Top 31 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel February 26, 2019 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Los Angeles Angels. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 20192018ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFGALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Angels Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Jo Adell 19.9 AA RF 2021 60 2 Jose Suarez 21.1 AAA LHP 2019 50 3 Brandon Marsh 21.2 A+ CF 2020 50 4 Griffin Canning 22.8 AAA RHP 2019 50 5 Jahmai Jones 21.6 AA 2B 2021 50 6 Jordyn Adams 19.4 R CF 2023 45+ 7 Luis Rengifo 22.0 AAA 2B 2019 45 8 Jeremiah Jackson 18.9 R 3B 2022 45 9 Matt Thaiss 23.8 AAA 1B 2019 45 10 Jose Soriano 20.3 A RHP 2022 45 11 Chris Rodriguez 20.6 A RHP 2021 45 12 D’Shawn Knowles 18.1 R CF 2023 40+ 13 Trent Deveaux 18.8 R CF 2023 40+ 14 Ty Buttrey 25.9 MLB RHP 2019 40+ 15 Kevin Maitan 19.0 R 3B 2022 40+ 16 Patrick Sandoval 22.4 AA LHP 2021 40 17 Leonardo Rivas 21.4 A 2B 2020 40 18 Michael Hermosillo 24.1 MLB RF 2019 40 19 Livan Soto 18.7 R SS 2022 40 20 Luis Madero 21.9 A+ RHP 2020 40 21 Stiward Aquino 19.7 R RHP 2022 40 22 Aaron Hernandez 22.2 R RHP 2021 40 23 William English 18.2 R RHP/DH 2023 40 24 Jack Kruger 24.3 AA C 2020 40 25 Jake Jewell 25.8 MLB RHP 2019 40 26 Kyle Bradish 22.5 R RHP 2020 35+ 27 Alexander Ramirez 16.5 R RF 2023 35+ 28 Travis Herrin 23.8 A+ RHP 2021 35+ 29 Jared Walsh 25.6 AAA 1B/OF/LHP 2019 35+ 30 Luis Pena 23.5 AAA RHP 2019 35+ 31 Daniel Procopio 23.4 AA RHP 2020 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 60 FV Prospects 1. Jo Adell, RF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Ballard HS (KY) (LAA) Age 19.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 70/70 50/70 60/55 50/55 50/50 Adell played across three levels last year and reached Double-A at age 19. The swing and miss issues he exhibited in high school led many to assume his development might be slow, but after a month of vaporizing Low-A pitching at Burlington, he was quickly sent to the Cal League, where he’d spend most of the year. At Inland Empire, Adell continued to perform, and the Angels pushed him to Double-A Mobile in August, where he was finally forced to deal with some adversity, and struck out 31% of the time. Several prospects of recent memory (Byron Buxton, Domonic Brown, and Brandon Wood to name a few) have possessed such titanic physical gifts that they essentially weren’t challenged until they reached the big leagues, and some people in baseball posit that it can be psychologically taxing to deal with growing pains in that bright of a spotlight, with the hopes of a franchise and its fans on one’s shoulders. Adell is that kind of physical talent. He has a rare blend of power and speed, speed that he has retained since high school even though he has added about 20 pounds. He’s now a better bet to stay in center field during his prime than he was in high school, when scouts assumed he’d slow down as he added weight. His feel for going back on balls in center is pretty good and some of the arm strength that Adell (who was once into the mid-90s on the mound) suddenly lost in high school has returned. His breaking ball recognition and bat control will continue to be tested by upper-level pitching, and if they start to show improvement, it’s not only a sign that Adell is adjusting but that he has the capacity to do so in the future. At that point, we’re talking prime Andrew McCutchen and Grady Sizemore-type tools. 50 FV Prospects 2. Jose Suarez, LHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAA) Age 21.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/55 50/60 45/55 92-94 / 95 Squat little pitching prospects aren’t supposed to suddenly throw three ticks harder than they did the year before, but Suarez went from sitting 89-92 to sitting 92-94, and rose three levels last year. The feel Suarez developed for his changeup and curveball while he had a 40 fastball was necessary for his survival at that time. Now, they’re out pitches after he gets ahead of hitters with this new heat. There’s some risk that this fastball backs up, as upticks in velocity are sometimes fleeting and pitchers soon return to what they’ve been for most of their careers. So long as that doesn’t happen, Suarez projects as a good fourth starter and should help the big league club this year. 3. Brandon Marsh, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA) (LAA) Age 21.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 55/60 40/50 60/55 40/50 60/60 A two-sport star in high school, Marsh’s pro baseball career was in doubt for a moment when the Angels discovered a stress fracture in his back during his physical after the draft. After the issue was resolved, Marsh took things slow for a while at the Angels complex in Tempe, limited to activities like BP while others played in actual games. The sound of the ball off his bat during those BP side sessions was very distracting. Marsh stayed in Arizona during the spring of 2017 and was much more physical than most of his rookie-level peers. Marsh had statistical success in the Pioneer League and in the Midwest League the following spring, before finally scuffling at Hi-A. Though he has above-average raw power, Marsh’s in-game cut is more contact-oriented, geared for contact to the opposite field and back up the middle. During instructional league, Marsh was awkwardly swinging without a stride, likely not a swing change, but perhaps an exercise that forces him to clear his hips and improve his ability to pull the ball with power. There’s a non-zero chance Marsh stays in center field but it’s more likely that he moves to a corner. He has the physical ability to profile as a regular there. 4. Griffin Canning, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from UCLA (LAA) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/60 50/50 45/55 45/55 92-96 / 97 Canning was used very heavily at UCLA and would sometimes throw in excess of 120 pitches during his starts, even as an underclassman. The Angels shelved him for the rest of the summer after they drafted him, and it paid off. Canning came out the following spring throwing harder than he had in college, his fastball sitting 94-97 for most of his starts. He held that velo throughout 2018 and reached Triple-A in his first pro season. He’s a No. 4 starter on the cusp of debut. 5. Jahmai Jones, 2B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Wesleyan HS (GA) (LAA) Age 21.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/55 50/50 40/45 60/60 40/45 45/45 The Angels invited Jones to big league camp last spring, but he looked overmatched and a bit lost in center field, so he was sent back to minor league camp to begin a transition to second base. His footwork and actions around the bag can be clumsy (part of why Jones, who played some infield in high school, was initially put in the outfield as a pro), but he has plenty of lateral quickness and range, his hands are fine, and he has high-end makeup, which leads clubs to believe he’ll do the work necessary to be viable there. Mostly though, Jones is good because he makes lots of hard, line drive contact and is a plus runner. After struggling to lay off of breaking balls early in 2017, he has become more patient, and his walk rate was much higher last year. Even though he didn’t hit for much power in the Cal League, the Angels promoted him to Double-A for the last two months of the season, then gave him some run in the Arizona Fall League. Jones’ general lack of performance last year should not yet concern readers, as he went through several swing changes, with the Angels constantly tweaking how and where his hands set up. He projects as a high-contact second baseman with doubles power unless one of these tweaks unlocks more in-game pop. 45+ FV Prospects 6. Jordyn Adams, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Green Hope HS (NC) (LAA) Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 50/60 20/50 80/80 45/60 45/50 Adams was seen as a football-first prospect until late March 2018. He’d played at a couple of showcase events in the summer of 2017 and had some raw tools, but he wasn’t yet under consideration for the top few rounds of the baseball draft. He was, however, a top 100 football recruit, set to head to North Carolina to play wide receiver, where his father was on the coaching staff. Then in March, Adams had a coming out party at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament near his high school, fulfilling the rosiest hopes some had of him eventually putting it together on the baseball field, as multiple scouts from all 30 teams watched him against strong competition for a few days. Scouts were hesitant at first, worried they might be overreacting, but eventually came to think that Adams’ only athletic peer in recent draft history was Byron Buxton. Adams is a true 80 runner with raw power who projects to be a 60, and who flashed body and bat control that reminded scouts of Royce Lewis. All of this excitement came with almost zero track record, and Adams didn’t face much strong competition after NHSI, meaning drafting him would be based purely on old-school scouting, as there weren’t years of video of and performance from this flourishing incarnation of Adams. Once teams became enthused enough that multiple millions of dollars were in play, it appeared clear that baseball could overtake football. Several GMs, including the Angels’ GM Billy Eppler, were in after NHSI to see Adams for themselves, and after Adell and Adams were their top pick in consecutive years, rival executives now view this risk/upside kind of prospect as Los Angeles’ type. That trend appears to be more the result of opportunistic good fortune than a deliberate strategy, since there’s an argument to be made that Austin Beck (who went to Oakland sixth overall in 2017) had less upside and a similar performance record to Adams; if the industry had simply seen Adams play in an NHSI-style setting for a couple more weeks, he could have been a top five pick candidate, just like Royce Lewis or Byron Buxton were after a strong summer of performance. This is all to say that the sky is the limit for Adams, and if he performs well in Low-A in 2019, he’ll shoot up this list. 45 FV Prospects 7. Luis Rengifo, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (SEA) Age 22.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 45/45 40/45 55/55 45/50 50/50 The Mariners traded Rengifo to Tampa Bay in an August 2017 waiver deal, and he only played in 23 games as a Rays farmhand before he was sent to Anaheim as the PTBNL in the C.J. Cron swap. He had a breakout 2018, traversing three levels to the tune of a .299/.399/.451 line, while tallying as many walks as strikeouts, 50 extra-base hits, and 41 steals. So judicious is Rengifo’s eye for the plate that if he were cloned 15 times and each clone forced to be an umpire, there might be a lot less talk of electronic strike zones. He identifies balls and strikes early in flight, and often relaxes before balls have even entered the catcher’s mitt. There’s a chance that Rengifo’s lack of power (he has more from the right side) limits the way his eye for the zone plays in the big leagues, since pitchers will be more likely to attack him without fear of him doing damage on his own. Most of his doubles come by slashing balls down either baseline, or when he turns gappers into extra bases because of his speed. We think there’s enough bat to retain most of the on-base ability Rengifo has shown so far and that, combined with his multi-positional versatility, could yield super-utility value. Though he spent all of last year playing either second base or shortstop, Rengifo also has experience in both outfield corners and at third base. The Angels added Rengifo to the 40-man this offseason and while they’re well-stocked on the infield (Simmons, La Stella, Fletcher, Cozart), they’re rather thin in the outfield, and very right-handed. As such, Rengifo’s first opportunity could come as an injury replacement out there, or he may fall into a Chone Figginsy utility role. Eventually though, he may end up as the regular second baseman. 8. Jeremiah Jackson, 3B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from St. Luke’s Episcopal HS (AL) (LAA) Age 18.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 50/55 20/50 55/55 40/50 55/55 Progressive clubs want to draft toolsy prep players, as that is the most common demographic among current All-Stars, but they like to have data to back up their scouting reports. Collecting detailed stats from summer showcase events, or even spring games when prep hitters face pro-quality pitching, is one way to pinpoint how advanced a prospect is beyond a pure scouting report, and is something almost no clubs did systematically until the last half dozen years or so. Jackson is a perfect example of the limitations of this practice. He stood out on the showcase circuit with an infielder’s footwork and actions (though his hands were inconsistent) and potentially above-average offense. But Jackson’s performance was generally below average in this setting and he struck out a lot, so he was shifted into the fourth to fifth round area that often sends this sort of player to college. In the spring, Jackson was going off against poor competition in South Alabama and we were hesitant to shift his grade on that basis until we were told that he got glasses to correct some vision issues that had contributed to his summer disappointment. Now, his spring performance could still end up meaning little, but there was a shot he was a new prospect, and we never got a pre-draft opportunity to see him against good pitching. With that optimism in mind, we ranked him 31st in the 2018 draft class but the Angels were able to get him at 57th overall, as many clubs now run their draft off of models that lean heavily on summer performance when there’s bulk and Jackson was at almost every event. Jackson hit seven homers with above average production across the board in 43 pro games after signing, and it’s looking like he may have been underrated by a purely numbers-based approach to the draft. We see a potential 50 or 55 on every tool and at least a third base fit in pro ball, if not a chance to play middle infield, which translates to a strong regular. 9. Matt Thaiss, 1B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Virginia (LAA) Age 23.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 50/50 45/50 30/30 45/50 50/50 Thaiss is one for whom a 2018 swing change is more relevant because a lack of in-game power was the primary barrier between him and the offensive output approaching that which typically profiles at first base. A college catcher, Thaiss walked more than twice as much as he struck out as a junior at Virginia. Though almost nobody thought he’d be able to catch in pro ball, he was viewed as a safe, fast-moving draft prospect, albeit one with a limited ceiling due to defensive limitations. Thaiss was exactly as advertised for the first two years of his pro career, and reached Double-A during his first full pro season though, as predicted, he hit for very little power, including a paltry .399 SLG% in the offensive paradise that is the Cal League. In 2018, Thaiss added a more exaggerated leg kick and began lifting the ball more. A 45% ground ball rate at Double-A in 2017 turned into a 31% rate at Mobile the following year. He was eventually promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake and ended up with more 2018 homers (16) than he had had in his previous two years combined. Will the change be enough? It’s going to be close. Thaiss posted a 102 wRC+ in 85 games as a 23-year-old at Triple-A; the big league average at first base last year was 105. We have him projected as a low-end regular there, which might make him a viable alternative to Justin Bour and Albert Pujols fairly soon. 10. Jose Soriano, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (LAA) Age 20.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 168 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/55 30/50 40/50 92-96 / 98 Soriano struggled to harness his newfound velocity in 2018. The year before, he was a skinny 18-year-old sitting just 87-92. When he arrived in the spring of 2018, he had added sculpted muscle mass to a prototypical frame, and his fastball was humming in at 94-97 early during spring outings. After some time in extended spring training, Soriano spent the end of last summer in Low-A as a 19-year-old, and had issues with walks. Though his delivery is devoid of violence, he struggles with release consistency and has scattershot fastball control as a result. Soriano’s feel for locating his terrific curveball is often superior to his fastball command, and while this approach is becoming more acceptable in the majors, ideally he’d refine the latter. It’s odd to look at Soriano’s numbers and argue that he took a step forward last year, but he accomplished a third of the things we hoped he’d develop — more velocity, better command, and a better changeup or some other third offering — before turning 20. If either of the last two components fails to progress, Soriano will end up in the bullpen. If they both do, he’ll be a mid-rotation starter. 11. Chris Rodriguez, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Monsignor Pace HS (FL) (LAA) Age 20.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 60/60 55/55 40/50 50/55 40/50 93-96 / 97 A stress reaction in his back cost Rodriguez all of 2018 and his return to action has been slow; last we were updated before publication, he was still limited to fastball-only bullpens and flat ground sessions. Prior to Rodriguez’s shutdown, he had experienced a velo spike (93-97, up from 91-94 the year before) and lowered his arm slot. Both of his breaking balls were excellent, but his changeup had regressed a bit compared to his first year (or at least, he lacked feel for it the last time Eric saw him). The injury adds fuel to the speculative fire that Rodriguez’s violent delivery will eventually limit him to the bullpen. It didn’t prohibit him from having starter control, but scouts were concerned about injury. Now, there has been one. If health eventually moves Rodriguez to the bullpen, he has high-leverage stuff. If not, and his changeup returns, he could be a No. 3 or 4 starter. 40+ FV Prospects 12. D’Shawn Knowles, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (LAA) Age 18.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 45/50 20/45 70/70 45/55 45/50 Knowles was still just 16 when he came stateside for his first pro instructional league. He was 17 for the entirety of his first pro season, and one of the few bright spots on an underperforming AZL Angels team. A sizable chunk of Knowles’ AZL power output was BABIP-driven (his speed is especially meaningful against rookie-level defenses), but despite his measureables, he does have some pop thanks to his explosiveness and ability to rotate, enough that there’s little concern about him lacking big league physicality. His footspeed enables projection in center field and while he’s had early-career issues with strikeouts, he’s not one to expand the zone and instead has the bat-control issues that are typical of early-career switch hitters. Though his bat-to-ball future is cloudy, Knowles’ slashing, doubles power as a teen combined with the likelihood he can play center field give him a shot to be an everyday player if he develops as a hitter. If not, he’d be a pretty toolsy fourth outfielder. 13. Trent Deveaux, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (LAA) Age 18.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 45/55 30/50 70/70 40/55 50/55 After an exciting showing during minor league spring training, Deveaux struggled throughout the summer as he made swing change after swing change after swing change. It makes much more sense to tinker and find the right swing sooner rather than later, but Deveaux hit just .199 as he was asked to bring his side work onto the field during the summer. He had no fewer than four different cuts during 2018, and at times seemed so out of whack that pro scouts in Arizona began to actively steer clear of Tempe Diablo to avoid falling out of love with a player they were so enamored with during the spring. That player took your breath away when he’d hit his stride going from first to third, looked like he might be a black hole defender in center field because of his range, and was going to have power once the swing was refined. If evaluating purely on physical ability, Deveaux belongs up near Jordyn Adams and Jeremiah Jackson in this system, but his 2018 was a bit of a red flag and he’s probably going to be a long-term developmental project. 14. Ty Buttrey, RHP Drafted: 4th Round, 2012 from Providence HS (NC) (BOS) Age 25.9 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 70/70 55/55 60/60 45/45 94-98 / 101 Somewhat surprisingly, our pitch classifications indicate Buttrey threw his low-spin breaking ball more often than his obviously nasty changeup in a sizable big league sample last year. Buttrey’s weirdo breaking ball, which can be hard to distinguish visually from his changeup, is also effective and may give him a pitch mix sufficient to enable him to close. His stuff exploded after the Red Sox moved him to the bullpen in 2016; they eventually traded him in the 2018 Ian Kinsler deal. He’ll likely be a significant part of the Angels’ bullpen this season and may have too tight a grip on late-inning duties to relinquish them to Keynan Middleton once the latter returns from Tommy John. 15. Kevin Maitan, 3B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (ATL) Age 19.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/45 55/60 30/45 40/40 40/50 60/65 Maitan was one of the most celebrated international amateur prospects in a decade and was even written up as a 14-year-old on this site when, upon asking international scouts in the fall of 2014 for the best players in the 2015 international class, we were told that Maitan, a 2016-eligible player, was better than all of them. In retrospect that looks a little silly, as the 2015 class included Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis, Jr., Cristian Pache, and Andres Gimenez, but that opinion was the consensus amongst many top evaluators; those five superior prospects all received lower bonuses than Maitan for a reason. Maitan signed with Atlanta as the clear top prospect in his class, and the clear top prospect to emerge in many years. Then things took a turn for him as a pro. Maitan added some natural strength and bulk soon after signing (which many scouts anticipated, projecting him to a corner), then started adding some bad weight, lost his swing mechanics, and started tinkering. Things snowballed from there, ending in a disappointing debut season with Atlanta. After that season, the Braves international scandal hit, and Maitan became a free agent. He kept his original $4.25 million bonus (widely reported to have been topped by multiple clubs late in the process, though he and his family chose to honor their word to Atlanta) and hit the open market, where he received $2.2 million amid some scouts’ suggestions that he wasn’t even the best of the Braves’ prospects to be cut loose. The same issues continued with Los Angeles in 2018, and Maitan had another disappointing season, with a worrisome physique and an evolving swing. The raw tools that originally got scouts interested — raw power you can project to a 70, a 65-grade arm, infield hands, feel to hit — still appear to be in there and Angels sources indicate Maitan spent the offseason getting in better shape, a process they anticipated would be slow from the onset, hopefully foreshadowing a breakout year. The organization is excited about what could happen in 2019, with Maitan as part of an exciting Low-A Burlington club that should include him, Jeremiah Jackson, and Livan Soto in the infield and Jordyn Adams, D’Shawn Knowles, and Trent Deveaux in the outfield. We have Maitan here on pedigree, as pro socuts outside the org who had no context for their eval barely considered him a prospect last year. 40 FV Prospects 16. Patrick Sandoval, LHP Drafted: 11th Round, 2015 from Mission Viejo HS (CA) (HOU) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 55/60 40/50 40/45 88-92 / 94 An 11th rounder in 2015, Houston signed Sandoval away from a USC commitment with a $900,000 bonus. Before the Angels acquired him from the Astros for Martin Maldonado, Sandoval struck out 97 hitters in 88 innings split between Low- and Hi-A while also reducing his walk rate (4.3%) to half of what it had been the previous year (8.5%). After the trade, his walk rate regressed to his career norm, but he continued missing bats and struck out 35% of opposing hitters. Sandoval’s fastball sits 88-92 and will top out around 94. He can really spin a 12-6 curveball, one that’s above average when he is getting on top of it. Effectively, Sandoval has an almost perfectly vertical arm slot, but the way he gets there is somewhat odd, and there’s some skepticism among scouts as to the sustainability of last year’s uptick in strike-throwing. But his current delivery enables him to effectively work up and down with his fastball and curveball in sequence, so nobody suggests he change it. There’s enough of a changeup here for continued development in a rotation and if everything clicks, Sandoval will be a No. 4 or 5 starter. If not, he’s a lefty with a good breaking ball and is a fine bullpen candidate, which is a pretty good return for a backup catching rental. 17. Leonardo Rivas, 2B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (LAA) Age 21.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 35/40 20/30 70/70 45/50 50/50 It’s very possible that Rivas’s elite feel for the strike zone won’t translate to upper-level play. He owns a 16% career walk rate, but Rivas and his childlike, Lilliputian frame lacks even a modicum of over-the-fence power, and advanced pitching may choose to attack him rather than nibble and let the speedy Rivas reach without putting the ball in play. Even if his walk rate comes down, Rivas does enough other stuff to contribute to a big league roster. He won’t hit homers, but he stings high-quality line drive contact to all-fields and can slash doubles down the third base line. He has sufficient speed and range for the middle infield, and has experience at every position but first base and catcher, though he hasn’t played the outfield since 2015. Rivas’ most realistic path to everyday production involves him retaining something close to his current walk rate, but he’s more likely to become a valuable utility man who can play all over the field, and is a fairly high-probability prospect in that regard. 18. Michael Hermosillo, RF Video Drafted: 28th Round, 2013 from Ottawa HS (IL) (LAA) Age 24.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 50/50 40/45 65/65 50/55 50/50 It took a $100,000 bonus to sign Hermosillo away from a football scholarship to Illinois. Understandably raw when he entered pro ball (what with two-sports and a cold-weather background), it took Hermosillo three years of adjustments before he finally experienced a statistical breakout in 2016. Since then, he has continued to make mechanical tweaks to reshape his skillset, and was rewarded with a brief major league debut in 2018. Once in possession of ugly bat control that enabled him to put lots of balls in play but not with any real impact, Hermosillo’s most recent swing adjustment has him trading some of that contact for power. As Hermosillo’s leg kick grew bigger and slower, his ground ball rate shrunk. A 45% roller ratio in 2017 became 31% in 2018, and Hermosillo set a career-high in homers (12) in the friendly confines of the PCL. Though he didn’t perform during a 30-game big league look, Hermosillo’s athleticism and ability to make adjustments bode well for his future. His baseball instincts aren’t great, but he has some pop that he’s started to get to, he can fly, and he may get lots of playing time due to the Angels’ fairly thin outfield situation. Realistically, he projects as a good bench outfielder, but he has several late-bloomer traits and may continue to develop into a low-end regular if he falls into regular big league reps and gets sufficient at-bats. 19. Livan Soto, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (ATL) Age 18.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 35/40 20/30 55/55 50/55 50/50 Soto was part of the Braves’ 2016 pool-busting haul of players who later became free agents due to the sanctions levied against Atlanta. Soto got a $1 million bonus the first time around, then another $850,000 from Los Angeles, signing along with fellow former-Brave and Venezuelan Kevin Maitan. It’s a cliche in scouting to call a player a ‘Venezuelan-style shortstop,’ but Soto fits that to a T: smaller, without big tools, but with an advanced feel to play, and a gritty, high-effort style. He had about 30-grade raw power when he signed, and his exit velos were topping out in the mid-90s in the GCL for Atlanta, but he’s now hitting a quarter of his balls in play in the 90s and looks like he’ll be able to avoid being so weak that pitchers can knock the bat out of his hands. Soto is a roughly average runner with a roughly average arm, but both tools play up due to his instincts and strong internal clock, so he’s a potential above average shortstop. He also has advanced feel to hit, with above average bat control and a self-aware approach at the plate. There’s a road to a Jose Iglesias-type regular here, but it’s more likely Soto lands in the utility range, with maybe a season or two where he’s starting quality. 20. Luis Madero, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (ARI) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 45/50 55/60 45/50 50/55 50/55 89-94 / 96 In possession of one of the looser, more aqueous deliveries in the minors, Madero experienced a velocity spike in 2018 and ended up on the Angels 40-man in November. Instead of 87-92, Madero’s fastball resided in the 90-94 range throughout 2018, and he retained his trademark advanced command of four pitches. The best of those pitches is his curveball, which flashes big depth and snap, and which he sometimes decelerates his arm to baby into the strike zone, something big league hitters will pick up on. Further changeup develop will be important for Madero as his low arm slot enables lefty hitters to see the ball out of his hand quite early. A better change will help keep them honest against his heater. Still lithe and skinny for his age, there’s a chance Madero grows into some velo as he continues to fill out. He profiles as a fifth starter and may be up at some point this year, though the Angels’ many veteran pitching additions make it less likely. 21. Stiward Aquino, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (LAA) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 50/55 50/60 40/50 87-93 / 96 Aquino missed all of 2018 due to a February Tommy John from which he’ll likely return sometime during extended spring training. Tall and projectable, Aquino was already touching 96 as an 18-year-old before he blew out his UCL. He’s athletic for his size but perhaps not exceptionally athletic in a vacuum, his forearms appear shorter than is typical for someone his size, and his stride home is very abbreviated. His velocity and changeup quality were both well ahead of what is typical for a pitcher this age before Aquino got hurt, and he has one of the more intriguing ceilings in the system if those things return after surgery. 22. Aaron Hernandez, RHP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Texas A&M Corpus Christi (LAA) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/50 45/55 40/50 35/45 91-95 / 97 One of the least experienced and more polarizing college pitchers available in the 2018 draft, Hernandez has an electric, four-pitch mix and several developmental hurdles ahead of him. At a skinny 6-foot-1, there are scouts who doubt he can start based solely on his frame, though Hernandez held mid-90s velocity deep into games as a junior at Corpus Christi. If amateur scouts are to be believed, any of the following aspects of Hernandez’s current profile could change: his stride direction, his arm slot, his breaking ball usage (he has two that bleed together), and the movement profile of his fastball. Hernandez was academically ineligible as a sophomore and only started 19 games in three years of college, so there’s at least a reason he’s behind his peers from a developmental standpoint. He has unteachable arm speed and feel for spin and even if he just ends up as a big league reliever, something that seems pretty reasonable given his talent, it would be a strong outcome for a third round pick. Like Aquino, Hernandez may move up this list quickly with refinement, but we’d like to see it fairly soon given his age. 23. William English, RHP/DH Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Detroit Western Int’l HS (MI) (LAA) Age 18.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 45/55 20/50 55/50 40/50 70/70 Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 40/50 45/55 30/50 87-91 / 93 Many teams considered English to be one of, if not the best on-mound athletes among high schoolers in the 2018 draft, but many of them also thought he was sushi raw as both a hurler and an outfielder, and that he would end up at the University of Tennessee. A $700,000 bonus brought him to Tempe for a summer free of pitching in games, an approach the Angels have taken with several recent draftees. English did hit, though. While he struggled to perform on paper, he has a pro-quality power and speed combination that enabled him to play center field in high school. He was drafted and will be developed as a two-way player, likely pitching once a week while playing in the outfield once or twice a week and DH’ing the rest of the time as a way to manage fatigue. He arrived for camp having added about 25 pounds of muscle and is one of the more interesting prospects in baseball, let alone in this system, because he’s just a very athletic, untouched mass of clay for Angels player development to sculpt. 24. Jack Kruger, C Drafted: 20th Round, 2016 from Mississippi State (LAA) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 50/50 30/35 45/40 50/55 50/50 Kruger is a high-probability backup catching prospect with more speed and athleticism than is typical for the position. Though he has a power-hitter’s leg kick, his bat head drags into the zone, causing him to push a lot of contact the other way, and this, combined with his fringy bat speed, limits his power output. He has good barrel control, though, and is a solid-average receiver and ball-blocker with an average arm. He’s going to stay back there, and he’s uncommonly nimble and lean for a catcher, so he should retain those skills deep into his career. He reached Double-A last year and is on pace to debut in 2020. 25. Jake Jewell, RHP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Northeast Oklahoma JC (OK) (LAA) Age 25.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 60/60 40/40 40/45 94-97 / 98 After yo-yoing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation since college, Jewell was finally ‘penned in 2018 and had a two-inning sip of coffee with the Halos last June before he fractured his right fibula during a play at the plate. He would need season-ending surgery. Jewell’s command has long foreshadowed an eventual permanent move to the bullpen, but he has the stuff to accrue big league outs. He can alter the shape of his mid-90s fastball to sink or cut, has a fine mid-80s curveball, and a power changeup that averages 90mph. He didn’t throw his hard cutter/slider during his short appearances with the Angels last year, but we’re unsure if the pitch has actually be scrapped. It’s an unusually deep repertoire for a reliever, probably one better suited for inducing ground balls than strikeouts, but is possibly enough for Jewell to go for four or more outs at a time. 35+ FV Prospects 26. Kyle Bradish, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from New Mexico State (LAA) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 50/55 55/60 40/50 40/45 90-94 / 96 It’s exciting to consider how Bradish’s stuff might play in the bullpen, as his max-effort delivery and the way it detracts from his command will likely prevent him from starting for long in pro ball. His arm action has gorgeous efficiency and it, plus Bradish’s full-body thrust towards the plate, helped him generate the occasional mid-90s fastball early in his college starts, before he’d settle in the low-90s and upper-80s in the later innings. His breaking ball has bat-missing vertical action and is hard for hitters to differentiate out of Bradish’s hand, in part because his delivery causes the ball to suddenly appear out from behind his head, which some hitters struggle to adjust to. Most of these traits would seem to play best in short stints, and we have Bradish projected as a good middle reliever, though if his fastball ticks up in single-inning outings he could be a high-leverage option. 27. Alexander Ramirez, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (LAA) Age 16.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ So young is Ramirez that he had to wait almost two months after the July 2 signing day to turn 16 and become eligible to put pen to paper on his pro contract, which included a $1 million bonus. He’s a typical, frame-based projection outfield prospect at a lean, high-waisted, broad-shouldered 6-foot-2. His upright swing is currently suited for high-ball contact but, based on the Angels propensity for enacting swing changes, that will likely change pretty quickly. As he grows into his body and better incorporates his lower half into his swing, he could have serious in-game power at maturity. Likely a long-term developmental project, Ramirez may not be stateside for actual games until the 2020 AZL. 28. Travis Herrin, RHP Drafted: 18th Round, 2015 from Wabash Valley JC (IL) (LAA) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 50/55 50/50 40/50 40/50 90-93 / 96 Herrin made a few late-season Tommy John rehab appearances last August and September, and his stuff had not only returned, but improved. He has a starter’s mix led by two quality breaking balls, his fastball will creep into the mid-90s, and his changeup has some armside fade. It’s No. 4 or 5 starter stuff, a pitch mix that belongs ahead of Luis Madero on this list. But Herrin turns 24 in April, has yet to pitch above A-ball, and only showed this quality stuff in short, 20 or 30-pitch outings. He’s a candidate to be pushed quickly if he continues to throw like this, though he may be on an innings limit this year, his first full slate back from injury. We like him as a sleeper breakout prospect in this system. 29. Jared Walsh, 1B/OF/LHP Drafted: 39th Round, 2015 from Georgia (LAA) Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/40 55/55 45/50 45/45 55/60 60/60 Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/50 45/50 89-92 / 93 Walsh’s primary responsibilities vacillated between the mound and the batter’s box while he was in college. He did more pitching as a freshman and junior, more hitting as a sophomore and senior. Now it appears he may do a little bit of both in the big leagues, as last year he stepped on a pro mound for the first time, touching 93 with his fastball, and showing an average curveball on occasion. He also had a breakout offensive season, though 13 of his 29 home runs came in the Cal League, which, especially at age 24, should cause some skepticism as to how much it reflects true talent. Walsh does have some power and he lifts the baseball consistently, so while he doesn’t have a hit/power combination fit for profiling at any of the defensive spots he’s capable of playing, he could run into some bombs in a pinch-hitting role. He’s also a better runner and first base defender than is typical for his position and may contribute in those areas, as well. Walsh has an interesting, multi-faceted skillset and could be used as a Swiss Army Knife bench piece, if a bit of a blunt one, who allows flexibility on other parts of the roster. 30. Luis Pena, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (LAA) Age 23.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 55/60 50/55 40/40 88-93 / 94 The Angels continued Peña’s development as a starter last year even though his wildness will likely relegate him to the bullpen eventually. His low-90s fastball plays up because his gargantuan stride creates big extension and two extra ticks of perceived velo. So extreme is Peña’s leap off the mound that it appears to detract from his command because it’s so hard to harness. His slider and changeup both flash plus, and he arbuably has better feel for locating either of those than his fastball. He has No. 4 or 5 starter stuff, but issues with fastball location make him too inefficient to start. He reached Triple-A last year but struggled, and was passed over in the Rule 5; he’s a candidate to bounce back. 31. Daniel Procopio, RHP Drafted: 10th Round, 2017 from Niagara (LAA) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Procopio was a solid senior sign in the 10th round in 2017 as a Friday starter for Niagara. In that role, he had a TrackMan-friendly rising fastball that sat 90-93 and hit 95 mph occasionally, and he relied heavily on an above average-flashing breaking ball, fringy command, and average control to post numbers against weaker competition. After signing, the Angels put him in the bullpen and his velocity immediately ticked up in shorter stints, working 94-96 and hitting 99 mph. His control and command got a bit worse, and he hasn’t quite struck the balance in his delivery and approach between newfound power stuff and control, but he could find himself on the shortlist for big league bullpen contention if and when he does. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Current Pitching Depth Jeremy Beasley, RHP Miguel Almonte, RHP Brett Hanewich, RHP Williams Jerez, LHP All of these guys are between 23 and 26 years old, and could contribute to the big club in some capacity this year or next. Beasley has the best long-term prognosis as a potential fifth starter. His splitter is plus, the rest of his stuff average. Almonte debuted way back in 2015 but injuries have kept him list-eligible. He has a plus curveball and fastball velo but the injuries and command issues are worrisome, and he was unclaimed after being DFA’d fairly recently. Hanewich is a one-pitch guy but it’s a great pitch. His fastball is 97-99 with plus-plus extension but his delivery is erratic and his secondaries are inconsistent, though his change plays well off the heater when he locates it competitively. Jerez is a mid-90s lefty with a good splitter and 40 control, and might be a reliever if the command improves. Some Younger Sleepers Robinson Pina, RHP Hector Yan, LHP Julio De La Cruz, INF Sadrac Franco, RHP All of these prospects are about 19 years old and currently in the lower levels of the minors. Pina sits 91-94 with 7-foot-2 of extension, and has an above-average slider. He may end up as a late-inning arm but looks more like a reliever who’ll take a few years. Yan is a lefty with presently average velo and an arm action that promises more. He has feel for a curveball that could be plus at peak but he’s probably also reliever due to a lack of changeup feel. De La Cruz isn’t a good defensive infielder but he has 55 bat speed and pull-side power; he’s a 50 runner with a 55 arm. He may end up in right field, but if the glove improves, he’ll be quite interesting. Franco will flash a plus curveball and he also sits about 90-94, but he’s less projectable than the typical 19-year-old due to a smaller frame. Old Friends and Long Shots Michael Santos, RHP Mayky Perez, RHP Adrian Almeida, LHP Oliver Ortega, LHP Adrian De Horta, RHP Santos was a favorite of ours when he was a Giants AZL arm. He was part of Tampa’s return for Matt Moore but had a shoulder injury and was released. When healthy, he was 91-94 with a bevy of average secondaries and a chance one of the breaking balls would be above at peak. Perez was a hard-throwing, big-bodied relief type who was released by prospect-laden San Diego. Almeida was a minor league Rule 5 pick a few years ago. He sits 93-96 and has a plus curveball but 30 control. Ortega and De Horta both throw hard, peaking in the 95-96 range. All of these arms are age 22 to 24. System Overview Once clearly the worst system in baseball, this group is now pretty exciting, if somewhat monochromatic. There are some clear trends at play, the first being that the club’s draft strategy has taken on a toolsier, more athletic vibe in recent years, with several high picks spent on splashy high schoolers like Adell, Adams, and English. The club has also targeted versatile defenders with good plate discipline on the pro side, yielding Rengio and Soto, while doing everything it can to hoard pitching depth behind what has been a snake-bitten big league staff, even at the expense of some interesting young arms like Elvin Rodriguez, who would have fairly prominent placement in the 40 FV tier on this list had he not be dealt for Ian Kinsler (though Buttrey would rank higher). The Angels clearly have a type or two now, but they’re types we like. The player development arm of the org is one of the more aggressive groups in the league, and is unabashed about mechanical tinkering. Trent Deveaux’s multitude of swings look bad because he has struggled so mightily, but there have been more prospects improved by the changes than there have been players who have gone backwards. Taylor Ward graduated off the list, but he made positive alterations before his call-up, and the changes made by Walsh, Thaiss, and Hermosillo have all been clear improvements, while the jury is still out on Jahmai Jones’ tweaks. Brandon Marsh may show a dramatic shift this year as the gap between his BP raw power and in-game approach to contact is quite, quite vast. Another trend on this list: lots of pitchers throwing harder. Canning throws harder now than he did in college, Suarez and Madero had velo spikes last year, and Soriano’s uptick, while predictable because of his build, came sooner than expected. The scouting staff has given what appears to be a good player dev group lots of malleable athletes to work with and, so far, results have been positive even though most of the guys we’re excited about haven’t done anything in the big leagues yet.