The LA Angel farm system appears to be back. MLB’s revised Top 100 Prospects List is out, and three Angel prospects made the cut. They are:
- Jo Adell, outfielder, at #15
- Griffin Canning, starting pitcher, at #72
- Brandon Marsh, outfielder, at #98
This is a bigger deal that it appears. Between 2013 and 2017, the LA Angels had exactly one single, solitary prospect — Sean Newcomb in 2014-15 (later moved in a totally worth-it trade for Andrelton Simmons) — appear on any of MLB’s top 100 lists.
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Much has already been written about the athleticism of Adell, still just 19 years old, jumping from A Ball to A+ before finishing the year at AA Mobile. Already heralded as the Mike Trout Insurance Policy, Adell may have a more immediate spot on the Angels if he continues to grow apace: he was a high school pitch and possesses a cannon arm, which would allow him to play right field should Kole Calhoun continue to hit at an unplayable low-level.
Marsh continued to impress with his athleticism as well (GM Billy Eppler clearly loves toolsy high school outfielders), though is 2018 was a bit of a stumble. Though he was impressive in A Ball, Marsh hit just .256/.348/.385 in the Cal League, and those 158 strikeouts in 127 games is a red flag.
The Angels have been understandably cautious with Canning’s pitching arm in his first professional season, limiting him to 113.1 innings, six fewer than he threw for UCLA in 2017. In 54.1 innings between A+ and AA, Canning allowed just 31 hits and posted a muy macho 1.65 ERA. He then got promoted to AAA Salt Lake, where he got knocked around like any first-year pro might, but he’s done enough already to mark him as a top prospect.
Two players who didn’t make the list still got some notice. Jahmai Jones was ranked fifth among minor league second base prospects. Jones was listed most of the big pre-season top 100 prospect lists, but while he impressed with his athleticism (sound familiar?) in his first full season at second base, his offense took a sharp turn south. He still showed good plate discipline, though, and he just turned 21 years old. With David Fletcher already in the majors, Jones has time to develop.
Matt Thaiss was the other Halo prospect mentioned, ranked #4 among minor league first basemen. Thaiss is smooth on the field and has shown good discipline at the plate, but it appears that he is a more technically advanced hitter than he is an actually good hitter. Despite playing in good offensive environments in Mobile and Salt Lake, he aggregated just a .277/.335/.467 slash line — not bad, but not the kind of offense that a first baseman needs to show to be an asset. Unlike the other players mentioned, Thaiss is going to turn 24 early next year, so he’s no longer a kid prospect. If he can’t show some improvement next season, the Angels will have to look elsewhere for a long-term replacement for Albert Pujols.
The Angels do have other prospects not on the list. Ty Buttrey is already in the majors and closed games, putting up shutout outings in 13 of his 16 appearances. Patrick Sandoval had a fabulous 2018 between the Houston and Angel farm systems, a 2.06 ERA, with 145 Ks and a terrific 0.96 WHIP in 122.1 innings. Jordyn Adams more than held his own as an 18-year-old in rookie ball while earning raves for — wait for it — his athleticism.
With the team in a gray area between rebuilding and reloading, how the Angels fare in 2019 and beyond will depend heavily on how these young prospects develop, as well as the overall health of the once-dormant farm system. Based on this year’s haul, the future’s actually looking good for a change.