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Weekly Prospect Update: Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels haven’t had much going for them the past few seasons. Other than some guy named Mike Trout, they’ve lacked standout young talent for a number of years. Of course having the best player in baseball helps but it hasn’t been enough to make the Angels a playoff team.

That being said, they’re miraculously still in the Wild Card race at 66-65. With just a game and a half separating them from a Wild Card spot, they may look to their farm system for some late season help. While their system doesn’t currently have any top 100 guys, many of them could still make an impact.

10. Nate Smith, LHP

The Angels drafted Smith in the eight-round of the 2013 Draft. Since then he has pitched his way into MLB consideration and may have already been on the roster had it not been for a number of injuries. A flexor strain at the end of last season ended his chances of a September call-up, and shoulder injuries have done the same thus far in 2017. When healthy, Smith relies on a combination of pitches and command to make up for his lack of overpowering stuff. His best pitch is his changeup, which he uses the most to miss bats.

2017 stats: (RK-AZL):  9.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, 10 K, 2 BB. (Triple-A Salt Lake): 5.2 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.18 WHIP, 4 K, 0 BB.

Smith made just one start before hitting the Disabled List with a shoulder injury. That start, on May 9, was a good one as Smith allowed just one hit in 5.2 innings and struck out four. So far, he’s made three rehab starts totaling 9.1 innings with the Rookie-League Angels. He’s pitched well in those starts but the Angels are being very careful with the 26-year-old.

9. Grayson Long, RHP

Before 2017, the Angels had yet to see a full season from their 2015 third-round Draft pick. Long has three solid pitches, including a fastball that sits in the low-90s with great life. His slider is his out pitch, while his changeup has improved immensely with help from a full season. Long still has plenty of developing to do but a full season will go a long way in working his way into the Angels starting rotation.

2017 stats: (High-A Inland Empire): 12 IP, 0-2, 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 14 K, 4 BB. (Double-A Mobile): 116.2 IP, 8-6, 2.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 106 K, 36 BB.

Long has been healthy all season and has seen impressive results because of it. Since being promoted to Double-A Mobile in mid-April, Long has been one of the best pitchers in the Angels system. He’s compiled a 2.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 116.2 innings over 22 starts. Of his 22 starts, nine have been quality starts, while he’s pitched at least five innings in 18 of them. His last start on August 23 was his best of the season, a seven-inning, three-hit performance with seven strikeouts.

8. Jaime Barria, RHP

The 21-year-old Barria has been with the Angels since the team signed him out of Panama in 2013. He’s well rounded and athletic enough to the point where he doesn’t need overpowering stuff. His fastball sits in the low-90s and is complemented by a great changeup that keeps getting better. Barria has great command, walking fewer than 1.5 walks per nine.

2017 stats: (High-A Inland Empire): 65.1 IP, 4-3, 2.48 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 57 K, 13 BB. (Double-A Mobile): 61.2 IP, 1-6, 3.21 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 47 K, 15 BB. (Triple-A Salt Lake): 5 IP, 1-0, 0.60 WHIP, 2 K, 0 BB.

Barria has earned two promotions in his age-21 season. He made his Triple-A debut on August 24 after 23 impressive starts between High-A and Double-A. He celebrated his most recent promotion with a five-inning, shut-out performance with a couple of strikeouts. Despite his age, Barria is advanced on the mound and could make an impact at the Major League level as early as next season.

7. Chris Rodriguez, RHP

[the_ad id=”384″]The Angels drafted Rodriguez out of high school in the fourth-round of last year’s Draft. Rodriguez is just 19 years old, but he’s already exceeded expectations at the Single-A level. He has a great mix of four pitches; a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. He can throw all of them for strikes and generates great movement on all of them. Rodriguez has all the makings of a workhorse on the mound but the Angels are taking it slow with their No. 7 overall prospect.

2017 stats: (RK-PION): 32.1 IP, 4-1, 6.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 32 K, 7 BB. (Single-A Burlington): 19.2 IP, 0-2, 7.32 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 19 K, 7 BB.

After a great, albeit short, professional debut last year, this year has pumped the breaks on Rodriguez a bit. He hasn’t had his best stuff in 13 starts this year but there’s still plenty to be excited about. He’s limiting the long ball, allowed just two all year, and is inducing plenty of ground balls. Batters are squaring him up more often than they did last year but at 19 years old he still has plenty of time to figure things out.

6. Brandon Marsh, OF

The Angels have been cautious with their 2016 second-round Draft pick, postponing his professional debut until this year due to a back issue. Marsh has potential to be a well-rounded hitter with above-average speed and decent power from the left side. The 19-year-old has plenty of tools but he has a lot of work to do to refine them all and reach his potential ceiling.

2017 stats: (RK-PION): 30 games, .360/.401/.559, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 40 R, 7 SB, 8 BB, 28 K.

It’s been a great start to a professional career for Marsh. In 30 games he’s batting .360 and has driven in 31 runs for the Orem Owlz. He’s averaging just under a strikeout a game but that’s to be expected from a 19-year-old in his first season. Marsh is showing great poise at the plate, coming up big in important situations all year long.

5. Jacob Pearson, OF

Pearson is similar to Marsh in that he’s a young outfielder that has the potential to be a future five-tool player. He has great speed and has already seen his power improve over the past couple of years. At just 19 he should gain even more as he grows into his frame. His impressive bat speed helps, as does his feel for the plate. Pearson lacks a strong arm but still plays a solid centerfield. If everything develops as it’s projected to, Pearson could be a future 20-20 guy for the Angels.

2017 stats: (RK-AZL): 37 games, .206/.291/.262, 12 RBI, 19 R, 4 SB, 15 BB, 34 K.

Pearson has struggled to find it at the plate this year. In 37 games, he’s batting just above the Mendoza line and has yet to put one over the fence. Aside from a hot stretch at the beginning of August, Pearson has been disappointing at the plate. In just his first full season, it’s far too soon to be worried about Pearson. The tools are there and should start clicking as he develops.

4. Griffin Canning, RHP

In a system loaded with right-handed pitching, few have ceilings as high as Canning’s. Canning was destined for the first-round in this year’s Draft before injury concerns dropped him to the second. Like the rest of his fellow prospects, Canning has shown he can throw all four of his pitches for strikes. The 21-year-old’s athleticism and repeatable delivery gives Canning a good chance of moving through the system quickly and making an impact sooner rather than later.

2017 stats: Has not played.

3. Matt Thaiss, 1B lists: Top 10 1B Prospects (#10)

Thaiss was taken in the first-round of the 2016 Draft and has since snuck into the top ten first base prospects. He’s very advanced at the plate with a level swing and great eye. He’s reached Double-A in just his first full season and is continuing to prove he belongs there. The 22-year-old should continue to fly through the Angels system and could very well be the first baseman of the future in Anaheim.

2017 stats: (High-A Inland Empire): 84 games, .265/.353/.399, 8 HR, 48 RBI, 46 R, 4 SB, 40 BB, 59 K. (Double-A Mobile): 44 games, .313/.417/.417, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 27 R, 3 SB, 30 BB, 44 K.

Thaiss was good at High-A Inland Empire but has really turned it on since being promoted to Double-A Mobile. He’s had no problem adjusting to the pitching at the higher level, posting a .313 average in 44 games. Thaiss already has recorded 16 multi-hit games and has reached safely in 36 of the 44 he’s played.

2. Jahmai Jones, OF

Few players since Trout have drawn as much excitement as Jones. The Angels took him in the second-round of the 2015 Draft, and he’s already improved immensely since then. His pure athleticism and baseball IQ are enough by themselves to make him a solid player. Fortunately for Jones, he has great hitting ability and even better speed to back it up. While his power is his least exciting tool, it still rates above average. That goes to show just what kind of player Jones could develop into in the future.

2017 stats: (Single-A Burlington): 86 games, .272/.338/.425, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 54 R, 18 SB, 32 BB, 63 K. (High-A Inland Empire): 36 games, .320/.382/.520, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 31 R, 9 SB, 11 BB, 38 K.

Before a recent slump, Jones has been killing it since being promoted to High-A Inland Empire. In 36 games he’s batting .320, has smashed five homers and has stolen nine bases. He’s showing off all of his tools and has already started to ascend up the MLB prospect lists. Jones is 0-14 in his last four games with six strikeouts and a walk.

1. Jo Adell, OF

The Angels love outfield prospects. They took another one with the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s Draft in Jo Adell. He was arguably the best high school player in the class in large part due to his impressive power. His bat speed and raw power is already superb at just 18 years old and should only get better. Adell has well-above-average speed as well, a combination that’s highly sought after in baseball.

2017 stats: (RK-ARIZ): 31 games, .288/.351/.542, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 18 R, 5 SB, 10 BB, 32 K. (RK-PION): 11 games, .358/.382/.528, 5 RBI, 18 R, 2 SB, 2 BB, 9 K.

In 42 games since being drafted, Adell has been exactly what the Angels had hoped. He’s adjusted to professional pitching well, batting a combined .310 across the two Rookie-league levels. He’s striking out more often than preferred, but that’s to be expected with a player straight out of high school. His approach needs some work, but Adell has plenty of raw tools to be excited about.


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