Los Angeles Angels top prospects hot or not: First half recap

Jun 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Brooks Pounders pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Brooks Pounders pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Los Angeles Angels minor leaguers are wrapping up the first half of their season. As the minor league all-star games approach, we will take an expanded look with a first half Hot or Not list.

The 2017 season has seen some real strides for Los Angeles Angels Prospects. With many prospects on the younger side, there are still players whose seasons have not yet started. However, a number of players have started to make a real showing, with some advancing to the big club.

Not: Manny Banuelos – Triple A (Salt Lake). Bannuelos was a low risk signing for the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason. A former Yankees prospect, slowed by arm injuries, Bannuelos has gotten a chance to both start and pitch in relief in 2017. Unfortunately, for the 26 year old neither has played very well so far. With a 5.51 ERA in 49 IP, his 35 K / 27 BB may be the most telling stat in the first half of 2017.

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Not: Connor Justus – High A (Inland Empire). Middle infielder, Justus has struggled mightily in the first half of 2017. After a promotion to Inland Empire this season, he has hit just .191 through 183 at-bats. In that time, then 22 year old has struck out 65 times (to go along with 37 walks.) While Justus has always profiled as a glove first player, he will need to hit better than .200 and put the ball in play more if he wants to have what can be considered a successful 2017 season. With 12 errors already on the season and a .945 fielding percentage, he has some work to do.

Not: Vicente Campos – Triple A (Salt Lake). Campos has had a rough 2017 so far. Delayed by injury, he has done himself no favors since returning. In six starts the soon to be 25 year old has an ERA near 10.00. With more walks than strikeouts and more earned runs than innings pitched, Campos may not just risk a shot at the big leagues this season. If those numbers remain he could see a demotion to try and work through his issues at a lower level.

Not: Michael Hermosillo – Double A (Mobile). Hermosillo is still just 22 years old. However, through 40+ games with the Los Angeles Angels Double A team, he has a .199 AVG. Hermosillo started out at High A Inland Empire this season, and in roughly one-third the same amount of at-bats, produced more than half the same amount of offensive numbers he has at Double A Mobile. The Angels are clearly giving him a chance, and no one is to say they shouldn’t. However, at the halfway point of the minor league season his numbers have not climbed significantly.

The much discussed Los Angeles Angels farm system is still thin on bat-first prospects ready to contribute. The first half has definitely been a showcase in pitching for Halo farmhands.

Hot: Jaime Barria – Double A (Mobile). Barria has been a very bright spot for the Angels farm system thus far. The 20 year old has recently been promoted to Double A, a result of a sparkling run at High A Inland Empire. Barria has put together a 2.31 ERA with 67 K/ 16 BB, while holding batters to a .206 BA. Barria was also just named to the Futures all-star game, the only Los Angeles Angels prospect selected to do so.

Hot: Jesus Castillo – High A (Inland Empire). Castillo, the soon-to-be 22 year old came over to the Angels in the Joe Smith trade in August 2016. Castillo is currently starting, but needs to work a bit more at pitching later into games. Currently, the youngster has only pitched more than five innings once in his last ten starts. In that same time frame, Castillo has pitched less than five innings four times. With a fastball that looks to sit in the low 90’s and a change-up that has some movement, he certainly could make it as a mid-rotation pitcher who has to locate some. Perhaps something that speaks most highly of his season thus far is his 3.23 ERA through 13 starts. Castillo has only pitched just over 60 innings. As such, he has had less room to surrender runs and maintain a good earned run average.

Hot: Jake Jewell – Double A (Mobile). Jewell has had a bit of an up and down season. The pitcher started off well at single A Inland Empire, before hitting some bumps at Mobile. However, Jewell has settled into the next level, posting a 2.91 ERA in his last ten starts. In that same one frame he has recorded an out in the sixth inning or later in eight starts. While he has not struck out an overwhelming amount of batters, his 39 K: 9 BB is appreciable.

Hot: Eduardo Paredes – Triple A (Salt Lake). The reliever has been nearly lights out for the Angels system in 2017. In the minors he pitched to a sub-2.00 ERA through 16 games. Paredes’ strikeout to walk rate is another one that isn’t overwhelming. However, he gets the job done. His hard work has recently earned him a call-up to Anaheim where he has struggled some thus far. However, he is likely to get some chances to translate his minor league success to the bigs.

Next: Angels First Half Re-cap

Worth Watching: So far in 2017, pitching has been the real star for Los Angeles Angels prospects.  Yes, most of the players profile as mid-back of the rotation starters or relievers. Still, there are some excellent seasons being compiled. Hitting has been more of a struggle, however three of the Angels highest position prospects have made strong improvements since starting the season off poorly. Jahmai Jones, Matt Thaiss, and Taylor Ward all had stretches of significant struggle. All three now sit in the .250 AVG range and have shown improved K/BB numbers. All three of them are still in A-ball. However,  with continued improvements they could see advancement this season. If nothing else, they will look to lay the foundation to start 2018 a step higher. Additionally, shortstop David Fletcher, and outfielder Jared Foster have steadily hit above .270 in 2017. Fletcher has shown good plate discipline for Double A Mobile. Foster has had a little pop and after not playing much baseball until his senior season at LSU, may be coming into his own.