The Los Angeles Angels minor league system has not been highly rated in some time. Even when Mike Trout was the star of the minor league system, the Angels were still rated in the lower half of baseball. Now, with Trout in the majors and a dearth of impact prospects on the horizon, the Angels system has been ranked last for the the second consecutive year by Baseball America.
That ranking is a source of contention for Jerry DiPoto. DiPoto claims that the farm system is improving, and that despite the same ranking, the Angels minor leagues are in better shape than they were last season.
“We’re better than we were [last year],” Angels general manager Dipoto said. “If that’s deemed by Baseball America to be No. 30, we’ll have to be content with living with their evaluation of our system. But we believe we’re getting better; we believe we’re in a better situation than that.”
A major part of the problem has been a lack first round picks. After signing Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the Angels found themselves without first round picks in consecutive years, missing out on players that were more likely to turn into impact prospects. As it stands, Taylor Lindsey may be the best prospect in the system. While Lindsey may have solid power potential, he also does not project to be more than decent second baseman at the major leagues.
Meanwhile, that lack of impact prospects could end up haunted the Angels in the near future. Pujols has struggled since departing St. Louis, and has been uncharacteristically fragile. Josh Hamilton has been injury plagued his entire career, and with the abuse he has put himself through, is not likely to ever live up to his contract. Raul Ibanez is almost old enough to recall the days when the pitcher’s mound was 50′ away from home plate. Right now, Trout and Kole Calhoun are the only projected starters that are under 30 years old. The Angels are going to need to have prospects ready to step in and become legitimate major league caliber players.
It is possible that the Angels new strategy of not signing free agents tied to draft pick compensation will help. It is possible that one of the less highly regarded prospects in the system breaks out and proves to be that type of impact player that the Angels need in their system. They could potentially bring in those prospects through trade, attempting to shore up the future if they are unable to compete this season. One way or another, Jerry DiPoto is going to need to find a way to make that ranking improve for the Angels.
Chances are, the Los Angeles Angels are going to need to see a contribution from the minor leagues in the next couple of years. This new focus on redeveloping the system may be a matter of priority soon.