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Los Angeles Angels 2022 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Arol Vera Billmitchell
Arol Vera (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Following today's release of our new Angels Top 10, Mike DiGiovanna answered your questions below.

Kyle Weatherly (Timmonsville, South Carolina):

    Detmers struggled in a small sample size this year, but his numbers in the minors (plus his college track record) have me convinced he will be a frontline SP. Am I too confident of this? Is there a flaw I am missing?


Mike DiGiovanna: Hey Kyle ... don't think you're missing any "flaw," but where Detmers slots in the rotation will depend on how his stuff, primarily his fastball velocity, improves. His fastball ticked up from the low-90s range when he was drafted to 93-97 mph in 2021, so that's encouraging, and he's added a tight, upper-80s slider to go with his plus-curve. I don't think his MLB struggles last season detract from his overall potential, which for me is a mid-rotation (No. 3-4) starter.

KB (New York):

    Brandon Marsh has not impressed with the bat. Understanding it is a small sample size for him combined with the current state of the halo's farm system, would he still make the Angels top 10 prospects today in your opinion?


Mike DiGiovanna: KB, Brandon had too many MLB at-bats to qualify for prospect status, so he has "graduated" from our top 10/Prospect Handbook list.

Ken (Lakewood CA):

    Sorry to say this, but if you're an Angel fan, you must find this Top 10 kind of depressing for the future. After Detmer and maybe a couple of others, I just don't see it. Does the depth after the Top 10 show some hope with younger players? Looks like the Angels have work to do with a minor league system that must rank towards the bottom. Sorry to be so negative, but that's how I look at it. And I share Angel season tickets!


Mike DiGiovanna: Ken, you don't seem "negative" to me; you seem realistic ... the Angels did add some pitchers with higher-octane stuff (Bachman, Bush) in the last draft, and they have some higher-end young middle-infield prospects (Kyren Paris, Arol Vera, Denzer Guzman), but there is a lack of overall depth in the system and a glaring lack of power-hitting potential. The farm system does seem better to me than it did in recent years, but it will still rank among the bottom third of the 30 MLB organizations.

ZP (NYC):

    This system seems thin on catching, which may be why you project Stassi in 2025. What are your thoughts on Edgar Quero and his ability to be the Angels' catcher of the future?


Mike DiGiovanna: ZP, this system has been thin on catching for a solid 10-12 years ... they haven't produced one decent MLB catcher since Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis. So the fact that Edgar Quero even made my top 30 list this year is a pleasant surprise. Quero will be 19 when the 2022 season starts, so he's still very young and raw, but here's my scouting report on him for the handbook: "He has an advanced approach at the plate for his age and a knack for barreling the ball, with most of his pull power coming from the left side. He should develop more power as he matures physically and gains strength. Though there is some swing-and-miss in his game, he rarely chases pitches out of the zone and had almost as many walks (23) as strikeouts (28) in the rookie league. Defensively, Quero is athletic, with good receiving skills and a good throwing arm, and he’s already impressing coaches with his ability to call a game and work with pitchers." Will that make him the Angels' catcher of the future? Too soon to tell, but he has a better chance than any other catcher in the system.

ZP (NYC):

    Who are some of the deeper prospects who could be risers in 2022?


Mike DiGiovanna: Adrian Placencia, an 18-year-old switch-hitting shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Scouting report on him: "Placencia has an advanced feel from both sides of the plate, with minimal chase and swing-and-miss. He has quick hands, and the barrel of his bat moves quickly through the zone. Though small in stature, Placencia hit some prodigious home runs last season, fueling a belief that, with a natural lift in his swing, he has a chance to develop average or better raw power as he matures physically and gains strength. Defensively, Placencia has smooth actions, soft hands and an average arm with a quick exchange. He is a below-average runner." From last summer's draft, keep an eye on Luke Murphy, a 6-5, 190-pound RHP who was a fourth-round pick out of Vanderbilt and has the potential to pitch in the back of the bullpen. Scouting report: "The lanky Murphy relies heavily on a fastball that sits at 94-95 mph and touches 98-99. He has good command of the four-seamer and controls the quadrants well with it. His best secondary offering is a sweeping slider with movement that has the potential to be a wipeout pitch. Murphy is developing a curveball and changeup but didn’t throw either pitch much in college." Another sleeper is 3B Brandon Davis, a former fifth-round pick of the Dodgers whom Angels snagged in Rule 5 draft from Rangers last winter. The versatile 24-year-old from Lakewood, Calif., jumped from High-A to Double-A to triple-A in 2021, combining to hit .290 with a .922 OPS, 30 homers, 29 doubles, six triples and 83 RBIs in 124 games.

Brad (NJ):

    Angels are obviously prioritizing SP in the draft recently, but the system seems very poor, if Brandon Marsh was still eligible where would he rank? He clearly disappointed in 2021, do you see a rebound ahead, and can he still be an impact fantasy player with power and speed?


Mike DiGiovanna: Brad, Marsh is no longer eligible for our Prospect Handbook, but if he was I would probably have rated him No. 3 behind Detmers and Bachman. I'm not sure what his "fantasy" impact will be--I deal in reality--but I think he will rebound to a certain degree in 2022. Last year was very rough for him personally, with his father and one of his best friends passing away, and that took a toll. Many top prospects also struggle in their first big-league stints (see Adell, Jo, 2020) and are usually better for it. Marsh is really good defensively, and while I don't think he'll emerge as an All-Star in 2022, I think he will be more productive and consistent at the plate than he was in 2021.

Jeff (CA):

    How does this Angels system stack up to others you've ranked for BA? It seems awfully light


Mike DiGiovanna: I feel like with the infusion of so much pitching last summer, especially with Bachman and Bush and the continued development of Detmers and, until he hurt his shoulder, Chris Rodriguez, the system seemed a little better than those of the last 4-5 years. But overall, it is very light in the number of potential high-impact arms and power-hitting position players.

Matt (Orange County, CA):

    Do the Angels have concerns over the bad hitting environment in High-A Tri-City? Only 1 player (Brendon Davis) with 100+ PA’s for High-A Tri-City was an above average hitter by wRC+, and everyone else was below average. Also, it was tied for last in mid-season 2021 Park Factors. Could they be motivated yo have hitting prospects skip High-A so that they avoid those horrible hitting conditions?


Mike DiGiovanna: Matt, that's a really good question that I frankly don't have an answer to ... they've only been there for one season, and that subject hasn't come up in conversations with people in player development, but I will ask. Looking at their offensive stats from 2021, only two players in my top 30, Kyren Paris and Jordyn Adams, played at Tri-City, so the team was not full of top prospects.

Nate (OC):

    You mentioned that Jeremiah Jackson “is on track to see Double-A in 2022,” but how likely is that considering he spent all of last season in Low-A?


Mike DiGiovanna: Considering his age (he'll be 22 when next season starts) and the probability that he starts at high-A Tri-City, there's a pretty good chance of him touching double-A as long as he doesn't completely tank in high-A ball. Most teams like to challenge their top prospects by promoting them to the next level for the last month or two of the season, and Jackson is still considered a top prospect for the Angels.

Don (Villa Park, CA):

    LHP Erik Rivera generated buzz during instructs two falls ago. How is he progressing after losing the season with an injury? Do the Angels still view him as a starter long term?


Mike DiGiovanna: Don, from what I've heard, Rivera is progressing fine in his recovery from a Grade 2 UCL sprain, he's been rehabbing and strengthening the arm. The focus right now is getting him healthy, so it's probably too soon to project whether the two-way player will be a starter long-term or even a pitcher long-term.

Warren (New London):

    I like Kyren Paris quite a bit, but if he's your best position player prospect then you've got problems. Do you think he would take well to the outfield, with his plus speed? Are you reluctant to project him there because Marsh, Adell, and Adams are all outfielders?


Mike DiGiovanna: Warren, great to hear from you ... I was born in New London and grew up in East Lyme, CT ... Paris is so young and raw, it's hard to say how he'd project as an OF, but I'm guessing he's athletic enough to make that switch. With Trout and Marsh and Adell already in the big leagues and Adams and Alexander Ramirez as the next-in-line OF prospects, I don't think there is a huge need to push Paris to the OF, especially now. I do see him playing as much 2B as SS, though, and most scouts project him more as a big league 2B than SS.

Warren (New London):

    Greetings from eastern Connecticut. Could we get some more clarity on Arol Vera's weight? He's listed at 215 pounds. Did he lose a lot of weight to get to 215, or is he now more like 190, or is it something else?


Mike DiGiovanna: I've had a tough time nailing down the answer to this question as well. My understanding of the situation, and what I wrote for the Handbook, is that he was confined to an Arizona apartment during the coronavirus shutdown and gained more than 20 pounds, which put him in the 215-pound range, and that he trimmed down to the 200-pound range last season. Some scouts think he is still a little thick in his lower-half, but he definitely trimmed down some.

Tim (LA):

    What do you make of Adell and Marsh's initial pro debut? Does the org still feel as highly about them as maybe a year or two ago?


Mike DiGiovanna: Adell's pro debut in 2020 was really rough, but after tearing it up at triple-A for a few months in 2021, he looked a lot better in his 35-game MLB stint--more consistent contact, fewer strikeouts, much-improved average, OBP, slugging and better overall defensively. This will be a pivotal season for him, one that determines whether he'll establish himself as a starter and a potential star. Marsh had a pretty long look in his pro debut, 70 MLB games and 260 plate appearances, and while he looked really good defensively, he was disappointing at the plate. Most rookies struggle in their MLB debuts, but a guy who showed promising plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills in the minor leagues shouldn't strike out 91 times in 236 at-bats. Hard to tell if the organization is still as high on these two guys--most of the front office and P-D staff is new--but I'm sure expectations for Adell and Marsh have been tempered a bit.

Sam Bachman (OH):

    What is the percentage chance starter vs reliever for me? What would be the biggest thing I needed to work on in 2022 to solidify myself as a starter?


Mike DiGiovanna: Sam, if I said it was a 50-50 proposition, would that be too wishy-washy of an answer? I honestly believe it could go either way, and where you end up will be determined by the development of your secondary pitches. You have the fastball and slider to be a top-notch starter or potential closer, but the changeup will have to improve for you to remain in the rotation. You might also have to add a fourth pitch--a curve, maybe? Splitter? Knuckleball?--to be a starter. Bottom line, this is a good problem to have. You have big-league stuff, so you're already way ahead of the game.

Jeff (TX):

    How did people within Angels player development feel when they drafted 20 straight pitchers? Message received?


Mike DiGiovanna: I don't know if the plan was to draft 20 pitchers, but folks in P-D did not seem too disappointed. There is no question the organization lacks pitching depth at the big league level and throughout the system, and this is one way to address it. And if they ever get to a point where they have too many good pitching prospects (a great problem to have) they can trade some of them for position players.

Alison (California):

    Do I spy Kevin Maitan's name on the best tools list? A lot of people probably forgot all about him. Is there any hope in 2022?


Mike DiGiovanna: You did ... he has fallen out of the top 30, and I didn't even have him on my 31-40 list, but he still has a great arm. Is there any hope in 2022? I never want to say never, but he'll be 22 in February, he only touched high-A for 32 games in 2021, and he hit .207 with a .510 OPS in those games ... so I wouldn't say the hope is high.

Owen (MA):

    Are there under-the-radar prospects you liked the more you dug into them for the book?


Mike DiGiovanna: There were a few ... one would be Chase Silseth, a RHP who was an 11th-round pick out of Arizona last year ... began his college career as a reliever at Tennessee, closed it as the Friday night starter at AZ, has a lively fastball that averages 96 mph and touches 98 mph and a good feel for two secondary pitches, a slurvy curve with more of a 12-to-6 break that he throws between 78-82 mph and a tighter-breaking 84-mph slider. The more I heard about Adrian Placencia, an 18-year-old switch-hitting middle INF from the Dominican Republic, the more I liked. Had a .668 OPS and 11 XBHs in 43 games in pro debut in AZ rookie league. More from my scouting report: "Has an advanced feel from both sides of the plate, with minimal chase and swing-and-miss. Has quick hands, and the barrel of his bat moves quickly through the zone. Though small in stature, Placencia hit some prodigious home runs last season, fueling a belief that, with a natural lift in his swing, he has a chance to develop average or better raw power as he matures physically and gains strength. Defensively, Placencia has smooth actions, soft hands and an average arm with a quick exchange. He is a below-average runner."

Clooch (Vermont):

    What can you tell us about RHP Jake Smith?


Mike DiGiovanna: He did not make our top 30 this winter ... was a sixth-round pick out of Miami last summer and made his pro debut at high-A Tri-City, going 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA in five games ... here was Baseball America's scouting report on Smith going into last year's draft: "Smith ranked as a top 200 member of the 2020 class out of junior college a year ago but went undrafted and made his way to Miami, where he pitched to a 3.45 ERA in 47 innings, with 63 strikeouts (12.1 K/9) and 14 walks (2.7 BB/9). Smith was used out of the bullpen for most of the season but transitioned to a starting role in April, where he was largely successful outside of a regional matchup against South Florida where he allowed five hits and five earned runs in just 3.1 innings. Smith has a three-pitch mix led by a fastball that sits in the 92-94 mph range and has touched 98 this spring. His slider is his best secondary, a low-to-mid-80s breaker that has shown above-average potential with solid tilt when he hits on it and keeps it down. His third pitch is a firm, upper-80s changeup that he doesn’t go to often but features solid fade and drop to the arm side. Smith has a bit of a funky arm action with a bit of effort in his finish, but he’s thrown enough strikes to warrant a shot at starting at the next level."

Tim Salmon (Playing Golf):

    is Brandon Marsh the most under-rated prospect in recent history? Never #1 in his own org, despite the Angels being so thin, but looking like a role 60 player. Thoughts?


Mike DiGiovanna: Brandon Marsh was ranked No. 2 in the 2021 and 2020 Prospect Handbooks, so I'd hardly say he is "the most under-rated prospect in recent history" or even under-rated at all. If anything, after his debut season, you could argue that he may have been over-rated.

Marcus (Southern California):

    Though the off-season isn’t over, the Angels haven’t made any starting pitching moves that put them in a better position than last year. Do the Angels actually see a combination of Detmers, Bachman, Canning, Suarez, Sandoval or Barria contributing to make the Angels contenders? That group seems like they either need more minor league seasoning or haven’t put it together consistently at the MLB level. Who are your picks to make the jump in 2022 as a rotation regular?


Mike DiGiovanna: Marcus, the Angels did sign Noah Syndergaard to a one-year, $21-million deal, and if the RHP bounces back from Tommy John surgery and comes close to regaining his form with the NY Mets a few years ago, he will certainly help. They also signed Michael Lorenzen, the former Reds reliever, as a starter. Of the young pitchers you mention, I think Detmers, Canning if he's healthy, Suarez and Sandoval could contribute, but I think the Angels are at least one front-of-the-starter away from being a playoff contender. And adding another starter will be a priority for GM Perry Minasian when the lockout ends.

Marcus (Southern California):

    Do you think Jeremiah Jackson has a chance to stick at shortstop? If he ends up at a different position, like 2B, do you think he makes it to the majors quicker with his bat and surprising power?


Mike DiGiovanna: Most scouts think Jackson has the agility and arm strength to stick at shortstop and that he'd be an adequate second baseman, but there’s also a chance he could move to center field. How quick he makes the majors will depend on his development at the plate. He has 30-homer potential, and while he made some progress in 2021 seeing the ball better, recognizing secondary pitches and not expanding the zone as much, but still posted a 33% strikeout rate, which is way too high.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):

    A question about an older guy (26). The Orioles signed Matthias Dietz for $1.3 million after drafting him in the 2nd round. They gave up on him, but he made it to AA with the Angels last year. What are your thoughts and hopes for Matthias, assuming he is still in the Angels system.


Mike DiGiovanna: Karl, Matthias did not come up in my conversations with the organization's farm director and minor league pitching coordinator, and I went 20-25 deep in pitchers in researching the Top 30 in the Handbook ... I don't know much about him, other than that he has struggled with his command and control. The fact that he is 26 and only touched double-A for the first time this past summer would lead me to believe that his future in the game is not real bright.

Kyle (Berkeley):

    What swing changes will Jordyn Adams need to make to succeed in the upper minors?


Mike DiGiovanna: Like many young players, Adams gets in trouble when his swing gets long, which prevents him from catching up to fastballs and often leads to strikeouts and weak contact. When he finds a more efficient swing and makes more consistent contact, he will be able to tap into the above-average raw power that makes him such an enticing prospect. More consistent contact combined with his 80-grade speed should also translate to a better average and OBP.

Evan (New York):

    William Holmes had been mentioned as a big sleeper in this system but seems to have fallen off. Is he still a prospect of interest as a pitcher, hitter, or both? What can we expect of him going forward?


Mike DiGiovanna: I had Holmes at No. 23 in the 2021 Handbook but he dropped out of the Top 30 and didn't even make my No. 31-40 list this winter. I still think he projects more as a pitcher because of his size (6-3, 220), stuff (fastball 93-97 mph, plus changeup) and athleticism, but the RHP really struggled with his command last summer, so much so that they Angels relegated him to bullpen sessions to work on his strike-throwing for most of the season. The focus now is on developing better work habits and bullpen habits. Holmes is not injured, but the Angels will take it slow with him.

Mark (FL):

    More of a big picture question...Who are the most impressive prospects in the non-Mike Trout division you've enjoyed writing up over the years?


Mike DiGiovanna: Not only is this a "big-picture" question, it's a very broad question ... there are plenty of impressive prospects and plenty I've enjoyed writing up over the years ... without going into detail on each player, my list of guys who I wrote about as they came up to the big leagues would include: Jared Walsh, Kole Calhoun, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Brandon Wood, Nick Adenhart, Howie Kendrick, Hank Conger, Mark Trumbo, Mike Morin, Michael Kohn, Kevin Jepsen, Erick aybar, Peter Bourjos, Bobby Wilson, Mike Napoli, Joe Saunders, Scot Shields, Reggie Willits, Darin Erstad ...

KB (New York):

    Right, I understand Brandon Marsh has graduated. Just seems like he isn't top 10 quality.


Mike DiGiovanna: It's hard to compare a guy like Marsh, who has reached the big leagues and played a significant number of games there, with guys like Kyren Paris, Jordyn Adams, Jeremiah Jackson, Arol Vera and Denzer Guzman, all of whom have barely touched low-A ball. Still think Marsh's success at AA and AA levels would warrant a spot in top 10.

Arol Vera (Top 100 in 2022?):

    Thanks for chatting with us today. I had a very positive state side debut. Do scouts inside and outside of the Angels think that my combination of above average hit with potentially above average power tools all while having a chance to stick at SS will allow me to crack into the top 100 in 2022?


Mike DiGiovanna: I don't think you'll crack the top 100 in 2022, but with a great 2022 season you could make that list in 2024. Scouts do think you could stick at SS, but they also think you could move to 3B.

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