Last year the debate was Matt Thaiss vs. Jahmai Jones. It was your classing prep vs college, potential vs actual, age vs refinement. I personally chose Matt Thaiss, but did so knowing that there wasn’t a wrong answer. Others on the staff disagreed with me, and agreed with me. And here we are a year later, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, it’s become much more difficult.
This year, it’s Jahmai Jones vs Matt Thaiss vs Jordon Adell vs Brandon Marsh vs Griffin Canning vs Jaime Barria vs Grayson Long vs Trent Deveaux vs Chris Rodriguez…..
Yeah some of these names are outside shots, but they all come with at least some justifications as to why they should be the top prospect.
Jahmai Jones – He was #2 on our list, and #1 on a bunch of others lists. This year, as a 19 year old in the Midwest League, he’s held his own. Jahmai should be the top prospect because he has a ton of potential and seems likely to capitalize on it. He shouldn’t be our top prospect because he doesn’t have the most potential and is only having a mediocre season.
Matt Thaiss – He was #1 on our list #2 on a bunch of others. This year, Thaiss held his own in Advanced A ball as a 22 year old, but made measurable progress and has began his tenure with AA Mobile with a bang. Matt should be our top prospect because he’s the safest bet here to be a solid contributor at the major league level and will be doing it the soonest of anyone. Matt shouldn’t be our top prospect because he’s only average on the age curve, doesn’t have the highest upside and his bat doesn’t play exceedingly well as a 1B.
Jordon Adell – Adell is off to an explosive start in the Arizona Summer League. In fact he’s crushing the ball, flying around the bases, showing tons of bat speed and athleticism. It’s easy to see why the Angels picked him tenth overall. Jo should be our top prospect because he has the highest upside, was picked with the highest overall selection of any prospect in the system, and is crushing the ball in his first taste of professional ball. Jo shouldn’t be our top prospect because he’s far from the major leagues, and we don’t know if he’ll make good on any of that potential.
Brandon Marsh – Fans have been eager to see Marsh in action, and so far, they’ve been left wanting. But still, in the few games that we’ve had the chance to see him play, Marsh has lived up to all the expectations and then some. He played is seven games, put up numbers across the board while hitting .500. He should be our top prospect because he’s the best combination of upside and performance (limited) so far. His upside might be higher than anyone besides Adell. He shouldn’t be the top prospect because he just hasn’t been healthy enough to justify it, and he isn’t a first round pick.
Griffin Canning – Canning had a great season at UCLA, but accumulated enough innings that the Angels didn’t see any upside in making him pitch. Canning has a good combination of upside and closeness to the majors. He should be our top prospect because there’s a good chance he’s our best pitching prospect with the most upside. He’d probably be able to get major league hitters out right now. He shouldn’t be our top prospect because he hasn’t thrown a single professional pitch, and even though the Angels felt comfortable with his medical report, other teams passed on him due to potential shoulder concerns.
Jaime Barria – I don’t think any prospect in the season has as much helium as Jaime Barria does. He’s just flat out a good pitcher. He gets hitters out any number of ways and already carries himself like a professional. Jaime should be our top prospect because he’s only 20 years old and is nearly dominant in AA. He made his way onto the Future’s Game roster, and Jaime had a really good outing. He could be a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues at age 21. Barria shouldn’t be our top prospect because he just doesn’t have the upside as others.
Grayson Long – Long is a big bodied starter that keeps the ball on the ground, gets ahead in the count, keeps his composure and is great at putting hitters away in the most efficient way as possible. He’s climbed his way up to AA and probably could be in the starting rotation right now as a 23 year old. Long should be the top prospect right now because he’s the most consistent, reliable option for the rotation right now, is young and could be a fixture in the rotation for years. There’s no risk of him being a reliever. Grayson shouldn’t be our top prospect because he isn’t as young as Barria, doesn’t have the upside as Rodriguez, and wasn’t drafted as high as others.
Trent Deveaux – Trent is the highest international signing since Roberto Baldaquin, and before him, Kendrys Morales. The Angels simply didn’t have the men on the ground to sign many of the top Dominican or Venezuelan prospects. So they jumped head first into the biggest emerging market in the prospect world right now, which is the Bahamas. Deveaux should be the top prospect in the Angels system because they spent 1.5 million of their international budget to acquire him. When you compare that someone like Adell in terms of percentage, the Angels risked a lot more to bring in Trent Deveaux. Deveaux also has maybe the highest upside in the system, and the Angels themselves said they picture Trent breaking into the major leagues at age 20. Trent shouldn’t be the top prospect because he hasn’t had a single professional at bat, and is still a long way away from the majors.
Chris Rodriguez – Rodriguez has everything you’re looking for from a pitching prospect. Premium fastball, great breaking ball, developing change up, athleticism, and youth. He’s made this way to Orem this year and in his last three starts has flashed that extreme upside of his. Chris should be the top prospect because he has the highest upside of any pitcher in the system and has already started showing he can make good on it and develop into a front of the rotation starter. Rodriguez shouldn’t be our top prospect because he isn’t close to the majors, we have no idea if he’ll make good on that potential, doesn’t have a viable third pitch yet, and still has some reliever potential in him.