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AngelsWin.com Today: 2019 Angelswin.com Primer Series: Third Base


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By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer

As you can see from the chart above the Angels received a dreadful amount of offense from the hot corner, for the 2018 season, split primarily between five players (Fletcher, Cowart, Ward, Valbuena, and Cozart).

Most of that offensive production came from David Fletcher (1.4 WAR) who also played elite defense in a limited sample size. Near the end of the season, on August 14th, the Angels promoted young Taylor Ward, our top 3B prospect, to man the hot corner. Although he struggled with the bat (60 wRC+) his defense was solid in a small sample size, giving hope that he can eventually be a good solution at the position.

Earlier in the Primer Series we discussed the Angels production needs and goals. It is clear that team offense needs to improve, particularly against left-handed pitching, and defense needs to remain stable or even improve at the hot corner. Third base, across all 30 teams in Major League Baseball (MLB), has been a position associated with offensive firepower as can be seen in the figure below:

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It is because of Ward’s initial inexperience and poor offensive performance that will almost certainly lead the Angels to do one of the following: 1) find a one or two year temporary solution to man the hot corner until Ward is truly ready, 2) sign or trade for a long-term answer and use Taylor at 1B, long-term, or as depth at the corners, 3) find a platoon partner that can hit right-handed pitching well to compliment Taylor, or 4) obtain a long-term solution and use Ward as a trade chip.

It is the authors feeling that the Angels do envision Ward being part of their long-term outlook, as he carried, in Minor League AAA, a 167 wRC+ and a .446 on-base percentage (OBP) for the 2018 season. Because of that potential, finding a one or two year stopgap until Ward is ready makes some degree of sense unless the team really feels he can win the job outright or can be productive with a platoon partner. This would be consistent with Billy Eppler’s statement about affording some of the younger players an opportunity to win playing time. Notably, if you bring in a short-term asset, you not only increase production in 2019 and possibly 2020, but also deepen your roster by having Taylor get repetitions down in AAA and whom can be called upon in the case of an injury. This is the path that likely makes the Angels 40-man roster more robust.

In the end the team needs a regular, full-time guy, who can match and improve upon the 1.8 WAR bar that was set from last season. Based on the information above we can begin a player search utilizing FanGraphs.com to identify potential trade and free agent targets that match one or more of those parameters.

Below is a list of the Top 30, third basemen, set at a minimum of 50 plate appearances (PA’s), from 2016-2018, using a 3B split, and sorted by WAR per Game (WAR/G). The author uses WAR/G to better understand how much WAR a player is providing on a per game basis since this sample is taken over a 3-year period and some players have less total playing time than others:

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As you can see there are a lot of familiar names on this list including Ramirez, Rendon, Bryant, Arenado, and Machado. Certainly the latter is available in free agency, although he will come with a potentially record-breaking price tag. Donaldson has already signed a high-value, one-year deal with the Braves and Beltre has retired from baseball.

Defense has always been important to Eppler in his short tenure as Angels GM. He will probably want a player who is at least league average, or above, defensively and in order to figure out who the Angels might target, we will take the table above and parse it out by ranking the players according to FanGraphs ‘Def’ metric and dividing by the number of games they have played over the same 2016-2018 time period (Def/G). Only those with a value greater than ‘0’ are listed and they are sorted from high to low:

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You may be pleasantly surprised to find our very own David Fletcher at the top of this defensive leader board. David has always carried a good defensive reputation in the Minors and despite the small 80 game sample size, the number is consistent with his glove history.

Overall the list did not change too dramatically. The guys you expected to drop off the list such as Matt Carpenter and Nicholas Castellanos did so, leaving a candidate list of 21 players.

We can further parse this list by down-selecting only players that exceeded the League average of 107 wRC+ (then rank them highest to lowest) while also determining which players may actually be available in free agency or trade:

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This leaves the following players:

Free Agents

  1. Manny Machado

Trade Candidates

  1. Nolan Arenado
  2. Anthony Rendon
  3. Jedd Gyorko
  4. Kyle Seager
  5. Justin Turner
  6. Travis Shaw
  7. Kris Bryant
  8. Johan Camargo
  9. Brian Anderson

Some of these names are potentially undesirable to the Angels for many reasons but we will discuss each, in turn.

First of all, we need to start with the elephant in the room Manny Machado. He would clearly fit at 3B for the Halos and has excellent wRC+ numbers against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers in his career.

However the only way that the Angels will sign him is if 1) Arte Moreno authorizes a significant increase in team payroll and exceeds the CBT threshold, 2) the Angels give him a huge multi-year deal, and 3) Eppler structures the contract so that Manny gets a lot of money in his early years (front-loading) and can opt-out after 2019, 2020, or 2021 (or all three). This is, for the most part, a dream scenario of converging events and thus has a very, very low probability of happening, but is not impossible.

When you move on to the trade candidates list, the options become a bit more intriguing.

Normally Colorado would probably not consider trading a key superstar when they plan to compete in 2019. However, Arenado has performed so well over the last few seasons that he now projects to make $26M in his last year of arbitration control next season. For the payroll-conscious Rockies, Nolan may be a luxury they cannot afford. If the Rockies do start the season with him on the roster he could potentially be a Trade Deadline target if the Rockies fall out of contention and, of course, the Halos are in it and need to upgrade at 3B.

Arenado would check off all the boxes for the Angels, too. He plays great defense, has a powerful bat (3-year average of 129 wRC+), and absolutely destroys left-handed pitchers (3-year average of 174 wRC+). The Angels could even potentially try to extend him to a mega-contract as we discussed above, regarding Manny Machado, where we front-load the contract with opt-outs after 2020 and 2021 but that, just like Manny, would be very difficult to pull off (but not unprecedented in modern day contractual structures). If he is available Moreno might jump, whether now or later.

Beyond Nolan, Rendon is in his last year of team control. However, in his case, the Nationals are more than capable of extending him and will likely do so this off-season, particularly because Washington should be quite competitive in 2019 and beyond, particularly after they added Patrick Corbin.

The Braves have a potential surplus situation with switch-hitter Johan Camargo at 3B (and possibly prospect Austin Riley in the Minors) so he might be in play at the right price but it will pull significant assets from our farm system in trade, making this an unlikely scenario.

One name that seems like a good fit further down the list is Jedd Gyorko. The Cardinals are supposedly considering moving him in trade to free up playing time for other players and acquisitions, particularly after they traded for Paul Goldschmidt to play 1B. He plays above average defense in the corner, has the versatility to play other positions, and has some thump and on-base skills that would compliment the roster. He also tattoos left-handed pitchers (3-year running average of 129 wRC+). The Padres are paying $5M of his 2019 salary, which means he would only add $8M to actual team payroll and approximately $4.3M to Average Annual Value (AAV) in 2019 plus he has a $13M team option for 2020, which allows the Halos to ease Ward into the full-time role, if needed. Jedd would probably cost us at least one quality prospect (think one of Chris Rodriguez, Kevin Maitan, or perhaps Jose Soriano for example) plus another lower-level type, maybe more.

Seager plays consistently good defense and has maintained relatively good offensive output, although he slid well below the League average last season. If Dipoto is willing to work with the Angels a deal could come about but Kyle’s asking price is probably a bit too high and his contract length does not fit well in a Ward-retention scenario, so this seems an unlikely course of action.

Kris Bryant is certainly a name that makes your ears perk up but his asking price would be something akin to acquiring Corey Kluber, making this one pretty much a non-starter from the get-go. He has a game changing bat but unless the Cubs are willing to accept Major League talent in return, in addition to one or more prospects, this would damage the Angels future too much in all likelihood, so it is extremely remote in the author’s opinion.

Justin Turner and Travis Shaw are probably not available but are noted here as possibilities anyway. Both however would have a high acquisition price, likely requiring the Angels to send back Major League talent (more so for Shaw), such as a Heaney for Shaw swap, making them long shots at best unless either of those teams were to acquire another third baseman.

The Marlins may be willing to move Anderson since they still have Prado and are not going to compete anytime soon. Brian would have a similar cost to Camargo though and Eppler has shied away from moving major prospects so this is doubtful too.

Of course the Angels could roll the dice and throw Taylor Ward into the fire. Certainly they could employ recently acquired Tommy La Stella in a platoon role if Ward falters against RHP or option Taylor down to the Minors and have David Fletcher replace him. This decision could have repercussions to the Angels 2019 season, if Ward, Fletcher, or La Stella fail to provide consistent, above average production but could prove to be a gamble the Angels feel comfortable taking.

Break the Bank ($151M+)

  • Manny Machado
  • Eugenio Suarez

High Price to Pay ($101M-$150M)

  • Brian Anderson
  • Johan Camargo

Middle of the Road ($51M-$100M)

  • Anthony Rendon
  • Nolan Arenado
  • Whit Merrifield
  • Matt Carpenter

Bargain Basement ($1M-$50M)

  • Jedd Gyorko
  • Todd Frazier
  • Jonathan Villar

Author’s Choice

So if Arte Moreno opens his wallet and allows Eppler to exceed the Luxury Tax threshold and the Rockies decide not to start the year off with Nolan’s ~$26M on the books (three really big “if’s”), I love the idea of bringing Arenado aboard for 2019, particularly if we can extend him. Real long shot here so it is not my primary pick simply because it is pretty improbable to start the season.

Moving back to the more realistic side of 2019 I think that Jedd Gyorko represents a pragmatic target. He hits left-handed pitching well and has been getting on-base at a solid clip over the last couple of seasons. Jedd could even lead-off against LHP and move to the back of the order against RHP or hit in a platoon with a left-handed hitter. His salary ($8M in 2019, $13M next year) fits well on our books and it allows Taylor Ward to act as a depth piece and ease into the hot corner position at his own pace.

So, if pressed, I am going with Gyorko. He may cost more prospect-wise than we like, in trade, but his salary and AAV will give Eppler more to spend in other areas such as starting pitching and behind the dish. Billy could just as easily roll with Ward and then try to acquire a 3B at the trade deadline if Taylor, David, and Tommy falter in the first half.

Like I said earlier, Eppler has more options. They may not all be good ones but as the farm system grows, Billy is afforded greater recourse.

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My sense is that Ward and Fletcher are going to be competing in ST for a starting job, with Cozart starting at the other position, either 2B or 3B. Or maybe the three--along with La Stella--form a platoon situation. I highly doubt the Angels go after Arenado or any other big name, but you never know.

That said, I'm a bit confused. Why is Eugenio Suarez mentioned in "break the bank" but not in your list of possible acquisitions? Also, why would he be that expensive? He is in a lower tier than Ramirez, Machado, Arenado, Rendon, and Bryant, in my opinion.

As for Arenado, he's really good but a bit overrated. Ramirez, Bryant and Rendon are all better; Machado about the same, probably.

 

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29 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

My sense is that Ward and Fletcher are going to be competing in ST for a starting job, with Cozart starting at the other position, either 2B or 3B. Or maybe the three--along with La Stella--form a platoon situation. I highly doubt the Angels go after Arenado or any other big name, but you never know.

That said, I'm a bit confused. Why is Eugenio Suarez mentioned in "break the bank" but not in your list of possible acquisitions? Also, why would he be that expensive? He is in a lower tier than Ramirez, Machado, Arenado, Rendon, and Bryant, in my opinion.

As for Arenado, he's really good but a bit overrated. Ramirez, Bryant and Rendon are all better; Machado about the same, probably.

 

Because he just signed a 7-year contract that will keep him through 2024 plus an option year after that at an incredibly team friendly $76M in total. He is a 3.5 WAR player for the next 5 seasons, a 3 WAR player in 2024 based on a basic aging curve plus year to year inflation. You can argue up or down from that but on my spreadsheet he is has close to $195M in surplus value.

Think of it this way, if he was a free agent today and signed a 7-year contract you'd have to think he gets at least $180M+ if Donaldson is getting one year at $23M and is much older? I could see $200M easy, possibly more.

It's just a number that I use to gauge value and I don't think it is that far off. You can move him down a category if you like but the Reds picked up a massive value deal with that contract in my opinion.

Also I am leaning toward Ward starting with La Stella stepping in as a platoon partner if Taylor stumbles. If he succeeds he could really impact the team I think, particularly if he can get on-base at a good clip.

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1 hour ago, Angelsjunky said:

My sense is that Ward and Fletcher are going to be competing in ST for a starting job, with Cozart starting at the other position, either 2B or 3B. Or maybe the three--along with La Stella--form a platoon situation. I highly doubt the Angels go after Arenado or any other big name, but you never know.

That said, I'm a bit confused. Why is Eugenio Suarez mentioned in "break the bank" but not in your list of possible acquisitions? Also, why would he be that expensive? He is in a lower tier than Ramirez, Machado, Arenado, Rendon, and Bryant, in my opinion.

As for Arenado, he's really good but a bit overrated. Ramirez, Bryant and Rendon are all better; Machado about the same, probably.

 

Forgot to answer this too: Suarez was put in the "break the bank" list simply to give an indicator of what it would take to get him. However I did not include him in the conversation because I parsed that list out by not only positive defense and wRC+ but I also parsed it by what I perceive as likely acquisitions and to me, as much as I like him, Suarez is not a likely option.

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10 minutes ago, floplag said:

i think anyone on the break the bank due to prospects to acquire is pretty much out, i cant see them making that kind of deal.
Its either going to be an FA cash signing, or a lesser type of trade that doesnt cost key guys which actually makes little sense if it isnt an upgrade over what we already have.

Agreed. I think the odds are probably leaning towards running with the kids at this point. Gyorko is about the only acquisition that makes a modicum of sense from a resource perspective that could add value to the team, unless we are going after Machado which I don't think we can do unless Arte really commits heavily and there is no indication he will do so, thus it is very, very unlikely.

I'd rather they simply focus on extending Trout and if they have that locked up, just make the best decisions we can with the rest of the roster based on what Moreno authorizes.

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16 minutes ago, ettin said:

Agreed. I think the odds are probably leaning towards running with the kids at this point. Gyorko is about the only acquisition that makes a modicum of sense from a resource perspective that could add value to the team, unless we are going after Machado which I don't think we can do unless Arte really commits heavily and there is no indication he will do so, thus it is very, very unlikely.

I'd rather they simply focus on extending Trout and if they have that locked up, just make the best decisions we can with the rest of the roster based on what Moreno authorizes.

Well, i think the simple fact right now is that the only way we contend for more than a one game WC is to spend.    Trades really arent in the cards on any scale that will matter. 
The truth of the matter is that we absolutely could, is Arte opened the checkbook.  Yes, it blows the comfy budget for a year or two, but it is what it is.  dont get me wrong i dont expect it, i dont think it will happen, but a fan can dream, lol 

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2 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

My sense is that Ward and Fletcher are going to be competing in ST for a starting job...

And that pretty much wraps this discussion up. The stance Eppler has taken is to utilize the farm to feed the club and minimize trades that reduce the depth that is forming. Without that depth the Angels are stuck in a repeating cycle of being slaves to free agency and with any hopes of retaining Trout, those free agents would be lower tier, basically no better than the prospects traded away but at five to ten times the cost.

Nobody on the list are being targeted. 

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Tommy La Stella was traded for, for a reason. When you just hand the keys of a starting spot in the infield of a competitive major league team, you open up a wide variety of outcomes. La Stella is your insurance in case the outcome isn't as positive as you'd hoped for. He's on hand because one of Fletcher or Ward will be starting, and he lessens that risk. The same with Zack Cozart. Labrum surgeries are no joke and can really sap someone's power and ability to throw. Most reports indicate Cozart is progressing well, but we still needed a plan in place. 

Its just like bringing in Bour. He's there just in case Ohtani is slow to recover, or Pujols slips further. They could rely on Thaiss but he still has some minor league development time left in him. 

Acquiring another starting IF would defeat that purpose of La Stella.

The Angels will have Ward and Fletcher competing in Spring Training, and if it counts for anything, Cozart was always going to be their plan at 2B. I think that that regardless of who wins the Spring Training battle, they'll be at 3B, even if it's Fletcher, who came up as a 2B. I know they're telling Cozart to be ready to play both spots, but the throws at 2B would likely be easier on his shoulder, especially in the early going and late in the season from 2B. 

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21 minutes ago, Second Base said:

Or if Tulo falls in their lap, they may start both Fletcher and Ward in AAA.

Which was my point about having robust depth by potentially acquiring a 3B on the cheap whether it is a Gyorko or Tulowitzki for example. Finding an inexpensive option that can provide some quality production couldn't hurt in the Angels case. It is something they could be considering at the right price to mitigate risk and build really good depth at all positions around the diamond.

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3 hours ago, ksangel said:

Rather than spend $'s on 3B am leaning towards putting those $'s towards  a catcher (Grandal specifically) where the Angels don't have obvious candidate and let Ward and Fletcher play 3rd.

Nice analysis btw...enjoyed reading it

Yep. This is an example of the increased options that Eppler has. The more flexibility, the more the team can improve.

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5 hours ago, ksangel said:

Rather than spend $'s on 3B am leaning towards putting those $'s towards  a catcher (Grandal specifically) where the Angels don't have obvious candidate and let Ward and Fletcher play 3rd.

Nice analysis btw...enjoyed reading it

This is my view, as well. The Angels just have a ton of IF options, but not much at C.

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1 hour ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Holy crap...goldschmidt went to the cards? Missed that.

I think Arenado is the target. Just sucks because he very well could be resigned without ever having a shot at him.

Dang Mang, how'd you miss the biggest deal of the offseason so far? I don't think any trade or signing so far has involved a player of his caliber.

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18 hours ago, Second Base said:

The Angels will have Ward and Fletcher competing in Spring Training, and if it counts for anything, Cozart was always going to be their plan at 2B. I think that that regardless of who wins the Spring Training battle, they'll be at 3B, even if it's Fletcher, who came up as a 2B. I know they're telling Cozart to be ready to play both spots, but the throws at 2B would likely be easier on his shoulder, especially in the early going and late in the season from 2B. 

Yes,  I think this is right - but mostly because Cozart is a better defensive 2B than 3B, which was basically a new position for him. Playing 2B might help him feel more comfortable at the plate. If he can split the difference between 2016 and 2017, say .270/.340/.470, that would be huge.

As for La Stella, to me it means they don't have much faith in Taylor Ward - and I don't blame them. Like Fox Mulder, I really want to believe but find myself unable to. Fletcher has proven himself to at least be a very good utility player, possibly a starting second baseman. He'll be on the Opening Day roster in some role. But Ward hasn't done anything except prove he can crush minor league pitching, and I suspect they'll want him to work on his defense in Salt Lake.

So my guess is that we start the year with Cozart at 2B and a platoon of La Stella/Fletcher at 3B and UT. Ward and Rengifo will both be waiting in the wings.

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5 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Yes,  I think this is right - but mostly because Cozart is a better defensive 2B than 3B, which was basically a new position for him. Playing 2B might help him feel more comfortable at the plate. If he can split the difference between 2016 and 2017, say .270/.340/.470, that would be huge.

As for La Stella, to me it means they don't have much faith in Taylor Ward - and I don't blame them. Like Fox Mulder, I really want to believe but find myself unable to. Fletcher has proven himself to at least be a very good utility player, possibly a starting second baseman. He'll be on the Opening Day roster in some role. But Ward hasn't done anything except prove he can crush minor league pitching, and I suspect they'll want him to work on his defense in Salt Lake.

So my guess is that we start the year with Cozart at 2B and a platoon of La Stella/Fletcher at 3B and UT. Ward and Rengifo will both be waiting in the wings.

Same here. Eppler wanted to open up an avenue for the youngsters to get playing time and I think he's done that.

- Ward can blow up in ST and claim the everyday 3B job. Or he can make the adjustments in AAA and earn it late in the season. There's nothing blocking him. La Stella is here but he's not the sort that stops a prospect with upside.

- Fletcher has earned his way onto the team, and if he wants everyday at bats hhe has an easy path to earn them. He's already an elite defender, and he is a great contact hitter that can be aggressive on the bases. All he has to do is prove he can reach base at a good clip.

- Rengifo I doesn't have much blocking him either. Flat out, if he outplays Fletcher and Ward, he will get his shot.

- If Thaiss or Walsh want everyday at bats, it's not like Bour will be a huge challenege. And we already know Albert's days as the starting first baseman are either done or very close to done.

- And the same with Hermosillo or even as far out as Adell. Kole Calhoun isn't good or consistent enough to prevent someone better from taking over. Plus it's his last year in an Angel uniform.

- And Canning, Suarez and Sandoval, well we've seen how many pitchers the Angels have used the last couple years. If they gets outs at the major league level, they'll stay in the rotation. They don't even need to be that good a much as then have to be that healthy. It's a war of attrition out there. 

So pretty much every prospect the Angels have, has an open path to playing time in the major leagues. That's the way Eppler has planned it, and I think it's a very necessary step in weeding out major leaguers vs. AAAA players. 

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2 hours ago, Second Base said:

Same here. Eppler wanted to open up an avenue for the youngsters to get playing time and I think he's done that.

- Ward can blow up in ST and claim the everyday 3B job. Or he can make the adjustments in AAA and earn it late in the season. There's nothing blocking him. La Stella is here but he's not the sort that stops a prospect with upside.

- Fletcher has earned his way onto the team, and if he wants everyday at bats hhe has an easy path to earn them. He's already an elite defender, and he is a great contact hitter that can be aggressive on the bases. All he has to do is prove he can reach base at a good clip.

- Rengifo I doesn't have much blocking him either. Flat out, if he outplays Fletcher and Ward, he will get his shot.

- If Thaiss or Walsh want everyday at bats, it's not like Bour will be a huge challenege. And we already know Albert's days as the starting first baseman are either done or very close to done.

- And the same with Hermosillo or even as far out as Adell. Kole Calhoun isn't good or consistent enough to prevent someone better from taking over. Plus it's his last year in an Angel uniform.

- And Canning, Suarez and Sandoval, well we've seen how many pitchers the Angels have used the last couple years. If they gets outs at the major league level, they'll stay in the rotation. They don't even need to be that good a much as then have to be that healthy. It's a war of attrition out there. 

So pretty much every prospect the Angels have, has an open path to playing time in the major leagues. That's the way Eppler has planned it, and I think it's a very necessary step in weeding out major leaguers vs. AAAA players. 

I really hope Ward adjusts and Thaiss takes a step forward. I find myself dubious about these two guys. Maybe they'll eventually become major league regulars, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are late breakouts (age 26-27ish) and never amount to more than average players. That said, I do feel that Thaiss has untapped potential, vs. Walsh who has probably maxed out.

Similarly with Hermosillo. I like his skill set and want him to succeed, but I also have the sense that his AAA success won't translate so well to the majors - at least for another two or three years. By that time he'll have been passed by Adell and Marsh, with Knowles, Adams, and Deveaux hot on his heels - so he may not get much of a chance on the Angels, although he really could be an ideal 4th outfielder.

As for Adell, I do think he'll have a harder time adjusting to the majors than, say, Juan Soto, but that he'll get maybe 1-200 PA in Anaheim this year and hold his own. He'll be a plus regular in 2020 and a star by 2021.

Canning and Suarez should get 5-10 starts, not sure about Sandoval but he seems like he'll be in AAA soon enough and maybe get a start or two in the majors. Madero should also rise quickly.

I'm also really excited to see how Hernandez, Bradish, Soriano, and C Rod do in 2019. These guys could turn some heads. 

Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to seeing wave after wave of prospects reach the majors over the next few years. In 2019 alone we'll see debuts from Canning, Suarez, Luis Pena, Rengifo, probably Walsh, Thaiss, Adell, Pat Sandoval. In 2020 we'll see Marsh, Jones, Madero, Kruger, etc.

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8 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

I really hope Ward adjusts and Thaiss takes a step forward. I find myself dubious about these two guys. Maybe they'll eventually become major league regulars, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are late breakouts (age 26-27ish) and never amount to more than average players. That said, I do feel that Thaiss has untapped potential, vs. Walsh who has probably maxed out.

Similarly with Hermosillo. I like his skill set and want him to succeed, but I also have the sense that his AAA success won't translate so well to the majors - at least for another two or three years. By that time he'll have been passed by Adell and Marsh, with Knowles, Adams, and Deveaux hot on his heels - so he may not get much of a chance on the Angels, although he really could be an ideal 4th outfielder.

As for Adell, I do think he'll have a harder time adjusting to the majors than, say, Juan Soto, but that he'll get maybe 1-200 PA in Anaheim this year and hold his own. He'll be a plus regular in 2020 and a star by 2021.

Canning and Suarez should get 5-10 starts, not sure about Sandoval but he seems like he'll be in AAA soon enough and maybe get a start or two in the majors. Madero should also rise quickly.

I'm also really excited to see how Hernandez, Bradish, Soriano, and C Rod do in 2019. These guys could turn some heads. 

Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to seeing wave after wave of prospects reach the majors over the next few years. In 2019 alone we'll see debuts from Canning, Suarez, Luis Pena, Rengifo, probably Walsh, Thaiss, Adell, Pat Sandoval. In 2020 we'll see Marsh, Jones, Madero, Kruger, etc.

I actually think the Angels will be manipulating service time on Adell and Jones.  They'll give them a full year in 2019 of AA and AAA, and then to begin 2020 with Fletcher and Hermosillo at 2B and RF, at least until the calendar turns to May. It isn't ideal, but when you have upside like Jones and Adell, you keep them cost-controlled for as long as possible. 

Same with Canning and Suarez. They'll make some starts in 2019, but that clock won't start for a couple months, so to gain another year of control.

Thaiss, Ward and Rengifo are going to be three guys I will be closely watching in AAA, mostly because there's still some doubt as to whether they are actual major league starters. For Thaiss, there have always been questions about his power. He's built a lot of muscle and reworked his swing to loft the ball in the air more, but there's still some tinkering needed. If it works, he'll be a starting 1B, and if it doesn't, he'll become a corner IF, corner OF bench bat. In Ward, it's pretty clear he can demolish minor league pitching, but he did look lost for a solid month in the majors. Toward the end of the season he got his timing back though. We'll see. The OBP is tantalizing. And Rengifo, no one is sure if the skills translate. He's a good ball player, but he's not that fast or strong, yet somehow the numbers at the end of the year showed evidence of a very good ball player, 2019 should show us if he's Maicer Izturis or if he's Chone Figgins. 

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4 hours ago, Second Base said:

I actually think the Angels will be manipulating service time on Adell and Jones.  They'll give them a full year in 2019 of AA and AAA, and then to begin 2020 with Fletcher and Hermosillo at 2B and RF, at least until the calendar turns to May. It isn't ideal, but when you have upside like Jones and Adell, you keep them cost-controlled for as long as possible. 

Same with Canning and Suarez. They'll make some starts in 2019, but that clock won't start for a couple months, so to gain another year of control.

Thaiss, Ward and Rengifo are going to be three guys I will be closely watching in AAA, mostly because there's still some doubt as to whether they are actual major league starters. For Thaiss, there have always been questions about his power. He's built a lot of muscle and reworked his swing to loft the ball in the air more, but there's still some tinkering needed. If it works, he'll be a starting 1B, and if it doesn't, he'll become a corner IF, corner OF bench bat. In Ward, it's pretty clear he can demolish minor league pitching, but he did look lost for a solid month in the majors. Toward the end of the season he got his timing back though. We'll see. The OBP is tantalizing. And Rengifo, no one is sure if the skills translate. He's a good ball player, but he's not that fast or strong, yet somehow the numbers at the end of the year showed evidence of a very good ball player, 2019 should show us if he's Maicer Izturis or if he's Chone Figgins. 

I have the least confidence in Thaiss being an everyday player out of anyone on the cusp of the majors.  While I like that the power increased, I'd like to see his PD go back to where it was in 2017.  

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3 hours ago, Dochalo said:

I have the least confidence in Thaiss being an everyday player out of anyone on the cusp of the majors.  While I like that the power increased, I'd like to see his PD go back to where it was in 2017.  

Yeah, Thaiss was working through some things last year. It was actually an entire shift in his hitting philosophy from being very patient, contact and on base oriented to picking his pitch and bing much more aggressive on pitches in the zone. It relied on pitch .identification earlier and using a new swing with much more "intention". The previous approach didn't fit the 1B offensive approach that the Angels were looking for, but felt his pitch recognition, hard work and intelligence could lead this overhaul to be successful. Typically they wouldn't completely change a player like that, but they felt Thaiss could do it. 

By the end of the season though, his timing was completely off, but the earlier results in 2018 were promising. 2019 is going to tell us a lot about Thaiss. If he struggles with the swing and approach, then yeah, I'd probably agree with you. But I don't think that'll be the case. Ultimately, as a major leaguer, I think he'll turn into a strange starting 1B, probably similar to Ji-Man Choi. Someone that may only hit 15-20 HR's a year, which sucks for a 1B, but their OBP is ends up being between .350 and .400, so useful, but not above upgrade. 

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