Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.
The Graduate: Jefry Marte (IF-OF): I can remember writing about Marte five or six years ago back when he was in the low minors as a Mets third base prospect. Three organizations later and the raw-but-toolsy prospect finally made The Show and had a nifty little season. Playing multiple positions for the Angels (1B, 3B, LF), Marte produced with the bat and hit 15 home runs in just 258 at-bats. He’s still overly-aggressive in his approach (15-59 BB-K rate) but the power will play and he produced a 114 wRC+ — above league average at some offensively-demanding positions. Just 25, Marte may have earned himself some more playing time in 2017 — especially if he can handle third base — but I think he’s better suited to a part-time role.
The Riser: Jahmai Jones (OF): Jones, 19, is a toolsy outfielder who could have eventually be a four-tool prospect (with power being his lone below-average tool). The young outfielder is still raw in the outfield but he has plus speed and should eventually be a better-than-average fielder. At the plate, his game will revolve around his speed and he projects as a top-of-the-order catalyst who makes adjustments easily. The Angels system has long been void of intriguing prospects but Jones is one hitter that has a chance to be a true impact player. Look for him to open 2017 in full-season ball and he won’t turn 20 until next August.
The Tumbler: Taylor Ward (C): When you have a weak system like the Angels do it’s easy to overrate prospects when their performances stand out like a sore thumb due to the mediocrity around them. That’s probably what happened with Ward, who was projected to be more of a third-fifth round draft pick in 2015 when the Angels sent waves through the scouting community by popping him 26th overall. Then, in a small sample size, he went on to post excellent offensive numbers (.895 OPS and BB-K rate of 39-23 in 56 games) which made the club look very, very smart. The wheels came off the party bus in 2016, though, despite the fact that Ward was playing in the hitter-friendly California League. His OPS dropped to .659 and his BB-K rate expanded to 48-81 in 123 games. The good news for the Angels is that the catcher still looks good defensively so he should reach the Majors in a back-up capacity but he’s no longer the No. 1 prospect in the organization — which is how a lot of people ranked him coming into 2016.
The ’16 Draft Pick: Matt Thaiss (1B): So, after having volatile success drafting a college catcher in the first round in 2015 (see Taylor Ward above), the Angels went back to the well a second time in ’16 for Thaiss. This time, though, they targeted an offensive-minded player with defensive questions… and immediately moved him out from behind the plate and installed him at first base. Much like Ward, Thaiss had an outstanding offensive beginning to his career and produced an .824 OPS. He also hit 29 extra base hits in 67 games with his 19 doubles hinting at more future pop to come. He’ll likely open 2017 in high-A ball where he look to take advantage of the hitter-friendly environment. If all goes well, he could reach the Majors at some point in 2018.
For reference sake, here is the 2015 Review.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.