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By Robert Cunningham, Angelswin.com Senior Writer Note from Angelswin.com: Again, I am making a plea for support, to our family here at Angelswin.com, to provide any donation, even $1, to the AW.com sponsored charity-of-the-month, Hope for Education. If I have to go further, I am willing to take unnatural pictures by tdawg's bunk bed to encourage donations or, alternatively, not show them, at the whim of each individual member of the Angelswin.com family. I know times may be tough for many of you, but even a small donation helps toward a larger goal, so I am humbly requesting any kindness you can afford. Thank you for your time and attention! As we alluded to, in the Introduction article, Major League Baseball (MLB) has taken a financial hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly the abbreviated season combined with a complete lack of in-person attendance at ballgames put a big financial hit on the game. Arte Moreno, himself, indicated revenues came in well short of projections. This financial impact is not insignificant and the likelihood that 2021 will take a similar hit is high. Why? Well, let us just talk it out here. Assuming President-elect Biden takes office on January 20th and, in a likely scenario, puts the country on a 30-60-day lockdown (or some hybrid mask requirement), that would immediately place us in early-to-late March. From there, a probable phased opening of non-critical businesses would take place, not dissimilar to what happened in 2020. Basically, a larger subset of businesses would open and the country would test the COVID-19 stress level on the population. If cases return at a rate higher than expected that would have a very negative impact on any proposed baseball season. However, if the reemergence is successful, stadium play, likely in a limited form, could potentially take place later in the year. Think, absolutely no more than 50% stadium capacity (probably less) in what would likely be another abbreviated regular season. Note this is probably the most optimistic scenario. There is a high likelihood that even if the country successfully reopens that pandemic experts and scientists will almost certainly recommend that large gatherings do not occur within a several month period, even after a clean societal reemergence. The bottom line is that 2022 will be financially rocky for the country and MLB, which will almost certainly result in low to medium attendance, at best, and possibly another shortened baseball season, based on what MLB decides, and is even allowed to do, in a continuing COVID-19 pandemic environment. It could be a 162-game, televised-only, season or some mashup of televised-only and in-person attendance games, ranging anywhere above 60 games. Basically more significant financial impacts to baseball, which brings us to the Los Angeles Angels financial situation. Here is a rough snapshot of the projected Angels 2021 payroll situation as of December 7th, 2020: Table 1 - 2021 Los Angeles Angels Projected Payroll The Angels current Average Annual Value (AAV) payroll sits at about $181M, which is $29M below the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold of $210M for 2021. This is in-line with what FanGraphs RosterResource.com and Spotrac.com show, as well. The arbitration salaries, in Table 1, were pulled, as usual, from MLBTradeRumors.com yearly Projected Arbitration Salaries for 2021 series, this year utilizing Method #3 numbers. Does this mean the Angels can spend $29M? Based on the current economic environment in baseball and the likelihood of another COVID-19-impacted season, the answer may be no. First of all most teams keep some sort of reserve cushion of payroll space to start off each season in order to maintain flexibility heading into the Trade Deadline. For the Halos that will likely be about $10M or so, automatically lowering their available payroll space down to $19M. Moreno’s history shows a trend of modest payroll increases year-to-year, keeping pace with a rising CBT threshold but nothing more or less. During new GM Perry Minasian’s live interview at Angels stadium, Arte did clearly state payroll would not go down, but offered little more. Based on this we will presume the Angels have $19M to spend this off-season for the purposes of the Primer Series, possibly more if the Angels target one or more of Moreno’s aforementioned “impact” players. Also you can clearly interpret the Angels recent non-tender of several Angels relievers as a sign the Angels will probably be fiscally conservative in 2021, based on the notable impacts to the U.S. economy and MLB. The trade for Jose Iglesias, as an addition by subtraction scenario, in conjunction with the Halos moves to kick Hansel Robles, Matt Andriese, Justin Anderson, Keynan Middleton, and Hoby Milner to the curb, will keep the payroll effectively neutral. As a lone counterpoint, the Angels, just today, executed a trade for RP Raisel Iglesias, who is slated to receive $9.125M in 2020, adding a substantial amount to the payroll, reducing the total projected available payroll space by about 25%. It is not just the Angels, either, as evidenced by the Indians placing Brad Hand on waivers (and subsequently releasing him), the Reds trading Raisel Iglesias to the Halos, and the apparent financially-strapped Phillies rumored to be shopping Zack Wheeler. Even perfectly viable free agents that you would expect to pursue multi-year deals, such as Robbie Ray, Drew Smyly, Marcus Stroman, and Kevin Gausman, have selected one-year deals and/or accepted the Qualifying Offer, rather than test a clearly weak free agent market for players. This simply means that the Halos are likely to stay within a tight range of $19M. Certainly, Arte can choose to go up or down but, again, history does not support the notion of a spending spree and internal and external economic factors make it much less likely to happen. As much as this off-season might be a prime opportunity for Moreno to exercise the teams financial muscle for a short 1-2 year period, this year is proving to be the most unlikely year in recent history for him to do it. Only time will tell the tale. One final note regarding MLB and financial expenditures. Despite the clear hits teams are taking due to the pandemic shutdown, there appears to be a collective move by MLB and the owners to take advantage of the situation, making deep cuts to Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team franchises, effectively depressing 2021 arbitration and free agent salaries via these declarations of being in a financial crunch, and cutting out wide swaths of front office personnel and MiLB players. As an outsider looking in, this seems, to me, to be a self-destructive attitude in a business that makes so much money according to Forbes and other publications. Clearly local revenues, which are a main contributor to individual team revenues, have taken a hit due to non-existent ticket sales in a shortened season but the extensive cuts feel deeper than needed. When you look at the numbers it is clear that not playing a full regular season with no ticket sales does result in large losses. However, a full regular season with, perhaps, at least 40% of a typical season’s in-person attendance would bring MLB, as a whole, to a break-even level, give or take. The point is that the latter (40% in-person attendance) is probably a less likely scenario based on our earlier discussion, thus MLB will probably struggle again in 2021 and the owners, even in the face of a fight with the Player’s Union, will probably look to make additional cuts when and where they want and can. The near-future of MLB is not particularly bright, so let’s hope cooler heads prevail and a compromise can be reached, not only in entertaining, at least, a full or partial, televised-only regular season, but also with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and continued baseball for the next several seasons. MLB’s image is teetering on a tightrope with little room for error so they need to get this right.
Hey guys, it's a new year so let's kick off 2019 with a new thread to chat about our top prospects & farm system throughout the minor league season. For starters, here's how we ranked the Los Angeles Angels top 30 prospects. By Jonathan Northrop, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer Ranking prospects is an in-exact science, to say the least. Some like to focus more on raw talent, whether athleticism or acquired baseball skills, while others like to look at actual performance. The following list is based upon the subjective opinions of nine different AngelsWin writers and members. The benefit of such a composite list is that we both get a wide array of perspectives and approaches, but we also tend to even out each other’s biases. A note on methodology: To arrive at these rankings I simply averaged out each ranking; in the case of “honorable mentions,” I counted it as a #31; in the case when a player was neither ranked or honorably mentioned, I considered that as #32 – except in the case of Taylor Ward, who was mentioned on six lists but not on three; those participants felt that due to the fact that his rookie eligibility expired (by 5 at bats) he is no longer a prospect. But I made the judgement call to include him—based on those six lists—because six of nine is a pretty solid majority. If you take issue with Ward’s inclusion, simply erase him from your mental list and move everyone below him up; Luis Madero would be the new #30. I’ve added in “Ranking Trends” so that you get a sense of the range of how each player was viewed. The age in parentheses is the player’s 2018 season age, which is based upon the age they are on July 1, the approximate mid-point of the year. The ETA is based upon age and level, adjusted by my own subjective sense of when we can expect to see that player reach the major leagues. Finally, I’ve tried to keep the comments as un-opinionated as possible, but in those cases where an opinion is given and seems off-base, don’t blame anyone but this writer. Without further ado… 1. Jo Adell OF (age 19) Stats: 290/.355/.543, 20 HR, 15 SB in 99 games at A/A+/AA. Ranking Trends: Consensus #1. ETA: 2020. Comments: Despite a weak finish that saw his overall numbers fall, Adell was everything the Angels hoped for and more, playing at three levels as a teenager. Some scouts and analysts—and not just Angels fans—see him as being one of the highest upside players in the minors. He’s a consensus top 20 prospect in all of baseball, currently ranked #15 on MLB.com’s Pipeline rankings and #17 on Fangraphs’ The BOARD. There’s a real chance that sometime in 2019 he’s the #1 prospect in the minors. He’s the best Angels prospects since You Know Who and a probable future star. 2. Griffin Canning RHP (22) Stats: 4-3, 3.65 ERA, 44 walks and 125 strikeouts in 113.1 innings at A+/AA/AAA. Ranking Trends: average 2.1, median 2, range 2-3 (eight 2s, one 3). ETA: 2019. Comments: Not bad for a first professional season. Canning utterly dominated A+ (0.00 ERA in two starts) and AA (1.97 ERA in 10 starts) before struggling in the hitter’s paradise that is the Pacific Coast League (5.49 ERA in 13 starts). Expect him to adjust in 2019 and be in the majors at some point. His floor seems to be that of a good mid-rotation starter, his ceiling that of a borderline ace. MLB.com has him ranked #72 and Fangraphs #90. 3. Brandon Marsh OF (20) Stats: .266/.359/.408, 10 HR, 14 SB, 73 walks in 127 A/A+ games. Ranking Trends: average 3.3, median 3, range 2-6 (2, six 3s, 4, 6) ETA: 2020. Comments: On first glance, a disappointing year – especially after a strong start in A ball. But Marsh greatly improved his plate discipline and showed flashes of better things to come. He’s a good candidate for a breakout in 2019, when he should spend most of the year as a Trash Panda (AA). MLB.com ranks him #98, Fangraphs #58. 4. Jose Suarez LHP (20) Stats: 3.92 ERA, 44 walks and 142 strikeouts in 117 innings at A+/AA/AAA. Ranking Trends: average 5.3, median 6, range 3-7. ETA: 2019. Comments: Like Canning, Suarez dominated in A+ (2.00 ERA in 2 starts) and AA ball (3.03 ERA in 7 starts) before struggling in AAA (4.48 ERA in 17 starts), but he did eventually adjust. Also like Canning, he’ll start games in the majors next year. 5. Jahmai Jones 2B (20) Stats: .229/.337/.380, 10 HR, 24 SB, 67 walks in 123 A+/AA games. Ranking Trends: average 5.3, median 6, range 3-8. ETA: 2020. Comments: See Marsh; not a great year statistically, but not only did his plate discipline improve but he adjusted back to second base. I wouldn’t be concerned until we see how his second year at 2B is. There’s a sense that Jones is teetering between a breakthrough to future star status and more of a average regular. #75 according to Fangraphs. 6. Luis Rengifo SS (21) Stats: .299/.399/.452, 7 HR, 41 SB, 75 walks in 127 A+/AA/AAA games. Ranking Trends: average 6, median 5, range 4-10. ETA: 2019. Comments: Rengifo was a revelation, one of the most dynamic performers in the minor leagues and probably the Angels prospect whose value jumped the most. At the very least he’ll be a very nice super utility player; he may also challenge David Fletcher and Jones for the long-term gig at second base as soon as next year. 7. Jordyn Adams OF (18) Stats: .267/.361/.381, 0 HR, 5 SB in 29 Rookie games. Ranking Trends: average 7.4, median 8, range 5-9. ETA: 2022. Comments: 2018 first round pick Jordyn “The Dunk” Adams held his own in his first exposure to professional ball. He seemed to be taking a step forward in Orem, hitting .314/.375/.486 in 9 games, before going down with injury. A very athletic player with a high upside, but there’s still quite a range of possible outcomes. 8. Taylor Ward 3B (24) Stats:.349/.446/.531, 14 HR, 18 SB, 65 walks in 102 AA/AAA games; .178/.245/.333, 6 HR, 9 walks and 45 strikeouts in 40 MLB games. Ranking Trends: average 8, median 9, range 5-10 (with three not ranked due to loss of rookie status). ETA: 2018. Comments:: Angels minor league player of the year? While a dozen or more prospects have higher upside, Ward might have had the best year of any Angel minor leaguer. He struggled at the major league level but deserves the benefit of the doubt. Unlikely to be a star, he could be a solid performer at 3B. 9. Patrick Sandoval RHP (21) Stats:2.43 ERA, 29 walks and 145 strikeouts in 122.1 A/A+/AA games, including a 0.79 ERA in 7 starts in the Angels organization. Ranking Trends: average 9.1, median 9, range 5-14. ETA: 2020. Comments: Acquired for Martin Maldonado, Sandoval is a very welcome addition to the farm system. Most seem to think he is a future back-end of the rotation starter, but the numbers alone speak of mid-rotation potential. 10. Matt Thaiss 1B (23) Stats:.280/.335/.467, 16 HR, 44 walks in 125 games in AA/AAA. Ranking Trends: average 10, median 10, range 5-12. ETA: 2019. Comments: Thaiss continues to improve incrementally, although perhaps not quickly enough to get excited about. The jury is still out on his future, whether he’ll be an above average performer or more of a fringe starter/platoon player. 11. Jeremiah Jackson SS (18) Stats: .254/.314/.491, 7 HR, 10 SB, 15 walks and 59 strikeouts in 43 Rookie games. Ranking Trends: average 10.1, median 11, range 5-16. ETA: 2022. Comments: Jackson showed a lot of game, albeit in flashes of streaky brilliance. After crushing AZL pitching (.317/.374/.598 in 21 games) he really struggled in Orem (.198/.260/.396 in 22 games), so it remains to be seen whether the Angels push him and start him in A ball or send him to extended spring until the short season starts in Orem. 12. D’Shawn Knowles OF (17) Stats: .311/./391/.464, in 5 HR, 9 SB, 28 walks and 65 strikeouts in 58 Rookie games. Ranking Trends: average 12, median 12, range 9-16. ETA: 2022. Comments: Knowles was considered second Bahamanian fiddle to Trent Deveaux before the season began, but vastly outperformed Deveaux in their first professional showing. He may not have the pure athletic tools of Deveaux or Adams, but there is a sense of him having that x-factor of make-up. Like Rengifo he seems to be more than the sum of his parts, but also like Rengifo it is hard to say how that will translate at the major league level. He’s got a lot of time. 13. Kevin Maitan 3B/SS (18) Stats: .248/.306/.397, 8 HR, 19 walks and 66 strikeouts, and 32 errors (!) in 63 Rookie games. Ranking Trends: average 12.1, median 13, range 4-16. ETA: 2022. Comments: That range of rankings tells it all about Maitan: He could turn out to be Miguel Cabrera or he could flounder in the low minors and be out of professional baseball in a few years. Perhaps it is time to let go of such comparisons as Miggy and give Maitan the kindness of a tabula rasa of expectations; if you look only at his stat line, you might think “Not bad for an 18-year old in high Rookie ball.” Let’s see how he develops. 14. Jose Soriano RHP (19) Stats: 4.47 ERA, 23 walks and 35 strikeouts in 46.1 IP at A ball. Ranking Trends: average 14.8, median 15, range 12-18. ETA: 2022. Comments: One of the higher upside pitchers in the system, Soriano flashed excellent stuff but with only mediocre results. A good breakout candidate in 2019. 15. Chris Rodriguez RHP (19) Stats: Did not play. Ranking Trends: average 16.1, median 14, range 13-24. ETA: 2022. Comments: Did not play due to a back injury. Expectations should be adjusted accordingly, but he’s a similar prospect to Soriano in terms of high ceiling, very low floor. 16. Michael Hermosillo OF (23) Stats: .267/.357/.480, 12 HR and 10 SB in 68 AAA games; .211/.274/.333 in 62 PA in MLB. Ranking Trends: average 17.6, median 16, range 13-24. ETA: 2018. Comments: A strong defensive player who can field the entire OF, with a bit of pop and speed but mediocre bat. Hermosillo could put it all together in a year or two and be a solid starter, but is the odd-man out in the Angels outfield of the 2020s. At the least, however, he’ll be a very good 4th outfielder. 17. Trent Deveaux OF (18) Stats: .199/.309/.247, 1 HR and 7 SB in 44 Rookie games. Ranking Trends: average 17.7, median 18, range 13-27. ETA: 2022. Comments: Deveaux looked completely over-matched this year, striking out 68 times in 194 PA. He’s got the talent, but a Jabari-esque batting stance that leaves many scratching their heads. Watch him closely in 2019; he could jump to be in the mix with Adams, or he could continue in the Chevy Clarke School of Prospects. After Deveaux, there’s a solid drop-off in rankings, with the following players rounding out the top 30: 18. Aaron Hernandez RHP (21) Stats: Did not play pro ball. Ranking Trends: average 20.3, median 19, range 12-20+ (one unranked). ETA: 2021. Comments: There’s a lot to be excited about with the Angels’ third pick of the 2018 amateur draft; has a good chance of rising quickly up these rankings. 19. Ty Buttrey RHP (25) Stats: 3.31 ERA, 16.1 IP, 5 walks and 20 strikeouts in 16 MLB games. Ranking Trends: average 21.2, median 22, range 11-29. ETA: 2018 Comments: A savvy pickup in the Ian Kinsler trade, some are considering Buttrey to be the closer of the future; at the least, he’s a central piece of the Angels bullpen going forward. 20. Jared Walsh OF/1B/LHP (24) Stats: .277/.359/.536, 29 HR, 99 RBI in 128 games in A+/AA/AAA. 1.59 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 8 games in A+/AA/AAA. Ranking Trends: average 21.3, median 21, range 11-27+ (one unranked). ETA: 2019 Comments: A bit under the radar, Walsh has been a steady performer throughout his four-year minor league career, compiling a .294/.360/.496 line in 360 games. Definitely in the mix for 1B/RF in 2019. 21. Jose Miguel Fernandez, IF (30) Stats: .267/.309/.388, 2 HR in 36 games for the Angels. .333/.396/.535, 17 HR in 91 games in AAA. Ranking Trends: average 21.3, median 19, range 14-22+ (two unranked). ETA: 2018 Comments: Held his own in 123 PA in the majors, although without the sexy high average and power numbers he put up in the minor leagues. Should at least be a solid bench piece. 22. Livan Soto SS (18) Stats: .291/.385/.349, 0 HR, 9 SB in 44 games in Rookie ball. Ranking Trends: average 22.7, median 23, range 15-26+ (one honorable mention). ETA: 2021 Comments:As with Knowles-Deveaux and Jackson-Adams, the less heralded of the two former Braves prospects had the better year, but in this case AngelsWin writers still ranked Maitan higher, perhaps due to Soto’s utter lack of power (so far) and Maitan’s considerable upside. But Soto is a very nice prospect who should rise up the rankings as he works his way through the organization. Gotta love that OBP. 23. Orlando Martinez OF (20) Stats: .305/.354/.432, 5 HR in 65 games in Rookie/A ball. Ranking Trends: average 23.1edian 23, range 19-25. ETA: 2022 Comments: Notice the tight ranking range. Hit .375/.415/.604 in 12 games in Rookie ball but came down to earth in A, hitting .289/.340/.394. A Brennan Lund-type prospect. 24. Alex Ramirez OF (15) Stats: Did not play professional ball. Ranking Trends: average 23.2, median 21, range 17-26+ (two unranked). ETA: 2024 Comments: Very young, just turned 16 in August. Another toolsy outfielder to be intrigued by. 25. Jack Kruger C (23) Stats: .299/.357/.413 with 7 HR in 97 games in A+/AA. Ranking Trends: average 25.1, median 25, range 16-25+ (one honorable mention, two unranked). ETA: 2020 Comments: Became a sleeper prospect and favorite in prospect discussions, perhaps because the Angels are so weak at the position. Could be a future platoon catcher. 26. Leonardo Rivas SS/2B (20) Stats: .234/.354/.333, 5 HR and 16 SB, in 121 games in A ball (2 in Rookie). Ranking Trends: average 26.7, median 27, range 22-28+ (one honorable mention, two unranked). ETA: 2022 Comments: Really struggled in Burlington after hitting .286/.443/.396 in 2017, and has been surpassed by players like Rengifo and Soto on the middle infield depth chart. Still might have a place as a major league utility infielder. 27. Luis Pena RHP (22) Stats: 5.03 ERA, 57 walks and 101 strikeouts in 105.2 IP in AA/AAA. Ranking Trends: average 27.8, median honorable mention, range 15-27+ (two honorable mentions, three unranked). ETA: 2019 Comments: A pitcher whose ERA doesn’t reflect his stuff, which is very good. Should at least have a future as a major league reliever, possibly back-end rotation starter. 28. Jesus Castillo RHP (22) Stats: 4.94 ERA, 31 walks and 60 strikeouts in 98.1 IP in AA. Ranking Trends: average 28.3, median 30, range 21-30+ two honorable mentions, one unranked). ETA: 2020 Comments: His stock fell due to a mediocre year and possible decreased velocity. Could still be a #5 starter or swingman. 29. Kyle Bradish RHP (21) Stats: Did not play professional ball. Ranking Trends: average 28.4, median 28, range 22-28+ (three unranked). ETA: 2021 Comments: Fourth pick in the draft, with good upside and should have a quick path to the majors. 30. William English OF/RHP (17) Stats: .220/.325/.260 in 30 games in Rookie ball. Ranking Trends: average 28.8, median 29, range 22-30+ (two unranked). ETA: 2023 Comments: Not a pretty stat line, but there’s a lot to like here: a very athletic outfielder who can also pitch. Ranked Prospects By Primary Position C. 25 1B: 10, 20 2B: 5, 21, 26 SS: 6, 11, 22 3B: 8, 13 OF: 1, 3, 7, 12, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 SP: 2, 4, 9, 14, 15, 18, 27, 28, 29 RP: 19 Honorable Mentions: Jason Alexander, Stiward Aquino, Jeremy Beasley, Denny Brady, Ryan Clark, Julio de la Cruz, Francisco Del Valle, Joe Gatto, Jenrry Gonzalez, Emilker Guzman, Brett Hanewich, Williams Jerez, Julian Leon, Conor Lillis-White, Brennan Lund, David MacKinnon, Luis Madero, Simon Mathews, Christopher Molina, Oliver Ortega, Mayky Perez, Daniel Procopio, Jeremy Rhoades, Jerryell Rivera, Jose Rojas, Brandon Sandoval, Tyler Stevens, John Swanda, Julian Tavarez, Raider Uceta, Andrew Wantz, Bo Way, Cam Williams, Nonie Williams, Hector Yan.