By Tres Hefter, AngelsWin.com Columnist
Many new names dot the hotlist this week, especially among the hitters. Notably, the top three are all former top prospects from other organizations that the Angels have pilfered away through various means recently, further evidence of the strong efforts to rebuild the farm and find under-the-radar, high-upside talent. The lower levels continue to show promise for the next offensive wave, and our A/A+ pitching continues to produce well, with a few starting to graduate to AA.
1) Gareth Morgan – OF, Inland Empire A+:
Plucked from the Mariners organization a few weeks ago, the 6’4″, 220 pound right-handed hitting 2nd Rounder from the 2014 draft has demonstrated absurd power, even for the hitting-friendly California League. Playing all three outfield positions, Morgan has been on an 82-HR pace over 162 since joining the Angels org. 25 games ago, hitting seven homers in the last two weeks alone. Plate discipline, however, continues to elude Morgan – as he drew only two walks against 25 strikeouts in that time. Still, his .333/350/.719/1.069 slash since June 24th is good enough to earn him the top spot on this hotlist. It’s unlikely Morgan ever becomes more than a Jabari Blash-type (Japan and Korea could hone in on him) but he’s still worth keeping an eye on, if only for the fun HR rates.
2019 hitting (IE, A+): .301/.333/.660/.994 with 1 double, 12 HR, 29 RBI, 4 BB, 52 K in 25 G/111 PA
2) Adrian Rondon – 3B, Orem Rookie:
Rondon was the #1 ranked international prospect by Baseball America in the 2014 class when the Rays signed him for ~$3m, but he never produced with Tampa, with his best season producing a mere .731 OPS in Rookie ball in 2016. The Angels swung a deal for Rondon this winter, sending cash to Tampa, and the early returns are promising. Only 20 years old, Rondon is still a bit younger than the average Pioneer League player, and he’s starting to demonstrate the offense many had dreamed on, slashing .378/.385/.676/1.060 over the last two weeks, collecting three doubles, a triple, and two home runs along the way, as well as a couple stolen bases. Playing primarily 3B now, Rondon could become what the Angels had hoped for when they signed Kevin Maitan.
2019 (Orem Rk.): .325/398/.506/.904 with 6 doubles, 1 triples, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 10 BB, 15 K in 21 G/88 PA
3) Jhoan Urena – 1B, Mobile AA:
Urena does not come with the same prospect pedigree of Adrian Rondon, but he was once a highlight of the Mets international spending. Only 24, Urena has turned in a solid AA campaign, recently slashing .375/.444/.604/1/049 over the last two weeks, demonstrating a blend of contact, power (6 extra-base hits), and discipline (6 walks, 13 strikeouts) in 54 plate appearances. Playing primarily first base in that span, Urena has mostly seen time at the corners. He’s unlikely to impact Anaheim, but should the Angels wind up buyers and offer names like Thaiss, Ward, and Rojas, Urena could find his way to the PCL and produce some intriguing numbers, perhaps earning a Cesar Puello-type audition for some MLB team in the near future.
2019 (AA): .273/.347/.410/.756 with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 6 HR, 38 BB, 33 BB, 87 K in 80 G/326 PA
4) Jose Rojas – DH/1B/2B,Salt Lake AAA:
Rojas continues to let up in his ever-relentless quest to beat the odds and reach the big leagues with the team he grew up rooting for. While his defense has led to increasing use as a DH, Rojas recently saw time back at 2B, a position he’s played sparingly, as well as first base. Offensively, though, Rojas refuses to let up, as he powered through the last two weeks with a .283/.353/.630/.983 slash, with 5 doubles, a triple, and three more home runs. Rojas might not have the prospect shine to come up substantially in trade talks, but it’s not hard to imagine some teams taking notice, and he may yet wind up on the MLB depth charts if the Angels are forced to deal away Ward or Thaiss for pitching help. Rojas will be eligible in the Rule 5 draft this offseason if he is not added to the 40-man. He is now sixth in the PCL in total bases with 177.
2019 (AAA): .289/.357/.562/.919 with 25 doubles, 5 triples, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 36 BB, 82 K in 78 G/356 PA
5) Raider Uceta – RF, Arizona Rookie:
Jumping stateside this year, Uceta was one of the Angels international signees in the 2017 class, drawing interest due to his offensive-ceiling with above-average raw power. Only 18, the power has yet to take root, but recent weeks has started to hint at that potential. Uceta has slashed .368/.455/.526/.981 with four doubles and a triple, while maintaining strong contact and discipline (6 BB, 10 K) skills. Paired up with other young outfielders like Rainier Rivas, Trent Deveaux, D’Shawn Knowles, and Alexander Ramirez, the Angels could have a whole new generation of outfield talent soon ranking behind Trout, Adell, and Marsh.
2019 hitting (AZL Rk.): .300/.373/.417/.790 with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 17 K in 16 G/67 PA
Honorable mention, hitters:
Rainier Rivas (RF, DSL Rk.): .455/.556/.636/1.192 with 2 3B, 3 BB, 5 K – not enough PA to qualify, but a great start for the 18-year old
D’Shawn Knowles (OF, Orem Rk.): .424/.474/.545/1.019 with 4 2B, 4 BB, 7 K – also not enough PA to qualify, but he continues to impress
Jared Walsh (1B/LHP, AAA): .286/.446/.524/.970 with 4 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 12 BB, 13 K – solid discipline, also one scoreless inning pitched
Taylor Ward (LF, AAA): .316/.400/.561/.961 with 5 2B, 3 HR but only 8 BB, 15 K
Kaleb Cowart (IF, AAA): .326/.360/.565/.925 with 5 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB, 10 K, 2.2 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, K
Connor Fitzsimmons (1B, A): .222/.317/.528/.845 with 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 16 K
Michael Hermosillo (OF, AAA): .261/.370/.478/.849 with 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 7 BB, 17 K – playing mostly RF
Will Wilson (SS/2B, Orem Rk.): .263/.317/.500/.817 with 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 9 K
6) Kyle Tyler – RHP, Burlington A:
This 20th Round pick from the 2018 draft has not come with much attention, but Kyle Tyler has turned in a solid sophomore campaign, one in which he’s been converted to the rotation like many Angels low-level pitchers. Recently, he’s been boosted by three straight solid starts, allowing only one earned run in 17 IP (0.53 ERA) with only 11 hits and four walks (.88 WHIP). Tyler doesn’t boast big strikeout numbers, but he’s kept walks and hits in check, and could find himself following a Jesus Castillo-type path in the minors.
2019 (A): 3.41 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .209 BAA, 23 BB, 62 K across 71.1 IP in 15 G/12 GS
7) Andrew Wantz – RHP, Mobile AA:
Recently promoted to AA Mobile, Wantz is another 2019 convert to the rotation, and he’s been consistent throughout, enough so that he is probably starting to slot in behind Sandoval, Castillo, and Madero as the next-closest Angel SP prospect, perhaps even being in-line for action in 2020. Like Tyler, Wantz has delivered three straight solid starts, going five innings in each, allowing a 3.60 ERA and .214 BAA, striking out 18, and walking only 5. His prior success in relief roles could turn Wantz back towards the bullpen in the long-term, but he’s quickly becoming one of the better SP prospects in the org.
2019 (A+/AA): 3.73 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .226 BAA, 25 BB, 86 K across 72.1 IP in 16 G/11 GS
8 ) Oliver Ortega – RHP, Inland Empire A+:
An electric performance in the A+ All-Star Game brought some attention to Ortega, who is quickly opening eyes and showing promise as, at worst, a future reliever. His 90 strikeouts on the year rank second across the entire organization – majors and minors – and in the last two weeks, his two appearances have continued to trend in the right direction, as he pitched 11.2 IP with a 1.54 ERA, .175 BAA, allowing only 2 walks against 16 strikeouts. Ortega will need to be added to the Angels 40-man this winter in order to be protected in the Rule 5 draft, so the Angels might promote him to AA Mobile sooner rather than later, or, Ortega could follow a trajectory similar to that of Luis Madero, joining the 40-man while in A+ as a one-year-from-MLB-readiness multi-inning RP or SP option.
2019 (A+): 3.21 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .207 BAA, 37 BB, 90 K, across 75 IP in 16 G/12 GS
9) Hector Yan – LHP, Burlington A:
The strikeouts continue to rack up for Yan – 20 in three starts and 13.2 IP – who now leads the entire organization – MLB and minors – with 98 on the year. Walks continue to be a bit of an issue for Yan, who allowed 7 over the past two weeks along with 7 hits (.240 BAA) and a 4.61 ERA, but the 20-year old’s upside is apparent. While his control might limit him to a future in the bullpen, he is no doubt the Angels third-best LHP SP prospect at this time, behind Suarez and Sandoval.
2019 (A): 3.38 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, .194 BAA, 38 BB, 98 K, only 2 HR allowed across 69.1 IP in 17 G/13 GS
10) Isaac Mattson – RHP, Mobile AA:
Promoted to AA in mid-May, Mattson hasn’t skipped a beat, and has been dominant over the last two weeks, making 4 scoreless appearances, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out 12 in 11.1 IP. He is undoubtedly pitching himself into the MLB relief depth charts, and could even be in the mix later this year – a 5 hits per 9 innings, 0.4 HR per 9 innings, and a 2.7 BB/9 paired with a 13.6 K/9 will do that for you.
2019 (A+/AA.): 1.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .160 BAA, 14 BB, 71 K across 47 IP in 22 G
Honorable mention, pitchers:
Alejandro Duran (RHP, DSL Rk.): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K, 0.00 ERA in 2 games – 17-years old with 4 BB, 32 K, 2.16 ERA in 25 IP
Tyler Smith (RHP, A): 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 11 K, 3.52 ERA in 5 games
Jeremy Beasley (RHP, AA): 10 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 3.60 ERA in 2 GS
Cristopher Molina (RHP, A+): 16 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 10 K, 4.50 ERA in 3 GS
Tyler Carpenter (RHP, AA): 14.1 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 13 K, 2.51 ERA in 3 GS