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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Taylor Ward, c|
|2. Jahmai Jones, of|
|3. Nate Smith, lhp|
|4. Victor Alcantara, rhp|
|5. Jake Jewell, rhp|
|6. Grayson Long, rhp|
|7. Joe Gatto, rhp|
|8. Kaleb Cowart, 3b|
|9. Jaime Barria, rhp|
|10. Chad Hinshaw, of|
The Angels continue to maintain a contending major league team without much support from their minor league system. It remains to be seen whether that strategy will translate into consistent success, but Los Angeles once again challenged for a playoff spot in 2015.
The Angels won 13 fewer games and missed out on a wild card spot by one game while finishing 85-77 and in third place in the American League West.
Star center fielder Mike Trout again powered the Angels offense, hitting a career-high 41 home runs and leading the AL with a .590 slugging percentage and .991 OPS. He finished runner-up in AL MVP balloting for the third time in four seasons. First baseman Albert Pujols chipped in with 40 homers and ace Garrett Richards returned from a knee injury to lead the staff with 15 wins. Had they simply been mediocre instead of awful in August (10-19), they might have claimed a playoff berth.
Drama characterized the Angels’ 2015 season. Outfielder Josh Hamilton, in the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract, admitted in February to a drug relapse. Major League Baseball declined to suspend him, so the Angels moved quickly to trade him back to the Rangers for modest salary relief. Hamilton’s departure left a hole in left field, and he wound up helping the Rangers beat out the Angels for a playoff spot.
Just before the midpoint of the season, an ongoing clash between general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia over the use of analytics came to a head, with the former resigning after three and a half years in the role.
The Angels hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler as Dipoto’s replacement in October. Dipoto quickly found work as GM of the division rival Mariners, and he took Angels assistant GM Scott Servais with him to serve as field manager. Los Angeles also lost assistant GM Matt Klentak, who took over as GM of the Phillies.
Eppler’s first maneuver for the Angels occurred during the GM meetings in November. He traded lefthander Sean Newcomb and righthander Chris Ellis, the franchise’s first- and third-round picks in the 2014 draft, to the Braves for Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons. While the deal upgrades the Angels’ defense, it also cost a beleaguered system its top two prospects.
After primarily targeting pitchers in the 2014 draft, the Angels selected position players with eight of their top 10 picks in 2015, with all but one of the choices being college products. They made Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward the 26th overall pick and signed him for $1.67 million.