There were a few years there that I dreaded writing about the Angels for this series but no more… The organization has some legitimately intriguing prospects. Don’t just take my word for it, let’s have a look!
The Graduate: Parker Bridwell, RHP: Earlier this week, I stated that the Dodgers had one of the best player development systems in the game. Well, the Orioles probably have one of the worst… and Bridwell is a perfect example of a player simply needing a change of scenery to realize his full potential. With that said, the right-hander’s potential is modest and he’ll probably settle in as more of a No. 4 starter. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats and he produces a lot of fly balls, which is a dangerous combination. His heater is average but it plays up because he has above-average control and keeps hitters off balance with multiple offerings.
First Taste of The Show: Eduardo Paredes, RHP: The Angels actually cobbled together a pretty impressive bullpen in 2017 despite the lack of household names. Paredes hasn’t seen a ton of action but he’s been solid when given the opportunity. The right-handed hurler isn’t flashy — his heater sits just about league average — but he’s shown average-or-better skill with both his command and control. If he continues to pitch well, he should see more important innings in 2018.
The Stud: Jahmai Jones, OF: I like Jones a lot – probably more than most. He has the kind of makeup and athleticism that can quickly turn players into stars once the light bulb clicks on. He’s a Top 50 talent for me. Jones, 20, comes from a football background but he’s made huge strides already and had an outstanding year in 2017 while playing at two levels. He has a chance to be a true five-tool threat – six if you include the makeup (which really should be a tool). Look for Jones to develop into a 20-20 (HR-SB) threat with the ability to hit for average and play center field when needed.
The Draft Pick: Jo Adell, OF: Adell is a toolsy player much like Jahmai Jones but there are more questions about his ability to hit for average – despite a very strong debut in the low minors. He has a lot of swing-and-miss to his game and will need quite a few games under his belt to hone to his pitch recognition and approach. If he fully taps into his potential, though, he should be a plus defender in center field with the ability to hit 25-30 homers. If so motivated, he has the speed to steal 20+ bases. Look for him to open 2018 in low-A ball but he might need to spend the full year at that level.
The Riser: Brandon Marsh, OF: Lingering injury issues kept Marsh from debuting in 2016 after the draft but he showed well in Rookie ball in 2017 by hitting .350. He absolutely stung the ball with a line-drive rate approach 24%. Like Jo Adell, Marsh needs to hone his approach at the plate despite the strong start. He’ll need to become more selective as he moves up through the minors, although he makes a decent amount of contact for someone with 20-homer potential. He runs very well right now and could steal 20 bases but he has a larger frame and could slow down as he continues to fill out. As it stands right now, though, the Angels have three pretty impressive outfielders — all of whom are capable in center field.
The Tumbler: Matt Thaiss, 1B: You could argue that Thaiss didn’t really struggle enough in ’17 to earn the “tumbler” rating but with his catching days fully in the rearview mirror, there is a lot of pressure being put on his bat. He’s already a very slow runner and limited to first base. He takes a ton of walks but he also struck out 109 times in 133 games without the offsetting power display (just nine homers). He has good raw power so, if he can tap into it, there may be more value to come. If he doesn’t, though, and tops out in the 12-15 homer range, he’ll be a pretty modest 1B/DH guy who could age quickly.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.