Back in the spring I chose Jaime Barria as the Angels “One to Watch” for the 2016 season. It was a good pick, as you will see below. I wrote then that the Angels’ system for pitching was a train wreck due to the lack of depth beyond Barria; as far as UTR’s were concerned. The top UTR pitchers from my 2014 list were Tyler DeLoach and Harrison Cooney. LHP DeLoach (26th Rd-2012) was moved to the bullpen in 2016 and made 51 appearances, going 4-1 (3 saves) with a 2.87 ERA. Cooney also started the season from the pen, but injured his elbow during his second outing and missed the rest of the year. Victor Alcantara made the initial UTR-OAS, repeated in 2015, and was labeled as a “Legit UTR.” The Angels were very aggressive with the young Dominican when they assigned him straight out of the DSL right to full season LoA in 2014. They continued that game plan with the now 23-year-old in 2015 at HiA Inland Empire and Double-A Arkansas last season. Stat-wise, there wasn’t anything glaring, besides inconsistency, to proceed his push through the system. The Detroit Tigers did see something, trading 10-year veteran Cameron Maybin for him back in early November.
The 2015 UTR-OAS list continued to be all over the UTR map for the Angels. 2014 top prospect Sean Newcomb headlined that list, but the Angels traded him to Atlanta at the end of the 2015 season. I also mentioned in the Barria piece that Jeremy Rhoades should be on your watch list, which he then appeared on the 2015 UTR-OAS roster. A 4th round pick in 2014, the 23 year-old almost slid into the #5 slot below and may have, if he wasn’t moved to the bullpen late season. His stats weren’t note-worthy, but my system sifted him out, as he showed flashes with HiA Inland Empire. However, it has to click for the big righty (6’4″ 225 lbs) in 2017 to stay on the prospect radar. Eduardo Paredes stood out in 2015 as a UTR relief pitcher and was recently added to the Angels 40-man roster. In keeping step, the wheel-and-deal Angels kept it consistent with another late year trade. On December 1st, The Club traded Jared Ruxer, who would have ranked at #5 below, to the Kansas City Royals for Brooks Pounder. Ruxer basically made the list based on his early season performance with LoA Burlington, which didn’t translate over to the HiA Inland Empire. Lastly, in what could be an under the radar move, the Astros were able to acquire Houston’s Troy Scribner before the start of the 2016 season. He posted respectable numbers with Double-A Arkansas and AAA-Salt Lake. Scribner was a past UTR-OAS with the Astros and should be watched closely now within Angels system.
Internationally, Manuel Rondon was the only pitcher highlighted during the 2014 season. He struggled during his U.S. debut in 2015 and was sent to the Chicago Cubs in July 2015. My international watch going into the 2016 season was Cristopher Molina, who made his state-side debut with the AZL Angels, splitting his time as a starter and reliever with mix results.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score/TPS
1. RHP Jaime Barria – 17/ .141 *Solid Stash*
20 years old – (LoA Burlington)
International Free Agent – 2013
Shortly after my system sorted out Barria as the “One to Watch”, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook hit the stands and the young right-hander debuted as the #9 prospect for the Angels. A strong full season with Burlington has him as my top UTR pitcher for 2016. What to watch for in 2017 will be an assignment to the California League (Inland Empire), and whether he can consistently hold his career BB9 (1.5) and (0.4) HR9 rates. He needs to vastly improve missing bats, however, and that’s where TPS slides him down the scale. He only struck out 78 hitters over 117 innings and also proved to be hittable surrendering 133 hits.
Rodriguez garnered the attention of the organization after combining on a no-hitter back in July with the DSL Angels. Within two weeks, the youngster found himself in the United States making his debut with the AZL Angels and putting up almost identical stats. Of course Rodriguez is very raw, but if he can display his solid command and getting outs by way of the roundball, he could be one to keep a close eye.
Rodriguez, in his fourth year with the Angels, got to see his full season with LoA Burlington and amassed enough innings to equal his previous three. The Angels have begun making strides in the international markets, which is evident by the top 3 selections on my list. This Rodriguez is another good looking young arm with pitchability. At times, he was overmatched during his U.S. debut season with Rookie Leagues AZL and Orem, but it seemed to come together this past season, going 7-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 27 starts. He displays a good fastball (high 80’s/low 90’s) and command of a potential plus changeup.
Robichaux makes a repeat appearance as a UTR-OAS this season after being ranked in 2015. For unfound reasons, the right-hander didn’t start the 2016 season until June with the Orem Owls, so rehabbing an injury was mostly the culprit. The righty is a heady pitcher who can throw within all zones. This, however, could be a pitfall, as he may have missed his marks too many times in 2015, only racking up 92 K’s in 142 innings. Hopefully he will realize that the missed time from 2016 only hurts his development and will take an aggressive approach in 2017. This could be a tough task in the California League.
22 years old – (AZL Angels / LoA Burlington / HiA Inland Empire)
3rd round – 2015
We only saw snapshots of Long in 2016 with 15 starts over three levels. He got off to a decent start with the AZL Angels, but possibly fatigued or suffered a nagging injury, which limited his work at Burlington and Inland Empire.
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – Factor Score/TPS
1. LHP Kevin Grendell – 15 / .054
23 years old – (LoA Burlington / HiA Inland Empire / Double-A Arkansas)
11th round – 2012 (Baltimore)
The Orioles released Grendell at the start of the season and was immediately signed by the Angels on the same day. He went on to have his best season as a pro, despite struggling with his command posting a 5.1 BB9 rate. He was tough on hitters only allowing a .171 batting average. He could project as a future LOOGY, but he was just as hard on righties (.163 BA) as well. Oh yeah…throw in a 13.5 K9 rate (92 K’s in 61.1 IP) and you wonder what the Orioles were thinking.
22 years old – (LoA Burlington / HiA Inland Empire)
10th round – 2015
Hofacket made 15 appearances with LoA Burlington and looked really good, allowing only 2 free passes in 21.1 innings with 24 strikeouts and 7 saves. The Angels were quick to promote him to Inland Empire and the wheels fell off. The 22 year-old allowed 23 runs over 34.1 innings (6.03 ERA), but his K9 (9.7) rate continued to show promise at the next level.
21 years old – (HiA Inland Empire / Double-A Inland Empire)
International Free Agent – 2012
The Angels added Paredes to their 40-man roster and he should see an invite to Spring Training next month. In five seasons, Paredes has posted career numbers of 4.74 K/BB, 1.079 WHIP, and 0.50 HR9 in 160 relief appearances (203 innings).