The fact that so many of the LA Angels Top 25 Prospects seem to be international signings shows a lot regarding the improvements in the organizations international scouting department.
One of the young stars the LA Angels pulled in was the young Leonardo Rivas out of Venezuela back in 2014. At the time of the signing Rivas was noted for his small frame, Rivas only clocking in at 5’10 150 lbs. I know he sounds like a small guy, yet everything about his frame and approach is maxed out to its ultimate potential, making him a stand-out prospect.
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Despite Rivas’ small frame he’s been noted as one of the Angels strongest “pound-for-pound” athlete within the system, meaning that every ounce of muscle in his body is utilized to its fullest potential. Because of this Rivas is known as one of the highest motor prospects within the Angels. It should be said that power isn’t something he’s likely to tap into, but that doesn’t really matter since power isn’t something you’d worry about with Rivas given the excellence of his other tools.
Leonardo Rivas (SS/2B)
Signed July 11th – 2014
One of the biggest keys to Rivas’ game is his intensely advanced approach at the plate. For a 20-year-old he has a fantastic eye at the plate, back in 2017 at the age of 19, across Low A Ball and Rookie League (299 plate appearances), Rivas posted a .443 OBP while walking 59 times to his 44 strike-outs in that season. Not only is his ability to take a pitch eye-popping, he got on base nearly .200 points higher than his actual batting average (AVG: .286/OBP .443). One of the most important things a developing prospect can have is his pitch recognition, plate approach, and discipline. Rivas naturally excels at all of those which is what makes him such a stand out prospect within the Angels system. Rivas plays far above his small 5’10, 150 lbs frame, to the point where his size is almost a non-factor in his game (aside from the lacking power of course).
Rivas has stellar speed which he displays constantly on the base-paths. In 2017 Rivas stole 19 bases and was caught only once. Defensively he’s been noted as a likely utility infielder given his okay arm strength from the left side of the infield. However, he’s regarded as a plus-plus utility infielder given his strong instincts, soft hands, adaptability and agility. No one would be shocked if he settled into an everyday infielder role at shortstop, though it’s more likely he’s end up as a plus-plus utility man. One reason for his workouts across the diamond is the presence of top prospects like Kevin Maitan and Livan Soto, who look to man the middle infield regularly.
Because of the presence of more advanced middle infielders within the system Rivas’ has worked on developing with his versatility which will in all honesty likely give him more value than if he sat at one position.
Rivas’ 2018 was a bit of a struggle as he experienced some growing pains at the age of 20. He lost himself regarding his distinct plate approach. He struck out 140 times next to his 89 walks, all in 555 plate appearances. He did begin the process of stretching his muscles out, nabbing 28 total extra base hits. Unfortunately another setback in his game came from a struggle on the base-paths. Rivas took 16 total stolen bases while being caught stealing 10 times. Overall he hit .234/.354/.333, so while he still maintained some on-base skills a lot of that was lost under the struggles he faced throughout 2018.
Despite the down year Rivas has all the tools to succeed in the higher levels of the Minors and the Majors. 2019 will be a tough road for Rivas as he’ll likely have to show his stuff in this higher levels of the Minors, the young prospect not seeing any at-bats above Low A Ball through his four seasons within the Angels organization. At the age of 20 he’s going to have to show that he can carry his tools throughout all levels of professional baseball, so we will have another year of depth evaluation regarding the developing Rivas’ status as a prospect.
Developmental Needs: Maintaining Plate Approach, Size, Maintaining Strike-Zone, Arm Strength
Best Tools: High-Motor, Highly Versatile, Speed, Agility, On Base Ability
MLB ETA: 2021