Top 10 Prospects (2017): Los Angeles Angels: Is There Any Upside In A Lackluster System?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There’s been a lot of speculation about the Angels potentially trading Mike Trout.  While it’s fairly far-fetched, given the state of the farm system that may be the only way to fix the problem quickly.  After seeing what the Chicago White Sox were able to accomplish by dealing Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, maybe it’s not as much of a long shot as you’d think?  It’s something to keep in mind as you look at what may be the worst farm system in baseball:

 

1) Jahmai Jones – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

He clearly has the athleticism/speed to thrive in the Majors, though how the rest of his game develops is the big question.  He’s not expected to hit for much power (as evidenced by his 6 HR over his first 479 PA across two seasons), and his plate discipline took a step back upon reaching Single-A for the first time (strikeout rate // walk rate):

  • Rookie Ball (226 PA) – 12.8%  // 9.3%
  • Low-A (70 PA) – 18.6% // 7.1%

Yes it was an extremely small sample size, but it’s still not something we are willing to completely ignore (especially after an 18.0% strikeout rate at Rookie Ball in ’15).  This season will be a big one in regards to his long-term outlook, but for now there are significant questions.

 

2) Matt Thaiss – First Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

There are few questions about Tahaiss’ ability to hit, and his 12.4% strikeout rate in 226 PA at Low-A (shortly after being drafted) helps to support that.  The question is, as a first baseman, is he going to be more James Loney than anything.  He’s listed at 6’0″ and there are obvious questions regarding his ability to tap into his raw power at the next level.

Don’t get us wrong, Loney has carved out a solid Major League career.  That said he’s hardly an impressive name or a standout first baseman.

 

3) Brandon Marsh – Outfielder
Grade – B-
ETA – 2020

We have no numbers to analyze for Marsh, as he didn’t play after being selected in the second round of the 2016 draft.  That said all the talk has been about the across the board tools for the former two sport athlete.  With his focus solely on baseball there are high hopes that he can discover his talents and turn into a top of the system type prospect.  He’s got ample time to get there, and it’s clearly something Los Angeles sorely needs to happen.  He’s certainly a name worth keeping a close eye on.

 

4) Taylor Ward – Catcher
Grade – C+
ETA – 2018

After being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, Ward spent all of 2016 at High-A hitting .249 with 10 HR.  He did show a good approach, with a 15.3% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate.  He also began tapping into his potential as the season progressed, showing that he could be ready to take the next step in his development:

  • First Half – .224 with 1 HR
  • Second Half – .274 with 9 HR

It will be interesting to see how he comes out of the gate in 2017, likely starting the year at Double-A.  If he produces early, the hype machine (and grade) will likely start to climb.

 

5) Nonie Williams – Shortstop
Grade – C+
ETA – 2020

Williams has clear talent, especially with his speed potential, but the fact he ranks this highly in the system goes to show you where things stand.  The switch-hitter stands at 6’2″ and expectations are he’ll have to shift away from shortstop at some point.  That said he clearly has speed and the potential to grow into his power.  The question is going to be whether or not he can refine his approach, after he posted a 24.4% strikeout rate in 164 PA in Rookie Ball (40 K).  It’s a clear concern, but there’s enough potential to keep him ranked highly in a lackluster system.

 

The Rest:

6) Grayson Long – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C)

7) Alex Meyer – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade C)

8) David Fletcher – Second Baseman (Grade C)

9) Nate Smith – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade C)

10) Vicente Campos – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB.com

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

 

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