2021 Los Angeles Angels Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
If nothing else, the Angels have proven to be resilient this season.
Mike Trout has missed more than two months with a calf injury, Anthony Rendon has been on the injured list three times, Albert Pujols was designated for assignment in an ugly spectacle and the Angels once again have one of the worst pitching staffs in the major leagues. Yet they entered the day of the trade deadline with a .500 record and only six games back of a wild card spot.
For that, the Angels can largely thank RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani. The two-way sensation has finally stayed healthy this year and smashed preconceived notions about what was possible in major league baseball, leading the majors in home runs while serving as an ace at the front of the Angels rotation. With help from 1B Jared Walsh and 2B David Fletcher, that’s been enough to keep the Angels afloat and position themselves as potential buyers at the trade deadline, especially with Trout expected to return shortly.
At the same time, the organization’s long standing shortage of pitching remains a problem, although they are actively seeking to address it. After drafting Louisville LHP Reid Detmers in the first round last year and seeing him move quickly in an excellent pro debut, the Angels drafted pitchers with all 20 of their picks in this year’s draft, and all but one was a college pitcher.
With Trout turning 30 this year and Ohtani guaranteed to be an Angel for only two more seasons before he’s a free agent, the Angels need to quickly improve their pitching staff to ensure they don’t waste the primes of two of the greatest talents in MLB history.
Whether they end up buyers or sellers at the deadline, pitching will be what the Angels continue to hunt for in every transaction.
Top 10 Prospects
1. Reid Detmers, LHP
Age: 22. Team: Triple-A Salt Lake.
Detmers’ stuff has ticked up across the board to make him a different pitcher than the one the Angels drafted 10th overall a year ago. His fastball has jumped from 90-94 mph in college to sitting 93-95 mph and touching 98 in his pro debut. His late-breaking, mid-70s curveball remains a plus pitch that gets swings and misses and his slider has turned into a hard, 86-89 mph above-average pitch with tight tilt and late action after he switched to a knuckle slider grip at the alternate training site last year. He is effectively commanding his 79-83 mph changeup to give him a fourth above-average or better pitch. Detmers’ primary developmental focus is improving his armside command. Once he does, his enhanced arsenal has him in line to be a No. 2 or 3 starter.
2. Brandon Marsh, OF
Age: 23. Team: Majors
Marsh dealt with a nagging shoulder injury that limited him to DH duty throughout spring training and caused him to spend more than a month on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. He returned to Triple-A Salt Lake on July 9, recorded a hit in eight straight games and received his first major league callup July 18. When healthy, Marsh has shown the best strike-zone discipline in the Angels system and is increasingly pulling the ball in the air to drive it with more authority. He is back playing the outfield and has shown no lingering effects from his shoulder injury, but he’s now missed time with injuries in five of the six seasons since he was drafted and has to show he can stay healthy.
3. Chris Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 22. Team: Triple-A Salt Lake.
Rodriguez made the Angels’ Opening Day roster as a reliever and made 13 appearances before being sent down to the minors to work as a starter. He is currently being stretched out and has shown the same electric stuff as he did in the majors. He is locating his upper-90s two-seamer to both sides of the plate, his four-seam fastball has been effective and his changeup has flashed above-average, although his curveball and slider have lagged behind. Rodriguez still hasn’t pitched more than 4.2 innings in an outing since 2017. Showing he can maintain his stuff over longer outings and avoid the injuries that have plagued him will determine whether he ends up a starter or reliever.
4. Sam Bachman, RHP
Age: 21. Team: N/A.
NEW Bachman had some of the most high-octane stuff in the draft class and was selected ninth overall by the Angels. He signed for an underslot $3,847,500 bonus but has yet to be assigned to an affiliate. Bachman’s fastball sits 95-97 mph with armside run and sink and regularly reaches triple-digits, and his upper-80s slider is a hard, biting offering with late life that gets swings and misses both in and out of the strike zone. He has a changeup that flashes average, but he rarely uses it. Bachman spent three years in the rotation at Miami (Ohio) and the Angels plan to develop him as a starter, but his largely two-pitch mix, up-tempo delivery, rigid arm action and questions about his durability—he averaged less than five innings per start this season and missed two weeks with shoulder soreness—have many projecting him to the bullpen.
5. Jordyn Adams, OF
Age: 21. Team: High-A Tri-Cities
Adams suffered a hamstring strain three games into the season and missed five weeks before returning June 15. He has struggled since he returned, showing an extremely long swing and frequently getting beaten by fastballs. The Angels are trying to shorten his swing, but it’s a work in progress and has a long way to go. Adams remains an 80-grade runner and has played outstanding defense in center field.
6. Kyren Paris, 2B
Age: 19. Team: Low-A Inland Empire
Paris got off to a hot start before he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his fibula in late May. When healthy, he showed an advanced, all-fields approach and growing power to his pull side to project as a potential above-average hitter who reaches double-digit home runs. Paris split time between shortstop and second base and committed 10 errors in 16 games, many of them throwing. The Angels plan to work with him on staying in his legs more so he doesn’t pop up too quickly and sail throws over the first baseman.
7. Jeremiah Jackson, SS
Age: 21. Team: Low-A Inland Empire
Jackson got off to a miserable start because of a long, late swing, but he made the adjustments to shorten his actions and hit .325/.376/.701 in his final 20 games before suffering a quad strain that sent him to the 10-day injured list. He particularly improved by adopting a two-strike approach that allowed him to be shorter and more direct to the ball. Jackson showed plus power once he started making contact and has a chance to stay in the middle of the field, although he projects to bounce between second base, shortstop and center field rather than be a true everyday shortstop.
8. Arol Vera, SS
Age: 18. Team: Rookie-level Arizona Complex League
Vera stood out throughout extended spring training and carried it over to his pro debut. He lost weight after getting too heavy during the pandemic shutdown last year and has been one of the smoothest, most fundamentally sound defenders in the organization. A switch-hitter, Vera has hit balls hard from both sides of the plate and shows an advanced, all-fields approach from the left side. He chases out of the strike zone a bit too often, but the Angels are confident that will improve with experience and maturity.
9. Ky Bush, LHP
Age: 21. Team: N/A.
NEW The 6-foot-5 Bush entered this season slimmer and with a better delivery than in years past, leading to an uptick in both his stuff and control. His improvements made him one of the draft’s biggest risers over the course of the season and the Angels drafted him in the second round, No. 45 overall, out of St. Mary’s. Bush pounds his 92-95 mph fastball downhill to both sides of the plate and complements it with an above-average slider, average changeup and usable curveball he can land for strikes as a change-of-pace offering. If he can maintain his newfound stuff and above-average control, he has a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.
10. Orlando Martinez, OF
Martinez has added power this year while continuing to show the ability to play all three outfield positions with clean, direct routes and a strong, accurate arm. He has an easy natural swing and feel to hit, but he has sacrificed some of that to access more power this year.
11. Adrian Placencia, 2B
12. D’Shawn Knowles, OF
13. Jack Kochanowicz, RHP
14. Erik Rivera, LHP/DH
15. Denzer Guzman, SS
16. Packy Naughton, LHP
17. Alexander Ramirez, OF
18. Davis Daniel, RHP
NEW A seventh-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, Daniel began generating buzz at instructional league last fall and has carried it over into this season. His fastball averages 92 mph and touches 95 with above-average cut and ride that helps it get swings and misses at the top of the strike zone. His 12-to-6 curveball gives him the north-south profile teams covet and his changeup has improved, but he mostly just dominates with his fastball. He commands his fastball well and has a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter if his secondaries continue to progress.
19. Werner Blakely, SS
20. Ryan Smith, LHP
NEW An 18th-round pick from Princeton in 2019, Smith has dominated both Class A levels and owns the lowest ERA in the Angels’ system. His fastball sits 92-93 mph and touches 95 mph with lots of armside run and gets swings and misses at the top of the strike zone. His slider is an above-average secondary pitch that gets exceptional horizontal movement and his changeup has a chance to be an average pitch. Smith works quickly and attacks the strike zone, resulting in quick, efficient outings. Smith is old for the levels he’s been at, but his stuff and “bulldog” mentality have observers projecting him as a solid reliever.
21. Landon Marceaux, RHP
NEW Marceaux pitched three years in Louisiana State’s rotation and put together a successful career in the Southeastern Conference despite a lack of big stuff. The Angels drafted him in the third round, No. 102 overall, in July. Marceaux’s fastball sits 89-92 mph, his slider is average and his changeup is above-average. He succeeds by spotting his pitches on the edges of the strike zone with plus control and command and avoiding hitters’ hot zones. Marceaux’s stuff leaves him little margin for error, but his ability to command the ball gives him a chance to rise as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
22. Alejandro Hidalgo, RHP
NEW Hidalgo has been an early standout in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. The 18-year-old is sitting 92-94 mph on his fastball and showing advanced feel to spin a curveball while maintaining impressive strikeout-to-walk numbers. It has been the continuation of an upward trend for Hidalgo, who signed with the Angels during the 2019-20 international signing period. An arm injury that required surgery to place a screw in his right elbow dampened his stock as an amateur, but he quickly emerged as a potential sleeper after signing and has lived up to it in his pro debut.
23. Kean Wong, UTIL
NEW Signed as a minor league free agent last offseason, Wong has stepped in to play four different positions for the Angels this season and been an effective hitter at Triple-A Salt Lake. His versatility and athleticism give him a chance to carve out a utility role.
24. Aaron Hernandez, RHP
25. Zach Linginfelter, RHP
26. David Calabrese, OF
27. Michael Stefanic, 2B
NEW The Angels signed Stefanic as an undrafted free agent out of NAIA Westmont (Calif.) in the middle of the 2018 season because they needed an infielder for their Rookie-level Arizona League affiliate and Stefanic had sent them some video. All he’s done since is hit his way to Triple-A, where he’s been one of Salt Lake’s best hitters since arriving in late May. Stefanic is an extreme contact hitter who rarely swings and misses, doesn’t chase and has the bat control to put almost any pitch in play. He’s grown stronger and started showing power this year, resulting in few criticisms of his offensive ability. Stefanic isn’t very athletic defensively and is working to improve his lateral mobility. He needs to improve his range at second base and his arm at third base to profile as a utilityman.
28. Kyle Tyler, RHP
NEW A 20th-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2018, Tyler jumped into Double-A Rocket City’s rotation and led the team’s starters in ERA for most of the season, ahead of even Reid Detmers. Tyler’s fastball sits 91-93 mph with tremendous natural cut and ride that makes it difficult for hitters to square up. He pounds the strike zone with above-average command and works efficiently to pitch deep into outings. He also has a breaking ball and a changeup, but both need improvement. His fastball quality alone gives him a chance to reach the majors as a reliever.
29. Andrew Wantz, RHP
NEW Wantz increased his fastball velocity from 88-92 mph to 91-95 mph and added a cutter to his arsenal this season. The changes allowed him to miss more bats and resulted in a strong showing at Triple-A Salt Lake before earning his first major league callup on July 3.
30. Austin Warren, RHP
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2B Adrian Placencia has been one of the Angels’ top offensive performers in Arizona from the start of extended spring training through the ACL season. The switch-hitting 18-year-old has shown quick hands, fast bat speed, advanced strike-zone discipline and shockingly big power for his small frame. Signed as a shortstop, he is purely a second baseman now and has to significantly improve his footwork and arm stroke to become an average defender.
RHP Cooper Criswell failed to impress in his pro debut in 2019 but got stronger during the coronavirus shutdown and emerged a much-improved pitcher. His 87-89 mph sinker has ticked up to 88-91 and he’s developed a low-80s cutter that gets under lefthanded batters’ hands. Criswell’s biggest uptick has been in his control. He had 85 strikeouts and only eight walks through his first 12 starts at Double-A. He still faces skepticism that his stuff will play against major league hitters, but his improvement has him on the radar as a potential long reliever.
1B David MacKinnon has maintained his longstanding elite strike-zone discipline and is starting to hit for more power. He tied his career high for home runs in only 38 games at Double-A Rocket City and ranks among the organization’s leaders in hits, doubles, batting average and OPS.
RHP Jack Kochanowicz has struggled to command his fastball or land his curveball for strikes. His fastball has been up to 97 mph but frequently gets left over the plate and hit hard, while his curveball shows solid spin and drop but is a ball out of the hand. The Angels are focused on improving his fastball command before turning their attention to his secondary pitches.
RHP Oliver Ortega still shows a 95-97 mph fastball and a power breaking ball, but he hasn’t thrown strikes consistently enough to be effective.
LHP Hector Yan has struggled to throw his fastball for strikes at High-A Tri-City. He has a 5.72 ERA and is walking nearly six batters per nine innings.
RHP/OF William Holmes was held back in Arizona to work on throwing strikes in bullpen sessions and backfield settings. The Angels have not put him on a roster and are focused on teaching him the basics of being a pitcher in low-pressure environments.
3B Jose Rojas completed his storybook rise to the majors as a 36th-round pick who grew up in Anaheim as an Angels fan. He has settled into a reserve utility role and played five different positions for the Angels while showing extra-base power from the left side.
2B Kyren Paris did not require a cast for his non-displaced fracture in his fibula. He is rehabbing in Arizona and is tentatively set to return to Inland Empire in the coming weeks barring any setbacks.
SS Jeremiah Jackson suffered a significant upper quad strain and has no set timetable to return. He is rehabbing in Arizona and will be out for the foreseeable future.
LHP/DH Erik Rivera made one start before going on the injured list with a sprained UCL in his left elbow. He is currently in a strength and rehab program in Arizona and has no set timetable to return.
OF David Calabrese missed most of the spring with a pulled hamstring but returned in late June for the start of the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League season.
RHP Sadrac Franco is continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery and is playing catch at 120 feet. He has an outside chance to pitch in games this season.
RHP Stiward Aquino is near the end of his rehab from Tommy John surgery and should return to games soon.
3B Kevin Maitan missed the entire spring after lacerating a finger on his right hand and cutting a tendon. He began conditioning work at the start of July and has no set timetable to go out to an affiliate.