The LA Angels have a number of highly talented, prospects thriving within their underrated system. For the longest time the Angels have been noted as one of the lesser developmental organizations in baseball, but in recent years they’ve turned around their fortunes and loaded up on legitimate future talent. You’ve heard of guys like Jo Adell, the obvious talents within the system; but what about the talents less looked upon?
Within the LA Angels organization lies a deep pool of talent priming themselves for a future run in the MLB. Not many of these players are noticed by the bigger eyes of MLB scouting and media given the Angels middling developmental system. At a 66ers game back in April, the Angels Class A Advanced MiIB affiliate, I spoke with a MLB scout who had little interest in the young talent the Angels were fielding given the reputation of the club.
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I couldn’t understand why. Just because guys weren’t obvious standouts hitting almost .400 and playing like an adult surrounded by little leaguers didn’t mean there wasn’t serious talent developing in the Angels organization worth watching. Guys like Tyler Stevens, a big-game pitcher who received a promotion to Double A after allowing only 6 runs across 16 appearances while displaying big time strike zone control with only four walks allowed during his time with the 66ers. You have players like Daniel Procopio who held opposing hitters to an unreal sub 1 ERA to start out his first full professional season as a 66er.
However, there is one player within the Angels organization that has been blowing it up as hard as one player can while still keeping themselves under the radar. With the 66ers, this player led the Cal League in HR’s (13) and RBIs (36) before finding his call to the Double A Mobile BayBears. Since the age of 21, first baseman Jared Walsh of the Los Angeles Angels organization has been proving his worth as a Major Leaguer, and now in his fourth professional season at the age of 24 he’s showing his talent as one of the best prospects in the Angels system.
In a world of budding superstars, such as Jo Adell, you can’t forget the less celebrated ball players working for the same opportunities. Some of those guys are just as big of talents as the future stars, and after four MiLB seasons we’re seeing the Angels underrated prospect Jared Walsh solidify his presence within the Angels organization as one of the next ball players ready for a go in the big leagues.
I wrote a prospect profile on Walsh early in the season, detailing his four years of success in the Minors and his ability to be a future star. In his four MiLB seasons he’s posted a slash line of 303./368/.499 while slugging 34 HR’s and 169 RBI’s. In 2017, with the Inland Empire 66ers, Walsh posted a season slash line of .331/.395/.531 with 8 HR’s and 52 RBI’s in 275 AB’s; and that wasn’t even his breakout year.
Walsh played the Cal League like it was a video game. In May Walsh put up a .368/.480/.789 slash line with 9 HR’s and 29 RBI’s in what would eventually be his ticket to the next level.
But it isn’t slowing down there, it really seems like the learning curve for Walsh is non-existent from Class A Advanced to Double A. In his five games with the Angels Double A affiliate Walsh has collected eight hits with a HR already. In fact his RBI total is already at eight. You might think it’s a small sample size, but these are the kind of tears that are natural to Walsh. In fact, one of Walsh’s biggest issues in Class A Advanced was working the walk, an issue we discussed before he got his ticket to Double A.
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Get this, in Walshes five games with the Mobile Baybears he’s already collected seven walks. This displays a few things
- Walsh is settling into a strong pitch selection as his game matures.
- Opposing pitchers are recognizing his talent and are beginning to pitch overly cautious to him.
- He’s still killing them.
Three of his games as a BayBear have been multi-walk games, just two short of his total of five in 40 apperances with the 66ers.
It’s incredible what Walsh can do with the bat; when he puts wood on the ball it makes you realize hitters can produce ‘screwballs’ as well. Walsh hits Major League home runs, the moonshots he’s blasted as a 66er are still finding their way back into the atmosphere. He has power to all sides of the field, clobbering a 410 foot bomb to right field and in his very next at bat blasting one tight left. This actually occurred during his 2 HR game May 14th against the Stockton Ports.
The point is, this guy is one of the top hitters in the Angels organization; in his short time with the BayBears he’s posted a .533/.682/.867 slash line, and you might think it’s short sample size, but you’ll find yourself happily surprised when you realize that this is his natural ceiling. Even then it may be inaccurate to call what he’s doing now a ceiling given that it’s a performance built on multitudes of improvements which may very well improve upon themselves and elevate him to an even higher level of play.
One aspect that truly creates a standout athlete is their ability to face challenge and rise above it. Not just the challenge of competing amongst other athletes looking to make their way to the top, but competing against the natural struggles of sports that fall on your back and sink you into the earth. Walsh has overcome struggles that would drown many other players, including Major Leaguers. In the month of April, with the 66ers, Walsh posted a .239/.313/.489 slash line that would have been far lower if he hadn’t started off the season on an eleven game hitting streak.
From mid-April to the end of the month Walsh was hitting only .163. Only a couple of weeks later did Walsh see himself coming into his form as the best Cal League hitter during the month of May, seeing himself earn a Cal League Player of the Week Award with a 4 HR, .476 batting average week. On top of that, his defense at first is immaculate as he held a perfect fielding percentage during his time with the 66ers, a total of 220 defensive innings at first. He has range and flexibility, quick hands a deft head on his shoulders; the penultimate first baseman.
Now I know you’re thinking it’s going to be tough for Walsh to break into the Angels with Albert Pujols cemented at first and Shohei Ohtani handling most of the DH, but what you don’t realize is that Walsh has more than enough experience playing Right Field, he can handle the spot at any level of the game. He handled Right Field for the 66ers in 42 defensive innings and maintained a perfect fielding percentage alongside an Assist.
That works almost perfectly when you look at the Angels current right field situation and see the struggling Kole Calhoun hitting .153 throughout the season. We haven’t seen hitting this bad since Brandon Wood and Jeff Mathis, yet low and behold the Mendoza line looks to be an accomplishment from where Calhoun stands. This isn’t to take away from Calhoun’s phenomenal defense which keeps him in the lineup, but the fact is the one way street can only be managed for so long before the buck falls to someone else to stop.
The LA Angels prospect Jared Walsh is in prime position to rocket through the Angels minor league ranks and explode in the Major Leagues. He has the bat to solidify his MLB presence; his power, improving batters eye and pitch selection, his ability to absolutely crush the ball and opposing pitching morale in a single stroke is unseen throughout the rest of the Angels prospective talent.
At the age of 24, with for successful MiLB seasons under his belt, the Angels prospective first baseman Jared Walsh needs to be seen as someone who is deserving of a greater role within the organization. He isn’t just a developing prospect, he’s a future Major Leaguer with serious All-Star potential. He’s currently in the middle of a stint with the Angels Double A organization, but that should change very soon.
By the end of the season Jared Walsh needs to be in Triple A using his bat to smash the ceilings above him and place himself among the much-deserved opportunities within the Angels Major League Club. If he keeps playing the way he did with the Class A Advanced 66ers, and his current hot start with the Mobile BayBears, the Angels brass will have their hands forced; we may even see him hit the expanded roster in September.
The future for the Angels looks bright, and as long as we keep players like Jared Walsh within the organization on their way to the top that future is going to keep getting brighter.