Prospects are a little like investing in the stock market. You gamble on young players, just the way you would on stocks. You diversify your portfolio just as you diversify your prospects in your system. Some will have a very low floor and a very high ceiling, like high school players with a lot of talent but little refinement. These are basically lotto tickets, you’re just hoping to strike it rich. Then there are safe ones with a high floor and low ceiling, like college players that are short on natural talent but do a lot of little things right. These prospects will likely never make an all-star team, just like these stocks will likely never make you rich, but you need them for safety, for depth. It is in this spirit that I give you, the rising and falling of stocks/prospects.
30. LHP Brian Moran – Falling. Moran was never going to be anything more than a lefty specialist in the pen and was a roll of the dice at that. But given his previous AAA success and the lack of a sure thing in the Angels system made him a necessary gamble. Moran went under the knife shortly after arriving in camp. Suffice it to say, his stock has dropped off the face of the earth. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and pitches his way into the spot the Angels had envisioned for him.
29. RHP Cory Rasmus – Rising. Rasmus was basically the random player they got for selling low on Scott Downs at the trade deadline. He has a decent fastball, breaking ball and change up, but never put it together as a starter and although his surface numbers are pretty in relief, he couldn’t find the strike zone consistently. These issues haven’t been corrected in AAA, but oddly enough in his short stint in the majors so far, he’s been quite solid. He may end up being a solid middle reliever.
28. RHP Kyle McGowin – Rising. Like a firework! McGowin’s combination of deception, fastball and sharp slider helped him mow down the hitters in the Cal League before he was promoted to AA. Of course, given his mechanics, arm troubles are always concern and McGowin immediately went on the shelf with the dreaded elbow discomfort. What was origically thought to be a Tommy John case has turned out to be less serious. He’ll just need to take a couple months off and rehab his elbow. He should be back in action by the end of the year and if he picks up where he left off, he’d be one of the top five arms in the system and a good bet for the majors in a couple years.
27. LHP Jonah Wesely – Steady. As it turns out, Wesely will likely be working out of the pen for the foreseeable future. This would normally indicate his stock will fall, but in Wesely’s case, his aggressiveness on the mound, coupled with his solid fastball-slider/curve combo make him a prime candidate to climb the ladder quickly and make a difference in the Angels pen someday. Some good, some bad means he’s holding steady.
26. IF Ismael Dionicio – Falling. Dionicio hit .354 in Rookie Ball last year as a 2B/3B and earned his spot in A Ball this year where he’s league average aged. However, Dionicio’s either been injured or just played a bench role in Burlington this year, effectively deflating his status on the top prospect list.
25. OF Michael Fish – Steady. It was thought that after his destruction of Rookie Ball, Fish would jump up to the Cal League and climb the ladder. Not so fast. Fish was placed a level lower than we assumed, which has hurt his status. However, he’s still hitting the ball, which helps his case, though it appears he’s not as dangerous of a base runner as we had hoped and there’s more swing-and0miss to his game than we’re comfortable with. Still, Fish’s main tool is that he hits the ball and plays defense and he’s done both this year.
24. 1B Michael Snyder – Falling. Snyder has herculean power, but what he lacks is consistent contact. He’s only hitting .194 in AA this season and has been bit by the injury bug and hasn’t seen the field much this year.
23. RHP Elliot Morris – Rising. Morris was described by us as having essentially picturesque mechanics to go with a solid fastball and change up combo. Morris pounds the strike zone, but can also miss bats and survive later into his starts, so he’s definitely a good pitcher to have in your system. Morris plowed through A Ball with great control and strikeouts. He’s now in the Cal League and while his ERA isn’t as pretty and he’s struggling a little with his command, he’s still showing the same repeatable mechanics and solid 3-pitch combo. Morris looks like a future major leaguer.
22. RHP Arjenis Fernandez – Falling. Fernandez is now in his third year in Rookie Ball. Upon being drafted, Fernandez had the frame and fastball that excited scouts. At age 18 he basically skipped over the Dominican Academy and headed straight to Rookie Ball. Despite a big time fastball and breaking ball, as well as decent control, Fernandez was rather hittable. That was acceptable though because he was an inexperienced 18 year old in his first stint in the U.S. But he showed little or no growth as a 19 year old. Now he’s 20 and is still in Rookie Ball. He’ll need to make progress otherwise he may drop off the list entirely.
21. RHP Keynan Middleton – Steady. Upon being drafted in the 3rd round, we equated the 19 year old Middleton with a 71 or 18 year old high schooler. The reason, he never focused solely on baseball given his prominent basketball abilities. Still, he’s athletic and has three good but raw pitches to work with. Now age 20, he finds himself in Orem again, the site of slaying from last year. He was unable to find the strike zone with anything but a fastball and when that happens, it doesn’t matter if it’s 93 with movement, it’s going to be hit. Middleton showed much of the same in his first start this year, but it’s still early. Again, treat him like a kid coming out of high school, expect him to be raw.
20. LHP Ricardo Sanchez – Rising. If he were literally a stock, investors would be screaming “BUY, BUY, BUY!” at anyone who could hear them. Sanchez was signed as a 16 year old with a 5’10 frame and high 80’s fastball as well as mature approach to the game. Now 17 years old, he’s skipped over the Dominican Academy entirely and finds himself in Arizona. He’s also grown a couple inches and has a fastball that is routinely hitting 95. Depending on how things hake out, he may find himself in A Ball next year as an 18 year old, essentially 3 years younger than the average A Ball player. Lefty with a starter’s mechanics, intelligence and a mid-90’s fastball? I’ll take it.
Credit goes to the Angels International Scouting Director Carlos Gomez on this one. The Angels had a modest 2 million dollar budget for international prospects last year and Sanchez was ranked 27th in the world (prospects playing ball outside of the U.S.). Gomez was so convinced of this kid’s abilities and poise, he reported to Jerry Dipoto that he was a hidden gem and one of the top 10 international prospects. The Angels ended up dishing out over 25% of their budget on this kid alone and so far it looks like it’s going to pay off. He’s drawn comparisons to Alex Torres and Alex Cobb.