By Jonathan Northrop, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer
Ranking prospects is an in-exact science, to say the least. Some like to focus more on raw talent, whether athleticism or acquired baseball skills, while others like to look at actual performance. The following list is based upon the subjective opinions of nine different AngelsWin writers and members. The benefit of such a composite list is that we both get a wide array of perspectives and approaches, but we also tend to even out each other’s biases.
A note on methodology: To arrive at these rankings I simply averaged out each ranking; in the case of “honorable mentions,” I counted it as a #31; in the case when a player was neither ranked or honorably mentioned, I considered that as #32 – except in the case of Taylor Ward, who was mentioned on six lists but not on three; those participants felt that due to the fact that his rookie eligibility expired (by 5 at bats) he is no longer a prospect. But I made the judgement call to include him—based on those six lists—because six of nine is a pretty solid majority. If you take issue with Ward’s inclusion, simply erase him from your mental list and move everyone below him up; Luis Madero would be the new #30.
I’ve added in “Ranking Trends” so that you get a sense of the range of how each player was viewed.
The age in parentheses is the player’s 2018 season age, which is based upon the age they are on July 1, the approximate mid-point of the year.
The ETA is based upon age and level, adjusted by my own subjective sense of when we can expect to see that player reach the major leagues.
Finally, I’ve tried to keep the comments as un-opinionated as possible, but in those cases where an opinion is given and seems off-base, don’t blame anyone but this writer.
Without further ado…
1. Jo Adell OF (age 19)
Stats: 290/.355/.543, 20 HR, 15 SB in 99 games at A/A+/AA.
Ranking Trends: Consensus #1.
Comments: Despite a weak finish that saw his overall numbers fall, Adell was everything the Angels hoped for and more, playing at three levels as a teenager. Some scouts and analysts—and not just Angels fans—see him as being one of the highest upside players in the minors. He’s a consensus top 20 prospect in all of baseball, currently ranked #15 on MLB.com’s Pipeline rankings and #17 on Fangraphs’ The BOARD. There’s a real chance that sometime in 2019 he’s the #1 prospect in the minors. He’s the best Angels prospects since You Know Who and a probable future star.
2. Griffin Canning RHP (22)
Stats: 4-3, 3.65 ERA, 44 walks and 125 strikeouts in 113.1 innings at A+/AA/AAA.
Ranking Trends: average 2.1, median 2, range 2-3 (eight 2s, one 3).
Comments: Not bad for a first professional season. Canning utterly dominated A+ (0.00 ERA in two starts) and AA (1.97 ERA in 10 starts) before struggling in the hitter’s paradise that is the Pacific Coast League (5.49 ERA in 13 starts). Expect him to adjust in 2019 and be in the majors at some point. His floor seems to be that of a good mid-rotation starter, his ceiling that of a borderline ace. MLB.com has him ranked #72 and Fangraphs #90.
3. Brandon Marsh OF (20)
Stats: .266/.359/.408, 10 HR, 14 SB, 73 walks in 127 A/A+ games.
Ranking Trends: average 3.3, median 3, range 2-6 (2, six 3s, 4, 6)
Comments: On first glance, a disappointing year – especially after a strong start in A ball. But Marsh greatly improved his plate discipline and showed flashes of better things to come. He’s a good candidate for a breakout in 2019, when he should spend most of the year as a Trash Panda (AA). MLB.com ranks him #98, Fangraphs #58.
4. Jose Suarez LHP (20)
Stats: 3.92 ERA, 44 walks and 142 strikeouts in 117 innings at A+/AA/AAA.
Ranking Trends: average 5.3, median 6, range 3-7.
Comments: Like Canning, Suarez dominated in A+ (2.00 ERA in 2 starts) and AA ball (3.03 ERA in 7 starts) before struggling in AAA (4.48 ERA in 17 starts), but he did eventually adjust. Also like Canning, he’ll start games in the majors next year.
5. Jahmai Jones 2B (20)
Stats: .229/.337/.380, 10 HR, 24 SB, 67 walks in 123 A+/AA games.
Ranking Trends: average 5.3, median 6, range 3-8.
Comments: See Marsh; not a great year statistically, but not only did his plate discipline improve but he adjusted back to second base. I wouldn’t be concerned until we see how his second year at 2B is. There’s a sense that Jones is teetering between a breakthrough to future star status and more of a average regular. #75 according to Fangraphs.
6. Luis Rengifo SS (21)
Stats: .299/.399/.452, 7 HR, 41 SB, 75 walks in 127 A+/AA/AAA games.
Ranking Trends: average 6, median 5, range 4-10.
Comments: Rengifo was a revelation, one of the most dynamic performers in the minor leagues and probably the Angels prospect whose value jumped the most. At the very least he’ll be a very nice super utility player; he may also challenge David Fletcher and Jones for the long-term gig at second base as soon as next year.
7. Jordyn Adams OF (18)
Stats: .267/.361/.381, 0 HR, 5 SB in 29 Rookie games.
Ranking Trends: average 7.4, median 8, range 5-9.
Comments: 2018 first round pick Jordyn “The Dunk” Adams held his own in his first exposure to professional ball. He seemed to be taking a step forward in Orem, hitting .314/.375/.486 in 9 games, before going down with injury. A very athletic player with a high upside, but there’s still quite a range of possible outcomes.
8. Taylor Ward 3B (24)
Stats:.349/.446/.531, 14 HR, 18 SB, 65 walks in 102 AA/AAA games; .178/.245/.333, 6 HR, 9 walks and 45 strikeouts in 40 MLB games.
Ranking Trends: average 8, median 9, range 5-10 (with three not ranked due to loss of rookie status).
Comments:: Angels minor league player of the year? While a dozen or more prospects have higher upside, Ward might have had the best year of any Angel minor leaguer. He struggled at the major league level but deserves the benefit of the doubt. Unlikely to be a star, he could be a solid performer at 3B.
9. Patrick Sandoval RHP (21)
Stats:2.43 ERA, 29 walks and 145 strikeouts in 122.1 A/A+/AA games, including a 0.79 ERA in 7 starts in the Angels organization.
Ranking Trends: average 9.1, median 9, range 5-14.
Comments: Acquired for Martin Maldonado, Sandoval is a very welcome addition to the farm system. Most seem to think he is a future back-end of the rotation starter, but the numbers alone speak of mid-rotation potential.
10. Matt Thaiss 1B (23)
Stats:.280/.335/.467, 16 HR, 44 walks in 125 games in AA/AAA.
Ranking Trends: average 10, median 10, range 5-12.
Comments: Thaiss continues to improve incrementally, although perhaps not quickly enough to get excited about. The jury is still out on his future, whether he’ll be an above average performer or more of a fringe starter/platoon player.
11. Jeremiah Jackson SS (18)
Stats: .254/.314/.491, 7 HR, 10 SB, 15 walks and 59 strikeouts in 43 Rookie games.
Ranking Trends: average 10.1, median 11, range 5-16.
Comments: Jackson showed a lot of game, albeit in flashes of streaky brilliance. After crushing AZL pitching (.317/.374/.598 in 21 games) he really struggled in Orem (.198/.260/.396 in 22 games), so it remains to be seen whether the Angels push him and start him in A ball or send him to extended spring until the short season starts in Orem.
12. D’Shawn Knowles OF (17)
Stats: .311/./391/.464, in 5 HR, 9 SB, 28 walks and 65 strikeouts in 58 Rookie games.
Ranking Trends: average 12, median 12, range 9-16.
Comments: Knowles was considered second Bahamanian fiddle to Trent Deveaux before the season began, but vastly outperformed Deveaux in their first professional showing. He may not have the pure athletic tools of Deveaux or Adams, but there is a sense of him having that x-factor of make-up. Like Rengifo he seems to be more than the sum of his parts, but also like Rengifo it is hard to say how that will translate at the major league level. He’s got a lot of time.
13. Kevin Maitan 3B/SS (18)
Stats: .248/.306/.397, 8 HR, 19 walks and 66 strikeouts, and 32 errors (!) in 63 Rookie games.
Ranking Trends: average 12.1, median 13, range 4-16.
Comments: That range of rankings tells it all about Maitan: He could turn out to be Miguel Cabrera or he could flounder in the low minors and be out of professional baseball in a few years. Perhaps it is time to let go of such comparisons as Miggy and give Maitan the kindness of a tabula rasa of expectations; if you look only at his stat line, you might think “Not bad for an 18-year old in high Rookie ball.” Let’s see how he develops.
14. Jose Soriano RHP (19)
Stats: 4.47 ERA, 23 walks and 35 strikeouts in 46.1 IP at A ball.
Ranking Trends: average 14.8, median 15, range 12-18.
Comments: One of the higher upside pitchers in the system, Soriano flashed excellent stuff but with only mediocre results. A good breakout candidate in 2019.
15. Chris Rodriguez RHP (19)
Stats: Did not play.
Ranking Trends: average 16.1, median 14, range 13-24.
Comments: Did not play due to a back injury. Expectations should be adjusted accordingly, but he’s a similar prospect to Soriano in terms of high ceiling, very low floor.
16. Michael Hermosillo OF (23)
Stats: .267/.357/.480, 12 HR and 10 SB in 68 AAA games; .211/.274/.333 in 62 PA in MLB.
Ranking Trends: average 17.6, median 16, range 13-24.
Comments: A strong defensive player who can field the entire OF, with a bit of pop and speed but mediocre bat. Hermosillo could put it all together in a year or two and be a solid starter, but is the odd-man out in the Angels outfield of the 2020s. At the least, however, he’ll be a very good 4th outfielder.
17. Trent Deveaux OF (18)
Stats: .199/.309/.247, 1 HR and 7 SB in 44 Rookie games.
Ranking Trends: average 17.7, median 18, range 13-27.
Comments: Deveaux looked completely over-matched this year, striking out 68 times in 194 PA. He’s got the talent, but a Jabari-esque batting stance that leaves many scratching their heads. Watch him closely in 2019; he could jump to be in the mix with Adams, or he could continue in the Chevy Clarke School of Prospects.
After Deveaux, there’s a solid drop-off in rankings, with the following players rounding out the top 30:
18. Aaron Hernandez RHP (21)
Stats: Did not play pro ball.
Ranking Trends: average 20.3, median 19, range 12-20+ (one unranked).
Comments: There’s a lot to be excited about with the Angels’ third pick of the 2018 amateur draft; has a good chance of rising quickly up these rankings.
19. Ty Buttrey RHP (25)
Stats: 3.31 ERA, 16.1 IP, 5 walks and 20 strikeouts in 16 MLB games.
Ranking Trends: average 21.2, median 22, range 11-29.
Comments: A savvy pickup in the Ian Kinsler trade, some are considering Buttrey to be the closer of the future; at the least, he’s a central piece of the Angels bullpen going forward.
20. Jared Walsh OF/1B/LHP (24)
Stats: .277/.359/.536, 29 HR, 99 RBI in 128 games in A+/AA/AAA. 1.59 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 8 games in A+/AA/AAA.
Ranking Trends: average 21.3, median 21, range 11-27+ (one unranked).
Comments: A bit under the radar, Walsh has been a steady performer throughout his four-year minor league career, compiling a .294/.360/.496 line in 360 games. Definitely in the mix for 1B/RF in 2019.
21. Jose Miguel Fernandez, IF (30)
Stats: .267/.309/.388, 2 HR in 36 games for the Angels. .333/.396/.535, 17 HR in 91 games in AAA.
Ranking Trends: average 21.3, median 19, range 14-22+ (two unranked).
Comments: Held his own in 123 PA in the majors, although without the sexy high average and power numbers he put up in the minor leagues. Should at least be a solid bench piece.
22. Livan Soto SS (18)
Stats: .291/.385/.349, 0 HR, 9 SB in 44 games in Rookie ball.
Ranking Trends: average 22.7, median 23, range 15-26+ (one honorable mention).
Comments:As with Knowles-Deveaux and Jackson-Adams, the less heralded of the two former Braves prospects had the better year, but in this case AngelsWin writers still ranked Maitan higher, perhaps due to Soto’s utter lack of power (so far) and Maitan’s considerable upside. But Soto is a very nice prospect who should rise up the rankings as he works his way through the organization. Gotta love that OBP.
23. Orlando Martinez OF (20)
Stats: .305/.354/.432, 5 HR in 65 games in Rookie/A ball.
Ranking Trends: average 23.1edian 23, range 19-25.
Comments: Notice the tight ranking range. Hit .375/.415/.604 in 12 games in Rookie ball but came down to earth in A, hitting .289/.340/.394. A Brennan Lund-type prospect.
24. Alex Ramirez OF (15)
Stats: Did not play professional ball.
Ranking Trends: average 23.2, median 21, range 17-26+ (two unranked).
Comments: Very young, just turned 16 in August. Another toolsy outfielder to be intrigued by.
25. Jack Kruger C (23)
Stats: .299/.357/.413 with 7 HR in 97 games in A+/AA.
Ranking Trends: average 25.1, median 25, range 16-25+ (one honorable mention, two unranked).
Comments: Became a sleeper prospect and favorite in prospect discussions, perhaps because the Angels are so weak at the position. Could be a future platoon catcher.
26. Leonardo Rivas SS/2B (20)
Stats: .234/.354/.333, 5 HR and 16 SB, in 121 games in A ball (2 in Rookie).
Ranking Trends: average 26.7, median 27, range 22-28+ (one honorable mention, two unranked).
Comments: Really struggled in Burlington after hitting .286/.443/.396 in 2017, and has been surpassed by players like Rengifo and Soto on the middle infield depth chart. Still might have a place as a major league utility infielder.
27. Luis Pena RHP (22)
Stats: 5.03 ERA, 57 walks and 101 strikeouts in 105.2 IP in AA/AAA.
Ranking Trends: average 27.8, median honorable mention, range 15-27+ (two honorable mentions, three unranked).
Comments: A pitcher whose ERA doesn’t reflect his stuff, which is very good. Should at least have a future as a major league reliever, possibly back-end rotation starter.
28. Jesus Castillo RHP (22)
Stats: 4.94 ERA, 31 walks and 60 strikeouts in 98.1 IP in AA.
Ranking Trends: average 28.3, median 30, range 21-30+ two honorable mentions, one unranked).
Comments: His stock fell due to a mediocre year and possible decreased velocity. Could still be a #5 starter or swingman.
29. Kyle Bradish RHP (21)
Stats: Did not play professional ball.
Ranking Trends: average 28.4, median 28, range 22-28+ (three unranked).
Comments: Fourth pick in the draft, with good upside and should have a quick path to the majors.
30. William English OF/RHP (17)
Stats: .220/.325/.260 in 30 games in Rookie ball.
Ranking Trends: average 28.8, median 29, range 22-30+ (two unranked).
Comments: Not a pretty stat line, but there’s a lot to like here: a very athletic outfielder who can also pitch.
Ranked Prospects By Primary Position
1B: 10, 20
2B: 5, 21, 26
SS: 6, 11, 22
3B: 8, 13
OF: 1, 3, 7, 12, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30
SP: 2, 4, 9, 14, 15, 18, 27, 28, 29
Honorable Mentions: Jason Alexander, Stiward Aquino, Jeremy Beasley, Denny Brady, Ryan Clark, Julio de la Cruz, Francisco Del Valle, Joe Gatto, Jenrry Gonzalez, Emilker Guzman, Brett Hanewich, Williams Jerez, Julian Leon, Conor Lillis-White, Brennan Lund, David MacKinnon, Luis Madero, Simon Mathews, Christopher Molina, Oliver Ortega, Mayky Perez, Daniel Procopio, Jeremy Rhoades, Jerryell Rivera, Jose Rojas, Brandon Sandoval, Tyler Stevens, John Swanda, Julian Tavarez, Raider Uceta, Andrew Wantz, Bo Way, Cam Williams, Nonie Williams, Hector Yan.