The Angels have given Southwest Airline’s Salt Lake-Santa Ana leg a robust workout the last couple weeks, elevating Brandon Marsh and Reid Detmers – our consensus top two prospects – to the big league club, along with Chris Rodriguez and myriad bullpen filler parts.
Assuming both Marsh and Detmers eclipse their threshold for rookie status this year, who does that leave as the Halos’ top prospect? (These are the questions that preoccupy fans of fading teams in August.)
The Halos’ consensus No. 3 preseason prospect, outfielder Jordyn Adams, has struggled to stay above the Mendoza line this year in advanced A-ball, and really isn’t in the conversation, I would argue. But here are a few candidates who potentially make the grade. Who gets your vote?
• Sam Bachman: Purely on the basis of being the No. 9 overall pick in last month’s MLB draft – well, that and his purported 100-MPH heat and grade 70 slider – the Miami OH product instantly becomes a no-argument Top 3 prospect in the org. Signed below-slot, he hasn’t pitched yet professionally, and it’s possible the Angels shut him down entirely for the season, to allay sore-arm concerns.
• Kyren Paris: Though he hasn’t played much this year (82 AB) due to a fractured fibula (ouch!), MLB.com’s preseason No. 5 Angels prospect has done nothing but hit when he has played, slashing .317/.429./.990 at Low-A and rehab rookie league. He’s also run, and run well, with 12 SBs out of 15 attempts. Those are exciting numbers for a 19-year-old shortstop.
• Jeremiah Jackson: Slotted at No. 4 by MLB.com, the 21-year-old middle infielder has similarly struggled to stay healthy in 2021. Otherwise, he seems to have picked up where he left off during his breakout season in 2019: Lots of homers, lots of strikeouts (8 and 59, respectively, in 150 AB).
• Arol Vera: The poster child for the Angels’ renewed emphasis on international talent (he pried $2 million out of Arte during the 2019-2020 signing period… the most since the Baldoquin miscarriage, I believe), the 18-year-old Venezuelan shortstop has impressed during his first taste of stateside action, roaring out of the gate at the Angels’ rookie-league complex in Arizona this summer. After hitting around .400 for the first couple weeks, he’s currently at .320. Good hit tool, good arm, gap power. He’s not Wander Franco, but maybe Dansby Swanson?
• Edgar Quero: Stay with me here. The 18-year-old Cuban backstop was generally unranked and unknown as a prospect at the outset of the season, and for good reason: he only signed with the Angels this past February, for $200,000, seemingly an after-thought acquisition after the team shelled out $2 million for their top target, shortstop Denzer Guzman (currently hitting .300 in the Dominican Republic in 30 ABs). Having defected to the U.S. in 2019 after starring for Cuba’s 16-and-under team, the switch-hitter evidently had a modest profile in scouting circles this winter. Well, it’s safe to say he’s outhit those modest expectations. Playing for the Angels’ rookie team in AZ, he’s proven the team’s most dangerous hitter, with a 1.191 OPS through 20 games, and four HRs. Too early to anoint him the Angels’ top prospect? Maybe, maybe not. It’s unusual to see consistent power in freshly-signed 18-year-olds, with real plate discipline (.503 OBP). And he’s a switch-hitter. And he plays a premium position. It’s been so long since we had an exciting catching prospect, I can’t help but be a little excited… insofar as stats tell us anything about a player. I’d love to see defensive scouting report.
Did I miss anyone?