Top 14 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels by Eric Longenhagen April 5, 2017 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Los Angeles Angels farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell Other Lists NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF) AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN) NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL) NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS) AL East (BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR) Angels Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Jahmai Jones 19 A CF 2020 50 2 Brandon Marsh 19 R OF 2020 45 3 Matt Thaiss 21 A 1B 2018 45 4 Chris Rodriguez 18 R RHP 2020 40 5 Alex Meyer 27 MLB RHP 2017 40 6 Nate Smith 25 AAA LHP 2017 40 7 Jamie Barria 20 A RHP 2019 40 8 Keynan Middleton 23 AAA RHP 2017 40 9 Nonie Williams 18 R SS 2021 40 10 Julio Garcia 19 R SS 2021 40 11 David Fletcher 22 AA SS 2018 40 12 Jake Jewell 23 A+ RHP 2018 40 13 Taylor Ward 23 A+ C 2019 40 14 Michael Hermosillo 22 A+ OF 2019 40 50 FV Prospects 1. Jahmai Jones, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Wesleyan School (GA) Age 19 Height 5’11 Weight 210 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/60 40/50 30/45 60/60 45/55 45/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .302/.379/.422 in 2016. Scouting Report Jones had already asserted himself as the organization’s best prospect by the fall after he was drafted, impressing scouts not only with his as-advertised athleticism and speed but with a surprisingly polished feel to hit and noticeable work ethic. Jones has plus bat speed, is short back to the baseball, and rockets head-hunting contact back up the middle at opposing pitchers and into center field. He struggled a bit with breaking balls after his promotion to Burlington last year and again this spring in more advanced games on the back fields, but should improve against them with reps. He projects as a plus hitter. He’s a plus runner and likely to stay in center field (some preferred him at second base as an amateur), where he should be an average defender at maturity. Jones’ speed adds value on the bases, too. He has a grinder mentality on the base paths, using his speed to take advantage of lackadaisical outfielders and poorly blocked pitches in the dirt. While Jones has average raw power, his approach to contact isn’t likely to produce big home-run totals in games. The cement on his body is more or less dry, so there likely isn’t more power coming. But Jones should stay in center field and hustle his way to 20 annual doubles while hitting .280 or so, and that’s an above-average big leaguer. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.1 WAR 45 FV Prospects 2. Brandon Marsh, OF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA) Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 55/60 30/50 60/55 40/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report A two-sport star in Georgia, Marsh was absent on showcases in high school due to a combination of football and injury, but he was dominant at Buford as a senior and one of the toolsier prospects in the 2016 draft. During a post-draft physical, the Angels found a stress reaction in Marsh’s back and Marsh left the Angels’ facilities without a deal. He ultimately signed for slot value but played neither in the AZL nor during the fall instructional league in Tempe as a precaution. I saw him take batting practice, though, and not only does Marsh have big, projectable raw power but he was able to take instruction from coaches, mid-session, and make adjustments to their liking immediately. That’s an especially positive sign for Marsh, whose bat is a bit of a question mark and who scouts thought dominated high-school ball on sheer physicality and athleticism alone. And if Marsh can indeed adjust his way into even an average hit tool then he has a chance to be a star, as he’s a plus runner with a plus arm and ticketed for early career work in center field. He’s large-framed and looks to have the type of body typically found in a corner spot at maturity, but Marsh is a plus runner at a listed 210 and might just be the rare beast who can still fly at 215-plus when he’s 25. If that’s the case, then it’s less important that Marsh’s bat-to-ball skills come as long as he’s hitting for power when he does connect. He has arguably the most upside in the system (if he hits and stays in center field, he’s a star), but is risky (if he doesn’t do either, he’s barely a prospect) because of bat and injury. 3. Matt Thaiss, 1B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Virginia Age 22 Height 5’11 Weight 197 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/60 50/50 35/45 30/30 40/50 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Struck out just 16 times as junior at Virginia. Scouting Report The Angels’ first-round selection of Thaiss raised some eyebrows among traditional eyeball scouts who, while universally lauding his ability to hit, questioned how much game power he’d produce, his ability to remain a catcher, or both. Thaiss was announced as a catcher during the draft but has only played first as a pro. Instead, the pick was seen as one driven by the analytics department and subtle financial creativity. Thaiss signed for $2.1 million, about $500K under slot, which helped Anaheim reach overslot deals with Nonie Williams, Chris Rodriguez, Cole Duensing, and Torii Hunter. Thaiss struck out just 16 times as a junior and recorded a 72:42 BB:K ratio combined as a sophomore and junior, the two years during which he worked in a starting role. While he wasn’t a model-breaking freak in our evaluative metrics, KATOH thought highly of him among a relatively weak collection of college bats. Scouts’ thoughts on the bat supported the numbers and vice versa. And, indeed, Thaiss is at home and comfortable in his environment at the plate, not only visible in the smooth, picturesque, well-timed swings he takes but also in the way he obsessively manicures the dirt in the batter’s box until it’s just so. At Virginia and in affiliated ball after he signed, Thaiss occupied nearly all of that batter’s box with an especially wide stance/base. By fall instructional league, Thaiss had opened and narrowed his stance and was taking a bigger stride, presumably in effort to further incorporate his lower half into his swing and hit for more power. Scouts who have seen Thaiss exclusively post-alteration are still skeptical about the pop playing every day at first base and think he’s a future plus hitter with 40 or 45 game power. That’s more of a fringey profile and would depend on Thaiss to take his share of walks to become playable at first. Having spent most of his collegiate career behind the plate, Thaiss is predictably raw as a defender at first base. His hands and footwork are iffy and scouts don’t think he presents fellow infielders with a sufficiently large target. Those less willing to forgive Thaiss for being new to the position think there’s a chance he’s a DH-only. He has a solid-average arm. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.2 WAR 40 FV Prospects 4. Chris Rodriguez, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Pace HS (FL) Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 55/55 50/55 50/60 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Possessing the best stuff in the entire system, Rodriguez was an overslot signee ($850,000) in the fourth round of last year’s draft. He was electric in limited work in the AZL, sitting 91-94 and touching 96 with feel for both a changeup and breaking ball. The low-80s change has late fade and tail, running away from lefties, while the slider has two-plane tilt and plenty of length, which could allow it to miss bats in the strike zone. Rodriguez has already shown the ability to consistently locate it to his glove side. Rodriguez’s delivery is violent, but it doesn’t seem to detract from his ability to locate. Other than speculation about how it might impact his ability to stay healthy (which is arguably baseless), it doesn’t look like it’s going to inhibit his ability to start. He has mid-rotation stuff but is obviously quite far from yielding big-league value. 5. Alex Meyer, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2011 from Kentucky Age 27 Height 6’9 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 70/70 60/60 40/40 35/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Was hurt much of 2016. Scouting Report A physical outlier, Meyer is built more like a young Rudy Gay than he is any readily recognizable baseball player. As is often the case for lanky hard-throwers, he’s had issues throwing strikes. Meyer is now 27 and unlikely to develop the control necessary to start despite the organization’s efforts to modify his arm slot and get him throwing more strikes. His stuff (chiefly a fastball that sits 94-97 and will touch 99 and a plus slider in the 84-87 range) is terrific and, as long as he can stay healthy, Meyer could be a late-blooming, dominant bullpen piece. He dealt with shoulder trouble in 2016, though, and was erratic with the big-league team this spring. 6. Nate Smith, LHP Video Drafted: 8th Round, 2013 from Furman Age 25 Height 6’3 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 40/40 40/40 45/45 55/55 55/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Walked 44 batters in 150 PCL innings. Scouting Report If not for elbow tendinitis late last year, Smith might have made his big-league debut. That he’s even on the precipice of the big leagues (he signed for $12K as an eighth rounder out of Furman in 2013) speaks to Smith’s ability to effectively sequence and command fringey stuff. His fastball sits 87-90 with some downhill plane created by his high three-quarter arm slot. He commands it to both sides of the plate and uses it to set up his above-average changeup to finish hitters. Aside from that there isn’t much going on here, as Smith’s curveball is fringe to average and his slider is below. The Pacific Coast League was predictably unkind to Smith’s fringey stuff last year, and there are scouts who think he’s more of an up-and-down depth arm than a true rotation piece, but most are on him as a strike-throwing No. 5 starter. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.1 WAR 7. Jamie Barria, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Panama Age 20 Height 6’1 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 45/45 45/50 50/55 45/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has recorded just 43 walks in 250 career pro innings. Scouting Report Barria signed for just $60K in 2013 and is tracking through the minors like a pitchability No. 4/5 starter. He commands a low-90s fastball (88-91, t92 this spring), loopy fringe curveball, and solid-average changeup. Both secondary offerings have some projection and could play up thanks to Barria’s plus command. He has a simple, repeatable delivery. Scouts don’t see much projection on the stuff because the body is quite mature, but they already like what they’re seeing enough to project him as a big-league rotation piece. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.7 WAR 8. Keynan Middleton, RHP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2013 from Lane CC (OR) Age 23 Height 6’2 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 60/60 50/55 45/45 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Tallied 88 strikeouts in 66 innings last year. Scouting Report Middleton’s stuff ticked up last year after a full-time move to the bullpen, and he was consistently 94-99 with his fastball, and touching 100. The velo alone was too much for High-A and Double-A hitters, and Middleton traversed three levels of the minors, finishing in Triple-A. This spring, Middleton struggled in his big-league outings and has been more 93-96 with his fastball. His mid-80s slider is average and flashes above. Middleton’s changeup is a viable third pitch, but more of an early-count change of pace or means to inducing weak contact than it is a way to miss bats. If the elite velocity returns, then Middleton has a chance for high-leverage work, but he looked more like a middle-relief piece this spring. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.9 WAR 9. Nonie Williams, SS Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Home Schooled Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 195 Bat/Throw S/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 45/55 20/45 60/60 40/45 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Williams was originally slated to be draft eligible in 2017 but would have been 19 on draft day and very old for the class. Instead, he reclassified as a 2016 draftee, getting schooled at home while playing high-school ball for Kansas’s Turner High School team. It took an overslot $950K to sign Williams away from LSU. Williams has explosive tools but is raw in all facets of baseball. He runs well enough to play short and has a plus arm, but his footwork and actions require significant polish. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll likely require a move to the outfield, where some scouts already have him projected. He has above-average bat speed and raw power potential but has an immature feel to hit, especially from the left side of the plate. Williams has only been switch-hitting for a few years and his left-handed swing is still undercooked. He was taking better-looking cuts as a lefty by last fall, but his barrel feel has yet to arrive. There’s significant upside here if Williams can polish up his bat and glove but obviously considerable risk because both require it. 10. Julio Garcia, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic Age 19 Height 6’0 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 40/50 20/40 55/55 45/60 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Garcia barely played in 2016 due to a facial fracture and concussion caused by an errant bunt. When he has played, it has largely been at second and third base moreso than shortstop — this despite the arm, range, actions and athleticism not only to play there but to become a plus defender. Garcia also has above-average bat speed. His swing has some natural loft and a beautiful finish from the left side, but he doesn’t track pitches well and scouts question the bat control and ball/strike recognition. Swing length has contributed to his strikeout issues as well. Garcia has a significant developmental distance to travel just to approach offensive viability, and he’s only going to get there with in-game reps, of which he’s had few. But the physical tools to play a good shortstop are present — as are those to do some damage with the bat. That combination is notable not only for this system but for all of baseball; however, there’s a very real chance Garcia never hits enough to do anything at all. He’s most likely a utility man, and LA’s handling of him suggests he’s being prepped for such a role. If he ever hits, though, there’s much more upside than that. He signed for $565K back in 2014 and is still just 19. 11. David Fletcher, SS Drafted: 6th Round, 2015 from Loyola Marymount Age 23 Height 5’10 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/45 40/40 20/30 50/50 45/50 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics ZiPS projects just 13% strikeout rate in big leagues. Scouting Report A draft-eligible sophomore at Loyola Marymount, Fletcher projects to carve out a big-league job as a utility man capable of competently playing both middle-infield positions, a terrific outcome for a sixth-round pick. Fletcher is an above-average straight-line runner but not an especially twitchy athlete, and he’s able to play short despite fringey range and an average arm because of polished but unspectacular actions, hands, and good instincts. His bat is quick, his stroke short but effortful. Fletcher projects as a fringe hitter with 40 raw power and less than that in games. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.9 WAR 12. Jake Jewell, RHP Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from NE Oklahoma Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 50/50 40/40 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Posted 6.31 ERA in the Cal League last year. Scouting Report Jewell has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation throughout his career. He struggled as a starter during his freshman year at Northeastern Oklahoma but was better as a sophomore out of the bullpen. One year after pitching well in the Midwest League (where he made half his appearances in relief, usually in three- or four-inning outings), Jewell was moved, full time, to the rotation and had a rough 2016 in the Cal League, his strikeout and walk rates both regressing. He has starter’s stuff, though, and has been throwing very hard this spring, sitting 93-96 with nasty natural cut. Jewell will also show a sinking two-seamer in the low-90s, a hard slider/cutter in the 86-89 range, and a sweeping curveball in the low 80s. All of these are average or better in quality, only ineffective because Jewell has below-average command and noticeable mechanical variation. There’s mid-rotation stuff here if it can be harnessed and held over 20-plus starts throughout the year. If it can’t, then Jewell has a future as a bullpen piece with a deeper-than-usual repertoire from which to draw. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.5 WAR 13. Taylor Ward, C Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Fresno State Age 23 Height 6’1 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 40/40 20/30 30/30 40/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slugged just .337 in Cal League. Scouting Report Like Thaiss, Ward was viewed as an overdraft in a vacuum (more than Thaiss, in fact), but he cut an underslot deal that allowed the Angels to sign Jahmai Jones and David Fletcher over slot. Ward has a plus arm but his pop times play down, as he’s slow to exit his crouch. His receiving has drawn mixed reviews from scouts in pro ball. He accrued 19 passed balls in Cal League (only 2011 Jarrod Saltalamacchia had more than that in a big-league season this century), but he was passable in the Fall League. Offensively, Ward has below-average bat speed and slugged just .337 as a 22-year-old in the Cal League last year. He has good ball/strike recognition and should reach base at an above-average clip for a catcher, but the tools, both hit and raw power, project to 40 on the scale. Most scouts consider him a future backup catcher, but there are some who saw him struggle to catch the baseball in the Cal League last year who have an org grade on him. Ward is out with an oblique strain and didn’t break camp. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.0 WAR 14. Michael Hermosillo, OF Video Drafted: 28th Round, 2013 from Ottawa HS (IL) Age 22 Height 5’9 Weight 189 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 45/50 20/30 55/55 40/50 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has recorded 12% career walk rate. Scouting Report Hermosillo was committed to Illinois as a slot receiver and planned on concentrating on football while moonlighting for the Illini baseball team, but the Angels coaxed him away from the gridiron with $100K signing bonus. After three years of fringey offensive performance, Hermosillo broke out in 2016 and didn’t look out of place among advanced talents in the Arizona Fall League. He’s an above-average runner with an excellent idea of the strike zone and some bat speed. Hermosillo’s feel to hit is a little raw and he overswings at times to try to get to power isn’t there. Scouts think he’ll be better served by spraying contact to all fields and running. He has a pull-heavy, ground-ball swing. Hermosillo is an above-average runner, but his feel for center field still isn’t great. If he’s passable there at maturity then he’ll be a solid fourth outfielder. He has high-end makeup and athleticism, so scouts feel good about him getting there. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.3 WAR ***** Noteworthy Mahalanobis Comps for 40+ FV Prospects Rank Prospect Most Noteworthy Comp 1 Jahmai Jones Terrence Long 3 Matt Thaiss Tyler Flowers 6 Nate Smith Jason Vargas 7 Jamie Barria Dennis Sarfate 8 Keynan Middleton Eric Gagne 11 David Fletcher Alex Cintron 12 Jake Jewell Mike Matthews 13 Taylor Ward Ryan Hanigan 14 Michael Hermosillo Andre Ethier ***** Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference) Jose Soriano, RHP – Soriano is very projectable at 6-foot-3, 168, and was 87-92 in the fall with great feel for spinning a curveball. He had issues timing his delivery and very little changeup feel. He turned 18 in the offseason. Elvin Rodriguez, RHP – A physically immature Dominican righty, Rodriguez split 2016 between the DSL and AZL and was sitting in the upper 80s when he pitched in the states. There’s some curveball feel, too, and lots of physical projection. (Rodriguez is listed at 6-foot-3, 160.) How much velo comes as Rodriguez matures will dictate his ceiling. He’s one of several intriguing arms on scouts’ target list for extended spring training. Jose Suarez, LHP, 2.2 KATOH+ WAR – A stocky, physically mature Venezuelan lefty with a fringe fastball, Suarez missed bats in the AZL with his above-average changeup. He’s only 19 and will need to continue refining his command and finding a better third pitch (his breaking ball is fringey) as he develops. Cole Duensing, RHP – Another of several mid-round draftees signed for an overslot bonus, Deunsing was a projectable 89-91 last summer with a unique arm action. Some scouts are wary of it, others think it’s effectively deceptive. Both secondaries, a slurvy breaking ball and changeup, are raw. Brooks Pounders, RHP, 1.7 KATOH+ – A big-bodied reliever acquired from Kansas City, Pounders has been up to 95 this spring with an average slider. He’s 26 but still rookie eligible, and is probably a middle reliever. Vicente Campos, RHP, 1.7 KATOH+ – Campos’s career has been wrought with elbow injuries, including an ulnar fracture in 2012 and Tommy John surgery in 2014 and then another ulnar fracture late this year that will require eight months of recovery time after surgery. He was a high-upside, tertiary piece in the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade of 2012 and then sent from New York to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Clippard before last year’s trade deadline. Anaheim claimed him off waivers from Arizona. When Campos is healthy, his fastball will climb into the mid-90s — as it did when I saw him last year with Trenton — but he was sitting 88-90 and touching 91 in his sole big-league appearance. He works in an above-average, mid-80s changeup to both left- and right-handed hitters and its effectiveness is more predicated on movement than it is changing speeds. His mid-70s curveball has good depth and is consistently average while flashing above and he’s shown the ability to throw it for strikes. If Campos’s velocity returns to pre-injury form after he recovers from his latest fracture, then he has a fourth starter’s repertoire, but he’s riskier than your usual close-to-the-big arm because the injury rap sheet is so long. Eduardo Paredes, RHP, 0.6 KATOH+ – A Venezuelan reliever, Parades sits in the low 90s and will top out around 94 from a low slot and pitch with an average slider. He’s a potential middle-relief piece. Connor Justus, SS, 0.4 KATOH+ – You can essentially copy and paste David Fletcher’s entire scouting report here (they’re even the same age) and call it a day, except Fletcher is a few levels closer to the big leagues already. Torii Hunter, Jr., OF – Hunter played wide receiver at Notre Dame and was technically part of the baseball team, as well, but only had 12 career at-bats for the Irish. He suffered a broken femur as a senior in high school which kept him off the baseball field that spring and prevented him from playing football as a freshman at South Bend. He suffered a concussion (which left him briefly unconscious) and knee injury in his final year of football. So Hunter hasn’t regularly swung a bat since he was a high-school underclassman, and he has looked predictably raw at the plate on the Tempe back fields. But he’s a comfortably plus runner with good bat speed and worth monitoring simply because this system doesn’t have many other athletes like this. Grayson Long, RHP, 1.1 KATOH+ – Long was mostly 89-93 in the 2016 Fall League, where he was picking up innings after missing several months due to injury. I’ve seen him 88-90 this spring with the usual fringe cutter/slider and changeup combo. He has a big, strong-looking, inning-eater body. Scouts are naturally apprehensive about pegging him as such, though, in light of last year’s injury woes. Jordan Zimmerman, 2B, 1.2 KATOH+ – Though he lacks a clear position and power, Zimmerman can hit and he was on fire all last fall during instructs. He doesn’t project to hit for much, if any, power but scouts are buying the bat. He transferred from a JUCO in Arizona to Michigan State for his junior year, so area scouts didn’t have much history with him and it’s possible he was underscouted. Sam Pastrone, RHP, 0.8 KATOH+ – While undersized, Pastrone (an overslot 17th rounder from 2015) has a viable fastball/curveball combination that could play up in relief. His size and below-average command have scouts projecting him in the bullpen. Joe Gatto, RHP, 0.4 KATOH+ – Gatto has low-90s arm strength (93-95 this spring in a three-inning look) and curveball feel but has trouble timing the aspects of his delivery necessary to throw strikes. He projects as a reliever now but still needs to significantly improve his control to get there. Jimmy Barnes, OF – A tall, physically projectable outfielder who missed all of 2016 with injury, Barnes looked like he might have started grow into his frame and put things together late last fall. He has long levers that create strikeout issues, but above average raw power projection and good straight line speed. He’s still just 19. Jared Foster, OF, 0.2 KATOH+ – One of several former football players in this sytem, Foster was the backup quarterback on LSU’s 2011 National Title team. He turns 25 in the winter and hasn’t played above A-ball yet but has above-average bat speed, arm strength, speed, and is worth monitoring just in case things start to click. Erik Manoah, RHP, 1.3 KATOH+ – Acquired from New York (NL) in exchange for Fernando Salas, Manoah sits in the low 90s with his fastball, will touch 95, but has little in the way of secondary stuff right now. Cistulli’s Guy Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV. Sherman Johnson, 2B/3B, 2.3 KATOH+ Johnson has finished atop the arbitrarily calculated Fringe Five Scoreboard in each of the last two seasons. Like many of the players who appear in the weekly Fringe Five column — and like many of the players who receive the designation of Cistulli’s Guy in these organizational prospect lists — Johnson has a wide range of tools but few, if any, elite ones. As a collegiate player with Florida State, Johnson appeared for three consecutive seasons — his sophomore, junior, and senior years — among the ACC’s top-10 batters by walks received. In and of itself, that’s not a great distinction: work by Chris Mitchell suggests that walk rates for players outside the high minors don’t translate particularly well to the majors. Nevertheless, it speaks to Johnson’s understanding of the strike zone and speaks to his main virtue as a ballplayer. Despite a relative lack of power on contact, Johnson’s ability to discern balls from strikes — and hittable pitches from less hittables ones — allows him to outperform the modest expectations his tools create. Defensively, Johnson isn’t exceptional, but remains capable of playing second and third base. The numbers suggest he’s performed better at the latter, although Eric Longenhagen’s scouting contacts prefer him at the former, owing to some concerns regarding the arm. ***** System Overview It’s not an industry secret that this system isn’t very good. I wasn’t keen on the Thaiss and Ward selections in the past two draft,s but the only reason this system has any kind of depth is because both of those selections were signed under slot, allowing for Jones and Marsh, who are both big-time athletes with upside, to be signed. In fact, this system has a higher percentage of prospects with significant multi-sport backgrounds than any I’ve done thus far. The most interesting group in this system is the intriguing collection of young arms led by Rodriguez, Duensing and the teenage pitchers from Latin America, all of whom will begin this year in extended spring training, making Tempe Diablo’s back fields a far more necessary destination than it has been for the past few years.