The Los Angeles Angels farm system is not one that rivals many. While it is improving, it lacks legitimate depth and youth, with most prospects outside of the Top 5 are already 22 years or older.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have potential on the pipeline. You just have to dig a little to find.
Connor Justus, SS
Justus’ bat hasn’t developed much, but his defense is undeniable. He should be big league bound in a utility role much sooner than later.
The 23-year-old shortstop was always defense first, however his bat was decent at Georgia Tech. Paired with an uncanny plate awareness, his lack of offense is somewhat surprise. Justus slashed just .202/.319/.229 with Inland Empire. He led the team in walks with 61, but also strike outs at 110. While there is nothing wrong with that ratio, Justus has to put the bat on the ball a bit more regularly.
Still, even with several infield prospects in the system, none compare to Justus defensively. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he is smart on the bases, swiping 15 of 21 attempts. If he can become a consistent line drive hitter, something he did just 12.6 percent of the time, he can be an everyday player.
Michael Hermosillo, OF
Hermosillo was drafted in the 28th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. After proving 2016 wasn’t a fluke, the left fielder may be on the verge of the big league roster.
Our own John Sickels had him in the Top 20 Angels prospects for 2017. He followed up with a strong season that saw Hermosillo jump three levels. A successful cup of coffee in the Pacific Coast League earned Hermosillo a spot on the 40-man roster. Here’s what John said heading into 2017:
…hit .317/.402/.467 with six homers, 34 walks, 52 strikeouts in 287 at-bats between Low-A and High-A; line drive type with some bat speed and flashes of plate discipline, a center fielder so far but tools likely fit best in left field, adding pressure to the bat; a project but has some upside. ETA 2020.
Hermosillo played the bulk of the season in Double-A and finished with a 30-game showcase in the PCL. He has speed, going 35-for-48 in the field. He can hold his own at the pate, slashing .267/.366/.397 with 25 doubles and nine home runs. He does strikeout a bit, but counters with the ability to draw a walk.
The issue for Hermosillo is that he is a centerfielder. That spot isn’t for the taking in Anaheim, so he will likely shift to left. At the very least, he could compete for the fourth outfielder role on opening day.
Jesus Castillo, RHP
Castillo is nothing flashy, but the Angels see value in his arm, protecting him on the 40-man roster.
The 22-year-old has a solid fastball, not built on velocity but deception. He likely will never generate an overwhelming amount of strikeouts, but he has average just under one per inning throughout his career. Ever improving command (a 1.88 walks per nine in 2017) and an ability to induce ground balls (roughly 55 percent in 2017) helps Castillo get people out and be effective.
This is Castillo’s third stop since signing out of Venezuela in August of 2011. He’s been a reliever and starter along the way, but the Angels have kept him in the rotation full time since acquiring him from the Cubs last season. He’s pitched just five games above A-ball, but there is real reason to believe he could reach the bigs this coming season, either in the back of the rotation or long-man out of the bullpen.