Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Los Angeles Angels.
This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.
These are the pre-season grades.
This list was originally published February 16, 2015
1) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Grade B+/A-: Very effective since being promoted to majors, 3.39 ERA in 11 starts with 47/13 K/BB in 66 innings, 62 hits. Will have ups and downs like most young pitchers but in general should be an above-average starter for many years, health allowing of course.
2) Sean Newcomb, LHP, Grade B/B+: Started in Low-A, now in Double-A, combined 9-1, 2.16 in 24 starts with 152/67 K/BB in 121 innings, 88 hits. Have to love the K/IP and low hit rates, backing up positive stuff reports, but walks will need to come down.
3) Nick Tropeano, RHP, Grade B-/B: 4.81 ERA with 90/34 K/BB in 82 innings in Triple-A, 89 hits. Has a 12/3 K/BB in 16 big league innings. Performance not bad for the Pacific Coast League, still projects as solid number four starter.
4) Roberto Baldoquin, INF, Grade B-: Cuban defector hitting .247/.284/.309 with one homer, nine walks, 59 strikeouts in 243 at-bats in High-A. Glove OK but not good enough to compensate for poor hitting like this. Cost $8,000,000; based on the early results this is not money well-spent, but he’s just 21.
5) Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Grade B-: Hit .278/.358/.449 with 41 doubles, seven homers, 50 walks, 109 strikeouts in 410 at-bats in Triple-A. Hit .200/.263/.200 in 35 major league at-bats. Not a great year, but I can see him having one of those "surprise" strong age 27 seasons and becoming a useful role bat.
6) Joe Gatto, RHP, Grade B-/C+: 4.31 ERA with 38/17 K/BB in 54 innings in the Pioneer League, 73 hits, but a 2.79 GO/AO. Fresh cold-weather 19 year old arm, good sinker but secondary pitches need work. More long-term potential than the early numbers imply on the surface.
7) Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Excellent in Triple-A (2.78, 42/14 in 36), ineffective in the majors (6.23, 18/13 in 22, 32 hits). Still trying to get foothold on bullpen job.
8) Chris Ellis, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Solid inning-eating season between High-A and Double-A, combined 3.69 ERA with 126/60 K/BB in 132 innings, 115 hits. The walks need to come down. If he were in the Cardinals system he would be viewed as refine-able sleeper type.
9) Trevor Gott, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Effective debut in major league pen, 1.67 ERA with 14/6 K/BB in 32 innings, 26 hits. Should hold middle relief job.
10) Victor Alcantara, RHP, Grade C+: Ugly stats in unforgiving Cal League, 6.15 ERA with 116/56 K/BB in 123 innings, 144 hits. Can hit mid-90s but erratic secondaries and spotty command could shift him to pen.
11) Hunter Green, LHP, Grade C+: Hasn’t pitched since 2013 due to health problems, back trouble in 2014 and elbow issues this year. Status unclear.
12) Kyle McGowin, RHP, Grade C+: 4.52 ERA with 107/49 K/BB in 135 innings in Double-A, 135 hits. A rather blah season, stuff flashes decency and he generally throws strikes but not a dominant sort.
13) Jeremy Rhoades, RHP, Grade C+: Solid in Low-A (2.69, 78/19 in 87, 75 hits), but beat up badly in the Cal League (8.74, 37/14 in 35, 44 hits). Some observers think he will be better off in relief, where his stuff would play up.
14) Alex Yarbrough, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .243/.283/.334 with 25 walks, 123 strikeouts in 461 at-bats in Triple-A. That’s really bad for Salt Lake. PCL pitches have exploited his impatience despite long-standing reputation as a "pure hitter."
15) Taylor Featherston, INF, Grade C/C+: Most of year on Angels bench, playing in 74 games but just 92 at-bats, hitting .130/.198/.196 with six walks, 33 strikeouts. Tough usage pattern for a guy like this, will be in utility mix.
16) Nate Smith, LHP, Grade C/C+: Strike-thrower with 3.41 ERA, 95/33 K/BB in 124 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 116 hits. Stereotypical four/five starter type.
17) Natanael Delgado, OF, Grade C: Hitting .246/.281/.359 with five homers, 18 walks, 97 strikeouts in 390 at-bats in Low-A. Young at age 19, plus raw power from left side, emphasis on raw, hasn’t tapped his strength yet.
18) Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Grade C: Couldn’t hit in High-A (.242/.326/.387, two homers), suddenly hit in Triple-A (.323/.395/.491), now back to not hitting in majors (2-for-19, eight strikeouts). The 62 games at Salt Lake are the first time he’s hit well since 2012. His glove is good but I have no clue what to make of the bat at this point.
19) Andrew Daniel, 2B, Grade C: Hitting .274/.338/.448 with nine homers, 34 doubles, 38 walks, 103 strikeouts in 420 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Has some pop, solid glove at both second and third base, will approach hold at higher levels?
20) Tyler DeLoach, LHP, Grade C: Effective in Double-A (2.40, 42/10 in 45), some rough outings in Triple-A (5.74, 81/38 in 80, 86 hits) but ERA overstates the case. Could sneak up on us and become a left-handed Matt Shoemaker type. Mean that as a complement.
20-A) Drew Rucinski, RHP, Grade C: Another Salt Lake victim, 5.68 ERA with 82/39 K/BB in 101 innings, 129 hits. Hit hard in brief major league trial (10 hits, six runs in five innings). Borderline guy.
The Angels sit 63-61 in third place in the American League West. It has been a summer of chaos in the front office with the resignation of GM Jerry Dipoto, who got tired of being trapped in a dysfunctional power triangle with ownership and manager Mike Scioscia.
Farm-wise there has been some progress; the Angels system has lacked depth for years and are still in need of bats with high potential. You can’t count on finding generational talents like Mike Trout very often, but even finding more Kole Calhoun types would be helpful. I don’t have any idea what to think about Kaleb Cowart. The early returns on the Baldoquin investment don’t look very good, and even if Kyle Kubitza and Alex Yarbrough develop, it will be as role players not stars.
The 2015 draft adds catcher Taylor Ward, considered an overdraft by some in the first round but hitting .357 with a .469 OBP in his pro debut thus far. Second rounder Jahmai Jones is a toolshed outfielder but will need several years. Outfielders Brendon Sanger (fourth round, Florida Atlantic), Jared Foster (fifth round, LSU), and Kyle Survance (eighth round, Houston) are polished college bats who could follow in Calhoun’s footsteps as successful over-achievers. Shortstop David Fletcher (sixth round, Loyola Marymount) could also move fast.
The pitching is deeper than the hitting at the mid and upper levels. Andrew Heaney was a great trade acquisition and Sean Newcomb could join him soon as a nasty 1-2 southpaw rotation punch. There are several additional live arms scattered through the system, mainly potential back-end starter types and bullpen options. In addition to the ones named above, watch RHP Jake Jewell and LHP Greg Mahle for steps forward next year. RHP Grayson Long (third round, Texas A&M) is the top college arm selected by the Angels this year but may fit best in the pen.
Overall, whoever takes over the Angels will find a farm system that still needs a lot of work but has shown signs of progress recently.