by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Angels have waved the white flag, and while we wouldn’t expect to see sweeping changes they did trade Ian Kinsler to the Boston Red Sox last night in exchange for LHP Williams Jerez and RHP Ty Buttrey (both of which are close to making an impact in an MLB pen). The bigger prospect fallout isn’t in the return. When coupled with the injury to Zack Cozart the move clears infield spots giving the Angels a chance to take a close look at a few prospects with upside:
David Fletcher – 2B/3B
Fletcher has already been getting an opportunity in the Majors, with 125 PA across 37 games. He’s hitting .298, though he’s yet to show much power (1 HR) or speed (1 SB). He has chipped in 7 doubles and 1 triple, to go along with a solid 33.3% Hard%, but at 5’10” and 175 lbs. it’s hard to expect much of a breakout.
He’s shown an exceptionally good approach (3.4% SwStr%, 25.0% O-Swing%), which appears to be his best asset. Before we get too excited, for a player who has displayed little power he’s been putting the ball in the air far too much (42.6%) and specifically has been prone to popups (23.3% IFFB).
After his first taste of the Majors, everything appears to back up this preseason scouting report from Baseball America:
Evaluators frequently label Fletcher an undersized “gamer” who consistently plays above his tools with good plate discipline and average speed but little power.
He’s expected to slide over and play second base, at least initially, while the Angels use other options to play third base. Regardless, he’s simply not looking like an impact player.
Current Grade – C-
Taylor Ward – 3B
He’s split the year between Double and Triple-A, hitting .352 with 14 HR, 57 RBI and 58 R over 335 AB. He’s also chipped in 17 SB, while showing an ability to make consistent contact at each level (strikeout rate // SwStr%):
- Double-A – 18.4% // 8.5%
- Triple-A – 22.3% // 7.7%
That’s impressive, especially as he continues to draw walks and hit for power. As MLB.com has noted:
Ward has always had excellent plate discipline with a very advanced approach at the plate, drawing a ton of walks and limiting his strikeouts. He’s largely used a contact-first, line-drive approach to his hitting and rarely chases, but he’s started to drive the ball, both for extra bases and over the fence, in 2018.
The 2015 first round draft pick is now 24-years old and should be closing in on his first promotion to the Majors. Should Luis Valbuena and company really pose a threat? Ward appears to be putting it all together and could make an impact in short order.
Current Grade – B+
Luis Rengifo – SS/2B
The 21-year old switch hitter has been one of the biggest breakout performers in the minor leagues this season, hitting .312 with 5 HR and 38 SB across three levels. Even more impressive has been his approach, making him look like a prototypical leadoff hitter:
- High-A (161 AB) – 22 K vs. 27 BB
- Double-A (151 AB) – 22 K vs. 23 BB
- Triple-A (69 AB) – 6 K vs. 7 BB
That’s not a typo, as he’s walked more than he’s struck out at each level that’s played. He’s also showing extra base power, having added 26 doubles and 10 triples while there’s no questioning his speed.
You can argue that he could make the biggest impact of the three, considering his potential to rack up SB, but he also will likely be the last to arrive. There’s a chance he is recalled in September, but that’s hardly a given considering where he started the season.
Current Grade – B+
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball America, Fangraphs