A year ago, it was very hard to fathom just how bad the Angels’ farm system had become. Between poor development, subpar drafts, free agent signings, and the trading away of prospects, they were left without anything resembling a potential high-impact player.
Their number one prospect was projected by many to be a future backup catcher. Nifty, potential depth pieces barely even existed. The farm system was a ghost town, so often mocked by experts and analysts that even fairly casual fans were aware of the shortcomings.
Heading into 2017, things aren’t a hell of a lot brighter. They’ve finally added some intrigue in the form of Matt Thaiss–-their first round pick out of Virginia back in June–-and former prep standouts Jahmai Jones and Brandon Marsh give them young, toolsy guys to dream on, but outside of that trio, the organization has a severe upside deficiency. The raw numbers in their first year of the Eppler era weren’t a riveting success, either. Here’s a look at some of their more impressive prospects:
- Matt Thaiss, 1B – Thaiss emerged as one of the better college bats available in the 2016 draft after he hit .375/.473/.578 during his junior year at Virginia. An above average approach at the plate and impressive gap power helped him to a strong debut in pro ball, as Thaiss put up a 140 wRC+ in a short stint in rookie ball before posting a 129 wRC+ over 226 plate appearances in Class-A. Thaiss was a catcher during his time at Virginia, but figures to stick at first base permanently moving forward. Another big year could give the Angels their first Top-100 prospect in awhile.
- Taylor Ward, C – Ward was considered to be a significant reach when the Angels used a first-round pick on him in 2015 and Ward has done little to silence the doubters thus far. In his first full season of pro ball, the Fresno State product posted an 82 wRC+ in High-A ball and looked largely overmatched against California League competition. His defense is still a selling point, but he has the makings of a backup catcher at this point.
- Brandon Marsh, OF – Marsh is a stellar athlete with one of the higher ceilings in the system. A back issue caused him to miss out on making his pro debut in 2016, but Marsh’s speed-and-power potential will be on full display in the coming season.
- Jahmai Jones, OF – Jones, a second round pick in 2015, is yet to prove himself against anything but rookie league competition, but like Marsh, Jones possesses an intriguing blend of athleticism and multiple raw tools.
Happy Thursday, everyone!