Pipeline names Angels Prospects of the Year

September 19th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- First-base prospect Jared Walsh hit 36 homers to tie Triple-A Salt Lake’s club record for long balls in a season and also continued to serve as a two-way player, seeing action in relief this season.

Walsh was named the Angels’ Minor League Hitter of the Year by MLB Pipeline for his efforts, while left-hander Hector Yan took home top pitching honors. Walsh is ranked as the club's No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline, while Yan is ranked No. 17.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Walsh, 26, hit .325/.423/.686 with 36 homers, 30 doubles and 86 RBIs in 98 games with Salt Lake. A 39th-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, Walsh also posted a 4.15 ERA with nine strikeouts, five walks and zero homers allowed in 13 innings in relief.

“I thought it went well,” Walsh said. “I was definitely happy with the results at Triple-A. But, obviously, it’s all about what you can do at the big league level. I was happy with it but hopefully it’ll translate to the big leagues.”

It helped Walsh earn his first callup to the Majors in late June and he hit his first career homer on Sept. 9 off Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco. Walsh, who was among the club’s September callups, will continue to see action at first base, along with Albert Pujols, down the stretch. Walsh said facing Major League pitching has been an adjustment, especially away from the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

“I think there are just less pitches over the plate,” Walsh said. “You can talk about elevation all you want. But these are the best pitchers in the world and they don’t leave much over the plate, so I just have to do a better job hitting the mistakes.”

He's also put up a 1.80 ERA in five innings in relief, including a situation on Sept. 10, when he moved from first base to pitch with one out in the inning.

“The pitching has been a lot of fun because it’s something that’s a little bit new to me,” Walsh said. “I pitched in college but getting big league hitters out is definitely a challenge. I’m just working on pounding the zone a little bit better.”

Yan, 20, had a strong year with Class A Burlington, posting a 3.39 ERA with an eye-popping 148 strikeouts in 109 innings. He was also part of a combined no-hitter against Beloit on Aug. 27, throwing three innings. The La Romana, Dominican Republic, native has a career 3.30 ERA with 231 strikeouts in 185 1/3 innings. He was signed for just $80,000 as a 16-year-old in 2015.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has a fastball that averages around 92-94 mph to go along with a plus-curveball and a developing changeup. He’s set to move up to Double-A next year and the Angels remain hopeful he can remain a starter, although his fastball-curveball combination could be tantalizing in relief.