Don't look now, but the Angels farm system is... exciting? And it's not just because of that Shohei Ohtani fellow.Angels Top 30 Prospects listIt would be a lie, of course, to claim the two-way phenom didn't have a lot to do with the buzz around the Angels. It's hard to
Don't look now, but the Angels farm system is... exciting? And it's not just because of that Shohei Ohtani fellow.
Angels Top 30 Prospects list
It would be a lie, of course, to claim the two-way phenom didn't have a lot to do with the buzz around the Angels. It's hard to find any baseball fan, or employee, who can't wait to see how all of this works. One only has to look down at the "best tools" section below and see what the fuss is about: Ohtani is the top choice in three position player categories and two pitching spots.
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But while he is the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, there is a lot more going on down on the farm than there has been in a very long time. Gone are the days where it was tough to find 30 prospects to fill out this list.
It may take a while for the impact talent to get to the big leagues; most of those who will contribute this year, with the obvious exception of Ohtani, are more role players in all likelihood. But below that, there is some serious talent brewing and the Angels haven't had high-end athletes come through like this since Michael Trout got started.
Some of it has come thanks to aggressive drafting of late. Yes, the organization did take the college performer in Matt Thaiss in the first round of the 2016 Draft, but the Angels took the athletic high school outfielder Brandon Marsh, who started to come into his own in 2017, in the second round. In 2015, it's true they took college catcher Taylor Ward, but again, second-round pick Jahmai Jones has an exciting combination of tools and feel for the game. And in 2017, they went all in on the upside with Jo Adell, who absolutely dominated Rookie ball in his pro debut.
The Angels also went after it on the international market. Aside from Ohtani, they were able to bring former Braves prospects Kevin Maitan and Livan Soto into the fold after Major League Baseball returned them to the international market following Atlanta's violations of international rules. And they gave seven figures to Bahamanian outfielder Trent Deveaux, whose athletic upside rivals Adell's. Throw in some arms from Latin America who took huge steps forward in 2017 and things are really starting to get going.
The Angels haven't been to the playoffs since 2014. Perhaps Ohtani can help get them there in 2018, and there's impact talent on the way that could help bring winning baseball to Anaheim for an extended period of time.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.
Jump: Jesus Castillo, RHP (2017: NR | 2018: 11)
Fall: Nate Smith, LHP (2017: 3 | 2018: NR)
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 - Jahmai Jones (Matt Thaiss)
Power: 70 - Shohei Ohtani
Run: 80 - Trent Deveaux
Arm: 80 - Ohtani
Defense: 60 - Jo Adell (Jahmai Jones, Connor Justus)
Fastball: 80 - Ohtani
Curveball: 55 - Joe Gatto (Stiward Aquino)
Slider: 65 - Ohtani
Changeup: 60 - Jose Suarez (Griffin Canning, Jose Soriano)
Control: 60 - Jaime Barria
How they were built
Rule 5: 1
Breakdown by ETA
Breakdown by position
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.