The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues on June 26 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2015 draft are also not eligible.
The Angels’ 2015 season has been marked by a significant amount of drama as they chase the Astros for the lead in the American League West. Outfielder Josh Hamilton, in the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract, admitted in February to a relapse in his ongoing drug addiction problems. He was not suspended by MLB after an arbitrator’s decision, but the Angels moved quickly to trade Hamilton back to division rival Texas for partial salary relief. Just before the midpoint of the season, an ongoing clash between general manager Jerry DiPoto and manager Mike Scioscia came to a head, with the former choosing to resign after 3 1/2 years in the GM role. DiPoto was replaced on an interim basis by former general manager Bill Stoneman.
Trailing Houston by just a few games at the season’s midpoint, the Angels are expected to be buyers at the trade deadline as they attempt to fill holes in their offense. The pitching staff has been solid all season, as Garrett Richards has returned from a late season injury in 2014 to lead the staff with nine wins, while southpaw Hector Santiago is turning in a surprise season at the back end of the rotation. Huston Street continues to excel in the closer role, and the bullpen has performed well.
But the offense has slumped other than superstars Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, who have combined to him more than half of the team’s home run. The Angels could use upgrades at DH, left field, catcher or second base, first base, second base and left field positions, with no real help available in the farm system.
The minor league system shows improvement after ranking 30th, 30th and 27th the last three years, led by top prospects Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis, both products of the pitching-heavy 2014 draft. Another top prospect, Andrew Heaney, recently graduated to the major league rotation. A key statistic showing the organization’s improvement is its top ranking in cumulative strikeout-to-walk rate among all 30 organizations. The emphasis on pitching in the last few drafts leaves the organization with a dearth of quality position player prospects, a need that was addressed in the 2015 with eight of the top 10 picks being hitters.
MIDSEASON TOP 10
1. Sean Newcomb, lhp
Newcomb topped the Angels preseason list before the acquisition of fellow southpaw Andrew Heaney bumped him down a slot, and with the latter’s ascent to the big leagues, Newcomb becomes next in line. The 2014 first-rounder out of Hartford started 2015 with seven solid starts at low Class A Burlington before moving up to high Class A Inland Empire, and he’s among the minor league leaders for starting pitchers with 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings while ranking second in strikeouts. Newcomb is showing improved fastball command and has learned to vary the shape and velocity of his plus curveball, making it a put-away pitch for him.