It’s likely that he profiles offensively as a secondary leadoff man with some on-base skills you place near the back of your lineup to reset the front of the order. Placencia has some naturalness at shortstop with lateral range and soft hands, but his arm is limited to a quick release and is probably a tick below average which should lead to a second base defensive profile and shortstop only in a pinch. Signing just after his 16th birthday, Placencia finished his debut season stateside and will probably be a repeat for the Complex league in 2022. Physical limitations will hold some luster towards Placencia, but a transformation could alter his stock. We’ll hold out until it happens.

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17. Jack Kochanowicz, Right-Handed Pitcher

One of the physical standouts among many physical specimens in the Angels organization, Jack Kochanowicz was an over slot third-round cold-weather prep arm who became a popular mention among scouts after instructional league in 2020. Kochanowicz has added velocity to his fastball, now sitting 91-95 and touching 97 early in outings, and has a good feel for commanding it north-to-south, though it can flatten out making it more hittable. His best pitch is a big and loopy high-spinning curveball that regularly flashes plus and only plays up more due to his ability to command it; however, the development of his changeup will be prominent in his future success, as his curve can be easy to identify due to its shape. Kochanowicz’s changeup has progressed well as he shows good feel and enough forward signs of being an average-or-better offering but needs plenty of refinement and will be key to his future as a starter. As big-bodied as Kochanowicz is, he already has a sound foundation for his mechanics on the mound with on-mound athleticism which has helped with his ability to work around the zone and project regular strike-throwing in the future as he already works around the zone and will only continue to progress as he gets more reps. He was hit around during his pro debut in Low-A, mostly in part to early-stage fastball command development, but at 21-years-old, reps are going to be the biggest focus for him in development in hopes he can reach his rotation ceiling.

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18. Chase Silseth, Right-Handed Pitcher

After signing Albright to a record post-10th-round signing bonus, the Angels used the remaining capital of their bonus pool on Chase Silseth, signing him for $485,000 with about $17,000 left before going over the 5% taxed allowance. Silseth is a violent power arm who can struggle with command and is slightly undersized for a starter which already gives him relief vibes. With that power arm though comes a loud arsenal that kickstarts with a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball with minimal movement and is only useful on velocity. He has a trio of off-speed pitches with the slider beginning to show best of the group flashing above average, while his curveball will still run into his slider and is a work of development to separate the two. Silseth worked in a changeup in college and the early returns from pro ball indicate it can be a useful third (or even second) pitch making him dually effective. He has four pitches and works around the zone so there is some starter upside — which he’ll be sent out as through development — but it’s easy to project him as an aggressive power reliever.

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19. Alejandro Hidalgo, Right-Handed Pitcher

It was instructional league where the Angels saw value in some of their smaller-bonus international signings when Jaime Barria and Jose Suarez popped up as prospects during their early development. In 2020, Alejandro Hidalgo stood out among evaluators for his ability to miss bats and put hitters away in diverse ways. Hidalgo is a lean pitcher who repeats his delivery and is able to throw two of his pitches for strikes regularly, commanding each with some relative ease. He’ll throw his fastball 92-94, with subpar command and some physical based projection that it could gain some more velo in the future. He’s shown an advanced feel for his off-speed pitches, with the high-spin downer curveball – that regularly shows above-average – being his primary swing-and-miss option as his changeup progresses. Hidalgo commands his changeup well east-to-west and is already advanced enough to project a long-term starting development. An advanced projection arm, physical maturity will be part of Hidalgo reaching any higher ceiling than a back-end rotation arm, but the early returns from competitive reps in Arizona have only allowed him to blossom within the system.

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20. Werner Blakely, Shortstop

Going to the Detroit prep ranks for the second time in three drafts, Werner Blakely became an over slot fourth-round pick due to his speed and power projection who has a chance to stick at a premium defensive position. The Angels have worked with Blakely to find a more rhythmic swing and load – lowering his hands – to assist in better timing, while Blakely himself has worked towards finding a more consistent bat path to avoid his natural uphill swing from the left-side. Though it’s loose, there are moving parts in Blakely’s current swing that have caused length to the swing and timing problems. Since being drafted, Blakely has added some general strength to his already tall and athletic frame (first thing that stands out to scouts), which has aided in his power projection which is now above-average raw, including samplings of easy triple-digit exit velocities with wood bats. He showed a better approach than expected with the Complex affiliate, and the early returns show some promise to potentially sustaining his high swing-and-miss rate. With above-average speed, Blakely is a smart baserunner who utilizes his speed both offensively and defensively. With quick feet, Blakely’s vertical range is strong suited for shortstop where he has easy and fluid actions, backed by soft hands, a strong arm and quick release. His glove will need some work, which is standard for young infielders. He looks natural at the position, and plays at an advanced defensive pace, but his size and minor inconsistencies may move him to third base where he could be a plus defender. The Angels have time with Blakely at only 20-years-old and will utilize that time by developing inconsistencies in the low minors.

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21. Ryan Smith, Left-Handed Pitcher

One of the best $3,000 investments the Angels have made, Ryan Smith was an 18th-round senior sign out of Princeton who has done nothing short of miss bats and limit runs in his professional career, leaving an impression on Front Office decision makers. Smith is an undersized lefty who has overpowered younger hitters with a high-spin fastball that plays best up in the zone and in the hitter’s kitchen, sitting 92-94 with arm-side run. Smith is an aggressive strike-thrower who works quick and mostly off of his fastball. He’ll flash an above-average slider that he’ll try and play off his fastball, letting it break into the lower parts of the zone for swing-and-misses or weak contact. His changeup is a work in progress – but he replicates his arm speed – and could be the difference maker between remaining an undersized starter into the upper levels of the minors and beyond or being an aggressive power arm in the bullpen. The organization took notice of him right away in Rookie Ball and now have a larger focus on him, aggressively promoting him from Low-A to start the year to Triple-A to end 2021.

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22. Austin Warren, Right-Handed Pitcher

After scrapping infield and hitting duties as a college freshman, Austin Warren began attempting pitching and landed himself as a sixth-round senior sign in 2018. Just a few years later, he became one of the few reliable staples in the Angels bullpen in 2021. Working as a two-pitch reliever, Warren found success with both his fastball and slider in the Majors, nearly splitting his usage of both in half. His fastball averaged 93-94 with some run, and became a setup pitch that merited weak contact and some whiffs. His snappy two-plane slider was his premier pitch which is an above-average swing-and-miss offering (34.9 Whiff%). Warren threw more strikes in the Majors than he did through development which could be attributed to a small sample (20+ innings pitched), and that improved control could be the difference between staying a relief staple for the Angels, or an up-and-down reliever who tinkers with the 40-man roster over time. With his on-mound athleticism and progressive signs while still being a green arm, things are working in Warren’s favor and he should be on the Opening Day roster for the club.

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23. Nelson Rada, Outfielder

The top international signing of the most recent period, Nelson Rada was just within the age range to sign, and came to the Angels out of Venezuela for $1.85 million. Physically descriptive to Kobe Bryant, albeit nine inches shorter, Rada is a lean and muscular outfielder who is praised for his advanced feel in the outfield. He’s not fast by any means but he’s efficient in his routes, makes smart decisions in the field, and has late quick burst to the ball. He has the arm for a corner but he’ll stick in center throughout development with a chance to be a multi-versatile defensive outfielder. At the plate, Rada has a clean stroke from the left side with a late uphill climb. He has made hard contact as an amateur and could grow into average-or-better power but at current he is hit over power. He won’t turn 17 until August, so it’s likely he’ll spend the summer in the Dominican.

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24. Luke Murphy, Right-Handed Pitcher

College relievers are rarely coveted in the draft room, but Luke Murphy provided some excess that led to the Angels drafting him in the fourth round and signing him for $765,300, some $237K+ over slot. Murphy is a bit of a one-dimensional pitcher at the moment who thrives on a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball, which has touched 99, that plays up due to his deceptive cross-body delivery and pitch plane coming from a high slot. His off-speed pitch(es) are fringe at best right now and will be a focal point of development. Having Tommy John after high school in and a pandemic year, Murphy didn’t pitch much until 2021, where he held down the closer role for the College World Series runner-up and finished some big games in dramatic fashion for Vanderbilt, sometimes in multi-inning situations. He’ll need to harness his command and find some semblance of a secondary offering, but if/when he does, he is a good bet to have high-leverage reliever projection.

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25. Mason Erla, Right-Handed Pitcher

Usually, 24-year-old relief types who are just starting their pro careers after being taken in the teen rounds don’t catch much attention. Mason Erla is here to turn the tides. After a five-year collegiate career that included an injury, Erla showed up to pro ball with excess velocity, sitting 95-96 with movement in instructional league play with some selective higher velocity readings, much more than his low-to-mid 90’s in college. Erla’s secondaries are a work in progress with the changeup showing more optimism, and his slider showing a short break. With a high-effort delivery, command can falter though he will work around the zone. The Angels are relying on size and physicality (six-foot-four, 200 pounds) as well as arm strength to potentially garner a teen-round pick into a future Major Leaguer. Erla will be given the chance to start in development, but his projection is in mid-relief.

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26. Coleman Crow, Right-Handed Pitcher

Signing for fifth round money out of the 28th round, Coleman Crow was a Georgia prep arm who became a draft pool space negotiation in 2019. Crow is undersized for a starter, though that is the development pattern the Angels are taking as he did so in Low-A and the Arizona Fall League, which included a start in the Fall Stars Game where his arsenal shined but the defense behind him did all but that. Crow will operate 90-94 with his two-seamer that he likes to locate glove side in on lefties and breaking backdoor on righties. His slider is a high-spinning breaker that is similar to his fastball, best suited to his glove side with depth and late break. Crow showed a better changeup that flashed above-average as the summer went on and with its fading action, it gives him three legitimate options and altering breaks and a better chance at starting long term. Command will remain the long-lasting question for Crow who could lose feel at times. A solid athlete, from a raw athleticism and movement profile, there’s plenty of multi-inning relief upside. The youngest arm in the Arizona Fall League, Crow will spend the entirety of the 2022 season as a 21-year-old and continue developing as a starter where reps will be a friend to the second-year pro.

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27. Michael Stefanic, Infielder

Talk about placing trust in yourself and becoming a feel-good story. Michael Stefanic sent multiple emails to all thirty teams after going undrafted out of Westmont JC in 2018, with his baseball resume and scouting video. The Angels called within about two weeks with a need for infielders at their lower-level affiliates. Acting as a reserve infielder, Stefanic made it through the usual cuts of undrafted college players the following spring and was sent to full season Burlington as a bench infielder. Injuries and position changes in High-A led to a regular playing spot where Stefanic took charge with his bat. He has now hit his way to Triple-A and has the attention of the organization with a chance to be an early-season callup for the big club. Stefanic has elite barrel control and zone coverage. He has gone from a bit of a placement slap hitter with minimal power to a more intentful swinger showing at least fringe power. Stefanic has spent time at all infield positions but may not have the range to play shortstop or arm to play third on a regular basis at the highest level, but it does give him a bit of defensive versatility that could be best suited with the shift being in play so often. It’s not David Fletcher levels of zone coverage and barrel manipulation or premium defense, but it is enough to expect him to be given a chance at a utility or bench infield opportunity come 2022. He’s a throwback player, and Joe Maddon loves these type of guys (i.e., Fletcher, Rojas, Gosselin), giving even more reason to expect some Stefanic noise out of Spring Training 2022, not only from the Front Office but also the coaching staff.

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28. D’Shawn Knowles, Outfielder

Part of the Bahamian duo that signed for a combined $2.1 million, D’Shawn Knowles has well surpassed his island counterpart, Trent Deveaux, as his tools have translated giving him impact upside. A switch-hitter, Knowles is a better hitter from the right side with more power from the left side. The lefty swinging Knowles has a bit of bat speed which will keep pitchers honest – though his power is limited and 40-grade – and from my perspective is more based on armsy and strength based than natural flow. From the right side, Knowles has excellent north-to-south plate coverage and contact skills from a compact swing. He knows how to work counts but has such high-energy (he can get wound up like the Energizer Bunny) can be indecisive which has been challenged by more advanced pitching, which should be something checked during development to get him into better hitting counts and taking walks when present. Knowles is a burner on the base paths (60 runner) and uses that speed well when finding the gaps making him a more doubles and triples threat in the slugging department. Improving his baserunning during the pandemic and instructs, Knowles is now also a threat to steal bases at mercy as he is aggressive and smart, which should lead to regular double-digit stolen base output. That speed is also used in the outfield where he has a chance to be a plus defender at all three outfield positions, as he gets to the ball in a hurry and can make late surges towards the ball with aggressive and flashy plays when prompted. He has a plus arm which will keep runners honest. Knowles played some second base during the 2019 instructs and has seen time at shortstop this year. That new versatility, and potential to be an on-base threat who can steal bases, give him a utility upside.

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29. David Calabrese, Outfielder

Reclassifying to the 2020 draft class, David Calabrese was a late riser from the Canada prep ranks who was in the conversation for some teams in the second round, but the Angels were able to snag him in the third and sign him at full slot, leaving the organization excited for an upside outfielder with plus speed and defense drawing traits. Calabrese is a 70-runner who should be a base stealing threat, and someone who can track down more challenging fly balls in center as he gets to the ball in a hurry while taking efficient routes to make plays on the run with ease. He has a strong arm and makes accurate throws, giving him a lot of defensive upside at a premium defensive position. Calabrese’s size, at five-foot-eleven and 160 pounds, may limit his offensive potential, though he has a short-levered compact swing that allows him to drive the ball to all parts of the field with some present strength and intent. He stays low throughout his swing and has some bat speed that could lead to gap power where his speed will be the larger trait to garner extra-base hits. As a prep, he showed a good approach against top-level amateur competition, but struggled mightily upon reaching pro ball where lost time to a hamstring pull kept him from getting up to speed last summer. Physical development will be important to Calabrese as he fills into his stocky, yet athletic, build. Drafted young, Calabrese will be 20 through the 2022 campaign, giving the Angels plenty of time.

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30. Jose Salvador, Left-Handed Pitcher

Acquired in the trade for Brian Goodwin that also netted Packy Naughton, Jose Salvador was a projectable rookie ball arm who saw his first full season of professional baseball in 2021. He’s thin as a rail with present athleticism, and everything comes at hitters from an over-the-top arm slot that creates good angle to the plate. His trebuchet arm action (similar to the catapult you would build in middle school), and high release allows his low 90’s fastball (89-93) to play up in the zone despite premium velocity and makes his rainbow 12-6 curveball particularly hard on lefties and play well against right-handers. He uses his changeup sparsely, and it is distanced from his fastball/curve combo, acting more as a fringe changing of speed offerings. There’s plenty of refinement left in his command – particularly with his off-speed – but he throws enough strikes to dominate Low-A hitters with a mostly two-pitch mix. Without a true third pitch, it’s hard to project Salvador as a starter as he gets deeper into development and is likely a two-pitch middle reliever eventually.

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WINTER MOVEMENT:

When it comes to baseball, call this winter whatever you want. I’d be lying if I said my interest didn’t dwindle and I became frustrated with Major League Baseball, but I’m not going to sit here and digress about any of the lockout. What we will do instead is look at what the Angels did over the winter, excluding the obvious big signings of Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Archie Bradley, and Raisel Iglesias (re-sign); and trade/waiver moves with Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez.

  • Brendon Davis, IF
  • Kenny Rosenberg, LHP
  • Hector Yan, LHP
  • Jose Soriano, RHP
  • Jake Gatewood, UT
  • Kodi Medeiros, LHP

Brendon Davis enjoyed a breakout offensive year in 2021, traversing three different levels and outperforming himself at each stop. It landed him a spot on the 40-man roster protecting him from the Rule-5 Draft, in which they acquired him from the Triple-A portion in 2020. Quieting down his swing without sacrificing intent while making smarter swing decisions allowed him to tap into his offensive upside and have placed him on the depth chart as a utility man. With above-average raw power, it will be whether Davis can hit enough beyond the minors that will dictate his future role(s), and he may be among those who need patience from an organization that lets them blossom later in their careers after getting the reps at the plate. It is of note that Davis is only 24-years-old with a full three years of options that could be beneficial for the player and team allowing his hit tool to develop at the highest levels of the minors.

From one minor league Rule-5 pick to another, the Angels selected Kenny Rosenberg from Tampa over the winter. Rosenberg had robust performance numbers with Triple-A Durham, throwing strikes, limiting runs, and missing bats. He’ll work in the low 90’s with a slider and changeup that makes him dually effective against righties and lefties. Working mostly as a reliever in the upper minors, Rosenberg was announced as a starter when selected by the Angels which means he will likely be given the chance to do so and build himself up in the depth chart while giving the Angels a versatile southpaw bullpen alternative if necessary. Also, if you’re a social media user (particularly Twitter), he’s a fun follow.

At the cost of opening a roster spot for Aaron Loup, former top prospect Hector Yan was designated for assignment in mid-November. Following a breakout year in Low-A in 2019, Yan was placed on the 40-man protecting him from the Rule-5 Draft. Living off fastball usage, Yan’s velocity dipped from 91-94 to capping out around 91-92. His off-speed pitches haven’t been real weapons but were well used off of his fastball and funky low slot making them deceptive enough to work. With regressed velocity and struggling to find the strike zone, Yan’s 2021 could be tabbed as a lost season potentially impacted by the pandemic, but some have already tagged him as an organizational arm. At just 22, the team hasn’t surrendered hope on Yan’s future, but he’ll have to return to his previous arsenal and command to merit prospect attention again.

Keeping it in the former top prospect and Rule-5 category, Jose Soriano was returned to the Angels in mid-November after spending a year in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization upon being the top selection in the 2020 Rule-5 Draft. Following Tommy John surgery in February 2020, Soriano missed the entire pandemic season and knowingly wouldn’t pitch until mid-season 2021. In his May rehab stints, his original mid-to-upper 90’s fastball velocity was present until it dipped dramatically mid-outing and it was clear he’d lost the elbow again requiring another Tommy John surgery in June. Soriano has the size, athleticism, and evidence of a third usable pitch that give hope he can remain a starter when healthy. If all comes together, Soriano has mid-rotation or high-leverage reliever upside between his premier velocity and quality breaking ball, but it will be a long recovery process in which Soriano will not pitch until 2023 and no experience above Low-A.

As does every team, the Angels filled their upper-level depth charts with veteran ballplayers in the likes of pitchers Zack Weiss, Brian Moran, Sean McLaughlin, Luis Ledo, A.J. Ramos, Kyle Barraclough, Cesar Valdez, and Daniel Ponce de Leon; Catcher Austin Romine; Infielders Trey Cabbage, Kean Wong (re-sign), and Osmy Gregorio; and outfielders Ryan Aguilar, Dillon Thomas, Aaron Whitefield, Mike Wilson, Preston Palmeiro (re-sign) and Magneuris Sierra. Two more included in the minor-league signings are Jake Gatewood and Kodi Medeiros, both first-round picks for Milwaukee in 2014, who will be reunited with a new Angels Front Office filled with former Brewers executives. Gatewood, returning for his second season with the organization, played six different positions for the Salt Lake Bees in 2021. He is a power bat who has struggled to make contact as a professional. Medeiros, who was part of the Joakim Soria trade in 2018, has a plus breaking ball but has continually struggled with fastball command and without premium velocity. Both could be up-and-down options for the Angels in 2022 if needed due to Gatewood’s athleticism, versatility, and power upside, and Medeiros being a southpaw with a plus breaking ball that could play out of the bullpen.

Non-prospect related but a unique wrinkle to the Angels winter came via a Twitter Space announcement from Ty Buttrey about his desire to return to Major League Baseball. It is a unique scenario for the Angels who retain the rights to Buttrey’s contract through 2023, are in need of relief help, and will have to make a decision by early April about whether they’ll retain him or not before he appears in Spring Training games and is added back to the 40-man roster.

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20 PITCHERS IN 20 PICKS – NEW DRAFTEES:

Draft recap was easy for the Angels this year: 20 picks, 20 pitchers.

For an organization that needed some building on the pitching front – both at the Major and Minor League levels – Perry Minasian and staff were able to accomplish that over the span of July to March. As you read, plenty of the new arms are among the 30 most talented within the organization, but here’s a recap of those on the outside looking in:

  • Brett Kerry, RHP
  • Jake Smith, RHP
  • Ryan Costeiu, RHP
  • Nick Jones, LHP
  • Braden Olthoff, RHP
  • Mo Hanley, LHP
  • Glenn Albanese Jr., RHP
  • Andrew Peters, RHP
  • Brandon Dufault, RHP
  • Nathan Burns, RHP
  • Eric Torres, RHP
  • Nick Mondak, LHP

Brett Kerry (South Carolina, 5th Round) and Jake Smith (Miami, 6th Round) are both converted relievers who will be given the chance to start in the mid-minors through development due to their strike-throwing ability. Kerry will live off of his low 90’s fastball with movement but has three off-speed pitches that he can throw for strikes that permit him to work through an order multiple times. Smith – with a starter’s kit frame at six-foot-four, 190 pounds – will also work off of his fastball which has been low 90’s as a starter but been tapped at 98, with a solid above-average slider. Development of a usable third pitch will be vital for both to remain starters, as most of Kerry’s secondary pitches are fringe and Smith’s changeup being too firm to play at the upper levels.

Ryan Costeiu (Arkansas, 7th Round) caught my attention early in a two-inning stint with Inland Empire due to his electric stuff. It’s not high 90’s heat and more 92-94 but his ability to use it up in the zone is alluring, while his breaking ball (noted as a curve but its horizontal movement make me believe it is a slider) was a true swing-and-miss pitch when down in the zone. If he can continue to work north-to-south with as much ease as he did when I saw him, I think there’s some mid-relief upside to him. Nick Jones (Georgia Southern, 8th Round) is a tall southpaw (six-foot-six) who throws from a low slot and will live off of the plane of his low 90’s fastball and odd-shaped late-breaking curve.

Setting social media abuzz, Braden Olthoff (Tulane, 9th Round) enjoyed his Jomboy breakdown of messing with Mississippi State, that also allowed the world to see the incredible arm-side run on his low 90’s sinker and dramatically big sweeping high 70’s slider. Complimenting these two pitches is a changeup that makes him effective against left-handers. Olthoff has such simplistic mechanics it looks like he’s playing a game of catch in the backyard, and it allows him to throw strike with ease with 60-command. With minimal use in his lower half, there could be some development focus on his drive to see if he can tap into another velocity range, despite some physical peak.

Two of the more intriguing arms the Angels took in the 2021 Draft came with some baggage. Mo Hanley (Adrian College, 14th Round) on paper may not be as interesting as Mo Hanley on the mound. He walks more dudes than his fair share at the D3 level, but he strikes dudes out at a colossal rate. He can hit the mid 90’s with his fastball and has shown a plus tight slider. Having Tommy John surgery prior to the draft, Hanley’s pro debut is likely set for some time in 2022 where his athleticism may permit him to throw more strikes and reach his mass upside of a high-leverage relief role. Glenn Albanese Jr. (Louisville, 15th Round) gave teams an extremely limited sample due to injuries that held him to just over 35 total collegiate innings over three years. What he showed when healthy though had teams wanting more. In relief, he can sit in the mid 90’s and touch 98. As a starter, that would trend down to 92-95 but not enough to push teams away. He has a plus curveball. He has solid command for a guy his size, and his size and athleticism suggest he could start and maintain his stuff when healthy. Everything is pending a clean bill of health, but with Albanese’s raw package and green arm, he could have a rise in the system, ala Davis Daniel.

Spending most of their third day taking arm strength based, hard-throwing relief types; Andrew Peters (South Carolina, 10th Round), Brandon Dufault (Northeastern, 16th Round), and Nathan Burns (Oregon State, 19th Round) fit the bill. Peters, Dufault, and Burns all live off of their fastballs that have reached the mid-to-upper 90’s. All three struggled with command in college as well as pro ball but Burns became a standout of the group upon receiving an invite by the club to the Arizona Fall League. None feature a premier secondary pitch but do throw at least two differing off-speed pitches. Eric Torres (Kansas State, 14th Round) similarly works off of his fastball (sinker) but from a sidearm angle. Opposite to Torres, Nick Mondak (St. John’s, 18th Round) is an overtly high-slot lefty who lives in the bottom part of the zone with a big loopy curveball that can knee-buckle lefties.

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UNDRAFTED BUT NOT UNINTERESTING:

  • Myles Emmerson, C
  • Zach Humphreys, C
  • Kyle Lovelace, C
  • Mike Peabody, OF
  • Bryce Teodosio, OF
  • Steven Rivas, OF
  • Paxton Wallace, IF
  • Gabe Matthews, 1B
  • Kenyon Yovan, 1B/RHP
  • Carson Matthews, SS
  • Vojtech Mensik, IF
  • Houston Harding, LHP
  • Joey Walsh, LHP
  • Matthew McMillan, RHP
  • Blake Seigler, RHP
  • Hayden Seig, RHP

With the draft cut in half from its previous form, teams went to the undrafted ranks more often than – well often last year. No team was busier than the Angels when it came to signing players who didn’t hear their name called, bringing in twenty fresh players to the organization with a large focus on building some needed catching depth for the organization. Of the six new catchers for the Angels – all of whom show defense-first traits – Myles Emmerson of Cal Poly was the standout. Emmerson is a contact-oriented hitter who shows little signs of power output, but if he can hit a little it could lead to a backup role as he’s one of the more refined catch-and-throw guys from the 2021 amateur ranks. Zach Humphreys and Kyle Lovelace, both solid receivers, will likely get starting catching roles in the low minors.

Mike Peabody (UC-Irvine), Bryce Teodosio (Clemson), and Steven Rivas (Houston) are tooled-up athletic outfielders who play with some fire. Offensive consistency will be the difference for all. Of note, Rivas was drafted by the Angels in 2017 out of local Inland Empire prep program, Etiwanda High School. Paxton Wallace (Wichita State), Gabe Matthews (Oregon), and Kenyon Yovan (Oregon) are all corner infielders who have some interesting offensive profiles, with Wallace being an aggressive contact-hitter, and the Oregon pair being more power over hit. Yovan, a cousin of former Angels reliever Keynan Middleton, gives some more intrigue due to his previously being drafted by the Angels in 2019 as a touted pitcher, but injuries kept him from the mound, and he transitioned to hitting. There has been recent video of Yovan throwing bullpen sessions, so with a lot of speculation and hope, maybe there’s another two-way guy to monitor in the Angels system? Carson Matthews (San Diego State) and Vojtech Mensik (NC State) are both grinding middle-infielders with their defense and throwback style will be the carrying tools. For the obscure crowd, Mensik is a Czech-born player which is quite rare. I’ll openly claim some bias towards him, as it’s cool to see the game grow in Europe. To my knowledge, Martin Cervenka of the Mets is the only Czech-born player in professional baseball outside of Mensik and there hasn’t been a Czech-born player in the Majors since 1952, so I’m rooting for both dudes to break that spell no matter how unlikely it may be.

After drafting twenty pitchers in twenty picks, the Angels added five more to the incoming talent crop from the undrafted ranks. Houston Harding (Mississippi State) pitched in some big situations for Hail State and is a feel-good story after receiving no D1 offers out of high school and making it to pro ball with a College World Series title in hand. Harding is also fun to watch as his pre-pitch motions involve some very intriguing Matt Shoemaker-esque hip movements before getting set. Harding and Joey Walsh (Boston College) are breaker-heavy southpaws. Matthew McMillan (UT-Tyler) has a nice 21 inning pro debut where he faced 84 batters and only walked one. Blake Seigler and Hayden Seig were both Draft League performers, with Seigler having a high-spinning slider and Seig being a premier strike-thrower with a fastball that touches the mid 90’s.

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DEPTH ARMS:

Pitching depth has dogged the Angels for years. One of the first priorities of Perry Minasian was to address this and he did so promptly during his first trade deadline with the club by sending rentals, Andrew Heaney and Tony Watson, with the return rate coming in five young arms, one highlighted in our ranking (Janson Junk), one who made short impact with the big league club (Sam Selman), one who will appear later, and two right here.

  • Elvis Peguero, RHP
  • Jose Marte, RHP
  • Oliver Ortega, RHP
  • Cooper Criswell, RHP
  • Jhonathan Diaz, LHP
  • Gerardo Reyes, RHP

Tall and long-limbed Elvis Peguero had his first full pro season come as a breakout year that started in High-A and ended in the Majors. As part of the Heaney trade to New York, Peguero is one of many arm strength based relief prospects in the Angels system. He has a cross-body delivery, firing from a lot slot which aids to his mid 90’s sinker with solid arm-side run that produces weak contact. His slider offers upside as a two-pitch power arm, but his command leaves much to be desired. There’s mid-relief hope that could come as early as mid-season 2022.

Jose Marte, part of the Tony Watson trade with San Francisco, made his presence known in a loud manner by hitting triple digits on the house gun in Madison during his Angels organization debut. The report of 102 may have been heavy as the team said they had a lot of 99’s, but Marte is capable of hitting triple digits at times with his power sinker but will mostly sit 96-98 with limited command. He supports the fastball with an above-average two-plane slider. This will be on repeat, but he needs to harness his command and throw more strikes to be an impact reliever as opposed to a hard-throwing slinger.

Not dissimilar to Peguero or Marte in projection is Oliver Ortega, who is a bit more well known as a longer serviced Angels project. Ortega signed at 18-years-old for $10,000 and came on late with a breakout 2018 after missing 2017 with a back injury. The second breakout came in 2019 when he started transitioning towards the bullpen and he flashed a mid-90’s fastball with a power knuckle curve. In 2021, the velocity again rose to consistent mid 90’s, averaging 96-97. The curve is a swing-and-miss offering with deep vertical break, with minimal horizontal movement. Again, on repeat: He needs to harness his command and throw more strikes to be an impact reliever as opposed to a hard-throwing slinger.

On the opposite spectrum of fire ballers with limited command are Cooper Criswell and Jhonathan Diaz. Criswell was a 13th-round pick out of North Carolina in 2018 who has pieced together strong starts at each level of the organization and landed him a quick start in the Majors to end 2021. His arsenal is mostly fringe-average with the ability to get weak contact while working low in the zone with an alternate breaking upper 80’s sinker and mid 70’s slider combo. Jhonathan Diaz, a lefty who was signed as a minor league free agent, has an easy delivery which permits above-average command of three pitches. His slider is his best weapon that he’ll land on the back foot of right-handers and sweep away from lefties. It plays well off of his big-breaking curve, giving him two distinct breaking balls with differing speed but similar breaks. He has enough fastball command to work in the upper 80’s and low 90’s both north/south and east/west. For both Criswell and Diaz, sequencing and ability to command three pitches will put them in the rotation depth chart long-term with occasional spot starts and chances to break the roster as swingmen.

Somewhat lost in the depth chart but not forgotten is Gerardo Reyes. Reyes was the going cost for Jason Castro during the 2020 trade deadline. The hard-throwing right-hander got a cup of coffee in 2019 with the Padres and was mapped out to be a potential reliever for the Angels in 2021 before wincing after a pitch early in Spring Training that ended up being a sprain in his throwing UCL that required Tommy John surgery in March. It could be a long road of recovery for Reyes but if he returns to form, he could be a relief option upon being healthy who incorporates an upper 90’s fastball at the standardized talent peak age of most pitchers.

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PROJECTS:

The term “project” varies in general opinion and essentially means there are some Major League tools in the skillset with the rest of the players’ game needing refinement before establishing themselves as “prospects” or similar terminology. I’m just going to rattle off some short analysis on guys who have my attention over the last year for some reason or another.

Right-Handed Pitchers (Starter/Swingman):

  • Robinson Pina
  • Fernando Guanare
  • Gabriel Tapia
  • John Swanda
  • Connor Van Scoyoc

Needing a full reset, the Angels sent Robinson Pina to Low-A after he struggled to find the zone in his first handful of outing in High-A to start 2021. The reboot worked efficiently as he returned to High-A with confidence and command. Pina offers a starter’s profile with a low 90’s fastball he works north with ride and south with sink. He added a splitter to his arsenal due to his high slot delivery and it has worked well off of his swing-and-miss downer curve. Velocity fluctuation have put Pina in the bullpen for the time being and he could serve as a swing or multi-inning reliever. Two low-level arms that have interested the Angels in similar ways of the last few years are Fernando Guanare and Gabriel Tapia. Guanare was a statistical standout in 2021 after walking just one of the 196 batters he faced over the season. He’s a 60 athlete with 60-or-better command with a fringe arsenal, so there’s plenty of work to be done before he blossoms but the early returns are positive. A small regression took Tapia off of the rankings this spring, but he’s still of intrigue after bursting onto the scene following 2019 Instructional League. Tapia works in the low 90’s and is quite polished in his fastball command, with his changeup showing above-average due to his ability to use it against hitters on both sides of the plate. Spending $1,022,500 in draft bonuses between 2017 and 2018, the Angels have seen two Iowa-based arms begin to turn the corner in John Swanda and Connor Van Scoyoc. Swanda, initially expected to be a two-way player, has Tommy John in his past and works as an east-west sinker/slider arm who tends to get passed over in conversation but returns to the conversation regularly enough. Van Scoyoc is a tall righty who has a promising curveball and flashes of velocity to be a multi-inning guy.

Right-Handed Pitchers (Power Arms):

  • Aaron Hernandez
  • Matthias Dietz
  • Zach Linginfelter
  • Ivan Armstrong
  • Kelvin Caceras

Aaron Hernandez had lofty expectations coming out of college in the third round after showing mid-to-upper 90’s velocity and three potentially above-average off-speed pitches. Those expectations fell after his first year of pro ball where his fastball ranged in the low 90’s and he couldn’t find command of his off-speed. Following a pandemic, Hernandez is back to his old self averaging 95 with the fastball – though with minimal movement – and potential of two above-average off-speed pitches, that he still has trouble locating. Matthias Dietz was an intriguing arm in the 2016 Draft, and Baltimore took him in the second round. He struggled throwing strikes and was cut just prior to the pandemic. After some time in Indy Ball, the Angels signed him and sent him to Double-A where he missed bats at a premium with his upper 90’s fastball and decent breaker, but also missed the zone. Going college arm heavy on the second day of the 2019 Draft, Zach Linginfelter is one of the few who haven’t been traded to Baltimore in exchange for either Dylan Bundy or Jose Iglesias. Linginfelter is a tall, physical right-hander who has plenty of arm strength and a highly active delivery that took him away from a starting role in 2021. His semi-violent delivery has challenged his ability to command pitches and find consistent rhythm on the mound. His arsenal mostly consists of a mid-90’s fastball that touches 98, and a power breaking slider that flashes above average. Looking for opportunities during the trade deadline, Perry Minasian brought in some upper-level power arms which included Ivan Armstrong whose name fits his profile. Armstrong is a big-bodied low-slot pitcher with arm strength who will sits in the mid 90’s and show a short little slider that helped him dominate Low-A last season. Kelvin Caceras is a breakout pick for some in the industry due to his loud arsenal and potential to go multiple innings. Caceras will work in the mid 90’s on any given day with some excess in the tank, as well as coming equipped with a vertical breaking ball that has been a swing-and-miss offering.

Right-Handed Pitchers (Relievers of Note):

  • Dakota Donovan
  • Zac Kristofak
  • Alex Martinez
  • Jean Carlos Lucas
  • Sandi Charle
  • Cristopher Molina
  • Emilker Guzman

Dakota Donovan is a funky low-slot reliever who has had success on a low 90’s plane-based fastball and sweepy breaker. Zac Kristofak and Alex Martinez are smaller statured relievers with bulldog mentalities and have enough velocity and surge of a breaking ball to keep interest. Jean Carlos Lucas and Sandi Charle are physical specimens who have some athleticism on the mound and signs of breaking ball improvements. Cristopher Molina has been a long-time performer in the Angels organization (longest tenured non-Major Leaguer in system) who works off of fastball command (upper 80’s/low 90’s) and a promising swing-and-miss curveball, not dissimilar to Emilker Guzman who has similar velocity but a horizontal slider to pair as opposed to Molina’s vertical curve.

Right-Handed Pitcher (Injury Bug):

  • Stiward Aquino
  • Sadrac Franco

Stiward Aquino and Sadrac Franco were two low-level arms the Angels were excited about not too long back. Aquino was more about upside pitchability and feel with while Franco was a shorter power arm. Both are near the end of rehab from Tommy John surgery (second TJ for Aquino).

Left-Handed Pitchers:

  • Adam Seminaris
  • Jack Dashwood
  • Brent Killam
  • Connor Higgins

Adam Seminaris just missed the rankings and is one of the more refined pitchers in the Angels organization. He’s a smaller statured athletic pitcher who finds the zone with ease. Outside of his changeup which is a plus pitch and makes him effective against both lefties and righties, most of his pitches are average at best and he’ll have to continually manipulate the zone and prevent excess contact to hold his backend rotation upside. Side note, he’s a local kid who went to Long Beach State, and that’s always easy to cheer for. Jack Dashwood and Brent Killam offered some serviceable innings over the last year during their pro debuts. Both sit in the low 90’s with a decent feel for a breaking ball and enough fastball command to jump into the relief conversation in time. Connor Higgins is one of the harder throwing southpaws in baseball that he’ll throw with regularity to counter with his plus slider but he falters in fastball command.

Position Players:

  • Anthony Mulrine
  • David MacKinnon
  • Livan Soto
  • Kevin Maitan
  • Jose Guzman
  • Jeremy Arocho
  • Braxton Martinez
  • Jose Bonilla
  • Jose Reyes

I continually mixed Anthony Mulrine in-and-out of the 30th spot in my rankings this spring, so if we went to 31, you could assume he would be my 31st ranked Angels prospect. Mulrine is a gifted defensive catcher with solid framing metrics, side-to-side in the dirt skills, and an arm to keep runners honest. He has a simple swing and will likely never hit enough to merit more than a backup role, but he puts the ball in play with enough regularity, mostly on the ground to his pull side (simmered around 50.0 GB% and Pull% in 2021). Of note, Mulrine caught all 17 of the game started by Reid Detmers and Chris Rodriguez in Double-A during the 2021 season. Due to a background as a soccer goalkeeper, David MacKinnon is a gifted defensive first baseman who was set to start the year in Tri City but at the request of Jay Bell, landed with Madison where he was a top offensive performer for the Trash Pandas. MacKinnon is simple at the plate but is unorthodox according to the traditional model that first baseman should have mass power output. He’s likely to spend the year in Salt Lake where he may be able to inflate his power production and land on the depth chart at a position of need for the Angels. Livan Soto is also a defensively gifted player who has questions about the hit tool. The Angels have tinkered with Soto’s swing to get into more gap power. If he can get back to some passive decisions at the plate that he had shown in the past, there may be some hope to get a bench bat out of him instead of a late-game defensive substitute in the middle infield. Part of signing Soto was the Braves international signing sanctions that permitted him and others to become free agents – which in turn led to the Angels signing three of the new free agents including highly touted Kevin Maitan. Maitan and Soto are both hovering around their 22nd birthday so there is time for some blossoming, but the tide has started to tip against Maitan. He lost athleticism after putting on some serious excess weight when coming stateside and though he has trimmed down a bit, he’s still a free-swinging corner infielder who can’t hit his way out of Single-A. There’s hope due to youth, but most who have seen Maitan in the last three years have tabbed him as an org player.

Jose Guzman caught my eye during a trip to San Bernardino last year. He’s a short-levered middle-infielder who has solid barrel control and some youth at his disposal. Similar to Guzman is Jeremy Arocho who performed well in Single-A last year. He’s rarely strikes out and makes effective use of his plus speed but is purely a second baseman who has well below-average power. Braxton Martinez was also quite notable during the stops to Inland Empire – particularly when you look up at the scoreboard and see his batting average never fell below .300 after early June. Martinez’s story of hitting pro ball is intriguing after four years of Atlantic-10 play and the four years following spent mostly in Indy Ball and a quick trip to the Mexican League. He made his pro debut at 27-years-old and torched the Cal League before a week’s worth of appearances in High-A. He’s suitable for a corner infield spot and likely solely first base but his performance can’t go unnoticed, and he’ll be on the tabs list from now on.

Going into the year I was excited to see the two Jose’s – Bonilla and Reyes. Both have promising swings on tape and has enough low-minors performance to garner the excitement of potential breakout. Jose Bonilla was notably filled out physically prior to his stop in Low-A and showed up a bit bigger than I expected. Also unexpected was his inability to recognize pitches and put the ball in play. He spent the better part of the year in Arizona where he continued to struggle with the bat. Jose Reyes has always been of interest to me because his swing is so darned pretty. It’s a natural cut with some bat speed which gives him below-average to moderate power upside. However, he chased pitches out of the zone too often and couldn’t make hard enough contact when he did. Both could be looking at a rebirth this year upon their returns to Low-A.

Two-Way Players:

  • William Holmes
  • Erik Rivera

Unorthodox to baseball for nearly a century, Billy Eppler and staff decided to take chances on supreme athletes and transform them – not from being a hard-throwing catcher into a pitcher or a pitcher with bat skills into a hitter (i.e. Kenley Jansen, David Peralta) – into players who could both hit and pitch at the same time through development, better known as a “two-way player.” Beyond the obvious Shohei Ohtani who is doing both at the highest level, the Angels made attempts with a handful of their minor leaguers in turning them into two-way players and between 2018 and 2019, opted for early draft players with two-way upside in William Holmes and Erik Rivera. Holmes, a fifth-round pick in 2018, is an outstanding athlete who had more upside on the mound than at the plate who debuted as an outfielder in the low minors following his draft. He’s continued to hit in spurts, but the Angels focus remains on the mound. In 2021, Holmes didn’t see more than two batters in games and spent the majority of the year throwing bullpen sessions where his regressed arsenal was confined to staff only. When he’s on, he throws in the mid 90’s with a plus curveball, but he’s a long way off from reaching any ceiling at this point. Still just 21, Holmes could get some rotation time in Low-A for the coming season. Rivera, a fourth-round pick in 2019, had similar on mound traits to Holmes with athleticism (though Holmes is superior to all in the Angels organization for on mound athletes) and a plus breaking ball. Getting reps at the plate, it’s evident Rivera is solely a pitcher who happens to possess plus raw power but not much else offensively. Rivera did get a start this year in Low-A where he looked stellar over three innings but was promptly shut down with a UCL sprain. When healthy, Rivera works in the low-to-mid 90’s with a plus changeup, and the athletic indicators of a strike-throwing future.

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PHYSICAL STUDS:

Part of the Billy Eppler tenure with the Angels was a high focus on acquiring supreme athletes to build the farm system. You could argue there are more than a handful of players who could contend for the title of “best athlete” in the system. However, sometimes the player has yet to blossom into a highly touted baseball player and simply remains a physical specimen or incredible athlete. Here are a few who fit that mold within the Angels system.

  • Trent Deveaux, OF
  • Kristin Munroe, IF
  • Torii Hunter Jr., OF
  • Francisco Del Valle, OF
  • Natanael Santana, OF
  • Edwin Yon, OF

During the 2017-18 international signing period, the Angels spent just over $2,000,000 in The Bahamas between outfielders D’Shawn Knowles and Trent Deveaux. Three years later, they added another $400,000 into the island investment by signing infielder Kristin Munroe. Deveaux, a former sprinter, was seen as a power/speed threat (80-grade raw speed, 60-70 game speed) who had some versatility moving from shortstop to center field where he had some defensive upside. He’s gone through at minimum a full handful of swing alterations including one that had him setup directly upright with his knees nearly connecting just prior to separation. It seems now that he isn’t going to hit enough but if the Angels can lock down one swing for Deveaux, his athleticism could give him prospect status once again. Munroe on the other hand is just blossoming from a raw prospect into a product. He has a similar tool set to Deveaux – based on bat speed, versatility, and base-stealing potential – but has a better chance at hitting with a more refined approach than his island counterpart. He spent his debut season in the Dominican where he played third base mostly but could be given a chance to move around the diamond and outfield.

Of the 36 signed draftees from Eppler’s first draft, seven remain in the organization, with four being on the 40-man roster. Two of the three who haven’t reached the peak roster are Torii Hunter Jr. and Francisco Del Valle. Hunter was drafted with just 14 collegiate plate appearances under his belt and was more known for his abilities on the gridiron. The Angels allowed him to play football for Notre Dame in the fall but got him on the field in Orem by the following summer where he performed well. He puts the ball on the ground regularly where his plus-plus speed becomes an asset but there’s not enough of a hit tool to see him threatening the depth chart. Del Valle, a Puerto Rican outfielder, is also a highly athletic draftee from 2016 who has promising tools but hasn’t seen the bat develop enough to push him above Single-A going into his seventh professional season. Fellow Puerto Rican outfielder, William Rivera (drafted in 2018), has Del Valle vibes in physical tools and an easy free swing, but similar to others, hasn’t hit enough.

Natanael Santana on standalone tools could be one of the top prospects in the organization. Listed at six-foot-three and 190 pounds (which is light based on the eye test), Santana is a standout among the many physical specimens in the organization. For a guy his size to have plus speed is nothing short of astonishing, and he has the ability to use it on both sides of the ball. With his physical gifts comes easy raw power, but his hit tool may not grade above well below-average. It will be a long-term project that will be worth checking in on regularly but until he hits, he’s another physical and athletic stud in the Angels low minors.

The only challenger for Santana on the physical spectrum is Edwin Yon. Not merely on bulk or physicality, but in stature. Yon is listed at six-foot-five, but I will laugh mercilessly at anyone who sees him in person and puts him shy of six-foot-seven. I wasn’t covering the club when Loek Van Mil – a seven-foot-one pitcher – was in the organization but I remember Alex Meyer (six-foot-nine) vividly and wasn’t sure I was taken aback the same way I was with Yon. My guess is six-foot-seven but an inch in either direction seems proper. If you’re looking for a physical comparison, I’d lean to a long-limbed NBA small forward such as Andrew Wiggins. On the field, he’s serviceable in a corner outfield spot but it’s worth noting he only spent half of his games in the field and the other half as hitting designation. Yon has struck out 45% over his past two seasons played, but when he connects it’s regularly with the barrel and it goes a long-distance at a quick rate. It may be repetition but… until he hits…

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ISLAND TABS:

For even those who dive the deepest into the minors, the Dominican affiliates are still a mysterious place filled with players you will sparsely hear about. The talent level has so many variants, from projectable arms who throw in the low-to-mid 80’s, to super athletes who are capable of hitting 450-foot home runs. Players have signed for anywhere in the low thousands to multiple millions. You could almost compare it to a non-premier state high school All-Star game, but even that can be thrown off at times. Here is a look at some of the deepest players within the Angels organization, who you may have never heard of:

  • Edgar Alfonso, 2B
  • Jorge Marcheco, RHP
  • Anthony Scull, OF
  • Randy de Jesus, OF
  • Adrian Pena, RHP
  • Keythel Key, RHP
  • Darlin Francia, RHP
  • Luis Viloria, LHP
  • Cristian Garcia, 1B
  • Jorge Ruiz, OF

During the summer of 2021, the Angels spent $785K on a trio of Cuban-born players, beginning with Edgar Alfonso in June at $200K. Alfonso spent the entire season with the Dominican affiliate and showed off his 80-grade raw speed. The quick switch-hitting middle-infielder is physically limited at the moment and is likely destined for second base, with some bench potential solely on his speed. After signing for $350K in early September, Jorge Marcheco was able to throw a statistical no-hitter over three outings, retiring 27 of the 28 batters he faced, and 20 by way of strikeout. The Cuban right-hander was a radar arm from his mid-teens and now, at 19-years-old, operates in the low 90’s with a four-pitch arsenal – all of which he can throw for strikes, with his curve and splitter being argued as his best secondary offerings. Marcheco signed the same day as compatriot Anthony Scull, who is the son of former three-time Olympian and 19-year veteran of the Cuban National Series, Antonio. Anthony, who signed for $235K, has a swing reminiscent of his father with a smooth operation and some present pull-side raw power.

The new shiny toy for the island affiliate will be Randy de Jesus, who signed for $1.2 million out of the Dominican in January. An athletic outfielder who is probably headed for a corner due to his size and physicality (six-foot-four, 210 pounds), de Jesus is notable for his power potential. Consistently making hard contact as an amateur, de Jesus will have to tone down his swing a tick while maintaining his intent. It will be interesting to see if the Angels keep de Jesus in the Dominican for the summer or allow him to get some reps stateside before September.

Targeting pitchers with more repetitive mechanics and physical projection than premier velocity, the Angels have loaded their lowest affiliate with some projection arms who won’t pop on paper or in modern reports but are worth putting in the follow column. Venezuelans, Adrian Pena and Keythel Key, along with Dominican, Darlin Francia, are all tall right-handed pitchers who can get their fastballs into the low 90’s with some semblance of a breaking ball. Physical projection is vital for all three. Opposite of the tall right-handers is small-statured southpaw Venezuelan, Luis Viloria, who is a finesse pitcher at present and doesn’t offer as much physical projection but has an advanced feel for pitching and was able to utilize the corners well in his pro debut.

From a performance standpoint, numbers in the Dominican will constantly inflate and deflate due to the extreme variance of the league talent, so you can either take it with a grain of salt or toss it out completely. Two things that often merit the smallest detail of attention are walk-to-strikeout ratios, both on the pitching and hitting side. Christian Garcia, a switch-hitting Dominican first baseman, walked once more than he struck out over the course of 155 plate appearances in the Dominican last summer. His swing is simplistic from both sides with more fluidity from the right side. Jorge Ruiz, a 17-year-old Venezuelan outfielder, struck out only thrice more than he walked over 211 plate appearances while finding gaps with some regularity. He has a non-physical armsy swing with serious drag at present but as he matures physically there is some projection in the bat.

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