LA Angels Prospect Update: Barrett Kent, Denzer Guzman, Cole Fontenelle, Futures Game

Jun 20, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Barrett Kent pitches during a high school baseball game at the MLB Draft Combine at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 20, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Barrett Kent pitches during a high school baseball game at the MLB Draft Combine at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is abundantly clear that the Los Angeles Angels' farm system is not in a great state at the moment. Some of that is due to quick promotions to the big leagues given to guys like Nolan Schanuel and Zach Neto, but a lot of it is due to player development failures, crummy drafts, and their famously failed gambit at last year's trade deadline that cost them a good bit of talent with next to no return on their investment.

As a result, there is added importance to get the most the Angels can for their trade assets at this year's trade deadline, and to actually, you know, make multiple good draft picks for a change. While we don't know if the front office will be able to pull that off, we can take a look at the talent that the Angels do possess (and there is some) and see how they are doing ahead of what is going to be a crucial draft and trade deadline for the franchise in 2024.

With that in mind, here is a look at how some of the non-Caden Dana Angels prospects are doing down in the minor leagues lately.

Barrett Kent is not having a great time in his first full season with Angels

One of the more damning things one can say about the Angels' farm system is that Barrett Kent is their No. 3 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Kent is a fine player and has a chance to be a big leaguer, but his ceiling is more as a No. 4/5 starter with a decent, if unexciting, pitch mix. That is a great value in the eighth round of the 2023 draft where Kent was picked, but not exactly a guy that should be among an organization's best prospects.

Unfortunately, Kent first full season as a pro is not going particularly well at the moment. Through 15 starts this season after not pitching much in 2023, Kent has a 5.91 ERA down at Low-A and he hasn't made it through five full innings in any of his last three starts. Now, he is missing bats (81 strikeouts in 70 innings), but there have also been a lot of walks and hard contact mixed in there.

Denzer Guzman is heating up for Angels

Not long ago, many were wondering if Guzman was ever going to develop into an impact bat. He has been lauded for his improvement defensively at shortstop where having a strong arm has helped him out. The bat-to-ball skills are also there, but many understandably wondered if he was going to hit the ball with enough authority to make it as an everyday major league player.

While the jury is still out, Guzman has been making progress lately. During his time in the minors this season, he has 12 extra-base hits and has been making some hard hit outs since getting promoted to Double-A. He is only 20 years old and has to figure things out, but LA promoting him to Double-A in the first place earlier this season does tell us that the team at least thinks he is on the right track.

Angels' Cole Fontenelle is looking like a fantastic value pick despite injury

When the Angels picked Fontenelle in the seventh round of the 2023 draft out of TCU, it was a pick that came with little fanfare. Fontenelle had played well in college, but he wasn't considered a top draft prospect at the time, and doesn't have that "toolsy" profile that gets fans and scouts excited for what he could develop into. However, it was looking more and more like Fontenelle may be greater than the sum of his parts.

Through his first 22 games at Double-A this year, he had posted an .821 OPS and looked like he was on his way to a breakout season in the minors. Unfortunately, Fontenelle broke his fibula on a slide at second in early May and has been out ever since. It has taken him a while, but the last update we have was that he was close to getting off his crutches and was eagerly awaiting the chance to progress in his rehab. Assuming he heals up as expected, LA could still see that breakout season from him in 2025.

We'll send Angels fans packing with a bit of more good news. Top prospect Caden Dana, who is typically the focus of these updates, will represent the team at this year's Futures Game in a couple weeks! Congrats to the stud pitcher, who has made spectacular leaps this year.

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