Over the past few off-seasons one of the most unpleasant tasks was writing up the Los Angeles Angels farm system. They didn’t just lack depth, they lacked sizzle, spice, anything naughty or nice. I mean it was the dregs of the minor league ranks, a 30 grade in both ways you could take it. I’m not going to blame the reign of Jerry DiPoto, but take a look at the Mariners. They’re the new Angels. As for the Angels they’ve added some exciting talents over the last three seasons, culminating in the signing of the most hyped Japanese player since Masahiro Tanaka. In fact, since June the Angels have added three of their top four prospects, and you could make an argument that they secured the services of the best Free Agent in Shohei Ohtani, best prep hitter in Jo Adell, and the best international hitter of the past two July 2nd periods in the emancipated Kevin Maitan. It’s an interesting mix, with some up and coming talents that showed some spark in 2017. They still lack depth, and players like Taylor Ward and Nonie Williams have struggled to meet expectations, leaving the two areas of need, middle infield and catcher, further exposed. The system is a work in progress, but just another strong draft and signing period from being a top system. It’s the Los Angeles Angels Top Prospects.
1) Shohei Ohtani, RHP/OF | Age: 23 | Level: NPB | 2017 Stats: Has Not Played Stateside
The man, the myth, the legend, quite literally. I’m not that comfortable ranking Ohtani amongst a bunch of prospects, but technically he’s under his rookie limits, and is just 23. We should all be well aware of the type of talent Ohtani is, particularly as a pitcher. He possesses a fastball that sits mid to upper-90’s with the ability to bang triple digits. There have been a lot of reports knocking the fastball for being straight, but the velocity should be enough to miss bats. His split-finger, or what he calls his forkball is a nasty pitch, with the ability to get swings and misses, and hit his spots when needed. I love his forkball. The rest of his pitching arsenal is comprised of a slider that flashes plus, a curveball, and a changeup. At the plate Ohtani is a power hitter, hitting .322 with 22 homers, and a 1.004 OPS DHing on his off-days from pitching in 2016. He offers 60 grade power with 60 grade speed, and an average hit tool. If it all clicks on both sides of the ball Ohtani could be fantastic. I’m skeptical of him reaching his somewhat mythical ceiling due to some of the injury concerns that have popped up over the last 18 months. He was limited to just 5 starts and 65 games as a hitter in 2017 due to an ankle injury. News of a grade 1 sprain in his right elbow was revealed a few days after signing. Trepidation aside, this is an elite talent, perhaps generational. Also, here’s Grey’s Shohei Ohtani fantasy. ETA: 2018
2) Jahmai Jones, OF | Age: 20 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .282/.348/.446, 14 HR, 47 RBI, 27 SB
3) Jo Adell, OF | Age: 18 | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .325/.376/.532, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 8 SB
Actual texts from 1/20/2018 between Bro-Shitz
Ralph: What do you think about Jahmai Jones swing? Hands are noisy pre-load, then he has a pronounced pause before he swings. Great bat speed.
Lance: It’s a little bit stiff to me, but all in all I really don’t mind it, the bat speed, as you’re saying.
If his Ks keep going up as he gets to AA, I can see them simplifying him even more and taking out the little hitch when his bat goes perpendicular to the ground.
It’s really compact pop though which I like.
I’m mainly torn between him and Jo Adell on who I like more. I think I have them back to back on my ranks right now.
What do you think?
Ralph: It might be the same on mine. Adell has the higher upside. He’s got loft and looks like he’s always going to have plus power. Adell’s plate approach is better than anticipated. Jones has really good hand eye coordination. Pitch recognition is okay, but I’m trying to keep in mind he was 19 entering the season. Jones runs really well. He gets caught stealing, but after watching about 30-40 minutes of tape, he stretches long singles to doubles, and long doubles to triples. He’s a threat to score from second on a single.
Lance: I think Adell has more upside too, but I like that Jones has succeeded at High-A. I think I might lean Jones ahead of Adell right now actually.
I think there are some things that might go wrong with Adell, I like Jones’ swing a lot more, even with the little hitch of sorts.
Adell has a lot more hand lateral hand movement, that’s gonna catch up to him once he hits High-A (in my opinion).
I see the case for Adell though. If he adjusts, I reserve the right to move him ahead hahaha
Ralph: I agree on Jones > Adell. In fact Jones is ahead of Adell on my last Top 100. He’s way more advanced as a hitter. The case for Adell is what the finished product looks like. He was from a small school in Kentucky and didn’t face great competition. I’m really interested to see what the offseason brings. The natural talent is off the charts, and I think he might be able to polish up quite a bit the next year or so.
Lance: Exactly, and good call! I think I initially really was looking at Adell ahead, but I realized I’m more confident in a lot of my rankings when I’m looking at semi-comparable players and deciding based on success and what level.
Ralph: I look at it this way. Younger players have more time to prove they need to be ranked higher. A player reaches maximum value the closer he is to the majors. Whether in real life or fantasy.
I think that’s my conundrum on these Angels ranks. For fantasy, I’d rather have a Adell type than a Jones. But I think ranking Jones ahead and explaining it’s close is the prudent thing to do. There’s less risk, and a nice combo of contact, power, and speed.
I think I might use this back and forth as my write up for Jones and Adell. Hahaha!
Lance: Of course man! Have away!
Yeah I see what you’re saying. The toughest thing with the fantasy side of things is understanding how much risk you want to assume and how much upside you’re willing to give up to understand what an asset’s true value is sooner than later.
That depends heavily on the owner, their team, and a bunch of other factors.
Questions asked to prospectors are always funny to me, especially because I think the majority actually ACT off what the prospector is saying, without considering the situation and why the prospector answered how he did.
Jones ETA: 2019
Adell ETA: 2021
4) Kevin Maitan, SS Braves | Age: 17 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .241/.290/.340, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB
Let’s try and keep in mind how young Maitan is before getting too worked up over his numbers. As I’ve been saying for a few months, if Maitan was American he’d be a senior in high school. The profile should be well known, an elite power prospect that draws comparisons to hall of fame talents. He got caught up in the whirlwind of the John Coppolella story. Got released from his contract, and was then able to sign with the Angels for $2.2 Million. The issues with his weight gain and not being as polished as promised will see him drop in my first top 100 update. Don’t panic yet though, Maitan is still a Top 100 talent. One that possesses a powerful swing from both sides of the plate, and decent athleticism despite the bad body. ETA: 2022
5) Brandon Marsh, OF Angels | Age: 20 | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .350/.396/.548, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 10 SB
Since being taken 60th overall in the 2016 draft Marsh has played just 39 professional games, all coming this year. But in the games he has played in, Marsh has been phenomenal. I believe we’re looking at a fantasy superstar in the making, and I’ve ranked him as such twice now. My love for Marsh runs so deep that I wrote a long post digging into why he’s one of my favorite dynasty targets. The combination of a great bat speed, power, base stealing ability, and athleticism make Marsh a player to dream on. His lefthanded swing is reminiscent of Colby Rasmus, let’s hope Marsh has a less up and down career. ETA: 2020
6) Jaime Barria, RHP | Age: 21 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: 7-9, 141.2 IP, 2.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 117 Ks, 31 Bb
A control and command righty with a bulldog makeup, and a knack for hiding the ball well. Barria rode his three pitch mix and elite pitchability to the upper levels of the minors, despite entering 2017 as a 20 year old with only 117 innings above rookie ball. You have to like the results from Barria, so it’s tough to knock him…..but, he’s maxed out physically, his fastball velocity is just mediocre without a ton of movement, his changeup is a good pitch, but it should be noted pitchers with control and feel for a changeup tend to over-match hitters at the lower levels. He’s a back end of the rotation profile, and someone who likely will get a few looks at the major league level if he again pitches well at AAA. The kid can pitch, but I don’t see much fantasy upside. ETA: 2018
7) Matt Thaiss, 1B | Age: 22 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .274/.375/.395, 9 HR, 73 RBI, 8 Sb
A converted college catcher Thaiss was taken 16th overall by the Angels in the 2016 draft. He was moved to first base full time where the hope was he could blossom into an on base machine with 20 homer power. So far the on base skills have translated, but the power has been non-existent. He’s slugged sub-.450 at every stop since rookie ball, including a sub-.400 season in 2017. Thaiss can most certainly hit, but he’ll need to add some launch angle to his swing if he plans on taping into his power. I do think that it’s possible he does, but until that point he’s a mediocre corner infield type. ETA: 2019
8) Chris Rodriguez, RHP | Age: 19 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: 5-3, 57 IP, 6.16 ERA, 1.42, 56 Ks, 14 Bb
You have to try and ignore the ERA when evaluating Rodriguez, he’s got a serious combination of potential, stuff, and rawness that can only be measured in extremes. A nasty upper-90’s four-seam fastball, a low 90’s sinking two-seamer, a changeup with screwball action, a slider with hard break and some tilt, plus a second breaking pitch in a curveball, Rodriguez has an intriguing repertoire of offerings. His delivery is violent but athletic, and he does throw a lot of strikes for someone with the type of stuff he has. There’s still some kinks to work out, and despite the low walk rates, I don’t feel his control is any better than below average at the moment. Rodriguez is sort of an enigma. My long term Ralphstradamus predicts a future as a high leverage reliever. ETA: 2020
9) Griffin Canning, RHP | Age: 21 | Level: N/A | 2017 Stats: Did Not Pitch
The UCLA product did not throw a professional inning in 2017 after racking up 119 innings for the Bruins. Canning is an advanced college arm that could move quickly, health permitting. His four-seamer sits low 90’s but is said to have a high spin rate, he mixes it with a variety of above average secondaries in his curveball, slider, and changeup. He finished second in the country in strikeouts in 2017, and fantasy owners have to be hoping that translates to pro-ball. I see Canning more as a safe mid-rotation type with fantasy #3 upside if everything maxes out. ETA: 2020
10) Michael Hermosillo, OF | Age: 23 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .267/.366/.397, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 35 SB
A classic fourth outfielder type, with some power and speed to make him possibly useful for fantasy in stretches. He’s not the most exciting prospect for fantasy but he does everything well, hits for contact, a little power, runs the bases, good in the field. Players like this get opportunity in the major leagues, and he’s a former 28th round pick so he’s had to scratch and claw his way up the ladder. ETA: 2018
11) Leonardo Rivas, 2B/SS | Age: 20 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .286/.443/.396, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 19 SB
An on base machine who posted a 19.7% walk rate in 2017. He’s a tiny switch-hitting middle infielder, who’s efficient on the basepaths, going 19 for 20 on SB attempts in 61 games. There’s zero power in the profile, but he gets on base and runs well. If that continues to be the case we may have something. ETA: 2021