Top 10 Angels’ Prospects to Watch in 2015


The Angels’ farm system has been ranked at the bottom of the league by most baseball tabloids for the past few seasons. This is a position they have maintained despite producing players like Mike Trout, Garrett Richards, C.J. Cron, Kole Calhoun, and Mike Morin, all productive regulars, in recent years. After drafting well and maintaining top picks during his reign, general manager Jerry Dipoto has assembled a solid, unheralded collection of young talent. With Erick Aybar, David Freese, Matt Joyce, and Chris Iannetta all slated to become free agents after the upcoming season, Angels’ prospects will be called upon to fill the holes in the starting lineup. In no particular order, here are the top ten prospects to watch during the 2015 season.

  1. LHP Nate Smith

2014 Recap: 21 starts, 118 innings, 2.97 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.0 K/9

After being drafted in 2013, Smith has rocketed through the Angels’ minor league system, finishing the 2014 campaign with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. The southpaw was promoted to Arkansas after dominating through 10 starts in High-A, in which he posted a 3.07 ERA in over 50 innings. The pride of Lakota West High School, Smith excelled in Double-A as well as he registered a 2.89 ERA and held batters to a .218 average in 11 starts. Although his fastball sits in the low 90s, the lefty uses his other offerings to rack up the strikeouts, as evidenced by his career 8.8 K/9 in the minors. Smith is on the fast track to cracking the Halos’ starting rotation and could find himself there in 2016 after another strong showing with the Travelers in the upcoming year.

  1. INF Roberto Baldoquin

2014 Recap: None

The Angels’ front office must have liked what they saw from the young Cuban infielder before inking him to an $8 million bonus this offseason. Very little is known about Baldoquin but he has spent the last three years playing for Las Tunas in the Cuban baseball league, Serie Nacional, playing the middle infield positions. He possesses good power from the right side of the plate and combines it with a solid line drive swing. Some scouts have claimed that he is major league ready, but the Angels are expected to start Baldoquin in High-A or Double-A to get him used to playing stateside. The 20-year old is worth watching because, although young, he is expected to fight for a starting infield gig in 2016 with the big club. Baldoquin can fill in at second, third, or shortstop and all three of those positions will be up for grabs come 2016.

  1. LHP Hunter Green

2014 Recap: Did not play

Hunter Green represents the first player drafted in the Dipoto regime and has failed to live up to expectations since. Taken out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft, Green was looked on as a high upside arm that could bolster a barren Angels’ farm system. In 2013, the lefty starter pitched in 8 games at the Rookie level, surrendering a 4.32 ERA in 16.2 innings. His peripherals were weak as he walked more batters than he struck out and had trouble finding the strike zone. Unfortunately, Green sustained a back injury prior to the 2014 season and never recovered in time to make it back to the mound. At the young age of 19, the Kentucky native has plenty of time to work out his mechanics and blossom into the top of the rotation arm he was projected to be. The upcoming season will be critical in Green’s development so make sure to keep a tab on his progress throughout the year.

  1. 3B Kyle Kubitza

2014 Recap: 529 PA, .295/.405/.470, 31 2B, 21 SB, 77 BB

Kubitza is the newest Angel prospect after being acquired from the Atlanta Braves along with RHP Nate Hyatt for LHP Ricardo Sanchez. Third base was a glaring hole in the Angels’ farm system and gives reason to why Dipoto was willing to trade the highly touted Sanchez. I think this was a great deal for the Angels and Kubitza should provide some serious depth while in Triple-A this year. The former 3rd round draft pick has never posted an OBP lower than .349 and recorded a fantastic 123 OPS+ in Double-A last year. His combination of power and plate presence is impressive and he will likely kill the ball playing in the ultra-hitter friendly Pacific Coast League this year. Defensively, Kubitza is solid and posses a strong arm, which should keep him stationed at the hot corner. If Kubitza doesn’t completely flame out this year, he will likely be the Angels’ starting third basemen in 2016.

  1. CF Bo Way

2014 Recap: 280 PA, .347/.410/.510, 26 XBH, 50 R

More from Halo Hangout

The Kennesaw State alum was unstoppable in his 32 game tenure at Rookie-ball Orem, boasting a .951 OPS while batting at the top of the order for the Owlz. Way was promoted to Single-A Burlington to play with prospects closer to his age and continued to impress in 29 games. In Burlington, Way managed a .424 OBP and a 128 OPS+ from the left side of the plate. The outfielder recorded 6 assists in 56 games in centerfield and covers a large amount of ground with his blazing speed. What stood out to me most is Way’s ability to avoid strikeouts and put the ball in play. He struck out in just over 10% of his plate appearances, which is well above average. Though gifted with great speed, Way needs to fine tune his ability on the base paths as he went just 13-22 in stolen base opportunities. Bo should start the year in High-A and could be a 2016 call-up if he progresses well.

  1. LHP Sean Newcomb

2014 Recap: 6 starts, 14.2 IP, 6.14 ERA, 11.0 K/9

Sean Newcomb was taken 15th overall by the Angels in the 2014 draft and immediately became the Angels’ top prospect. He has since been usurped by recent trade acquisition Andrew Heaney but is still regarded as a Top 100 prospect in the league. The left-hander signed late and as a result only pitched in 14.2 minor league innings for the Angels. Newcomb had mixed results in Burlington, finishing with a 6.94 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, but he showed promise in his final start, going four shutout innings while allowing just two hits and striking out 10. Newcomb will most likely start the year in Single-A or High-A, but he projects to quickly maneuver through the minor leagues and could be in the Angels’ rotation by 2017.

  1. C Jett Bandy

2014 Recap: 363 PA, .258/.348/.413, 13 HR, 33 BB

If Jett Bandy doesn’t back up Chris Iannetta this year, he’s just one notch lower on the totem pole behind Carlos Perez. Bandy will compete for a major league spot in Spring Training and deservingly so. In Double-A Arkansas, Bandy was stellar both on offense and defense. Offensively, he excelled in the oppressive Texas League and set a career high for homers with 13. Along with the boost in power, Bandy walked in 9% of his plate appearances. Behind the plate, the SoCal native gunned down an incredible 40% of would-be base stealers. Pitch framing isn’t recorded in the minor leagues yet, but the Travelers pitching staff allowed the least amount of runs in the Texas League with Bandy taking the majority of innings behind the plate. So on top of cannon behind the dish, he might be pretty good at calling games. If Jett Bandy isn’t in Anaheim come April, he will be waiting in the wings in Salt Lake City.

  1. 3B Kaleb Cowart

2014 Recap: 487 PA, .223/.295/.324, 43 BB, 28 XBH

While most of the prospects already mentioned are players on the rise, there are prospects on the decline that need to be watched as well. Kaleb Cowart has been really, really bad the last two seasons. The former first round pick, who was supposed to be the Angels’ third baseman of the future, has flamed out after being promoted to Arkansas in 2013 and his future as a prospect is murky. Perhaps it was premature to think so highly of Cowart as he was ranked as high as the 42nd best prospect in the league going into the 2013 season. He’s always been young for his playing level, but Cowart has only once posted an OPS higher than .800 in the minor leagues. To continue to talk about his struggles is beating a dead horse and I’d rather not continue to drag on about it. After Jerry Dipoto acquired Kyle Kubitza, Cowart’s path to the majors has only gotten more difficult and a conversion to pitcher may be imminent if big steps aren’t made in 2015. Anyhow, Cowart is worth paying attention to as he tackles the Texas League for the third time this spring.

  1. 2B Alex Yarbrough

2014 Recap: 592 PA, .285/.321/.397, 155 H, 38 2B

Yarbrough will be playing in Triple-A Salt Lake after producing a steady, not spectacular, season in Arkansas last year. Yarbrough’s best tool is his hit tool and was evident as he led the Texas League in doubles in 2014. The Travelers home park, Dickey-Stephens Park, is one of the most pitcher friendly stadiums in all of minor league baseball and Yarbrough could testify to that. Outside of Dickey-Stephens, the second baseman hit .320/.349/.439. He doesn’t walk a ton and strikes out often, but if Yarbrough can maintain his hot bat and gap power, he could fight for a major league roster spot in 2016.

10. LHP Tyler DeLoach

2014 Recap: 27 starts, 147.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 1.15 WHIP

If you’re keeping track at home, yes, all four pitching prospects mentioned have been left-handed. And out of the whole bunch, DeLoach is the most under the radar southpaw in the Angels’ farm system. The 6’6” lefty pitched admirably in High-A, posting a 3.21 ERA in 112 innings for the Inland Empire 66ers. It should be noted that the 66ers play in the California League, which is known for being a launching pad and batter haven, making his work even more impressive. DeLoach was promoted to Double-A late in the season and made five starts with the Travs, twirling a stellar 2.29 ERA. His control needs to improve a tad but with another season in Arkansas, DeLoach could be competing for a rotation spot in Anaheim come 2016. Just something fun to note: the Halos could rep a rotation of Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Sean Newcomb, Nate Smith, and Tyler DeLoach, all lefties, in the not-so-distant future if they wanted to. Don’t ask where Richards and Shoemaker went, just go along with it.

I didn’t include LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Nick Tropeano, or C Carlos Perez as I figure they will have a good shot at making the big league club and will lose their prospect status soon. Other honorable mentions include 1B Brian Hernandez, OF Chad Hinshaw, OF Natanael Delgado, 3B Zach Houchins, and 1B Wade Hinkle.