Los Angeles Angels Top 20 prospects for 2016
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Taylor Ward, C, Grade B-: Age 22, first round pick in 2015 out of Fresno State, hit .348/.457/.438 between Pioneer and Midwest Leagues. Strong defensive catcher who exceeded expectations with the bat, features excellent plate discipline and contact ability but distance power remains a question. Angels are optimists about the bat and the early results support that confidence but we need to see him at higher levels.
2) Victor Alcantara, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 22, fireballer can hit 97-98, posted 5.63 ERA with 125/58 K/BB in 136 innings in High-A, 152 hits. Slider is plus when he is going well, change-up and command still need work, many see him as a reliever but the Angels will develop him as a starter as long as possible. High upside, high risk.
3) Jahmai Jones, OF, Grade C+/B-: Age 18, second round pick in 2015 from high school, hit .244/.330/.344 in rookie ball with 17 walks, 33 strikeouts, 16 steals in 160 at-bats. Football background with athleticism to match, fast, has raw power that he hasn’t tapped yet, strike zone judgment not bad considering his background, was young for the high school class. Highest ceiling position player in the system by far but years away.
4) Nate Smith, LHP, Grade C+: Age 24, sharp in Double-A (2.48, 81/28 in 102) but hit hard in Triple-A (7.75 in 36 innings), classic finesse lefty who throws strikes with average fastball, slider, curve, change-up. Not as bad as he looked in the PCL, could be an effective four/five starter but upside is limited.
5) Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Grade C+: Age 23, revamped swing resulted in second half production surge (.323/.395/.491 in Triple-A), hit .174/.255/.283 in 46 at-bats after being promoted to majors. Defense improved as well after going backwards in 2014. Caveats: the improved numbers were in the high-offense PCL and he has to prove he can make the changes stick in a less-friendly environment. That said, the oft-rumored conversion to pitching has been postponed indefinitely, his season having saved his career with the bat.
6) Joe Gatto, RHP, Grade C+: Age 20, second round pick in 2014, posted 4.31 ERA with 38/17 K/BB in 54 innings in Pioneer League, 73 hits. Scouts better than he stats, with low-90s sinker and potential plus curveball. Upside of a number three starter if his changeup comes around, young, could be top pitcher on this list a year from now.
7) Grayson Long, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, third round pick from Texas A&M, posted 5.03 ERA with 22/10 K/BB in 20 innings in Pioneer League on reduced workload after long spring, easy low-90s velocity with good change-up and adequate slider, fourth starter projection although some think he could be more dominant if used in pen.
8) Kyle McGowin, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, posted 4.38 ERA with 125/50 K/BB in 154 innings in Double-A, 148 hits, 90-94 fastball with slider, change-up, usually throws strikes, durable, another four/five type but might play up if used in the bullpen.
9) Jake Jewell, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, 4.77 ERA with 110/31 K/BB in 111 innings in Low-A, ERA was deceptive, can hit 96 MPH with movement but slider and change-up are inconsistent, relief background and he looked tired late in year so have to see about durability. Easy to overlook due to poor ERA but he has a good arm and throws strikes.
10) Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Grade C+/C: Age 25, hit .271/.357/.433 with 43 doubles, seven homers, 60 walks, 125 strikeouts in 457 at-bats in Triple-A, .194/.256/.194 in 36 major league at-bats. Big, good batting eye, but power remains to the gaps and hasn’t evidenced any ability to change that, seems like the type of guy who could have a surge in his late 20s but at this point role players is the best thing to hope for.
11) Brendon Sanger, OF, Grade C+/C: Age 22, fourth round pick from Florida Atlantic hit .300/.420/.456 with 45/39 BB/K in 217 at-bats in Pioneer League. Exceptionally good strike zone judgment with gap power, but lacks tools to excite scouts and is limited to corner outfield, an issue if he doesn’t develop more home run power. Need to see him above the Pioneer League, as college guys are expected to do well there, but has potential as a sleeper.
12) Eduardo Paredes, RHP, Grade C+/C: Age 20, unusual bullpen prospect with 1.71 ERA, 59/8 K/BB in 42 innings in Midwest League, then 4.73 ERA, 13/2 K/BB in 13 innings in Cal League, from Venezuela, combined for 20 saves, throws hard and throws strikes with deceptive delivery but secondary pitches need more work for him to close at higher levels.
13) Jaime Barria, RHP, Grade C/C+: Age 19, from Panama, posted 2.00 ERA with 31/3 K/BB in 36 innings in rookie ball but 6.21, 30/7 with 45 hits in 33 innings in Pioneer League. Draws strong reviews for control, fastball is average at present but change-up, curve are advanced for his age, good mechanics, velocity may pick up. Good development potential.
14) Chad Hinshaw, OF, Grade C/C+: Age 25, hit .289/.391/.365 with 27 steals, 37 walks, 75 strikeouts in 263 at-bats in Double-A, missed much of season with thumb injury. Very fast but lacks power and has a fairly high strikeout rate, not a good combination, very good outfield glove. Fourth or fifth outfielder.
15) Greg Mahle, LHP, Grade C/C+: Age 22, 15th rounder in 2014, posted 3.26 ERA with 67/14 K/BB in 58 innings between High-A and Double-A, saved 25. On the surface a generic bullpen lefty but his arsenal (88-93 FB, slider, curve, change) is diverse for a reliever and his platoon splits are generally even, meaning he could be more than just a LOOGY. Not saying he will pick up lots of saves but could have a very long career as a very competent middle man.
16) David Fletcher, SS, Grade C: Age 21, sixth round pick from Loyola Marymount in 20156, hit .311/.377/.414 in pro debut between Pioneer and Midwest Leagues, stole 17 bases, 28/22 BB/K in 280 at-bats. Renowned for defense but he hit better than expected due to strong contact ability and batting eye. Utility projection but not impossible he could be a David Eckstein type.
17) Kyle Survance, OF, Grade C: Age 22, eighth round pick from University of Houston, hit .363/.434/.484 in debut with 17 steals in just 124 at-bats in Pioneer League. 70-grade speed and he’ll take a walk but lack of power hurt draft stock, .484 SLG for Orem is considered misleading. Like the rest of the college guys drafted this year we need to see him at higher levels but the speed is a standout tool.
18) Jeremy Rhoades, RHP, Grade C: Age 22, posted 2.69 ERA with 78/19 K/BB in 87 innings in Low-A, but crushed after moving up to High-A (8.35, 57/18 in 51 innings but 65 hits, 14 homers). Low-90s fastball, good reviews on slider from Midwest League but change-up needs work and may be better off in the bullpen.
19) Caleb Adams, OF, Grade C: Age 23, hit combined .298/.390/.438 with seven homers, 10 steals, 54 walks, 137 strikeouts in 416 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Undersized at 5-10 but has some thump in the bat, however so-so defensive tools make him a tweener who will need to hit at every level.
20) Zach Houchins, 3B, Grade C: Age 23, 13th round pick in 2014 from East Carolina, hit .253/.313/.401 with 14 homers, 39 walks, 67 strikeouts in 494 at-bats in Low-A. Nothing special here on the surface at all, but drew impressive reviews for defense at third base, can also play shortstop without embarrassing himself, and has some power with a low strikeout rate. Type of guy who could have a "breakout" season in the Cal League, bears watching at least. I felt I should point him out: you could put most of the "others" in this spot if you wanted to.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Roberto Baldoquin, INF; Jett Bandy, C; Ji Man Choi, 1B; Natanael Delgado, OF; Tyler DeLoach, LHP, Deolis Guerra, RHP; Sherman Johnson, 2B; Jefry Marte, 3B; Sam Pastrone, RHP; Michael Pierson, 3B; Austin Robichaux, RHP; Jose Suarez, LHP; Alex Yarbrough, 2B
Obviously this is a very thin system that lacks impact prospects, although some of these Grade C/C+ guys are actually interesting as that sort of prospect goes. There are several guys who could be good role players and sometimes assets like that turn into Kole Calhoun. I will be around to discuss in the comments and will post some book excerpts there.