By Tres Hefter, AngelsWin.com Columnist
1) Spencer Griffin – OF, A:
Perhaps the greatest surprise of the 2019 hotlist is this week’s top entrant, Burlington outfielder Spencer Griffin! Despite going hitless in four straight games a week ago, Griffin (2017, 16th Rd.) led all Angel farmhands with a 1.122 OPS over the last two weeks, slashing .350/.422/.700, ripping 2 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs, paced by 5 BB vs. 11 K. Only 22, continued strong play could lead him into future discussion on the 4th OF depth charts alongside names like Michael Hermosillo, Brennon Lund, and Torii Hunter, Jr., as Griffin is comfortable at all three outfield positions.
2019 hitting (A): .238/.341/.411/.752 with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 23 BB, 59 K in 44 G/176 PA
2) Cesar Puello – CF/LF/RF, AAA:
The one-time Top 100 prospect continues to play well, earning his third consecutive placement on the Top 10 hotlist. Playing mostly CF over the last two weeks, Puello continues to do what he’s done all season – get on base (.419 OBP), hit for contact (.308 BA), and hit for power (.577 SLG). Only 28, Puello is likely cast as a quad-A player (potential Japanese/Korean league star?) but opportunity remains for him to be an interesting, unexpected contributor to the Angels – or another MLB club – should need arise.
2019 (AAA): .303/.439/.515/.954 with 7 doubles, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 22 BB, 37 K in 41 G/164 PA
3) Taylor Ward – LF, AAA:
Over the last two weeks, Ward has teetered on topping the list, or falling off completely, but in the end, his strong plate discipline (11 BB to 12 K) and power (3 doubles, 3 home runs) kept him in the mix, as he posted a .220/.396/.512/.908 slash in the second half of May. Notably, Ward has played only LF defensively during this time, save for a few innings at 3B yesterday, along with a couple games at DH.
2019 (AAA): .279/.422/.590/1.012 with 11 doubles, 9 HR, 20 RBI, 28 BB, 30 K in 33 G/155 PA
4) Brandon Marsh – CF, AA:
Finally! The talent and athleticism from 21-year old Brandon Marsh has translated into the production we’ve waited for, bringing him onto the hotlist on the strength of a .306/.443/.429/.871 slash, knocking 6 doubles in 14 games, while drawing 12 walks to 18 strikeouts. Playing CF almost exclusively, Marsh will likely soon cede to one of the corners upon the return of Jo Adell, but Marsh’s .935 May OPS, defense, and plate discipline might give him the slight edge on MLB-readiness between the two.
2019 (AA): .273/.377/.350/.727 with 8 doubles, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 24 BB, 50 K in 40 G/167 PA
5) Matt Thaiss – 3B/1B, AAA:
After starting the month of May in a cold spell (.205/.294/.318), Thaiss warmed as the month continued, swatting three home runs and a double, driving in 8, and walking 9 times vs. 13 strikeouts, giving him a .271/.386/.479/.865 slash. Also worth noting, Thaiss played a majority of this time at 3B, eight games, as the infielder continues to improve upon his versatility and thus, his MLB chances.
2019 (AAA): .260/.367/.409/.776 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 31 BB, 36 K in 47 G/215 PA
6) Jose Rojas – DH/1B, AAA:
Mirroring Matt Thaiss, at least offensively, is Jose Rojas, who also started the month of May ice-cold (.159/.174/.273) before re-emerging on the strength of his power (1 double, 1 triple, 2 HR) and a much-improved stretch plate discipline (9 walks to 7 strikeouts), leading him to a .243/.375/.486/.861 slash. One difference between the two is their performance in the field, as Rojas’ limitations defensively have increased his playing time at DH and 1B. Rojas hasn’t appeared in LF since 4/27.
2019 (AAA): .262/.326/.482/.808 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 17 BB, 37 K in 42 G/184 PA
Honorable mention, hitters:
Michael Cruz (DH/C, A+): .333/.345/.519/.863 with 2 3B, 1 HR – not enough playing time (8 G/29 PA)
Jarrett Parker (RF, AAA): .282/.417/.436/.853 with 3 HR, 8 BB, 11 K
Bo Way (LF/RF, AA): .279/.340/.488/.829 with 6 2B, HR, 4 BB, 7 K
Jordyn Adams (OF, A): .283/.309/.434/.743 with 2 2B, 2 HR but only 1 BB in 55 PA
7) Jesus Castillo – RHP, AA:
Castillo continues to re-assert himself as an interesting Angels pitching prospect, adding three more strong starts over the last two weeks, only allowing three earned runs across 17 innings (1.59 ERA) and only walking four. While not blessed with overpowering stuff, only 10 strikeouts in that time, Castillo has helped himself by keeping the ball in the yard (zero HR allowed all year, save for one disastrous performance in late April) and painting the corners with great command. No longer on the 40-man, Castillo still serves as rotation depth, but might also find himself catching the eye pitching-starved teams such as Baltimore, Miami, Kansas City, should the Angels wind up buyers and seek rental help from those clubs.
2019 (AA): 4.01 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .262 BAA, 15 BB, 39 K across 49.1 IP in 10 G/8 GS
8 ) Jose Soriano – RHP, A:
Just like the last hotlist, Soriano surged into placement with a dominant performance at the end of the week, pitching into the 7th for the first time this year, striking out 10 across 6.1 innings on 5/26, punctuated by 19 swinging strikes. The 20-year old didn’t have the prettiest ERA over his last three starts – 5.79 in 15.1 IP – but he did manage 23 strikeouts in that time, keeping walks in check with 7 allowed. Now nearing 50 IP on the year, Soriano is regularly throwing 85 pitches per game, and is likely growing into the Angels top RHP SP prospect, now that Griffin Canning has graduated to the majors.
2019 (A): 3.09 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .224 BAA, 27 BB, 55 K across 46.2 IP in 10 G/9 GS
9) Luis Madero – RHP, AA:
Madero continues to settle in following his recent promotion to AA Mobile, as the 6’3″ 22-year old posted two strong starts over the last two weeks, totalling 11 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, and 12 K. Throwing just shy of 90 pitches per game and currently on the 40-man, Madero’s likely starting to creep into the MLB depth charts and with strong results, could be in line for a September call-up for an audition as a future multi-inning reliever or Felix Pena-esque stater.
2019 (A+/AA): 2.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .235 BAA, 13 BB, 44 K across 33.1 IP in 9 G/8 GS
10) Brett Hanewich – RHP, A+/AA:
Control has long been an issue for 2017 9th Round pick Brett Hanewich, who walked 6 per 9 innings in his first two years of pro-ball. That has not been the case this year however, as Hanewich has halved that total down to a respectable (for a reliever) 3.1 per 9 innings – while boosting his strikeout totals. Hanewich earned a promotion to AA Mobile this week, and continued where he left off in Inland Empire – throwing perfect relief. In his last three games, Hanewich has thrown 5 IP, allowing 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 runs, and striking out 11.
2019 (A+/AA): 0.89 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, .119 BAA, 7 BB, 29 K across 20.1 IP in 14 G
Honorable mention, pitchers:
Patrick Sandoval (LHP, AAA): 7.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA in 2 GS – settling in to AAA SLC
Kyle Bradish (RHP, A+): 9.2 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 16 K, 2.79 ERA in 2 GS
Jason Alexander (RHP, AA): 14 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 19 K, 5.79 ERA – dramatic increase in strikeouts is worth watching
Luis Alvarado (RHP, A+): 10.2 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 18 K, 1.69 ERA in 3 games