LA Angels Top Prospect Countdown: #16 Connor Justus

Angels celebrate victory. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Angels celebrate victory. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Angels have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. However, they have a good mix of prospects who will help soon and some with star potential down the road. In this series, we will evaluate each of the Angels Top 30 prospects. Today, it’s shortstop Connor Justus.

The LA Angels improved their infield of the future when they selected shortstop Connor Justus in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Amatuer draft. Justus, 22, stands at six foot and weighs in at 190 pounds.

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Justus played his college ball at Georgia Tech. In his three season, he had a career .279 average and scored 121 times throughout his career. While he won’t blow you away with his hitting, he does his job at the plate. He also has good patience and discipline. He walked more times in his final year of college than he struck out (41 walks vs. 38 K’s).

Justus’ best part of his game is his fielding. He flashes great leather, has a potentially elite arm, and is a solid athlete. He makes difficult throws look easy, from every angle. His defensive ability all but guarantees him a long career in the big leagues.

Justus definitely started his professional career off well. In Rookie ball last season, he played in 26 games before he was promoted to Single-A. This was thanks to his .344 batting average, 23 RBI’s, 18 walks (19 strikeouts), and usual great defense. He did slow down in Single-A, however. He posted a .230 average, striking out 34 times compared to 14 walks. Justus was still elite on defense, but will need to improve his batting if he wants to reach the big leagues anytime soon.

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This season, Justus is off to a slow start. He started in Single-A Advanced for the Inland Empire 66ers, where he is batting .222. Justus has gone deep twice and stolen two bases. However, he has also struck out 31 times in 32 games. He has also made four errors on defense, which is not helping his case. 

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Justus does have the tools to be an everyday shortstop at the major league level. However, he is definitely hitting some speeds bumps both offensively and defensively this season. Justus could make his big league debut in 2019. If he can improve quickly, it could be as an Opening Day starter. However, it seems more likely that he will be called up either over summer or when rosters expand at the end of the season.