It has been said enough times that it is almost ingrained in our heads: the Angels farm system is a barren wasteland filled with tumbleweeds and the burned out husks of abandoned automobiles. Taylor Lindsey, the Angels top prospect, is not considered to be a truly elite talent. Most of the other prospects in the system have major question marks, and are not considered to be true building blocks for the future. However, there is a chance that a relatively unheralded prospect, Zach Borenstein, may change that.
Borenstein was a 23rd round selection in 2011, a player that was considered to do everything on the field well, but was not considered to have a standout ability. He played several different positions, and as a left handed hitter with a bit of power, it was thought that Borenstein would be, at least, an interesting project.
In his first year in the Angels system, Zach Borenstein did not do anything to shed that label. He put together a solid rookie league debut, posting a .274/.397/.451 batting line with two home runs. Perhaps the most impressive part of his performance was his plate discipline, as he drew 17 walks while striking out 21 times. Although he did not appear to make many strides in 2012, hitting at a .266/.339/.485 clip, Borenstein increased his power, hitting 11 home runs.
Last year, Borenstein truly broke through. Playing for the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League, Borenstein produced a .337/.403/.631 batting line with a surprising 28 home runs. Even with the increase in power, he still displayed solid plate discipline, with 43 walks against 88 strikeouts. Both marks were better than league average. Where Borenstein truly showed improvement was in his ability to square up the ball. His line drive rate increased from a paltry 10.3% in 2012 to 20.5% in 2013. That improved ability to make solid contact likely fueled his ascension last season.
Now, Zach Borenstein is starting to find himself on the Angels top prospect lists. Instead of being a player that was considered to be generally average in every aspect of his game, his power surge in 2013 is causing Borenstein to garner attention. While it may be unreasonable to expect that he will hit 28 home runs this season with his expected promotion to Arkansas, if he can hit another 20 in 2014, that could cement his status as one of the Angels top prospects.
When he was originally drafted, there were not a lot of expectations for Zach Borenstein. However, if he can build off his productive 2013 season, those expectations are going to increase.