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Executive, Former MLB Player and Prospect Analyst Discuss Angels Top Young Players


Chuck

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By Taylor Blake Ward, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

Spring Training is done, and the real thing all starts now – or technically, earlier before the weekend. Taking a look back at the spring though, we focused on more than a handful of Angels prospects and how different perspectives can come out of spring from a performance standpoint and the trained eye of experts. We asked three different people from three different fields about their opinions of specific players during the spring.

We asked our experts – who consist of an Angels Front Office Executive, a former player who was in Angels camp regularly, and a prospect analyst – about their opinions on some of the Angels top prospects through the spring, as well as some non-Major League standouts from the World Baseball Classic and Angels camp in general.

Our experts were asked to give their opinions anonymously for two reasons. One is that their opinion and work is for their primary employers, and not for this affiliate, and discretion is asked of their employers. Secondly, we do not want their opinions to dictate the opinion of the reader based on who they are and their merit.

With that, let’s jump into this.

 

LOGAN O'HOPPE:

Executive: “Excited for what he brings to the table on both sides of the ball. The aptitude is advanced for his age. He’s gonna turn 23 this year and obviously bringing in a rookie catcher when you’re plans are absolutely to contend, you know, it’s not the easiest thing in the world this day in age but we think he has the capability and aptitude and all the ingredients on the mental side to handle it. We’re excited for the future with him and excited to see what he can do.”

Former Player: “Wow. For me, ‘leader’ would be the one word you can already describe him as. There’s a presence about him. Just the way he walks around the field and his communication and relationship with his pitching staff is amazing for a kid. Also, I love how quiet he is behind the plate. His hands are great. Sets targets. Judging from his swing I think there’s a lot of upside in his offense too. I’m always defense first as far as catcher and as far as you handle your staff and I know for a fact Shohei Ohtani loves throwing to him and for me that’s good enough. When you hear that, that’s good.”

Prospect Analyst: "Impressive behind the dish. Impressive leadership skills as well. All around looked really, really good."

 

JO ADELL AND MICKEY MONIAK:

Executive: “Jo worked really hard this off-season. He spent a lot of time in Tempe over the winter and honing his game defensively. We saw market improvement this spring. I think offensively – progress – maybe not quite to the extent we saw defensively but certainly progress and obviously the tools are obvious. Mickey, same thing. In terms of the at bat quality, he improved in Spring Training. A few subtle things swing-wise that he was working on seemed to translate into games. I think just sending him down to get regular at bats, and obviously we had a full outfield when we’re healthy and really happy with where we’re at at the big league level. Just sending him down to get the opportunity for everyday at bats and continue to develop and I think there’s still more left in the tank there.”

Former Player: “Mickey – we’ll start with him first. First of all, great kid. He wants to learn and I finally saw a confident hitter there and the ball was jumping off his bat. Better coverage of the plate. Exceptional speed I think and good defender too so he could be a really, really good player. I saw him in a high school game when he played against one of my kids (I was coaching) and they were both first round picks. I was impressed then and I am even more now than I was last year. I like what I saw last year, but even more now because I think he’s figured it out with getting his hands through the baseball. Now Jo – I’ve been pulling for Jo since day one. And the power, I mean his body right now is unreal. Strong as can be. I just feel that he needs to just get on a roll where he doesn’t have to answer questions about ‘why is this? Why is that?’ And there were some signs he’s gotten way better defensively and we know all the other skillsets he has, but just letting his hands get through the baseball and not trying to overthink things at the plate. Because he’s got incredible athleticism and he’s got good baseball instincts that I think he still has a chance. I’m not giving up on him because I think he’s still there. He’s still young but I think it’s there where he could be a star.”

Prospect Analyst: "Adell is learning. Ability is there. He needs to keep his emotions in check though. Moniak – Give him a chance at the Major League level at some point and see what he can do. Super impressive this spring but something he's done in the past."

 

JORDYN ADAMS:

Executive: “Jordyn obviously ended Spring Training with the Major League team. Went to Los Angeles to partake in the Freeway Series and that should probably speak for itself in terms of the trend for him. For him, came in physically certainly more developed. I think the mental side of things too. I know our group was pleased with the development there as well. Had a nice camp. Had nice at bats on the Major League side and felt like – obviously brought him to LA, not necessarily a reward but to some extent showed us that maybe he’s not that far away. I’ll be excited to see what he can do, and he’ll be in Triple-A. Brief stint in Double-A last year, but he’ll start in Triple-A and you’re only one step away there.”

Former Player: “Love him. When I talked to Torii Hunter the first thing I said was, ‘Dude, I like this kid.’ I like the way he’s at the plate right now. His hands. They can pitch him inside and he’s able to go inside out on it. He also has tremendous power too. From the kid I saw last year to this year, man, you’re talking about gigantic strides, I mean, gigantic. That I went from, ‘I hope he turns into a pretty good player’ to thinking, ‘alright, this kid could turn into a really, really, really good player.’ I can see it in his eyes. I can see it in his demeanor. He believes in himself now, which is tough in this game. I’ve seen a lot of great players, even when I was in the game, that you could have all the skills in the world but if you don’t have the confidence you’re not going to be around this game long. But now I’m seeing a kid that has some high upside.”

Prospect Analyst: "Very impressive. Took big steps forward this spring on all sides of the game. He's quick, played well defensively at all three outfield spots. I think you're seeing the bat come around and you'll see an uptick in power, especially in Salt Lake."

 

JEREMIAH JACKSON:

Executive: “J.J., kind of like Mickey. I don’t know if it’s noticeable to the untrained eye but knowing the player as well there was some subtle adjustments this year to last year. Offensively, similar in terms of thought there were better at bats. Played some outfield, played some infield in Major League camp. Certainly someone that has all the physical tools. I think his momentum is like Jordyn, similar in the second half last year. Just excited to see continued development. That was something certainly we saw from Jeremiah in 2021, and Jordyn as well. Both those guys, I think the arrow is up.”

Former Player: “Again, watching the game last night and watching a number of Spring Training games down there with him – the smile I see on my face when I see the player he is now from where he was last year and the year before – yeah. The glove plays. The baserunning skills play. He hit a home run to right-center field way out. Granted, the baseball does carry for the most part in Arizona, but when he hit that it was cold and the baseball wasn’t carrying. To hit a home run the opposite way like that – granted, it’s a walkoff in a Spring Training game so I guess it doesn’t matter to most people, but for me when you see a young person do that – because that Spring Training game is a regular season game for these kids because they’re trying to prove something. He’s got a chance of helping us out for a number of years.”

Prospect Analyst: "Another one that was really impressive. He got a lot of opportunities this spring. I don't know where he plays, and I think the Angels are still trying to figure that out too. I think he ends up being a 20-home run, 30 percent strikeout guy."

 

KYREN PARIS:

Executive: “Really, really good Major League camp. Slowed the game down. Thought it was really impressive for a kid his age. His at bats – he’s always controlled the strike zone but showed a good eye at the plate, so that wasn’t all that surprising I guess. Just defensively, made several nice plays on balls in the air, several nice plays on balls on the ground. Having the range either direction. I thought that was the most impressive thing from him this spring was the ability to slow the game down. Sometimes with a lot of young players who get into that environment and the game kind of speeds up on them, and that was the exact opposite for Kyren. He was wired the right way. Physically, he’s developing really well. The ball is coming off hot. I think it’s sneaky power for when you look at him, maybe not the most imposing guy, but certainly there are tools there, no question. Just very young. Another guy who went to Double-A and had some success, so arrow up for him as well. I think what he showed – the slow heartbeat in Spring Training was impressive.”

Former Player: “Again, Glove is outstanding. He hit the ball hard every at bat. At one point he was leading the team in RBI and everything else down there in Spring Training. I was trying to pick out guys who really could help this team, especially in the infield where we do have depth at the Major League level, but guys who are playing in-and-out of their normal playing position per se, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the not-too-distant future because I think he does everything really well. Barrels up the baseball exceptionally well at the plate. I know I’m sounding like I’m loving all these kids but I really am. I haven’t been able to say that in years, but these kids are all legit. I think Paris has a chance to be really special.”

Prospect Analyst: "Sky is the limit at the moment with him. It's a beautiful swing. Defensively very good. He has the makings of being a very good second baseman in the future. That's probably the only negative is that he's probably a second baseman."

 

ZACH NETO:

Executive: “(Laughs) His Major League camp was – came in late to games, got some starts towards the end, he was kind of as advertised in terms of at bat quality. Certainly, made good decisions. Showed the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Showed some athleticism on the bases. He came in stronger, especially in the lower half, and I think it showed in his batted ball quality as well. The impact he’s displaying in games, and showed the same thing on the backfields. When he was sent down I saw him in a couple backfield games and it was impressive how he was able to get to velocity (with power). Defensively too, instinctually made a couple of really nice plays. Showed arm strength from deep in the hole. Showed the arm for short certainly. Really excited for his potential and think we got a good one there.”

Former Player: “Okay, that’s my top dog right there (laughs). Exit velocity over 100 miles per hour every at bat. Unbelievable arm at shortstop. Great range. The one thing I love about him and just talking to him – he feels he already belongs, which doesn’t happen often. It’s not just a fake bravado. This kid believes he belongs here right now, and I believe he’s almost there right now that quickly. I know the whole thing about wanting to see kids get – especially hitters – get at bats in the minors, and a number of at bats per se, but he’s knocking on stardom right now. Real close. Real, real close. Love his arm, love his attitude, love his confidence. And boy, he makes the approach at the plate where he has that high leg kick, put him against two strikes and it’s a different swing and different path and still the ball is jumping off the bat so well. He’s legit. He’s totally legit.”

Prospect Analyst: "Neto was impressive. He's gonna stick at shortstop defensively. He's gonna hit well. I like the two-strike approach as well, which is nice to see. The only thing that might lack is power in my opinion but if everything else pans out and he's a 10-home run guy it's not a horrible thing."

 

CHASE SILSETH:

Executive: “I think the biggest thing with Chase is the development of his slider. He calls it a cutter. It’s arguably his best pitch in my mind. Was a consistent plus pitch, swing-and-miss offering. It acts more like a slider with sharp tilt in the upper 80’s. He calls it a cutter. I remember C.C. Sabathia would call his sweeper a cutter so it just kind of how guys do that as a cue for themselves to make sure they’re throwing it the right way but that was the most encouraging thing with him. Something consistent that’s harder versus his two-plane curveball and the split where at times the command can waver. So that was, to me, the most encouraging thing for him. He’ll go to Triple-A. There was some debate about that but I think a new environment for him. He spent the year last year at Double-A when he wasn’t in the big leagues so certainly still high on him.”

Former Player: “I always say, I call him a miniature version of Alek Manoah from the Jays. I know that’s pretty tough to make any comparison because I know that guy is already one of the best pitchers in the game and still a young kid himself, but Chase has that stuff. Great attitude, fearless, tough as nails. I went through the same process myself – he’ll have a lot of games where he’ll go seven innings and no runs and then other games where it gets by him too quick. Once he figures out how to slow down the process when you give up a couple hits or a couple flares or something goes against you, he’s a top of the rotation guy. He throws that hard. The splitter, the sweeper-slider is gonna work and play. Same thing with his curveball. His upside is right there, and I think he’s gonna be a help this year.”

Prospect Analyst: "He needs to work on command which I'm assuming he'll do in Salt Lake this year. He probably shouldn't be up this year but if he is he's not a bad option for the Angels. He needs a fourth pitch – something that is hard and isn't straight. Just a better fastball."

 

BEN JOYCE:

Executive: “As good an arm as there is maybe in the world. He’s now throwing a sweeper and harder slider, almost like a cutter. Just refining those secondary pitches. We saw in Major League games too the fastball command can get away from him a little bit. But man, when he’s right, it’s obviously closer stuff. A guy who has thrown strikes adequately enough in the past. Just refining the secondary stuff, I think – even one of those two pitches, whenever that happens, I think you could certainly see him the big leagues soon after.”

Former Player: “(Laughs) Oh man. He’s one of those kids you can’t help but just go ‘wow.’ When you’re throwing 104, he’s wild enough where no one is going to be comfortable in the batter’s box and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It reminds me of (Andre Munoz) in Seattle, that kind of stuff. His slider and his cutter – or sweeper and his cutter, that’s the terminology now – he can throw those for strikes and there’s enough movement. If I’m a right-handed batter, I don’t think I’ll ever get close to being comfortable in the batter’s box. He’s got that kind of movement and when you throw that hard with movement like that – and his body, and I kind of joked around and told some people he kind of reminds me of just a little smaller version of Noah Syndergaard. His body has a chance to be strong for a long period of time and that role he would be in. I would not be surprised if he’s pitching in some big moments this year that quickly even though he has very limited professional innings, but with an arm like that you ride him because he’s that good. He can dominate out of the bullpen.”

Prospect Analyst: "They'll see him up this year at some point. Took huge steps forward, especially from where he was at Rocket City last year. The hard slider/cutter – whatever you want to call that – is really good. When he's on, it's unhittable. When he's slightly off, it's unhittable. When he's bad, he's bad."

 

RANDOM WBC PROSPECT/PLAYER WHO STOOD OUT:

Executive: “Roki Sasaki (laughs). I mean, the arm, the age. Kind of what he did last year – it’s top of the rotation stuff. I know he’s several years away but certainly one to monitor.”

Former Player: “The one kid I really liked was Joey Meseses. Munetaka Murakami from Japan, not that he’s hidden because everyone knows all about him after he broke Sadaharo Oh’s single-season home run record. Especially when you saw him struggle, I mean, he struggled, and he had that big game-winning double that scored Ohtani and other runner to win that game against Mexico. Then he homered against Team USA. That kid, I can’t wait for him to come over to the states as some point, so he’d be my guy right now but it’s not like he’s a hidden jewel. I think a lot of people know enough about him and I’m pretty impressed. Same thing with the pitcher, Roki Sasaki. Pitching against Team USA bringing it, touching 100 with that splitter too.”

Prospect Analyst: "I think the easy answer is Roki Sasaki. That's unbelievable. I want to see him at the Major League level really soon. Beside him, any name from Team Japan. That is a fun team. Also, it was the first time I got to see him play live is Tetsuto Yamada. I think he's really impressive."

 

ANGELS PROSPECT WHO STOOD OUT:

Executive: “I don’t know if Sam Bachman is too easy but kind of just where he ended last year and where he is now. Upper 90’s with two plus secondary pitches. For him he’s right where we want him to be. Coming off last year and seeing the stuff back to where we saw in college, that’s as much as any that stuck out in terms of bouncing back so to speak. Edgar Quero’s bat is for real. He’s gonna get pushed to Double-A. (Our staff) wants to challenge guys and we certainly feel he’s up for it. 20-years-old in that league is not easy so we’ll see there. I think we had several guys who had shown more velocity – Landon Marceaux has shown more velocity. Coleman Crow, same thing. Just improvements there. Intrigued to see what those guys do.”

Former Player: “Two guys. Sam Bachman, I finally got a chance to see him. Again, we know a lot about him but finally seeing him pitch. I’d heard we might see him last year but obviously some injuries slowed him down. He’s a hidden jewel that we might see coming at some point. But Osmy Gregorio, the kid, my God, he can fly. His throw across the diamond with the broken bat, he didn’t even flinch. The barrel of the broken bat went flying by him and he threw the ball to first like 83 miles per hour. Off balance throw. And the way he runs and good enough approach at the plate. I like that kid a lot – I mean, a ton. Watching him run, I haven’t seen – especially with the game now where you might see the stolen base become a legit threat – that kid, I like a lot, a ton. Just seeing him walking around the field at Angel Stadium the last couple of days, I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s not overwhelmed.’ You could tell he likes his big moments so Gregorio would be my guy out of nowhere. Even seeing him in Spring Training and then seeing him on the big stage going against the Dodgers. I know it’s a Spring Training game but still, that speed plays. He went from first-to-third in 7.4 seconds. That’s unreal. Also, Victor Mederos is going to be a beast on the mound. He’s going to be real good. Watched his bullpens. He has some serious upside.”

Prospect Analyst: "Mickey Moniak was a standout for sure. Very impressive but again, he's done it in the past. Osmy Gregorio, actually. I've seen him in the minors before. Someone to keep an eye on. All the tools are there. Interested as to why he hasn't gotten an opportunity in other places before. Just someone I'll keep an eye on."

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