In absence of Andy Pages (we barely knew ya, Andy), there are still other green shoots to water and watch grow this season, and a few reliable prospect lists landed this week to measure the impact of the 4+ year farm-development project Billy Eppler began in 2016.
Fangraphs, Baseball America, and MiLB each have something to say about the Angels farm, and among them, the consensus is fairly clear. The Angels have a promising future outfield in three highly athletic prospects: Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, and Jordyn Adams. Beyond those three, there’s a significant gap, and then a rather speculative lot of young position players and mid-development arms that need another season of assessment before they are likely to land on top 100 lists.
Let’s devote a quick capsule to each media organization’s findings.
BA released its organizational rankings today, and finds the Los Angeles Angels system ranked at #16. This is a slight regression from their #12 ranking at the beginning of last season, but a slight improvement on their #18 grade last summer. This middling position is largely the result of having two players in the top 50 in Adell and Marsh:
2 Top 100 prospects: OF Jo Adell (2), OF Brandon Marsh (43)
Skinny: Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are arguably the best pair of outfield prospects in any system. The system quickly drops off after that, but for an organization that has been making every move to try to not waste Mike Trout’s prime years, having Adell ready to contribute is a big asset.
Baseball America is not yet as bullish on Jordyn Adams as some other evaluator teams, but he did receive some consideration for BA’s Top 150 list, so he’s definitely on the radar, and could advance quickly if he has a quick start in 2020 at (most likely) high-A Inland Empire.
Eric Longenhagen – now painfully alone as his wingman Kiley McDaniel has fled to ESPN to take over prospect-peeping duties from Keith Law, who recently joined The Athletic – released his Top 100 list this morning. It’s actually a Top 120 list, but we’ll give him some margin for erring here. It actually appears to be a list of most or all of those prospects who have earned a FV (Future Value) grade of 50 or better at this juncture.
Longenhagen is arguably the most bullish on the Angels system to date, placing a full three prospects within his top 100, and giving them comparatively high rankings. The Angels system itself earned a #18 grade last fall, but there have been subtractions via trade and promotion since that time, as well as FV grade adjustments. I suspect the farm is still in the #16-20 range, but we’ll know soon enough. Here are the individual rankings Longenhagen gives to the favored trio:
- #4. Jo Adell, FV:65, ETA: 2021
- #36. Brandon Marsh, FV:55, ETA: 2020
- #79. Jordyn Adams, FV:50, ETA: 2023
One of the most interesting observations Longenhagen makes is on the limitations of Adell’s arm strength:
“I’ve settled on projecting Adell in left field. The arm strength he showed as an amateur, when he was into the mid-90s as a pitcher, never totally returned after it mysteriously evaporated during his senior year of high school. He has a 40 arm and is such a hulking dude that he’s just going to be a corner defender at maturity. Strikeouts may limit Adell’s productivity when he’s initially brought up, but I think eventually he’ll be a middle-of-the-order force who hits 35-plus homers.”
He also has some color on Jo’s stance, load and kick:
“Adell struck out a lot when he was challenged, and there are people in baseball who worry about how often he K’s, but he was just 20 years old and has had success amid many swing changes since he signed, a common theme among Angels prospects. Adell’s leg kick has been altered and he now raises it even with his waist at apex, and the height at which his hands load (as well as the angle of his bat when they do) was quite nomadic throughout last year. By the time Adell was done with Fall League and had joined Team USA’s Premier12 Olympic qualifying efforts, he had a Gary Sheffield-style bat wrap.”
Also interesting, Longenhagen joins me in believing that Brandon Marsh’s route to the MLB might be more direct than Adell’s, given his defensive profile, and he places a 2020 ETA on him:
Marsh is a better outfield defender that Adell and projects as a clean fit in center field, which, so long as this development holds, should enable him to be an above-average everyday player.
Lastly, it’s clear that FG values Jordyn Adams more than some other outlets, largely based on athleticism, projection and the fact that, as a very raw and inexperienced player, he held his own in a tough league last year:
Scouts were hesitant at first, worried they might be overreacting, but eventually they came to think that Adams’ only athletic peer in recent draft history was Byron Buxton. Teams assessed his signability and the Angels were comfortable using their first rounder on him. He didn’t play much during that first pro summer, but the Angels surprisingly skipped him over the Pioneer League and sent him right to full-season ball, even though he’d only been solely focused on baseball for a year. Adams had a slighty above-average statline there, which is incredible for someone who only just picked up a bat... Adams’ rare physical gifts make him a potential star, though Hi-A pitching will probably be a real challenge for him this year.
Jordyn will be one of two reasons to watch the Inland Empire 66ers this coming year. The offense is likely to be otherwise fairly underwhelming across the board, but the rotation will be stocked with young, mid-development pitchers who made the Midwest League franchise pretty exciting last year. These include Jose Soriano, Hector Yan, Cristopher Molina, Robinson Pina, and the high-octane (and hopefully healthy) Chris Rodriguez. I’ll write about this crew more as the MiLB season approaches.
And speaking of MiLB, their website is taking a novel approach to organizational farm evaluation and assessing by component. Their position player rankings are out, and the Angels’ system is ranked at #9 in positional talent, again chiefly on the strength of their outfielders. In addition to Adell, Marsh and Adams, they mention D’Shawn Knowles (one rumored prospect in the bungled Pederson trade) and Jeremiah Jackson, the Pioneer League leader in HRs in 2019, a likely 2b or 3b at higher levels.
MiLB shares MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings, and MLB assessed Adell and Marsh at #6 and #79 respectively. MLB released its rankings in late January, and the Angels system was one of nine that had two or fewer prospects in the Top 100, though MLB notes that development among some of its younger players might vault it into positive territory in the coming year:
There’s a ton of upside in this system, and while that comes with some risk, even some moderate steps forward, particularly from the toolsy position players, would vault Los Angeles into the top half of farm systems in baseball.
We can hope. Let’s watch and see. More to come soon.
These guys were taking grounders with Rendon yesterday- do you know who that one on the left is? He’s big.
A little hard to see at that distance, but it actually looks like Kevin Maitan. Do you if he was on the lots when you were roaming around?
The position player side of our farm is fun to watch. Lots of potential if some of our athletes develop into baseball players. There’s a difference between the two. But if Adams can develop baseball skills while still running like a deer, that’s a star.
Unfortunately for Eppler, pitching is also part of baseball. Our farm there is full of weeds. Silage corn, not eating corn.
Great recap Turks, and it’s obvious you had to read a bunch to do it so thanks. Billy has stocked the system with a ton of ATHLETES and high upside gambles and I am looking forward to seeing if any of that plays out as many of those guys will be in high A or AA this year.
There are a lot of guys we will get a first real look at who are very high ceiling like Arol Vera and Alexander Ramirez, as well as starting to get a verdict on Thaiss, Jones, Ward and even Maitan and Deveaux. I am actually starting to get a little more bullish on our pitching prospects too. Jack Kochanowicz, Jose Soriano, Chris Rodriguez, Aaron Hernandez, Esteban Yan, Luis Madero, Stiward Aquino, Oliver Ortega, Robinson Pina and Garret Stallings all have some nice tools and will either develop or start to bust this year. To that end I was really bummed to hear Soriano had TJS.
With Anderson hurt I am also now curious to see what Jeremy Rhoades, Brett Hanewich, Andrew Wantz or even Jake Lee (if he continues to K four times as many batters as he walks) can show us this year in the pen.
The pasta is starting to boil as regards the whole “build an organization” plan goes. Pretty much all those pitchers listed can be described as having above average “stuff” but needing command/control…. they need to be developed. As more and more of them percolate up to AA we will see many of them fizzle out, but we may also see a few of them become pretty good prospects, which would help change that mix in our Top 15 to a more even split of pitching/position. That’ll happen if the Angels have actually gotten better at developing players through the org. If not, it won’t. But if coaching has improved and does well this year next years Top 15 for us may have names like Rodriguez, Yan, Stallings and Kochanowicz on it. Even better if it also has a 1st round college pitcher from this year’s draft on it too.
As always, Mr Teeth, an excellent and informative piece. Between the rending of garments over the Dodgers debacle and the anger at the press conference for the Asterisks today, it is nice to read something optimistic.
I’m confused. Does this mean Eppler has done a *good* job?
Well, if you like toolsy position players at the expense of pitching depth or frontline talent. In many ways, the farm mirrors the big league team. It has a handful of studs who are position players, and a lot of lower-level pitchers with relief risk, or with health issues. We learned today that Jose Soriano got TJ last week. He joins Chris Rodriguez as another starter with health problems, though we all hope C-Rod returns to normal play this season after two seasons of back issues.
Eppler’s self-stated goal four years ago was to build a top five farm system. Currently the Angels have a system in the #16-20 range, largely based on three OF talents and some projectable bodies. The system could fall significantly in rankings when Adell/Marsh graduate, or if none of the lotto tickets pan out. On the other hand, there’s always the chance that some of the raw players make measurable steps forward this season. There’s enough there to keep me watching MiLB.TV games for six months.
tl;dr – It’s a middling system that has a couple blue chip pieces, a weak pitching pipeline, and some raw fissile material among its younger ranks. Is that “good”? YMMV.
No, it’s not. It just means he got lucky and didn’t blow pick #10 on another catcher. A couple picks look promising. Wow.
Let’s not forget he also traded our 2019 first round pick for cash – to spend on a pitcher he failed to get. Ok, he spent some of that on Rendon, but pitching was the target and another potential top talent is gone.
Didn’t have enough time with him…or Eppler couldn’t afford to wait himself?
Ohtani will have to show Jo how to cut down the kick. You remember how Shohei “needs” to be in AA. But then he didn’t, after all.
Be interesting to see what happens with Trout and Upton locked in and two potential stars knocking on the door for 1 outfield spot. I keep waiting for the Halos to trade from their outfield depth. Wonder if it happens at the trade deadline. Also I’d love to see you guys put out your own Angels top 30 prospects here.
We’ll definitely put together an Angels top-30 before the season begins.
As you probably know, I’m a strong advocate for dealing from our OF surplus to fortify our pitching pipeline, especially at the AA/AAA level, where it’s pretty mediocre at present.
Can we make J-Up a 1B/LF backup and DH? I’m guessing no because with Pujols and Ohtani wanting those DH AB’s, there is not enough soup for everyone. I know there was talk about moving Upton to 1B after Pujols was done, but we still have 2 years of Pujols.
I’m actually hoping they keep Adell in AAA for most of the year, maybe give him a September call up, and let Marsh be the prospect we bring up in April this year. It won’t do much for the service time on Adell, so I don’t see the org doing this.
Trading youth to keep Upton in LF is bad news, even though pitching needs the help. I’m torn.
I think Upton gets a few days off and definitely some late games off. Goodwin/Trout/Adell is a much better defensive alignment. And on days Ohtani doesn’t DH he could slide get a day off his feet then, too.
Thanks for this. Lonenhagen has a companion piece of players he’s watching to see if they make next year’s top 100. He mentions William Holmes and Alexander Ramirez. Holmes just turned 19 and is a two way player who played a partial season in rookie league. Ramirez is only 17. Here’s the link: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/picks-to-click-who-i-expect-to-make-the-2021-top-100/. They’re both too young as of now, but it’s nice to know that there may be something more in the pipeline.
Yeah, I considered adding that addendum when I wrote this yesterday, but thought it was growing a little long, so I’d save it for a piece on lower-level Angels pitching that I’m going to put together as spring training begins. Thanks for adding it here. Holmes is someone Longenhagen has mentioned in a previous chat. He’s raw AF, but has very intriguing stuff and increasing velocity.
William Holmes = William English, right?
Yes, he had a name change last season. May have the exact details wrong, but I believe he said it was to honor his mother / mother’s side of the family?
I look forward to that piece. I sort of try to keep up with the minors stuff, but I don’t always. I really appreciate it when one of you puts something up.
Gonna be so much fun to watch these guys over the next couple years. Crazy that Adams was able to hold his own against meaningfully older competition given experience. Very, very impressive.
I think it’s interesting that Marsh is projected to make it to the bigs before Adell, I hope Goody continues to be an effective place holder in right. Pederson would have been the right dude in the right place at the right time. Thanks Arte.
Shout out to Turk for Adell’s scoreboard pic, Werner Park is less than 15 minutes from my house. It’s a great minor league facility.
Fangraphs has consistently projected Marsh to reach the bigs before Adell. The fanbase has put Adell ahead of Marsh (in terms of reaching to bigs) due to overall ceiling. He really needs to knock down that K% before his call up.
Agree with you that hopefully Goodwin can hold his own. Also J Up needs a bounce back year. Lots of ifs. I bet we see Fletcher in the OF more than we’re used to, which is fine.