Is LA Angels prospect Jared Walsh the next big Angel?
By Ryan Falla
It’s no question there’s a plethora of young talent shooting up the LA Angels system. Star-studded athletes like Jo Adell and Jahmai Jones rise through the ranks every year and look soon to settle into the Angels big league roster.
With estimation dates To join the LA Angels of 2020 for those two players you’d think the next big crop of prospects would be left marinating until then. Yet what this year has shown, with the emergence of players such as David Fletcher and Taylor Ward, the next big thing is always around the corner.
2018 may have proven to be a difficult year for the Angels organization with the team clear out of playoff contention well before the All-Star break. It’s been even more difficult watching the talents of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout go for naught. Yet one thing this season has given us to hold tightly to has been the constant emergence of youth talent.
We’ve seen rookies making their debuts left and right with the Angels; from Jaime Barria to Justin Anderson all the way to David Fletcher and Taylor Ward, The rise of talent has been non-stop, and many Angel fans are looking to the class of 2020 for the next big showing of prospect talent. However, the next big is already on the cusp of the big league spotlight after thrashing the Minors all the way from Class A Advanced to Triple A Salt Lake this year. This player has the talent to not only break into the Majors, but break out in the same breath.
That player is current Right Fielder for the Triple A Salt Lake Bees, the left-handed power hitting Jared Walsh.
Jared Walsh has been sensational this season, he’s been as sensational as a player can get while still flying under the radar. Walsh started the season with the Class A Advanced Inland Empire 66ers, having also finished the 2017 season with the squad. He’s had a fine MiLB history with the Angels through 3 previous Minor League season, a career we’ve previously detailed. What you really need to know is the magic he’s been spinning this season.
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Walsh crushed the ball like none other with the Class A Advanced 66ers, finishing his time there with a total .275/.365/.604 slash line as a full-time first baseman; it was as if he was doing nothing more than playing a simple game. Watching Jared Walsh play with the 66ers was like watching a video game in action. His overall .969 OPS with the 66ers, alongside 13 HR’s and 36 RBI’s (which led the Cal League at the time of his promotion), tell the tale of a performance from another world. Walsh would simply dazzle with his bat, at some points going as far to hit 2 HR’s in one game, sending one ball deep to tight right field and the next an opposite field crusher to left-field.
You don’t often see a hitter display full-field power so easily, and rarely would do you see one display that power in a single game so effortlessly. It was no question that Double A called to him, and by the end of May that’s exactly where Walsh found himself.
His time in Double A showed little difference, his overall slash line being .289/.382/.537 in 41 games as a first baseman. The talent was explosive in Class A Advanced and his talent only found further refinement as the season progressed.
Wash continued his reign as the Angels very own Crusher-Destroyer, collecting more Doubles and Hits (43 hits, 13 2Bs)in his 149 at-bats with Double A than he did in the exact same number of at-bats with the 66ers (41 hits, 8 doubles).
However, the truest tell of his coming talent was not his actual performance, but his shift to Right Field upon joining the Triple A Salt Lake Bees. Matt Thaiss has solidified himself as the go-to first baseman for the Bees with his .273/.322/.460 slash line among 38 total RBI’s. This shift to Right Field for Walsh allayed many concerns Minor League enthusiasts had regarding him MLB track given Pujols incumbent status with the big league Angels. With Walsh tallying 104 innings of Right Field work with the 66ers it was apparent where he needed to play to find himself rise fairly through the Angels system.
Now it seems as if nothing can stop Walsh, not a positional block within the organization nor the everyday challenges that come as a developing talent. In his time with the Bees, through 35 games Walsh has collected a total .275/.336/.458 slash line alongside 5 HR’s and 35 RBI’s.
My favorite ability of Walsh isn’t his crushing power or clutch ability to drive in runs, or even his versatility as a pitcher (Walsh having pitched at every level this year; 2.0 IP in A, 2.0 IP in AA, 1.2 IP in AAA). The best ability of Walshes is his sure-fire way of overcoming learning curves and personal challenge. In Walshes first month as a Salt Lake Bee he hit only .222/.300/.317 with no HR’s and 6 RBI’s.
In this last month? Walsh is killing the ball to the murderous degree of .324/.368/.588 with 5 HR’s and 23 RBI’s. When Walsh finds his streak he becomes one of the deadliest hitters around. He’s tallied together 2 separate streaks of 4 games in a row with at least one RBI, one of those streaks seeing a wild 12 RBI’s in only eighteen at-bats.
This isn’t news for Walsh; back with the 66ers earlier this year he found himself mired in a .111/.245/.156 slump across 12 games. What did he do to follow that up? He went on an immediate 8 game hitting streak starting May 5th, across the span of May 5th to May 20th collecting a .345/.469/.922 slash line with 8 HR’s and 22 RBIs (along with 10 BBs to 13K’s) which effectively jolted him to Double A.
It’s easy to see how Walshes talent would plant him firmly in the MLB ranks, and when you see the current state of the Angels outfield it becomes more realized that he might come here sooner than we think. A September callup seems to in order for the young prospect, depending on the Angels tool their 40 man roster. Even if he doesn’t see MLB time in September it’s very well that he could be a mainstay next season.
There’s already soft rumblings of Angels moving one of their current corner outfielders at the trade deadline next season. Should one of either Kole Calhoun of Justin Upton go the next man up, should the Angels continue their newfound progressive ways, would likely be Jared Walsh. Of course there’s the backup in Eric Young Jr. whose proven his ability to hold down the fort. Yet with what we’ve seen this season, the Angels becoming more willingly to trust rookies in key spots, it would be wise to continue that trend and allow Jared Walsh to work his way into a full-fledged starting role.
Just the prospect of this new Angels team is enough to excite fans, all of this young talent is unlike what we’ve seen in this past decade. What was once a team who favored veterans in key spot over youth talent has begun to flip the script and allow their youth to carry the game. With the way baseball has been headed, noted by last seasons World Series participants the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros, it’s all about the youth.
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Not only is it in the Angels best interest as team, it’s in the best interest of baseball to deploy upcoming rookie talent as the forefront of ones team. We’re seeing it all over baseball, from emerging stars such as Ronald Acuna Jr.to Juan Soto. The Angels have been fantastic this season at showcasing young talent, and to continue that trend would be to continue the Angels successes found within the youth.
The next two seasons are the most important of the Angels recent decade. Not only is it imperative the Angels retain Mike Trouts interest through maintained competitiveness, it’s essential to that competitiveness that the Angels would surround him not with veterans, but with youth en route to one of the potentially brightest eras of Angels history.
It’s been a long and frustrated season, yet with young talent such as Jared Walsh on the way the coming success with flow even longer.