Best Player: OF Jahmai Jones
The stiffer the competition, the better Jones performed this season, which should bode well for the 20-year-old center fielder who was a second-round pick out of high school in 2015. At low Class A Burlington and high Class A Inland Empire, he batted .282/.348/.446 with 14 home runs and 27 stolen bases in 127 games.
“He was learning pitchers and making adjustments game to game,” farm director Mike LaCassa said. “We were excited about his approach, and in May, it clicked.”
Jones is an explosive athlete with NFL bloodlines—his father and two brothers played pro football. His ability to make consistently hard contact and spray line drives all over the field, his speed and improving defense have vaulted him to the top of the team’s prospect rankings.
“He might not be the tallest, but he’s not little—he’s thick and strong,” LaCassa said. “He’s a plus runner. He’s going to have power. The ball jumps off his bat.”
Best Pitcher: RHP Jaime Barria
The Angels signed Barria as a 16-year-old out of Panama in 2013, and he made a quantum leap in 2017, jumping from Inland Empire to Double-A Mobile to Triple-A Salt Lake and going 7-9, 2.80 in 26 starts. He struck out 117 and walked 31 in 141.2 innings.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Barria, a Futures Game selection in July, induces weak contact with a fastball that he throws from 90-95 mph and has late life, giving the illusion that it rises. He has good arm speed and deception on a changup, a curveball that’s effective against lefthanded batters and a slider he’s used to finish off righthanders.
“It’s impressive for someone as young as him to have that kind of command with four pitches,” said Mobile manager Sal Fasano. “He has good mound presence, a good demeanor, he can control the running game and he fields position well.”
Keep An Eye On: OF Brennon Lund
The 22-year-old outfielder jumped two levels this season, from Burlington to Mobile, combining to hit .308/.373/.403 with six homers and 20 stolen bases in 121 games.
“He’s a contact guy with good hands who knows how to get the bat to the ball,” Fasano said.
The lefthanded-batting Lund, a Brigham Young standout who was an 11th-round pick in 2016, projects as more of a fourth outfielder type.
“With his approach, he’s able to maintain an at-bat, and he knows how to get on base,” Fasano said. “And he’s not pull-dominant or opposite-field dominant. It’s a nice foundation to have, especially in today’s game, when everyone is shifting (defensively) one way or another.”