Top 32 Prospects: Los Angeles Angels

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Los Angeles Angels. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in my opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on my lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.

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 Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

Angels Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Brandon Marsh 23.5 AAA CF 2021 60
2 Jordyn Adams 21.6 A+ CF 2023 50
3 Reid Detmers 21.9 AA SP 2021 45+
4 Arol Vera 18.7 R SS 2025 45
5 Adrian Placencia 18.0 R 2B 2024 45
6 Kyren Paris 19.6 A 2B 2024 45
7 Alexander Ramirez 18.8 R RF 2023 40+
8 Jack Kochanowicz 20.5 A SP 2024 40+
9 Chris Rodriguez 22.9 MLB SIRP 2021 40+
10 David Calabrese 18.7 R CF 2025 40+
11 D’Shawn Knowles 20.4 A CF 2023 40+
12 Jeremiah Jackson 21.2 A 3B 2022 40+
13 William Holmes 20.5 R SP 2023 40+
14 Denzer Guzman 17.3 R 2B 2025 40
15 Davis Daniel 24.0 A+ SIRP 2023 40
16 Alejandro Hidalgo 18.0 R SP 2024 40
17 Hector Yan 22.1 A+ MIRP 2023 40
18 Orlando Martinez 23.3 AA LF 2022 40
19 Packy Naughton 25.1 AAA MIRP 2021 40
20 Livan Soto 21.0 A+ SS 2022 40
21 Werner Blakely 19.3 R 3B 2025 40
22 Aaron Hernandez 24.5 A+ SIRP 2021 40
23 Sadrac Franco 21.0 R SIRP 2023 40
24 Jose Salvador 21.7 A SIRP 2022 35+
25 Connor Higgins 24.9 AA SIRP 2022 35+
26 Gabriel Tapia 19.0 R SP 2024 35+
27 Kean Wong 26.1 MLB 2B 2020 35+
28 Oliver Ortega 24.7 AA SIRP 2022 35+
29 Gerardo Reyes 28.1 MLB SIRP 2022 35+
30 Trent Deveaux 21.1 R CF 2023 35+
31 Robinson Pina 22.5 A+ SIRP 2022 35+
32 Jose Bonilla 19.2 A 3B 2024 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Buford HS (GA) (LAA)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 55/55 40/55 60/60 50/60 60

After long-struggling to generate impact game power despite obvious raw juice, Marsh appeared to make a swing change that first became evident to me during the 2019 Fall League, though we’ve yet to have a sufficiently large sample of results to see if that’s true and if so, exactly how meaningful it will be. In the AFL, Marsh’s hands loaded a little farther out from his body and he had what some scouts called a “wrap” or “power tip,” where the bat head is angled toward the mound a bit, setting up more of a loop than a direct path to the ball. I thought he lifted the ball better during that six week stretch and did so without compromising his strong feel for contact. But the lost 2020 season (even if I sourced launch angle data from the alt site, guys were facing the same pitchers over and over again, so I just don’t think it’s meaningful) and Marsh’s ongoing shoulder issues (he had a labrum injury in 2020 that barked at him again early this year) have prevented us from getting a clear idea of this change’s impact because his contact quality has been poor this year.

Marsh has a great first step in center and has fantastic gap-to-gap range. He has struggled to close the deal on fly balls approaching the wall this year, dropping several catchable though not routine balls (they’re only catchable because his range is so good). All of this has occurred amid off-field adversity (Marsh’s father recently passed away; Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic wrote about Marsh’s dad, their relationship, and his father’s several bouts with cancer late in 2019) and a nagging injury. I suppose one could argue that the persistence of the injury itself is value-altering but for now I’m not inclined to come off of Marsh at all. I worry that this year will be a struggle because of the chaotic nature of his world for the past couple of years, but ultimately I see a well-rounded player who’s going to reach base and hit for power at above-average rates while also playing plus defense at a premium position. There are All-Star-level tools here and a contact/OBP performance foundation to fall back on even if I’m wrong about the swing finally being dialed in.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Green Hope HS (NC) (LAA)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 50/60 30/55 80/80 45/60 50

Adams was seen as a lock to matriculate to North Carolina and play wide receiver until late March of 2018, when he had a coming out party at the heavily-scouted NHSI tournament near his high school. Multiple scouts from all 30 teams watched him face a strong group of high school pitching and look much more comfortable than expected given his level of experience. A few months later, the Angels made him their first round pick. Adams didn’t play much during that first pro summer, but the Angels surprisingly skipped him over the Pioneer League and sent him right to full-season ball the following season (2019), even though he’d only been solely focused on baseball for a year. Adams kept his head above water and posted a slightly above-average statline there, which is incredible for someone who only just picked up a bat. He is built like you’d probably expect a D-I wide receiver recruit to be, he’s an 80 runner, and while the swing foundation isn’t great, the Angels are one of the most proactive swing-changing orgs. He was overmatched during his big league spring at-bats but looked great during minor league spring play and during his first few regular season games before succumbing to a strained quad. It’s his second career lower body injury (he had a left knee sprain in 2019). Adams’ rare physical gifts make him a potential star. He has an enormous range of potential outcomes and his prospectdom was only made more volatile by the pandemic.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Louisville (LAA)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/45 65/70 45/55 45/60 89-92 / 94

There was some doubt about Detmers’ stuff playing in pro ball the way it did in college — 284 K’s in 191 career innings — both because Detmers wasn’t throwing all that hard and because his best pitch’s huge arc makes it easy to identify out of his hand. Still, Detmers’ four pitches had well-defined shapes and he executed them consistently. Detmers works his heater in on the hands of righties and can run it off their hip and back into the zone for looking strikes. His curveball is hell’s rainbow, especially for left-handed hitters who think it’s headed for their lips, bail, and watch it bend into the zone. His changeup is typically located down and to his arm side. Plus, velocity has suddenly become the easiest thing to develop in pitchers, even ones well into their 20s. It’s not often that big conference college performers are divisive among drafting teams, but Detmers’ lack of fastball velocity (he sat 88-92 at Louisville) was concerning to some of them. Well, he’s had a huge velo spike, and sat 93-95 and touched 97 in an outing not long before publication. It was the second start in a row where he’d averaged close to 94. The new velocity might be part of why Detmers was uncharacteristically wild early in 2021. If Detmers can hold this velo into the summer and start to wield it over the next several weeks with the same precision he did in college, he’ll move into the Top 100.

45 FV Prospects

4. Arol Vera, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/60 20/50 50/50 40/50 60

Vera has added considerable mass over the last year or so and has transformed from a rail-thin project into a teenage shortstop with pretty impressive raw power for his age. Vera’s lefty swing is short but still has loft, while his righty swing (he ditches his batting gloves from the right side) is a little more erratic but has verve and power potential. Vera doesn’t track pitches very well from either side of the plate but that might be because of how hard he swings, which feels excessive at times. My notes from each of the last two instructs periods also indicate I saw high-effort swings, so this has been going on for a while. There’s a chance for Vera to age into the Goldilocks Zone, where he stays lithe and athletic enough to remain at short but also grows into impact power. Because they have so many young infielders in Extended to start 2021, Vera has seen action all over the infield and it’s been tough to get a feel for his exact defensive ability, but he and Denzer Guzman have the best chance to stay at short of all the system’s young infielders.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 18.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 30/45 20/40 50/50 40/50 45

Placencia’s left-handed swing is the sweetest-looking cut in this system, and his righty swing is the second. He has feel for lengthening his path to create good angle on pitches at the bottom of the zone, but he can also keep things short and direct to catch pitches near the top of the zone. This kind of bat control is rare for anyone, let alone a switch-hitter this age. He’s a smaller-framed kid who may not grow into much power (though I’m cautiously optimistic about him developing enough pop to keep pitchers honest) and ends up painted into a bit of a corner at second base, where he might need to hit for more power than is likely given how small his frame is. This broad strokes profile — a short-levered, switch-hitting, up-the-middle bat who has performed even though he’s one of the youngest players on the field — is very favorable. His bat needs to carry him but Placencia has a shot to be an everyday player.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Freedom HS (CA) (LAA)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/55 20/40 70/70 45/50 40

It’s been two years since Paris was drafted and he won’t turn 20 until after the 2021 season. He has now lost much of two pro seasons: a broken hamate limited him to just three games in 2019, the pandemic knocked out his ’20 campaign, and a hamstring strain has shelved him early in ’21. Paris’ pre-draft profile existed at the intersection of traits a lot of draft models seem to prioritize (chiefly, his age, then his position) and old school scouting (this was one of the 2019 draft’s best athletes, a high-effort 70 runner with good baseball instincts). Paris can fly, and he’s worked to add significant weight and strength since signing. The strength hasn’t really brought more majestic raw power to the party yet, for now I just consider it an indication that he’s working at it and am holding onto hope that there will be real strength here eventually. Remember, again, Paris is 19. Even though he’s missed reps due to injury, his feel to hit is relatively intact. He has a hook and slash style of hitting, with most of his extra-base damage coming via liners he laces down either baseline; his wheels do the rest. Short-levered guys like Paris are tough to beat with velocity, so even though it’s not pretty-looking contact right now, there’s enough of it to support the profile. There’s a Victor Robles vibe to the swing, and while Robles is obviously very good, he’s a flawed offensive player. But this style of hitting suits Paris’ skillset. A lack of arm strength is going to limit him to second base and I hope he eventually gets reps in center field. Defensive versatility would enable Paris to still play an integral role even if his bat falls short of penciling it into the leadoff spot everyday.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/70 25/60 55/50 40/45 60

Ramirez’s 95 mph average exit velo was the highest in the entire 2019 DSL, driven largely by his mature physicality. This guy looks like a power five conference wideout at a shredded 6-foot-3 or so. Swing efficacy issues bring about a lot of swing-and-miss but I’ve also seen Ramirez alter his bat path in order to hit pitches near the top of the zone, as well as toward the bottom, so there’s some natural vertical plate coverage here — the swing just needs refinement. There’s a real chance the hit tool just bottoms out and Ramirez, even though he’s likely to grow into elite power, may not hit enough to support a corner outfield profile. But he has 35-homer upside if he can develop even a 40-grade bat. Where the other up-the-middle players have several other “outs” — i.e. outcomes of lesser but relevant utility — Ramirez is either going to make enough contact to be an everyday player or emphatically will not.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Harriton HS (PA) (LAA)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 207 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/60 45/50 30/50 88-92 / 94

Kochanowicz is a physical beast from a cold weather locale, standing in at a broad-shouldered 6-foot-4 without a lot of room left on his frame. He has surprisingly advanced feel for locating his curveball, and for a changeup that I think has a chance to be his best pitch at maturity. He was 90-94 during his pre-draft spring, didn’t pitch after he signed, then came out sitting in that range again to start 2021. His fastball has flatter angle than is typical for a pitcher this big and it pairs pretty well with the curveball, which is of the slower, old school variety. Refined command gives him a shot to be a No. 4 starter with a backend rotation role more likely.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Monsignor Pace HS (FL) (LAA)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 55/55 40/45 35/40 93-96 / 97

A stress reaction in his back cost Rodriguez all of 2018 and ’19 (he made three starts in April ’19 before he was shut down again and had surgery) but when healthy, he has late-inning relief stuff. Prior to Rodriguez’s shutdown in 2018, 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). Rodriguez once again showed that kind of heat coming back from the injury early in 2021 and had such a good spring that he all but won a big league bullpen job. He still throws four pitches but his fastball (96-98 mph) and curveball have moved to the forefront of his repertoire while sliders and changeups have been rare. After eight multi-inning relief outings during the first month of the regular season, Rodriguez was shut down with shoulder inflammation. His delivery is really violent and portends time on and off the IL, while Rodriguez has high-leverage stuff and on-field makeup when he’s healthy.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from St. Elizabeth Catholic HS (LAA)
Age 18.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 40/45 20/40 60/60 45/55 40

Calabrese is built like a compact little sports car and he’s as fast as one, reaching first in about 4.1 seconds after contact. Along with the Lilliputian frame come very short levers that make Calabrese’s swing very minimalistic; he’s difficult to beat in the strike zone because of it. The contact and speed combination mean Calabrese has some leadoff man traits. He needs to get stronger, especially in the forearms, and could grow into doubles power if he does. He has a shot to profile as an everyday center fielder if his speed and contact skills hold water. A nagging hamstring injury kept him in Extended to start 2021.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (LAA)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 45/50 30/40 70/70 45/55 60

Knowles has electric tools — a plus arm, plus-plus speed, sneaky power for a guy his size — and until 2021 has been very young for the levels at which he’s played (2.5 years younger than average, per BRef), which puts his statline in better context. That’s not to say Knowles’ bat doesn’t need polish. His left-handed swing (this system has a lot of switch-hitters) is pretty grooved and long, leaving him vulnerable on the inner third. I think he’s likely to be strikeout prone from that side for good. From the right side, he might be able to do real damage. He has great feel for the zone, his swing is just limited from the left side in an important way. I have him projected as a fourth outfielder.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from St. Luke’s Episcopal HS (AL) (LAA)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/60 35/55 55/55 40/50 55

Jackson’s swing has already been tailored for extreme lift and power. He only hit 29% of his balls in play on the ground in 2019 (down from 42% the year before) and averaged a 20 degree launch angle (second highest in the org behind Trent Deveaux), which would put him among the 10 steepest swingers among qualified big leaguers. He hit 23 homers in 65 games, and while that number was inflated by the Pioneer League’s hitting environment, to the naked eye, he clearly has explosive hands and big power. Scouts are unanimously scared of this swing, with one going so far as to say it’s “jacked up.” They worry the lack of contact (he ran a 33% strikeout rate last year) won’t enable him to get to that power against upper-level pitching, and that as Jackson slides down the defensive spectrum (he’s likely to move to third base), it might make it tough for him to profile. That he has a chance to stay at short, or on the infield at all, and hit for big game power means Jackson’s got an airplane hangar’s ceiling, but he’s a prospect of extreme risk.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Detroit Western Int’l HS (MI) (LAA)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/55 45/55 30/50 88-94 / 95

Many teams considered Holmes to be one of the, 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 consisting only of hitting, an approach the Angels have taken with several recent draftees. Holmes only began to emerge as a pitching-only prospect the following year, showing improved command of three good pitches late in the summer of 2019. His 2020 fall look was less consistent, but I’m inclined to toss out your worst test grade from 2020. The August of 2019 Holmes looked like a No. 4/5 starter. He remains in Extended and is likely on an innings limit.

40 FV Prospects

14. Denzer Guzman, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 17.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/50 20/40 45/40 40/50 45

Guzman was the Angels’ top 2021 international amateur signee and he’s kept his head above water during Extended this spring while facing players who are typically a couple years older than him. He needs to get stronger and be more consistent in all facets, but Guzman shows glimpses of good middle infield defense as well as relatively advanced feel to hit. Because he’s so young and lacks strength, Guzman’s swing currently lacks real oomph and has a lot of length as he takes full-body cuts just to get the bat around with any kind of force. I have Guzman below the impact FV tiers because I think there’s a yawning chasm between where he’s at physically and where he needs to be to look like any sort of potential regular or impact player, but his skill foundation is promising.

15. Davis Daniel, SIRP
Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from Auburn (LAA)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
45/55 55/60 30/40 90-93 / 94

Daniel was up to 96 (sitting 90-94) at Auburn and had a very pretty 12-to-6 curveball, but he blew out early during his draft spring and needed TJ in April of 2019. His velocity isn’t all the way back coming out of surgery but he’s still missing bats, he can really spin the baseball, and teams have asked the Angels about him in trades. Even though he’s already 24, Daniel’s 40-man timeline is still favorable and presents teams with a lot of flexibility. If we assume a bullpen move means Daniel sits closer to the mid-90s, he’s going to have two impact pitches that play in relief. Because the 40-man runway is so long, it makes sense to develop him as a starter to see if a third pitch develops and if Daniel can shake off command-related rust.

16. Alejandro Hidalgo, SP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 18.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 50/60 40/50 20/45 92-94 / 97

Hidalgo sits 93-94, flashes plus curveballs, and works to his arm side with an upper-80s changeup. His changeup command is advanced but the action on the pitch is not great right now. He tries to work them under the hands of righty batters but they’re hit hard even though Hidalgo hits his spot. His curveball has depth and bite, and it’s often plus. Hidalgo’s frame (well-composed but not especially projectable), delivery (a head whack and more general stiffness), and fastball command pull the profile toward relief. Hidalgo is on par with the sort of high school arms who get $1 million bonuses in the draft, with a bevy of solid components but without the sort of premium athleticism or projection that portend potential impact growth.

17. Hector Yan, MIRP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/65 45/45 40/45 30/40 90-94 / 96

Yan’s velo has regressed and he now has 40-grade arm strength after he was up to 96 in 2019 and struck out so many hitters that the Angels felt they needed to put him on the 40-man. In the past I’ve compared him to a mirror image of Freddy Peralta, a long-armed side-armer with a cross-bodied delivery, except left-handed rather than right. His fastball dominates lefties because it’s being released so far behind their heads that they struggle to see the ball, while it has weird angle in on the hands of righties, making at-bats against Yan awkward for them as well. The rest of the repertoire isn’t great. Yan’s slider lives almost entirely off of his arm slot and really only works against left-handed hitters, and he doesn’t throw his changeup with conviction yet. That his velo has regressed is a real problem since he needs to feast off his fastball to succeed. Yan worked as a starter early in 2021 but I think a bullpen move is coming both because he’s struggling and because that’s his likely long-term destination. He’d be an interesting buy-low guy for teams looking to balance rental deals with the Angels since his 40-man occupancy is a dead weight for the Halos to carry right now.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Cuba (LAA)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 50/50 40/45 45/45 55/55 55

Signed out of Cuba at 19, Martinez hit .280/.337/.433 in two pro seasons, though the bulk of that was in the Pioneer and Cal Leagues. He has a balanced and well-timed cut, above-average bat control (though he sometimes sacrifices contact quality), and average raw power. The physical tools are modest, short of a corner regular, but I think there’s enough here for Martinez to have some kind of big league utility, maybe in a corner platoon.

19. Packy Naughton, MIRP
Drafted: 9th Round, 2017 from Virginia Tech (CIN)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 40/40 50/50 55/55 87-92 / 94

After he was sitting in the mid-80s in the time surrounding the 2020 shutdown, Naughton’s velocity has rebounded and he’s once again living in the 90-92 range with his tailing fastball. He’s another lefty of the east/west variety, relying on some mechanical funk, working his tailing fastball to both corners, and mixing in three secondary pitches. While Naughton locates his slider to his glove side very consistently, the same way a lot of over-achieving, soft-tossing lefties do, many of them have been a little too far away from the zone to be competitive and the pitch is average on its own. The same is true of his changeup. Naughton’s changeup execution is less consistent than is typical for pitchers who throw this hard but still end up as successful back-of-the-rotation types. He’s looking more like a depth starter or multi-inning reliever than a true No. 5 at this point, but it’s good to see that his velocity has bounced back and that he’s pounding the strike zone like usual.

20. Livan Soto, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (LAA)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/45 35/40 30/30 55/55 50/55 50

The 2021 season will already be Soto’s fifth in pro ball and he’s still just 20-years-old as of list publication. He has finally started to fill out and is going to hit many more home runs in 2021 than he has throughout the rest of his career combined. Soto plays hard, takes good at-bats, and he’s hard to strike out (he had a measly 7% swinging strike rate in 2019). While his lack of power makes it almost impossible for him to be a regular, he does have speed, defensive versatility, advantageous handedness, terrific on-field makeup, and, again, is still only 20. He projects as a bench stalwart and situational player.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Southfield HS (MI) (LAA)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 40/60 20/50 45/40 35/55 55

The ultra-lanky Blakely took just shy of $1 million to eschew a commitment to Auburn. He’s a relatively raw, long-levered SS/3B from Michigan who is likely to spend all of 2021 in the AZL and then finish up at instructs, which for the last few years has meant Diablo intrasquads for the Halo kids. He’s a smooth, loose, lefty-hitting shortstop with a gigantic frame. He has good defensive hands and feet but his internal clock wasn’t calibrated for the pace of summer showcase ball, and he’s put forth a mixed defensive performance this spring. He’s likely a long-term third base fit but he has the tools to be plus there with experience. It doesn’t always look pretty but I’ve seen Blakely make mid-flight adjustments to breaking balls during Extended. He’s a project to be sure, but he’s talented.

22. Aaron Hernandez, SIRP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Texas A&M Corpus Christi (LAA)
Age 24.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/50 50/55 40/50 30/40 91-95 / 97

Hernandez has good secondary stuff but his control is raw for a 24-year-old, and he hasn’t been able to make up the reps he missed in college (he made just 19 starts in three years of college and as of publication, 19 starts in three years of pro ball) due to a 2019 injury and, you know, the pandemic. He probably also needs a bit of a velo boost (he averaged about 92 in 2019), which I think he has a shot to find in one-inning bursts. He’s a 40-man candidate this offseason and I hope they ‘pen Hernandez at some point late in the year just to see what happens to his arm strength if they do.

23. Sadrac Franco, SIRP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Panama (LAA)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/45 30/40 92-96 / 97

Franco’s velocity spiked in 2019 — he was 90-94 in ’18, then 93-96 and touching 97 in ’19 — and he’d flash a plus breaking ball. He arrived for 2021 camp looking considerably heavier and did not break with an affiliate, remaining back in Extended at age 21. When in tip-top shape, Franco looks like a fastball/curveball power reliever.

35+ FV Prospects

24. Jose Salvador, SIRP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CIN)
Age 21.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/55 50/50 30/35 35/40 89-91 / 93

Salvador came over from Cincinnati as the Player To Be Named in last year’s Brian Goodwin deadline deal. He posted big strikeout totals in the very low minors as a starter in 2018 and ’19 even though he only sits about 89-92 because his extreme vertical arm slot creates that coveted backspin and cut/rise shape on his fastball. It also helps create depth on Salvador’s curveball. Even though he’s dominated rookie ball as a starter, his delivery (which makes the spinal tilt in Michael Wacha’s old delivery look generic) will likely push him toward the bullpen. I texted a source who said Salvador’s stuff wasn’t any different this spring than it was in 2019, which means the velo spike that would solidify him as a more impactful power relief prospect hasn’t arrived after the layoff.

25. Connor Higgins, SIRP
Drafted: 17th Round, 2018 from Arizona State (LAA)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 30/35 91-94 / 97

Higgins’ stuff was up and down in college, peaking in the upper-90s during his underclass stint in the Alaskan Summer League. Arizona State didn’t have a pitching coach (seriously) for part of his college tenure and Higgins might only now be thriving in a more stable developmental environment. He’s a vertical slot lefty relief prospect who brings mid-90s velo and a hard slider. This is a big year for him, as he’s a 40-man candidate in the upcoming offseason.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (ARI)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 45/50 50/55 20/45 90-93 / 94

Tapia looked great as a still 17-year-old during 2019 fall intrasquads, sitting in the low-90s with really advanced changeup feel and a shapely breaking ball. Physically, he’s the same now as he was then, a well-composed 6-foot-1 with room for more mass and strength. Tapia’s arm action now resembles Shane Bieber’s but his feel to pitch with this delivery is still pretty raw, and lots of fastballs sail on him. His mid-70s curveball is better now than it was late in 2019 but Tapia’s stamina wanes later in outings and his stuff and command become less crisp. This is still a good developmental arm, just not one that made any sort of leap during the off year.

27. Kean Wong, 2B
Drafted: 4th Round, 2013 from Waiakea HS (HI) (TBR)
Age 26.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 35/35 30/30 50/50 50/50 50

Even though he’s performed in the upper-levels of the minors for years, Wong has bounced around waivers. First a 40-man casualty of Tampa Bay and the Angels before landing in San Francisco, and now back with Los Angeles, Wong’s versatility, speed, and contact ability from the left side fit like a glove in a low-impact bench role.

28. Oliver Ortega, SIRP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 30/35 92-96 / 97

Ortega had a breakout 2019, striking out 121 hitters in 94 innings at High-A Inland Empire before finishing his year with five rough starts at Double-A. Most of those strikeouts were accrued via Ortega’s mid-90s fastball, which lives in the top of the strike zone, and a low-80s vertical curveball. Ortega doesn’t repeat his delivery consistently and I have him projected in up/down relief.

29. Gerardo Reyes, SIRP
Drafted: 0 Round, 2013 from Galveston JC (TX) (TBR)
Age 28.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 30/30 95-98 / 99

Texas-Brownsville shuttered their baseball program before Reyes was able to take the field for them, and he ended up transferring to Galveston College. He spent his sophomore year at Galveston injured, then went undrafted as a junior. He was discovered by the Rays at a workout near the U.S./Mexico border and later signed, then was traded to San Diego as part of the Wil Myers blockbuster, then dealt again to the Angels for Jason Castro. He’s a low-slot bullpen slinger with a tailing, upper-90s fastball, and his arm slot creates issues for righties. He needs to refine command of his breaking ball to better deal with lefties, but just on arm strength and fastball movement, he’ll likely continue to see big league time in an up-down capacity once he returns from his early 2021 Tommy John.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (LAA)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/55 30/45 70/70 40/60 55

Deveaux has yet to develop a modicum of feel to hit and he’s undergone yet another swing change, the latest of about a half-dozen he and the Angels have tried. At this point it looks likely that he won’t hit enough to be anything even though he checks an awful lot of boxes from a tools and body standpoint. At one point a plus-plus runner with power projection, Deveaux needs to perform on paper soon.

31. Robinson Pina, SIRP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/55 40/45 20/30 89-93 / 95

Pina moved from the bullpen to the rotation in 2019 and struck out 146 hitters in 108 innings despite pitching with diminished velocity in the starting role. He has a prototypical 6-foot-4 frame and generates nearly seven and a half feet of extension down the mound, which helps that fastball get in hitters’ kitchens. He has both breaking ball consistency issues (though it flashes plus) and mechanical consistency concerns, so I have him projected in relief, where I think the fastball will live in the mid-90s. From a strike-throwing standpoint, he’s off to a really rough start in 2021.

32. Jose Bonilla, 3B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (LAA)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/55 20/50 40/40 40/50 60

Bonilla is striking out a lot early in 2021, but he’s only 19 and part of the reason he was even sent to an affiliate is because he’s one of the more advanced teenagers in the system. Bonilla has a relatively mature build for a 19-year-old, which is why I’ve got him projected to third base rather than short, where I have seen him play most often. Bonilla made pretty consistent contact throughout 2019 and looked like he had a shot to profile with a balanced combination of contact, on-base ability, and modest pop. He’s swinging with more ferocity this year than in 2019 and has struggled to make the leap from the ’19 AZL to full-season ball in this season, but I think it’s too early to slide him due to performance.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Depth Arms
Zach Linginfelter, RHP
Brent Killam, LHP
Connor Van Scoyoc, RHP
Adrian Almeida, LHP
Denny Brady, RHP
Kyle Tyler, RHP

Linginfelter was the club’s ninth rounder in 2019 and at his best would be in the mid-90s with an above-average slider, but not consistently. Killam sat 88–91 mph in college at Georgetown and did not pitch during the summer after he was drafted. He’s now 90–93 with some deception and a fading changeup that at times has cut/slider action, as well as what is a below-average curveball at present. Van Scoyoc has a backspinning fastball but his feel comes and goes. It was mostly there in the lone Extended outing of his I saw. Almeida was a Minor League Rule 5 pick a few years ago. He’s one of the hardest lefty throwers on the planet (93-97, touch 99), but he has 20 command. Tyler and Brady both sit about 92-95 with carry; that’s a big spike for Tyler, who was 89-92 in 2019.

Cherubs
Erik Rivera, LHP/OF
Jose Reyes, CF
Edgar Quero, C
Stiward Aquino, RHP
Jean Carlos Lucas, RHP

Rivera’s on-mound athleticism is coming to the fore and he’s been up to 96 this spring. You’re still projecting on at least one secondary pitch developing here and the changeup is the best bet because of Rivera’s arm action and athleticism. He’s 20 now. Jose Reyes is also 20 and has a plus frame and bat speed, but is overmatched by full-season stuff right now. Quero has shown some feel to hit in Extended and is only 18. Aquino was once in the 40+ tier as a mid-90s teenager with a good changeup but has been sidetracked by injury. Jean Carlos Lucas is an effervescent righty with a shapely breaking ball. His control needs polish.

System Overview

This system is thin but exciting because so many of the higher-variance prospects are fresh faces in the lower levels of the minors. It’s also thin because due to trades in support of the big league club, there are half a dozen players who were either drafted or signed by the Angels scattered about other teams’ systems. That, plus Jo Adell’s “graduation.” He had enough roster days to exceed rookie eligibility in 2020; he’d be second on this list if eligible.

The acquisition trends in this system remain clear. Youth moves the needle in the draft room, as does athleticism. It’s an interesting blend of model-driven and old school styles. If you think the system is thin, wait until you see the scouting department. The Angels furloughed area scouts during the pandemic and didn’t bring many of them back, forcing their remaining personnel (mostly crosscheckers and above) to scout in unfamiliar parts of the country ahead of the 2021 draft. I don’t know whether this will impact their draft strategy since it’s likely they’ve done a lot of video work and have been forced to lean more heavily on data to make decisions this year.

We’ve seen this org pursue two-way players, switch-hitters, college pitching, and those aforementioned athletes in the draft but because the Angels have been buyers for most of the last several years we haven’t seen what tendencies pro scouting would have in the event of a rebuild or fire sale. But they have about $50 million of payroll coming off the books after the year and several of those players, like Alex Cobb, could be dealt as rentals ahead of the deadline, so that might change all of a sudden. Most of the pro department’s additions have been post-hype prospects who flamed out elsewhere (Gareth Morgan, Jake Gatewood, many more).





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

They furloughed their area scouts and haven’t rehired them? I know that some organizations are going that way simply because they want to do more data-type work in the complex itself but the way it’s worded, it doesn’t sound like a philosophical move. That sounds like a “Mike Trout doesn’t have to cancel his fall golf reservations” move.