By Tres Hefter, AngelsWin.com Columnist
The past two weeks have seen some big moments from Angels top prospects with Jo Adell climbing to the top of the minor league HR leaders and Reid Detmers posting three starts, and sure enough, this edition of the Angels Prospect Hotlist features a Salt Lake City outfielders and first-rounders, but maybe with a few unexpected names. Aside from the red-hot Salt Lake offense, the other side of the ball has seen the Angels lower-level pitching continuing to dominate with big strikeout numbers across the board.
1) Reid Detmers - LHP, Rocket City, AA:
Detmers delivered his best professional start on May 25th, throwing 6 IP against Birmingham while allowing only one hit, two walks, and one unearned run while striking out 10, bookended with a strong start vs. Pensacola (5 IP, ER, BB, 6 K) and a not-so-strong rematch with Birmingham (2.2 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), giving the Angels top pitching prospect a respectable 2.63 ERA, .220 BAA, and 1.24 WHIP over his last three starts. While the strikeouts and increased velocity have been promising (19 over his last 13.1 IP) the number of hits (11) and walks (6) still show Detmers has some work to do in harnessing his rapidly improving repertoire. Given the Angels struggles on the mound, there's still a chance we see Detmers in Anaheim before the year is out.
2021 (RCT, AA): 4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .240 BAA, 18 H, 4 HR allowed, 9 BB, 30 K across 20 IP in 5 G/5 GS
2) Kyle Tyler - RHP, Rocket City, AA:
Detmers wasn't the only Trash Panda to turn in a couple strong weeks on the mound. 2018 20th Rounder Kyle Tyler arguably might have been even better. Tyler won his last two starts without allowing a single run - earned or unearned - and didn't allow, well, much of anything, walking four and allowing five hits over 13 IP, while also striking out 14. As a result Kyle Tyler was named the Double-A South Pitcher of the Week for May 24-30 after tossing 6.0 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts for Rocket City. Tyler's shiny 0.00 ERA, .122 BAA, and 0.69 WHIP at the AA level places him firmly in the mix of Angels pitching prospects to keep an eye on, as his now consistent strong professional performance (2.95 ERA in 44 G/22 GS, with 52 BB, 151 K in 167 IP) have to be opening some eyes. Tyler doesn't throw very hard, but if he continues his ability to limit baserunners and damage as he ascends, he'll see MLB innings.
2021 (RCT, AA): 2.53 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .228 BAA, 18 H, 3 HR allowed, 7 BB, 23 K across 21.1 IP in 4 G/4 GS
3) Ryan Smith - LHP, Inland Empire, A:
Eventually the Angels will have to start promoting some of their dominant Inland Empire lefties up to Tri-City, perhaps even Rocket City, and start exploring what gems they might be uncovering. Lefty Ryan Smith, winner of the Low-A West's Pitcher of the Week, continued the 66er's rampant dominant pitching over the last two weeks, delivering 12.1 innings of one-run ball, all while striking out 21 - and allowing only one walk. Smith's dominance was highlighted by a May 21st start included 13 strikeouts over 6 shutout innings. Smith, 23, is a tad old for the competition he's facing, but he's essentially halved his BB% while dramatically increasing his K%, giving him some shine to build on. At the very least, Smith could start to join the Angels bullpen depth as soon as 2022.
2021 (IE, A): 1.66 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, .160 BAA, 12 H, 2 HR allowed, 6 BB, 37 K across 21.2 IP in 4 G/3 GS
4) Davis Daniel - RHP, Tri-City, A+:
Speaking of MLB bullpen depth, Davis Daniel could be a name to watch as soon as this year. Daniel's ST invite, strong college performance at Auburn, and promising results to start his pro career in 2021 likely give the 24-year old righty a legitimate shot at seeing September innings, depending on how the Angels and Daniel both fare over the summer months. Daniel, currently working in the Dust Devils rotation, delivered two quality starts over the last two weeks, highlighted by strong control and strikeout numbers - 2 walks to 17 strikeouts in 12 innings, while limiting opponents to 4 earned runs (3.00 ERA) and 8 hits (.186 BAA).
2021 (TRI, A+): 3.86 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .239 BAA, 16 H, 1 HR allowed, 12 BB, 25 K across 18.2 IP in 4 G/4 GS
5) Packy Naughton - LHP, Salt Lake City, AAA:
With AAA offense out of control league-wide, anytime a Bees pitcher posts a strong start will garner some attention. Packy Naughton's near no-hitter on May 23rd, when he went 7.2 IP allowing one hit and one walk while striking out 8, followed a mixed showing against Seattle's AAA affiliate (4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, BB, 4 K). Packy surprisingly has yet to allow a HR in his first 16 innings at the level and is posting strong groundball rates (63%) offering some hope that the funky lefty might have more AAA success ahead of him. Naughton has several names ahead of him on the MLB depth chart, but figures to have a shot at joining the 40-man should the Angels move on from someone like Dillon Peters in the near-future, occupying a spot similarly, providing spot starts or mop-up duty from the left-side when a fresh arm is needed. Still, don't sleep on crafty lefties.
Packy Naughton nearly had a no-no yesterday, carrying one into the 8th in a for the @SaltLakeBees.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 24, 2021
The @Angels prospect is among yesterday's top performers: https://t.co/SUdgRv2PGO pic.twitter.com/legRa4f0xA
2021 (RCT AA/SLC AAA): 3.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .250 BAA, 21 H, 2 HR allowed, 3 BB, 19 K across 20.1 UP in 4 G/3 GS
Honorable mention, pitchers:
Brent Killam (LHP, IE A): 10.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 18 K, 1.74 ERA in 2 starts – one brief stumble cost him a spot in the Top 5, but strong stuff continues
John Swanda (RHP, IE A): 15 IP, 11 H, 6 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA in 3 G/1 GS – remember him? Former 4th rounder hasn't allowed a run in 18 innings despite mixed peripherals
Cooper Criswell (RHP, RCT AA): 10.1 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 15 K, 1.74 ERA, .189 BAA in 2 GS - tall righty continues to produce without dominant stuff
Zach Linginfelter (RHP, TRI A+): 11.1 IP, 13 H, 7 BB, 15 K, 4.76 ERA in 3 starts - mixed results but lots of promise from the 6'5" righty
Jack Dashwood (RHP, IE A): 7 IP, 9 H, 0 BB, 10 K, 7.71 ERA in 2 games - yet to allow a walk in first 14.2 IP while striking out 20
Greg Veliz (RHP, TRI A+): 8.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 14 K, 2.16 ERA, .143 BAA in 4 games - emerging as a dominant lower-level relief prospect
Andrew Wantz (RHP, SLC AAA) 8.1 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 4.32 ERA in 2 starts - solid numbers this season in second AAA stint, could be in bullpen mix soon
Aaron Hernandez (RHP, TRI A+): 8 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 10 K, 1.13 ERA, .120 BAA in 2 starts - 3rd round pick is putting together his best season
Jake Faria (RHP, SLC AAA): 15.2 IP, 21 H, 5 BB, 19 K, 6.89 ERA, .313 BAA in 2 starts - poor ERA and lots of hits, but strong BB:K ratio and length could earn a promotion
Justin Courtney (RHP, IE A): 4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 1.93 ERA, .125 BAA in 3 games - undrafted free agent performing well in first taste of pro ball, a little old vs. league
1) Jake Gatewood - 3B/SS, Salt Lake City, AAA:
Leading all Angels' minor leaguers over the last two weeks is former first-rounder Jake Gatewood, a 25-year old who the Angels signed as a minor league free agent this past winter. Salt Lake's offense has been red-hot of late, and Gatewood played a part in it, slashing .302/.400/.767/1.167 with a double, two triples, and five home runs in this span. While AAA is a hitter's paradise, with nearly everyone posting big offensive numbers, Gatewood's recent breakout could be the start of a former top talent finally putting things together, as his current .839 OPS in AAA - his first time at this level - is a good step above his career .691 minor league OPS and his career best .775 posted in '17 at A+/AA. Could be the start of something exciting.
Jake Gatewood with his 2nd HR of the game for the Salt Lake Bees pic.twitter.com/4IYlBTW9Gp— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) May 23, 2021
2021 (SLC, AAA): .222/.308/.531/.839 with 3 doubles, two triples, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 9 BB, 134 K in 22 G/91 PA
2) Brendon Davis - 3B, Tri-City, A+:
Following the footsteps of Jake Gatewood is another recent minor league acquisition, that of former Dodgers/Rangers farmhand Brendon Davis, selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Originally picked in the 5th Round out of Lakewood HS in the 2015 draft by the Dodgers, Davis was dealt in 2017 in the midst of his best season (a .720 OPS as a 19-year old in A/A+) to the Rangers in the Yu Darvsh deal, but faltered with Texas, hitting only .226 in nearly 1000 PA with the org. Still only 23, Davis has now settled in as perhaps the Dust Devils' biggest offensive threat, especially with Jordyn Adams shelved due to a leg injury. Brendon Davis was named the High-A West Player of the Week after batting .375 (9/24) with four HR & 5 RBI. Over the last two weeks, Davis has hit .292/.333/.708/1.042 across his last 12 games and 51 plate appearances, swatting five doubles, five home runs, and driving in ten - along with a couple stolen bases. Davis might be starting to realize some of the potential that led the Dodgers to pay him 2nd Round money back in '15.
2021 (TRI, A+): .247/.305/.536/.841 with 8 doubles, one triple, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 8 BB, 26 K in 24 G/105 PA
3) Matt Thaiss - C/1B, Salt Lake City, AAA:
Flying under the radar of it all has been Matt Thaiss, whose recent .357/.438/.595/1.033 slash, while no doubt boosted by a .480 BAbip, has one again demonstrated the offensive skillset Thaiss possesses. Mixing power (one double, 3 HR), contact (15 hits in 42 at-bats), and discipline (5 walks to 14 strikeouts) in this span, Thaiss has again shown offensive growth at the AAA level. Now that he's adding catching into his repertoire, it'll be interesting to see how Thaiss balances the new defensive workload with the necessary offensive developments he's had to maintain in recent years.
Matt Thaiss with a game-tying HR for the Salt Lake Bees pic.twitter.com/InR1nJ5m6Z— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) May 30, 2021
2021 (SLC, AAA): .328/.438/.522/.960 with 8 doubles, one triple, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 11 BB, 24 K in 19 G/80 PA
4) Jo Adell - LF/RF, Salt Lake City, AAA:
Despite continuing to post concerning walk-to-strikeout numbers (1 walk to 15 strikeouts in his last 11 games), Adell's recent display of power certainly earned him a place on this list. Adell launched seven home runs over the last week, including six while visiting Las Vegas, putting him in atop the minor league HR leaderboard with 11, tied with Boston's Johan Mieses. Unfortunately for Adell, his .255 BA and .283 OBP over the last two weeks dinged his placing here, but part of it might have been a factor of bad luck; Adell was limited to a .207 BAbip in this span. With this, and the fact that Adell has slightly trimmed his K rate in recent weeks and started to show improving defense, there does stand some reason to believe Adell is beginning to address some of the holes in his game.
JO ADELL OUT OF THE DAMN STADIUM pic.twitter.com/2u0M3Z6tLy— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) May 25, 2021
2021 (SLC, AAA): .237/.290/.634/.924 with 4 doubles, 11 HR, 6 BB, 34 K in 21 G/100 PA
5) Brennon Lund - CF, Salt Lake City, AAA:
While Jo Adell made most of the headlines, it was Brennon Lund who led Salt Lake's outfielders in slugging percentage over the last two weeks, with a .703 slugging since May 17th. In fact, Lund was one of the Angels' best minor league hitters over the last two weeks; his slash of .378/.425/1.128 was second only to Gatewood. What limited Lund was the fact he was kept to only 40 plate appearances in ten games, as finding at-bats in an outfield that includes top prospects in Adell and Marsh (and a productive Scott Schebler) has led Lund to settle into something of a platoon role - he's 1-for-15 against lefties in the season, including 9 strikeouts. Lund has however settled into CF defensively, being the only position he's seen on the field this year, perhaps indicating the Angels are starting to view him as a true 4th OF candidate here in the near future.
2021 (SLC, AAA): .288/.373/.576/.949 with 4 doubles, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 6 BB, 23 K in 18 G/75 PA
Honorable mention, hitters:
Kyren Paris (SS/2B, IE A): .348/.375/.739/1.114 with 3 doubles, 3 triples, BB, 7 K - only thing able to stop Kyren of late has been the IL
Elijah Greene (OF, IE A): .303/.531/.333/.864 with 10 H, 16 BB, 9 K – led all of baseball, major and minor, with 16 walks in last two weeks
Michael Stefanic (2B/3B/SS/LF, RCT AA/SLC AAA): .310/.370/.381/.751 with 3 2B, 4 BB, 8 K – continued strong hitting and versatility earns first promotion to AAA