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In what figures to be the shortest minor league system review of the offseason, today we tackle the Angels system. It’s not so much that the Halos have no prospects as it’s the Angels have bad prospects. It’s almost as if they used every ounce of player development ability to churn out the greatest player of a generation, and then followed it up with nothing. Well maybe nothing is unfair, but it’s been almost half a decade since the likes of Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Garrett Richards broke through to the bigs. The addiction to bad free agent contacts has left a once proud organization decimated. The money spent on Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, and Albert Pujols hasn’t paid off the way they expected, and the years of lost draft picks has left the system bare. For the first time in a few years the Angels have a handful of interesting prospects, and the organization seems more focused on player development under former Yankees executive Billy Eppler. There’s only a handful of interesting players to discuss here, and a couple who could develop into impact fantasy bats. It’s the Top Los Angeles Angels Prospects.

 

Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.

Jahmai Jones, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk

A toolsy Georgia high school outfielder taken in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft. A superior athlete who scorned football for baseball, Jones mixes an advanced hit tool with elite base-running ability and projectable raw power. He’s a quick twitch athlete, who’s made significant gains over the last year both physically and as a hitter. While his power is just average, many scouts believe that with his plus bat speed and clean swing he could reach mid-teen homer totals at his peak. His natural baseball instincts play up his tools.

Matt Thaiss, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk

One of my favorite players from the 2016 draft, Thaiss is an advanced college hitter that should progress quickly. Following a highly regarded college career, the Angels took Thaiss with the sixteenth pick in the first round. After walking 26 times to just 32 strikeouts in his first 260 professional at bats it’s easy to see why I love his plate discipline. Thaiss’ power is said to be in the mid-teen range, but with advanced approach and a keen eye, I can see the power playing up as he adjusts to major league pitching. Overall Thaiss offers one of the better floors of last year’s draft, and easily the best floor in the Angels system.

Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.

Alex Meyer, RHP | Age: 26 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA

The 23rd pick in the 2011 draft has been hanging around in the minors for what seems like forever. It looks like following a trade to the Angels, Meyer will get his first real shot at a MLB starting gig. He’s long had a big sinking fastball he can dial up the high 90’s velocity on. His secondary offerings of a knuckle curve, and circle change are average, but can generate swings and misses. The Angels feel they’ve finally unlocked his mechanics, which in turn should hopefully keep him healthy. He’s a serious sleeper in fantasy this year, and one that can be had for little investment in dynasty.

Taylor Ward, C | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+

Ward was considered a reach by the Angels at 26th overall in the 2015 draft. In tribute he slashed .348/.457/.438 in his first 56 professional games. Unfortunately, the follow up was a full season of .249/.323/.337 production. He’s still developing his catching ability, but should stick behind the plate. (Particularly with his excellent arm.) How much he’ll hit, I don’t know. Personally I wouldn’t own him outside deep 2 catcher leagues or AL only’s.

Nate Smith, LHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level

Typical back end of the rotation lefty. Not much upside, got roughed up in the PCL this year. Has a very solid chance to land the long relief job out of camp and make some fill in starts along the way. Low velocity fastball guy with a four pitch mix he uses to keep hitters off balance. You interested?

Manny Banuelos, LHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA/A+

In a time long ago, in a galaxy far far away Banuelos was a top 25 prospect as a fireballing lefty. Following a 2012 Tommy John surgery that put him on the shelf for two years he never regained his velocity or stuff. He was traded to the Braves, where he flamed out and was released and then claimed by the Angels. Now he waits to die in the prospect grave yard known as the Angels system. Sorry I was trying to write the most dramatic blurb of Manny Banuelos possible.

Brooks Pounders, RHP | Age: 26 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA

Not going to lie, he’s here as much for the name as he is for his ability. Pounders a former second round pick of the Pirates, who was used almost exclusively as a reliever before being dealt to the Royals in 2011. With the Royals, Pounders was converted to a starter and began to ascend through the minors before getting his TJ on. After missing most of 2014, a lat injury cost him most of 2015. He returned this year with a very solid showing in the PCL. Making 7 starts and working mostly out of the pen Pounders had an ERA of 3.17 with 90 strikeouts in 80 PCL innings. His cup of coffee with the Royals did not go so well, and Pounders was shipped to the Angels a few weeks ago. Could factor into a bullpen role with a high 90’s fastball, above average slider, and his fringe curve and change.

Vincente Campos, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA

A once hyped Mariners prospect, Campos had been in the Yankees organization for several years before being dealt to the D-Backs in the Tyler Clippard deal. Following yet another injury to his injury plagued career Campos was released by the Diamondbacks and claimed by the Angels. Campos made major strides last season prior to his most recent injury, and could be a back end of the rotation arm as early as this season if he’s healthy.

Others: Keynan Middleton, David Fletcher, Joe Gatto, Jake Jewell, Connor Justus

Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs

Brandon Marsh, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: DNP

Let me begin this blurb by wishing Brandon a very happy 19th birthday, and just what you always wanted a Razzball blurb! Really, it’s nothing Brandon. Nothing I tell you. The 2016 second round pick is another Georgia prep outfield prospect similar to 2015 2nd round Jahmai Jones. Much like Jones, Marsh was a two sport athlete that scorned football for baseball. His plus speed and plus raw power have seen him draw Colby Rasmus comparisons. I guess we should be prepared for him to only hit on off days.

Nonie Williams, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk

An interesting sleeper from the Angels 2016 draft class. A switch-hitting athlete, who turned 18 mere weeks before the draft. Nonie brings elite speed, a super quick bat and average raw power. He’s super young, but is one of the more exciting prospects to dream on in the system. Plus anyone named Nonie is alright by me. Draw from this what you will, but Nonie was a home schooled Kansas prep player, limiting his exposure on the showcase circuit. In fact, many thought he was a 2017 draft prospect before reclaiming his eligibility only a few months before the draft. So he may think the earth is flat, but damn can Nonie hit a baseball.

Grayson Long, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A/Rk

Long a 2015 3rd round pick is a big righty with a nasty streak on the mound. He works in the low 90’s with his above average fastball mixing it with two developing but average offerings in his change and slider. He has the frame of an innings eater (6’5 230), but needs to show he can stay healthy. Worth an own in a league that rosters 500+ minors.

Chris Rodriguez, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: Rk

A Miami area prep arm taken by the Angels in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. C-Rod can pump his heater into the zone at 95-97, mixing it with a raw breaking ball, a mid-80’s change, and a deceptive sinking two-seamer with slider break. Saw limited innings in his pro debut, but is buy in large the best prospective arm in the Angels system. He comes with bullpen risk, but also mid rotation upside. Shocking, an actual fun player to follow.

Roberto Baldoquin, SS/2B | Age: 22 | ETA: Never | 2016 Level: A+

When we talk to our grandchildren about the great Cuban busts of our time. They’ll hope we’re talking about boobs, but in fact we’ll be talking about Rusney Castillo, Alex Guerrero, Hector Olivera, and Baldoquin. The problem is Roberto might be the biggest of the bunch. I mean he’s bad. “How bad is he?” He’s so bad he slashed .198/.274/.233 with 0 homers in the Cal League. Let’s put that in perspective, we usually don’t trust offensive numbers from that league because they’re too inflated. Nevertheless we Bobbie Baldie barely hitting his weight

Others: Cole Duensing, Jaime Barria, Julio Garcia, Jordan Zimmerman

Check Out Our Minor League Preview Index for all articles and podcasts on all 30 teams!

  1. Halp says:
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    Nice work PIC (prospector in crime). Managed to make a boring system an interesting read. Or maybe that is just because you mentioned the Yankees so much, ha

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Halp: Hahaha lots of Yankee talk in this one Brohammed. I actually think Eppler’s first draft was very solid. I like Thaiss, Marsh, Nonie, C-Rod, and Zimmerman. Hey, it’s a start!

  2. Eric says:
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    Hey there prospector. Thanks for the writeup.

    What are your thoughts on Greg Bird and Trey Mancini this year. Bird seems to have clearer path to ABs, but shoulder injuries can be tricky. Who do you like better and is it a strong/moderate/mild preference?

    Thanks

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Eric: I’d go Bird and it’s a mild preference. I don’t understand the Orioles plan with Mancini. He seems MLB ready, I wish they would just trade him already.

      Bird has Austin to contend with for at bats. His Fall wasn’t great. He’s still the safer bet.

  3. Mr. Homolka says:
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    What do you think is the closest MLB comp to Thaiss assuming best case scenario for his development? Would Hosmer without the steals be something we could look forward to?

    • @Mr. Homolka: The best floor in the Angels system…which is, in other words, fairly cloudy…

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Wake Up: Thaiss are always a solid floor with Chicken, women, and prospects.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Mr. Homolka: Hosmer is a fair comp, production wise maybe Brandon Belt. Ultimately a .280-.300 type hitter with solid OBP who’s power maxes out in the 20’s. He’s smaller than those guys though.

  4. Sure LAA wasn’t very good.
    Sure the farm is bloated mutton.
    But…at least they have Pujols under contract for the next 14 years…

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Wake Up: Beautiful stuff Wake.

  5. El Famous Burrito says:
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    This feels like the first optimistic review of Alex Meyer in at least two years.

    I needed it.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @El Famous Burrito: Ha! I think the expectations are so low, he’s worth a flier. The best part is, baring injury or a poor spring, he’s probably in the rotation.

    • Tweak says:
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      @El Famous Burrito: I feel the same way. The Twins’ system is so screwy with player development that it seems like the best way for their prospects to succeed is to get out. With a good fastball and mediocre other offerings, Meyer has the same kind of write-up as Eovaldi. Both would probably be best suited to late inning work (7th/8th setup?). I know the Angels need starters (read: innings eaters), but it’s not as if their bullpen is great either. I think Meyer should go the way of Wade Davis while guys like Skaggs, Shoemaker, Nolasco log more innings. Getting Richards back should help too, but he’ll obviously be pretty limited.

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Tweak: Perhaps, they have some options in the pen and it ain’t that bad. Street, Bedrosian, Bailey, Ramirez, Guerra, and Chavez. There’s also options like Pounders, Jose Alvarez (L), Smith, and Banuelos.

  6. Another Dan says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    Again thanks for this. In prep mode for my first year player draft. But Jones isn’t taken either so he could be drafted. Is he a better prospect than Thaiss ? Or where (roughly) would you take Jones ?

    Thanks,

    dan

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Another Dan: I’d take him in the top 10, he and Thaiss are a matter of preference floor vs ceiling. Jones is the ceiling guy, and probably the guy I’d take first.

      • Another Dan says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Thanks Ralph, very useful. Best wishes for the upcoming festivities.

        dan

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Another Dan: You too! I have plenty of bathroom reading for everyone over the holiday.

  7. Kenneth says:
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    “Worth an own in a league that rosters 500+ minors.”

    Ha! Pretty much sums up the system.

    Do you think Middleton projects as a late inning guy or more of a middle reliever?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Kenneth: I was on the bubble about blurbing him but I held off as I already wrote up too many Angels.

      I think his ceiling is late inning closer with his floor being a solid middle relief guy. After being moved to the pen after a couple failed years as a starter he’s really taken off. With a potential dominant two pitch mix with his plus plus mid-90’s heater, and an above average slider that flashes plus, he could dump his change and fit in as a legit late inning threat. He needs to tighten up the control and command, but even that has looked better since the pen move.

  8. SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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    Nonie Pounders Thaiss like Jahmai Jones

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @SheriffMcRawDawg: That reads like a Lil Wayne lyric

  9. Mike

    Mike says:
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    Manny “they shoot horses don’t they?” Banuelos

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Look at this guy!

      • Mike

        Mike says:
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        ;)

    • SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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      @Mike: Nonie Pounders Thaiss like BIG MIKE!!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Mike: Ha! It’s a Festivus miracle.

      • Mike

        Mike says:
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        haha

        *ducks out before airing of grievances*

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Happy Holidays, Mike! We miss you!

          • Mike

            Mike says:
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            thanks…you too!

            • SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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              @Mike: I need you Mike

            • goodfold2 says:
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              @Mike: nice to see you arround.

  10. Raoul Duke says:
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    Dear Ralph, and Grey, and anyone else reading,

    Is there any song better than N.Y. State of Mind?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Raoul Duke: Heartlight by Neil Diamond…

      • Raoul Duke says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: I’ll have to check that one out. Not familiar with it. I have heard that Diamond was the lyricist of his generation.

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