Here's a look at the 7 Angels in the AFL
There were several things that went well for Jeremiah Jackson in 2021. The Angels’ No. 5 prospect showed he could handle the jump to full-season ball for the first time in 2021, finishing with a .906 OPS and double-digits in home run and steals while playing most of his games for Low-A Inland Empire.
That was the good news. The down side was that he played in just 51 games and collected only 218 plate appearances because of a quad strain. After rehabbing in Arizona, he was able to make it back to Inland Empire, where he finished the season with a six-game hitting streak. Now he’s making up for some of those lost at-bats as part of the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.
“Obviously, it’s never good to miss time, especially in this game, but it was really good to get some games under my belt before I came out here, really good to get some more at-bats and feel more comfortable coming into this event,” Jackson said. “I had a little setback for a while. I was able to stay out here for a little bit and work through it. It was good though, everything’s fine, 100 percent now.”
Since the Angels took Jackson in the second round of the 2018 Draft, the Alabama high school product has shown off some impressive tools. He set the rookie-level Pioneer League record with 23 home runs in 2019 and there were plenty of reports that the power showed up against older competition at the Angels’ alternate site in 2020. It continued in 2021, with a .548 slugging percentage, but between the shutdown and his injury, he’s only collected 617 official professional at-bats to date.
“You can look at it one or two ways,” Jackson said. “You can make the most of it or you can be upset about it. Obviously, you don’t want to miss games, you don’t want to have to sit out for stuff like that, but I took advantage of the time I had off and I was getting ready to go for whenever they called and said it was time to go.”
And when the Angels called and told him it was time to go to the Arizona Fall League despite the lack of playing time or the fact he’ll be jumping in against a much higher level of competition than he’s ever faced? He couldn’t wait to get going, knowing a lot of good Angels prospects have come through this league to star in the big leagues (See Trout, Mike).
“It’s a huge honor and a big opportunity,” Jackson said. “I’m very excited to be out here with some of these guys. You look at some of the guys in the past that have been out here, a lot of good Angels players, so I feel it’s my turn to come and show what we’re doing over in the Angels organization.
“I definitely believe in my abilities and my talent because I’ve worked hard, so I think I’ve put myself in a good position. I’m excited to be out here and play and show what I’ve got.”
Angels hitters in the AFL
Orlando Martinez, OF (No. 26): Martinez once won a batting title in Cuba’s 18U national league, beating out White Sox outfielder Luis Robert (who did lead the league in SLG). Martinez has moved up the organizational ladder since signing in August 2017, spending the 2021 season in Double-A, where he slugged .445 and had 16 homers, but also saw his K rate go up to 27.3 percent. He was left off the 40-man roster last year and wasn’t taken in the Rule 5 Draft, so he’s getting another chance to earn a roster spot and/or showcase himself to the other 29 teams for this year’s Rule 5.
Anthony Mulrine, C: Mulrine spent a lot of time behind the plate at Samford University in Alabama and his defensive work caught the Angels’ attention, leading to him landing in Round 25 of the 2019 Draft. He made the jump up to Double-A in 2021 and while he didn’t hit, he did impress with his receiving skills as well as with his arm strength.
Angels pitchers in the AFL
Robinson Pina, RHP (No. 20): The 6-foot-4 Pina has premium stuff, with a mid-90s fastball, a hard curve and a splitter that helped him strike out 13.2 per nine across three levels, including four starts in Double-A, this year. He also walked 5.3 per nine over his 95 1/3 innings of work, making one wonder what he might look like with a move to the bullpen.
Nathan Burns, RHP: Burns spent four years at Oregon State pitching mostly out of the bullpen and with mixed results, largely because of command problems that led to a 6.0 BB/9 rate for his career. He found the zone more consistently with his power stuff (fastball with good carry at the top of the zone, good feel for curve and changeup) after he signed with the Angels for $50,000 as a 19th-round pick in this year’s Draft, walking 3.3 and striking out 13.8 per nine during a brief debut that totaled 16 1/3 IP.
Coleman Crow, RHP: The Angels went over slot in 2019 to sign Crow out of the Georgia high school ranks as a 28th-rounder for $317,500. He made his official pro debut this year and showed a fearless attitude on the mound, totaling 62 1/3 IP for Low-A Inland Empire. He throws both a two- and four-seamer, spins his slider -- his best pitch -- well, and has a changeup with late depth.
Zach Linginfelter, RHP: The Angels got Linginfelter out of the University of Tennessee in the ninth round of the 2019 Draft and he pitched his way from High- to Double-A in 2021. He was a starter early and finished the year as a reliever, something he did a bit of in college as well. He misses bats (10.2 K/9), but also has command issues (6.0 BB/9), so perhaps keeping him in the bullpen where his fastball-curve combination could play up, would be a good idea.