Almost 30 miles north of where Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels play, the Dodgers have built themselves a baseball empire. With endless dollars to spend, the superior L.A. club has nevertheless loaded up with young talent. Some of the team’s best players came from scouting and drafting, rather than the tilted open market that is free agency.
Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger all arrived in Dodger blue via the draft. Their Los Angeles American League counterparts haven’t fared nearly as well.
The Angels hit the jackpot in the 2009 MLB Draft. Through a comp pick via the loss of Mark Teixeira —who the Angels had only rented from the Braves for Casey Kotchman— the club selected Mike Trout 25th overall.
Other than Trout, it’s been a serious wasteland of young talent in Anaheim.
Since scooping up what has become baseball’s best talent in 2009, the draft has produced the likes of Kaleb Cowart (2010), C.J. Cron (2011) and Taylor Ward (2015). The former two have become semi-regulars while Ward has yet to materialize.
The club did scoop up Mike Clevinger in 2011 and Sean Newcomb in 2014. Clevinger was dealt to Cleveland for reliever Vinnie Pestano and Newcomb to Atlanta for shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
They didn’t pick in the first round in 2012 or 2013, forfeiting the selections to sign free agents Albert Pujols (in 2011) and Josh Hamilton (2012). They also surrendered their second-rounder in 2011 to sign C.J. Wilson.
Jerry Dipoto (who now GM’s division foe Seattle) had a pretty rough go of things at the end of his Angels’ tenure. The injury bug did destroy some of his more promising ventures.
Flipping Howie Hendrick for Andrew Heaney, who got hurt. Trading Mark Trumbo for Tyler Skaggs (who he had previously dealt to Arizona for Dan Haren), who got hurt. Snagging Nick Tropeano from the Astros (as well as once promising catcher Carlos Perez) for Hank Conger. Tropeano too would get hurt.
Because of the free agent frenzy and missing on the picks they managed to keep, the Angels farm system has been one to ignore for several seasons. Last season marked a re-entry into the prospect game when outfielder Jahmai Jones started cracking Top 100 lists.
Jones, a second round pick in 2015, has always been a high-ceiling guy with just as low of a floor. Such is prospect life. He’s fulfilled his potential thus far and since moving to High-A Inland Empire in late July has taken off.
He’s played 30 games in High-A. He has hits in 29 of them. This includes a 23-game hit streak (as of August 22nd) and for the Empire he’s had three three-hit games and eight two-hit games. En fuego.
If not Jones, the top prospect in the system is largely considered newcomer Jordon “Jo” Adell. Adell was selected 10th overall this past June and is the highest Angels draft pick since back, back, back in 2000 when the club selected lefty Joe Torres.
Adell is an outfielder like Jones and the goal is obviously to see them as teammates in the bigs come 2020. Also similar to Jones is his makeup. They both have some pop and can absolutely run.
After slashing .265/.353/.399 with eight homers and four steals at High-A, he made the key jump to Double-A Mobile. Like Jones, advancing levels only made him better.
Over a third of his 37 games for the BayBears have been multi-hit efforts, adding up to a .316 average and .416 OBP so far. A catcher in college, he now plays first base full-time and while that position is absolutely open at the big league level, he doesn’t profile as your stereotypical power bat at first. Similar to newly promoted Dominic Smith in New York, this isn’t the problem it used to be and simply getting on base a lot would make him an extremely valuable asset.
That’s three potential prospect to climb into John’s Top 100 for 2018, three more than the system had in 2017 (Thaiss and Jones were ranked 139th and 140th).
Beyond these three, the system doesn’t have any names shouting at you, but don’t sleep on the possible ascension of outfielder Brandon Marsh (2nd round, 2016), Grayson Long (3rd round, 2015, 2.79 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 21 Double-A starts) or perhaps switch-hitting shortstop Nonie Williams (3rd round, 2016).