With alternate sites coming to an end, MLB Pipeline is recapping the development highlights for the prospects involved for each organization.
Top position prospect: Brandon Marsh, OF (No. 1 on Top 30)
Marsh made some mechanical changes to his setup at the plate, becoming more upright in 2019. It really started to click late during the regular season. It continued into a very strong Arizona Fall League campaign last fall. He didn’t forget what he had learned this year and continued to show this breakout was more than just a short-term thing.
“He dominated the camp in every capacity,” Angels director of Minor League operations Mike LaCassa said. “Starting with the energy he brings every day, players build off of him every day. He’s a big reason we had such a competitive attitude. He has a high baseball IQ, plus instincts on the bases and defensively. He always plays hard.”
Top pitching prospect: Chris Rodriguez, RHP (No. 6)
Ever since the Angels drafted Rodriguez in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft, they’ve been excited about his raw stuff and projection. Getting him enough time on the mound so he can develop has been a challenge, however, as a stress reaction and fracture in his back forced him out for all of 2018 and allowed him to throw just 9 1/3 innings in 2019. The main goal of sending Rodriguez to the alternate site at Long Beach State was to simply help the 22-year-old right-hander make up for some of those lost reps. The mission was more than accomplished.
“He made 10 starts, is 100 percent healthy and he’ll continue to build that workload at instructs,” LaCassa said. “He did a great job competing against upper-level players, big league depth players.”
With smaller lineups, he faced the same hitters over and over, which gave him the opportunity to really work on making adjustments and setting up hitters.
“You’re facing a six-man lineup, so you go through them four times an outing,” LaCassa said. “The hitters’ familiarity goes beyond what you’d face normally. One of the big focuses was pitch selection and sequencing. He would talk through the hitters, read their swings, then go against them again five or so days later. That was really beneficial. To get that feedback and then repeat it, that normally doesn't happen. He took advantage of that and learned a lot about what it means to be a pitcher.”
Youngest prospect: Kyren Paris, SS (No. 5)
Paris was one of the youngest members of the 2019 Draft class when the Angels took him in the second round. A hamate fracture limited him to just three games last summer, though he showed well during instructs and a pre-Spring Training camp. The pandemic obviously kept the 18-year old from building on that, but the Angels were thrilled how hard he worked on his own and brought him to Long Beach in early August.
“He did an exceptional job throughout the summer at staying motivated,” LaCassa said. “When he arrived at Long Beach, it was obvious from the physical condition he was in. He jumped in and asked questions of the staff and the older players. He learned a lot in a short period of time”
The Angels used the time at the alternate site to allow prospects to really flex their positional flexibility muscles. Paris took full advantage of that, getting reps at second base as well as at his natural shortstop position.
“He worked on a lot of things defensively,” LaCassa said. “He worked on directions of throws from all angles and showed a lot of progress at that. Being able to compete against this level was a great experience for him.”
2020 Draft picks
Reid Detmers, the club’s first-round pick (No. 10 overall) and No. 2 prospect, had the reputation of being an advanced college lefty. He more than lived up to that billing and showed that it likely won’t take him all that long to get to Anaheim, a reason why there was buzz this summer that the Angels could have called him up this year.
“He looked great,” LaCassa said. “He came in as one of the most advanced pitchers in the Draft class, with a solid four-pitch mix with feel and deception and a strong track record of performance.”
Just because he’s advanced doesn’t mean he didn’t have things to work on. The Angels definitely took a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude with the left-hander, but did give him the opportunity to get his feet wet.
“There’s not a lot we tried to do with Reid,” LaCassa said. “We let him get acclimated to pro ball and get some reps in, building up his workload. We encouraged him to use his entire repertoire, mix in his changeup and slider, which are this third and fourth pitches, using them with more frequency.
“He’s going to be able to gain a level of consistency with those pitches to have a solid four-pitch mix at the Major League level. He’s very polished. His performance will dictate how he moves, but there’s excitement for that.”
Jordyn Adams (No. 3) was one of the younger participants at age 20, but stood out while sharpening all five of his tools. He showed a strong ability to make adjustments against a much higher level of pitching, with his raw power starting to show up. His speed has never been in question and he was a highlight machine in center field.
The Angels love their two-way players and continue to be excited about William Holmes (No. 20). The 2018 fifth-rounder is still only 19 and has had limited time on the field to work on both pitching and hitting, but they were thrilled with how good he looked this summer, coming in the later stages of alternate site work.
“Every time there’s a break and we see him again, he’s more and more impressive,” LaCassa said. "He’s a great young man who is a tremendous athlete. The strides he’s made on the mound and offensively have been exciting to see. He got out there relatively late just to get a few outings. He hasn’t pitched above rookie ball, not many innings in life and was facing Triple-A level hitters. It was a challenge and he lived up it. He just needs more reps on both sides of the ball. It was fun to see him in that environment.”