While it is always important to hit on your first-round pick, especially when it is a top-10 pick, depth always remains key when building an organization. The Angels are proving that with the promise of Chris Rodriguez. A former 4th-round pick, Rodriguez has struggled over the years with injuries, but their patience is looking to start to pay off.
The team and fans are getting excited about Rodriguez, but the lack of depth of the teams prospect pool has recently been shown. According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required), while the Rays and Angels discussed a trade for ace Blake Snell, the team refused to add a prospect pitcher to the package going to Tampa Bay.
Angels: The future of the team should be focused on pitching in the upcoming draft.
While homegrown talent is always rewarding, prospect depth is important in making big splashes for players such as Snell or Francisco Lindor. The team’s system has been built up over the past few years; hitting on mid to late-round picks help develop the systems. With that being said, here are a few names to keep an eye on after the first round.
Steven Hajjar (No.45 MLB.com, No.41 Prospects Live)
- 2020: (4 appearances) 20.0 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, 10.8 K/9
- 2021: (2 appearances) 12.2 IP, 2.13 ERA, 0.947 WHIP, 9.2 K/9
A tall and stringy lefty who throws a sinking fastball within the low 90s. Mixing in a 60 graded changeup along with a developing slurving-curveball, Hajjar has the stuff to be a solid mid-back of the rotation lefty. Similar stuff to Andrew Heaney.
Will Bednar (No.41 MLB.com, No.196 Prospects Live)
- 2020: (4 appearances) 15.1 IP, 1.76 ERA, 0.978 WHIP, 13.5 K/9
- 2021: (2 appearances) 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.333 WHIP, 21.0 K/9
Bednar jumped 36 spots on the latest ranking on Prospects Live top 350 list. He throws a strong mid-90s fastball to go with a slider and curveball that flash plus-pitch potential.
Tommy Mace (No.36 MLB.com, No.31 Prospects Live)
- 2018: (26 appearances) 62.2 IP, 4.16 ERA 1.245 WHIP, 6.5 K/9
- 2019: (16 appearances) 89.2 IP, 5.32 ERA 1.439 WHIP, 7.4 K/9
- 2020: (4 appearances) 27.0 IP, 1.67 ERA, 0.963 WHIP, 8.7 K/9
- 2021: (4 appearances) 23.0 IP, 1.96 ERA, 0.739 WHIP, 12.1 K/9
The only player on this list who has appeared in four NCAA seasons, Mace had a nice showing in his shortened junior season. With a nice four-pitch mixed, good bill of health, and consistent improvements in his final season, look at him as a solid option should he fall further in the draft.
Christian MacLeod (No.40 MLB.com, No.39 Prospects Live)
- 2020: (4 appearances) 21.0 IP, 0.86 ERA, 0.714 WHIP, 15.0 K/9
- 2021: (4 appearances) 14.2 IP, 1.84 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 17.2 K/9
The 6-foot 4-inch lefty flashes a high-graded (60) curveball to mix in with a low-90s fastball. He keeps the ball in the zone well and consistently throws strikes.
Mason Black (No.53 MLB.com, No.25 Prospects Live)
- 2019: (10 appearances) 33.0 IP, 4.36 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
- 2020: (4 appearances) 22.0 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 11.9 K/9
- 2021: (3 appearances) 9.1 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, 16.4 K/9
If you like a player who throws hard, Black is a nice pick with one of the best fastballs in the class (graded 70). While the rest of his pitches need to catch up, having a consistent high-90s heater with great movement is always a great starting point.
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The Angels have built a great offense with a pitching staff that continues to fall behind expectations. While the team’s new staff has looked good thus far in spring training, four of the projected starters in the rotation will hit free agency at the end of the year.
Though drafting in baseball does not provide superstar overnight, it will be essential to prepare the rotation for quality years to come.