Billy Eppler and his staff deserve a lot of credit for turning around one of the worst farm systems in very short order. The cupboards were bare for the Angels just two years ago and now they have 3, maybe 4, Top 100 prospects and high upside prospects further down the list. The latest additions are clearly the most impactful with the off-season signings of Shohei Otani and Kevin Maitan. The willingness to spend in the international market, coupled with some great early draft picks in Jahmai Jones, Matt Thaiss and Jo Adell, is going to pay dividends for LA in the next few years.
- Shohei Otani
- Kevin Maitan
- Jo Adell
- Jahmai Jones
- Griffin Canning
- Brandon Marsh
- Jaime Barria
- Michael Hermosilla
- Leonardo Rivas
- Matt Thaiss
1) Shohei Otani - RHP/DH
Otani has created quite the stir during his rollercoaster week as a member of Major League Baseball. From the high of signing with the Angels and potentially altering the franchise’s future, to the low of a damaged UCL revealed during an MRI, to the questions being raised about how to handle Otani’s unique dual-eligibility in both the real world and fantasy, there is no shortage of hot takes floating around the internet. His value is so closely tied to our ability to deploy him on various vendor platforms it’s impossible to speculate a ranking, but Otani is the most talented player in the Angels system and since, barring injury, he’ll be on the Opening Day roster he’s the easy call for best Angels prospect.
2) Kevin Maitan - SS
The first of the Angels big off-season minor league acquisitions, Maitan was the unfortunate victim of the Atlanta Braves off-season penalties. Maitan was the number 1 international prospect when the Braves signed him in 2016 and the Angels ponied up and paid $2.2 million to acquire him in this unique situation. Maitan has the raw tools to become a superstar - at 6’2”, 190 lbs at 17 years old, he has the frame to develop above-average power and the athleticism to stick at SS for the long haul. The results haven’t panned out in his professional career, but given his young age and the time it takes to acclimate to a new culture and environment I’m not worried about the lackluster statistics.
Maitan is a Top 50 fantasy prospect and went 35th in my recent prospect draft for a new salary cap league. Maitan is one of the few sub-18 year old talents that I would be willing to pay a hefty price-tag for. My preference is to invest in prospects closer to the majors in order to turnover a minor league roster spot more quickly, but the upside with Maitan is so great that it’s worth the long-term investment.
3) Jo Adell - OF
The Angels must be pleased with the impressive debut of their 1st Round pick in the 2017 draft (10th overall). Jo Adell immediately becomes a Top 100 prospect for both MLB and fantasy prospect lists. His slash line is a little misleading because he does have some contact issues and will likely struggle with AVG until he develops better bat-to-ball skills. To put his numbers in context, last year the only player with a greater than 24% K-rate and a better than .288 AVG was Chris Taylor. Trey Mancini was also close with a .293 AVG and 23.7% K-rate. His AVG and K-rate was a rare combination and something I don’t expect to continue.
Picked 58th in my recent dynasty minor league draft, Adell is a high-risk, high-reward investment. There is 25+ HR power and double-digit steal ability with Adell, but the sample size is still too small to understand how the rest of the profile will let those numbers play out.
4) Jahmai Jones - OF
Jones is an AVG & SB profile who has flashes the ability to hit for 20+ HR power. I’m lower on Jones’ ability to develop into that 20-HR per year hitter, but there is still a really nice floor here. Jones is able to play center field, although reports indicate Jo Adell may be the stronger defender and would push Jones to a corner outfield spot if both stick in the system for a few years. I’m trying to hit it big when we get to the backend of the Top 100 prospects list, so I have Jones below Adell but they’ll be interesting to watch develop together and both have a bright future.
Jones went 45th overall in my minor league draft, and I’m not as high on him. He’s closer to a 60-75th overall prospect for me.
5) Griffin Canning - RHP
Canning was shut down immediately after being drafted by the Angels in the 2nd Round of the 2017 draft. He was a standout at UCLA with a 140:32 K:BB ratio and 2.34 ERA in his final season. I love that he’s a fastball/changeup guy with developing breaking pitches that project to be above-average. He was considered a polished pitcher coming out of college and should go straight to Hi-A with the ability to move quickly through the system. If the Angels get aggressive with Canning’s assignment in 2018, that will signal they are even more optimistic of his potential and how quickly he may make it to the Majors.
6) Brandon Marsh - OF
A 2016 draft pick, Brandon Marsh did not debut until 2017 due to injuries. He came out of the gate strong in a small 200 PA debut in Rookie ball and is trending up for 2018. The stats are misleading with 4 HRs and 10 SBs as I believe Marsh will be more of a power threat than a threat to steal 15+ bags in the majors. At 6’4” 210 lbs, Marsh will fill out and keep up the impressive ISO, but likely slow down a bit on the basepaths.
Marsh went 74th in my recent minor league dynasty draft, which is a little high in my opinion. He does have the ability to jump up to a Top 50 prospect next year, but there’s enough risk in the profile to keep him on the outside of the Fantasy Top 100. He’s a fringe Top 100 guy for now and if he continues to rake next year, he’ll make a big jump.
7) Jaime Barria - RHP
Barria flew through the system in 2017 making it all the way to AAA in the season he turned 21 years old. Barria is a command and control type pitcher with three average pitches, but no dynamite put-away offering. His sub-6% walk rate is incredibly consistent across his career and will carry value for him if he makes it to the back end of a major league rotation. Barria does not project to be a strikeout/inning type of guy, but he is trending towards being a solid #4 SP and valuable piece of the rotation.
8) Michael Hermosilla - OF
Hermosilla is an athletic, former two-sport recruit with a slow rise through the Angels system. He was really pushed in 2017 and was able to handle himself at AAA in a small sample size. There isn’t much power in his game, but he does have speed and projects to fill a fourth outfielder role with solid defense. That equates to a fringe-relevant fantasy prospect in dynasty league and at 22 years old, there are better risks to take with more upside. If it all comes together, Hermosilla turns into a #2 contact hitter in the lineup and contributes in R, AVG, and SB for fantasy owners.
9) Leonardo Rivas - SS/2B
Rivas has an advanced approach to the plate and looks like a future leadoff hitter if the rest of his game continues to develop. He’s only 5’10” and 150 lbs and has the athleticism but not the arm to stick at SS, his future may be at 2B. If he bulks up he’s a threat to become a top prospect, but the frame doesn’t suggest he’ll fill out. Rivas’ future looks like a utility infielder type who can provide a spark on the basepaths if needed, but he’s a one grade bump in power away from being a prospect to target in all leagues.
10) Matt Thaiss - 1B
Thaiss’ spot in this list would make you think he took a giant step back in 2017, but it is more a byproduct of the influx of talent to the Angels system. Thaiss’ only real setback was his move off catcher. It was expected even last year, but he’s officially a 1B prospect and there is a ton of pressure on his bat to carry him through the upper minors. I am intrigued by his approach and patience at the plate, but the power needs a huge bump for him to move back to the top half of this list. If you still own Thaiss, I’d hang tight but I’m not going out of my way to acquire him in new leagues.
What do you think? Any other prospects that need to be on the radar for fantasy owners this season? Leave a comment below or don’t hesitate to reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter