2018-19 International Reviews: Los Angeles Angels
This is part of Ben Badler's 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018) signings: 25
The Angels spent a good chunk of their 2018-19 international bonus pool before the signing period began. When Major League Baseball penalized the Braves for their international signing violations, several of Atlanta's international signings became free agents. The Angels signed two of those players, infielders Livan Soto and Kevin Maitan, in December 2017 for a combined $3.05 million. By MLB's decision, only the amount over $200,000 for each player would count against a team's international bonus pool, and teams had the option to count those signings to either their pool for the current period (2017-18) or the following one (2018-19), so the Angels applied Maitan and Soto's deals to their 2018-19 pool.
Had Dominican outfielder Alexander Ramirez been born three days later, he would have been a 2019 prospect. Instead, he was one of the youngest players in the 2018 class, signing with the Angels for $1 million when he turned 16 on Aug. 29 after training with Amauris Nina. Ramirez already stood out for his physicality as an amateur and he's continued to get stronger, now up to 6-foot-2, 195 pounds since signing. That has helped his power trend up, with Ramirez flashing above-average raw power. Given his youth, bat speed and room to add another 30 or so pounds, his power could continue to spike. Ramirez has an aggressive swing that he has retooled since signing to generate more lift. Ramirez will expand the strike zone at times but generally showed a sound approach as an amateur. An average runner with an unorthodox gait, Ramirez gets good jumps off the bat and has an average arm, so he has enough athleticism right now to start as a center fielder, though given his physical projection, he most likely will gravitate to a corner. Ramirez is in Arizona right now for spring training, though given that he will play almost the entire season at 16, he could debut in the Dominican Summer League.
The Angels signed Dominican switch-hitting shortstop Darimel Mora for $350,000 when he turned 16 on July 16. While training with Quico Pena as an amateur, Mora grew a few inches toward the end of the scouting process, up to 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. A baseball rat with a high-energy playing style, Mora is an athletic shortstop with good plate discipline. He's a plus runner who can explode out of the box with the patience to rack up a lot of walks. He projects to play somewhere in the middle of the diamond, though his hands and arm will need to improve to stay at shortstop.
Luis Nuñez, who trained in the Mejia Top 10 program, is a 17-year-old Dominican righthander the Angels signed for $200,000 on July 2. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Nuñez is a smart pitcher who distinguishes himself with tremendous life on his upper-80s, cut fastball. The pitch has so much cutting action that it looks like a slider at times and has gotten a lot of swing-and-miss against amateur hitters who weren't accustomed to seeing that pitch. He also throws a distinct slider that's a separate pitch from his cutter and also has hard break.
The Angels' top Venezuelan signing last year was Darwin Moreno, a 17-year-old center fielder who trained with Said Martinez. He's 6-foot-2, 175 pounds with the athleticism and plus speed to stay in center field, where he reads the ball well off the bat. Moreno runs and defends well, though his bat has some risk. He's a righthanded hitter with a flat path through the zone and doubles power.
Another July 2 signing from Venezuela, Gabriel Hernandez, is a 17-year-old righthander with an easy, fluid delivery. He's 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and repeats his mechanics well to throw a lot of strikes. He will need to add to a fastball that is currently in the mid-80s and touching a tick higher, but he shows feel for a breaking ball and changeup with advanced pitchability for his age. Hernandez trained with Prospero Gomez.
Daniel Rojas is another 17-year-old Venezuelan righthander the Angels signed last year on July 2. He's 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and his best pitch is a big-breaking curveball. It plays well off his fastball, which sits in the mid-80s. He needs to throw more strikes, but his fastball can sneak up on hitters with deception in his delivery. Rojas trained with Ramon Hernandez.
Braves' Illegal International Class Had Little Payoff For Huge Risk
As we prepare for the Rule 5 Draft, it's clear the risk wasn't worth the potential reward.
See also: 2017-18 Angels International Review (Notable prospects Shohei Ohtani, D'Shawn Knowles)
See also: 2016-17 Angels International Review (Notable prospect Stiward Aquino)
See also: 2015-16 Angels International Review
See also: 2014-15 Angels International Review (Notable prospect Jose Suarez)
See also: 2013-14 Angels International Review (Notable prospect Ricardo Sanchez)
See also: 2012-13 Angels International Review
See also: 2011-12 AL West International Review
See also: 2010-11 AL West International Review