The minor leagues are brutal. Not just because of the long bus rides, less than favorable conditions, low pay and long odds. The fact is, as a prospect, you either get better or get lost. If a prospect stops developing, that’s the equivalent of getting worse, because others around you are improving constantly. Believe it or not, the Angels have prospects, and some of those prospects breakout. Let’s give you an example from this past season
Michael Hermosillo – Going from a late round pick and someone toiling in rookie ball, all the way to Advanced A Ball, the Arizona Fall League and an invitation to big league camp in the span of one year is serious ground to cover, but that’s just what Michael did. His swing has become grace in motion, and his speed and athleticism has transformed from “athletic enough to overcome deficiencies” to “flat out, a really good defensive outfielder. Michael broke out in big way in 2017 and look like a big leaguer.
So who do we have in 2017?
1. OF/2B Brendon Sanger – Things just didn’t go well for Sanger last year. His move to second base resulted in a lot of errors. At the plate, he just couldn’t find any consistent rhythm. It had to be frustrating because Sanger was such a good hitter coming out of college. While we’ve yet to see it in the professional ranks, we’ve seen flashes. But I expect Sanger to put it all together this year at Inland Empire. Last year he hit .230/.329 with 24 doubles and 4 home runs. This year, I envision .280/.370 35 doubles and 15 home runs.
2. OF Brandon Marsh – It’s difficult to have a breakout season when you’re already a hyped prospect, but Angels fans still haven’t had the opportunity to watch Marsh play, which is a shame. This kid has a unique blend of power, speed and athleticism that could carry him a long way.
3. OF Troy Montgomery – Instead of re-covering who Montgomery is, let me quote his scouting report from this winter, “Montgomery is one of my favorite types of players to get drafted. The type that don’t have any hype, and don’t come with the over-used “5-tool” moniker. Just really good ball players, that do just about everything average or better on a baseball diamond. The type that perform well at a big-time college, but fall to the 8th round of a draft because they’re only 5’10” tall. The type that play a game with such intensity, that others can’t help but look up to this player. Just good old fashioned, blue-collar hard work and the will to win. If you haven’t caught on, I just described Kole Calhoun. In fact, Troy even looks a bit like Kole Calhoun out there, minus the fiery red hair, and slightly less muscular. Same left-handedness, similar skill-set, athleticism, same passion and competitive spirit.”
Montgomery is slotted for A Ball, but that’s more of a roster crunch, rather than a lack of talent. In fact, after being drafted, the Reds almost immediately began dialogue with the Angels regarding Troy Montgomery. as they were trying to get him in return for Brandon Phillips. The Angels of course turned down such proposals, and should benefit from a Montgomery breakout in 2017. Between A Ball and Advanced A Ball, I’m predicting .290/.370 20 doubles 10 triples 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Just across the board production for this kid.
Bonus: Sherman Johnson and Vicente Campos.
Both are technically prospects. Campos is on the DL right now, but once activated, he figures to play a prominent role in the Angels bullpen, and with good reason. His stuff has “late inning reliever” written all over it. And it isn’t as if the Angels are bursting at the seams with options that could block Campos’ path. As for Sherman, the Angels have some uncertainty around second base, third base and utility infielder after this year, as Escobar, Espinosa and Pennington are scheduled to be free agents. as has become the reoccurring pattern with Johnson, the first time he faces a different level of competition, he struggles to adjust. The second time he sees that level, he makes the adjustment and takes off. Last year in AAA, Sherman didn’t play up to his full ability. But this year I’m expecting much better numbers, and a September call up. I think he’ll hit .270/.370 with 25 doubles 5 triples 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases. This should get Johnson in the conversation for all three of those spots.