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Los Angeles Angels Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

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New general manager Billy Eppler has his work cut out for him on the farm, but there are still useful prospects for fantasy owners. Who are the top 10 fantasy prospects in their system?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

With the playoffs in full swing, that means it will be time for teams to assess their needs for next season and start planning for a longer than hoped offseason. We're at the same point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and we're here to help you with the information you need as you prepare for your minor league drafts.

In previous years, we have done rather intensive top 10 prospect lists, including an organizational rundown, opportunities in the coming season, as well as the top fantasy prospects. However, we have found that a number of these topics are covered as we continue through the offseason, and specifically through profiles done as a part of our preseason redraft rankings. As a result, this year's top 10 lists will be primarily that: a list of the prospects with brief writeups rather than the 4000-8000 word opuses that have occurred in the past. We feel that this year's format will both suit the goal better (of providing fantasy relevant information and rankings) as well as allow us to move through them much more quickly so that they can be completed by the Christmas holiday.

The schedule itself is fairly basic: We cover a division, going in alphabetical order of city/location name. This means the next team after this post will be the Athletics, and finish the division with the Mariners and Rangers. After that, we'll start over on the East Coast in the National League and do the same.

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat I provide every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the offseason, and so it is very possible that by the end of the offseason, how we view a player may be very different from where we had them originally.  We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

Something new I wanted to introduce this year is a tier system to help delineate where prospects are likely to fall on the overall top prospect list. We have not completed our top prospects lists yet, and will not likely do so until we are close to finishing all the prospect rankings. The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers which do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

There are no Angels' prospects in this tier.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

#1 - Sean Newcomb (LHP)
Age on Opening Day: 22
ETA: 2017

The Angels' top draft pick from 2014 is the clear top prospect in this system. He pitched at three full-season levels this year, reaching AA and even pitching well in the southern half of the California League. The numbers jump off the page, with 168 strikeouts in 136 innings pitched, but with 76 walks there's more to work on. He needs to work on his consistency in terms of command and his delivery, but the repertoire (three average to above-average pitches) and overall projection point to a mid-rotation starting pitcher if he can resolve those concerns. The profile reminds me of early career Francisco Liriano, in that there will be days where you get a potential ace on your team, and others where you want to scream from the inconsistent performance. The hope is that as he goes through AA and AAA, those inconsistencies start to smooth out some.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats like 12 and 14 team leagues.

There are no Angels' prospects in this tier.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#2 - Kyle Kubitza (3B)
Age on Opening Day: 25
ETA: 2016

The Angels acquired Kubitza from the Braves last offseason in exchange for young LHP Ricardo Sanchez, and he spent the majority of the season at AAA Salt Lake City.  He also debuted in the majors, appearing in a total of 19 games across three stints and hitting .194 with a 38% strikeout rate in 39 at bats. The early performance isn't a great indicator of his potential, which could be to provide a solid batting average, good on-base percentage (an 11% walk rate this year was the lowest of his career), and some power. It's a profile that isn't a starter in shallow formats, but in AL-only leagues could be a solid performer in a CI spot.

#3 - Taylor Ward (C)
Age on Opening Day: 22
ETA: 2017

Ward made his professional debut with the Angels' short season affiliate in Orem, and after a strong 32 game performance, was moved up to full-season ball for his last 24. The performance was excellent at both levels, hitting .348/.457/.438 with three home runs and a 39:23 BB:K ratio. Ward is considered an excellent defensive catcher, which helps both his real life and fantasy value. The upside is for a good hitter for a catcher, providing 12-15 home runs with a .250-.260 batting average.

#4 - Chris Ellis (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2017

The Angels' third round pick in 2014, Ellis pitched well in the Cal League (3.88 ERA, 70 K, 20 BB, 53 H in 62 IP) before a promotion to AA in mid-June. His starts once he reached AA were a bit more up and down, including five starts with more than four walks along with four starts with 6+ shutout innings. Ellis can potentially be a mid-rotation starting pitcher, but more likely slots in as a back-end starter unless he can show more consistency from game to game.

#5 - Joe Gatto (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 20
ETA: 2019

Gatto returned to short-season Orem in 2015, throwing a total of 54 innings with 38 strikeouts and allowing 73 hits. Gatto features an above-average fastball and curveball, with a changeup that will be the key determinant to how long he can stay as a starting pitcher. If it develops as hoped, he can be a mid-rotation level starting pitcher that can get a lot of ground balls (62% last year) and provide good fantasy value. He should head to full-season ball in 2016.

#6 - Nate Smith (LHP)
Age on Opening Day: 24
ETA: 2016

A 2013 draftee, Smith split his season between AA and AAA, striking out 104 and walking 43 in 137 innings pitched with a 3.86 ERA. The overall numbers were inflated by a tough 36 innings at AAA, where he'll likely return in 2016. The repertoire is good but not exciting, with the most likely outcome being a back-end starting pitcher that provides good but not great numbers. The profile is more useful as a streaming option in shallow leagues, with better value coming in deep formats. He could be ready sometime in 2016, and could be an interesting name to file away as a reserve pick at the end of AL-only drafts.


Tier 5 - We Ranked Ten Prospects, We Really Did

These prospects generally will be useful in the deepest of formats. Think 24+ teams for mixed leagues and single-league formats with more teams than the league it uses. In many cases, these will be part-time players or utility-types when they get to the majors.

#7 - Jahmai Jones (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 18
ETA: 2019

Jones was the Angels' second round pick this past year, and opted to sign rather than attend North Carolina. He is a toolsy prospect who will be concentrating on baseball completely for the first time, and is expected to be a solid hitter who can provide both average and power down the line. If you're looking for a prospect that could jump up these rankings in a year's time, Jones might be the best bet.

#8 - Victor Alcantara (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2018

Alcantara has worked as a starting pitcher almost exclusively in the minors, but there are questions whether he will be able to stay in the rotation long term. He features a mid-90s fastball, along with a slider and changeup that can potentially be average pitches for him in the future. The potential is there for a mid-rotation starting pitcher if he reaches his ceiling, but the concerns about the development of his slider and changeup along with a high-effort delivery may lead him to a bullpen role down the line.

#9 - Roberto Baldoquin (2B)
Age on Opening Day: 21
ETA: 2018

Baldoquin was the Angels' top international signee a year ago, getting $8M as a Cuban defector. It's hard to knock him down too much for the performance this year (.235/.266/.294), as he missed time in the first half of the year and hit better down the stretch (.262/.287/.314 from July 1 on). The potential is still there for Baldoquin to turn into a solid option at second base, providing a good batting average with a little bit of power to go along with it. With that said, he's probably a better real life prospect than fantasy, as he's expected to provide a lot of line drives and extra base hits, but not necessarily a ton of home runs.

#10 - Kaleb Cowart (3B)

Age on Opening Day: 23
ETA: 2016

It's been a long path to the majors for Cowart, who started his year in High-A after two tough years at AA Arkansas. The Angels moved him up to AAA Salt Lake where he hit a lot better (.323/.395/.491) before he received a late season call up to the majors. You're essentially betting on a lottery ticket here, as Cowart was talented enough to make him a first round pick, but there's no indication that he'll be able to hit major league pitching at this time. He should get a shot at the starting third base job in Spring Training, assuming that the Angels don't sign a free agent for the spot.