With less than two weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring training, the Angels seem to have finalized their roster. With the 25-man roster feeling complete to GM Billy Eppler, spring training is truly a showcase for non-roster invites.

This March, the Angels will get to see their top five prospects in 2018 play against MLB talent. While spring training is not the most accurate way to evaluate talent, ask Shohei Ohtani, it can show the organization and fans what these players could accomplish. With that in mind, let’s look at what top prospects will play in Arizona.

Matt Thaiss

Starting off the list is the fourth overall first baseman prospect. Matt Thaiss was taken in the middle of the first round in 2016 as a catcher. Since then, his move to first base has moved along well.

Despite a down 2017, Thaiss bounced back in 2018 with career highs in HR and RBI. Despite being a first baseman, Thaiss is not known for his power. He never eclipsed double-digit home runs in his first two minor league seasons. However, the former catcher is praised for his overall hitting ability.

AVG OBP OPS HR RBI
2016

(Rookie & A)

.292 .361 .824 6 43
2017

(A & AA)

.274 .375 .770 9 73
2018

(AA & AAA)

.280 .335 .802 16 76
Total

(325 games)

.280 .357 .794 31 192

 

In three minor league seasons, Thaiss has never had an OBP below .330 or an AVG below .270. The power is beginning to blossom for the 23-year-old lefty, but he has time to develop further. With the human logjam of Albert Pujols at first base, Thaiss isn’t expected to make his MLB debut until the end of 2019.

In spring training, the Angels should look to see if Thaiss’s power is beginning to become a consistent part of his game. Look for Thaiss to impress coaches with a mature approach at the plate and ever-improving defense. Hopefully, Thaiss will be in Anaheim sooner than later.

Jahmai Jones

While the Angels infield is set for a few seasons with Andrelton Simmons, Zack Cozart, and David Fletcher in the majors, Jahmai Jones may push one of them out of their position. One of the Jerry Dipoto draft picks still in the top 30 team prospects, Jones has impressed in his four minor league seasons. His mix of contact and speed have made Jones an intriguing middle infield option.

Ranked as the MLB’s fifth-best second base prospect, Jones is expected to make his debut sometime in 2019. Despite a down 2018 campaign, there is reason to believe Jones will be able to bounce back this spring. His 2018 was a tale of two leagues.

AVG OBP OPS HR RBI
2015

(Rookie Ball)

.244 .330 .673 2 20
2016

(Rookie & A)

.302 .379 .801 4 30
2017

(A Ball)

.282 .348 .794 14 47
2018

(A & AA)

.239 .337 .717 10 55
Total

(354 games)

.267 .348 .755 30 152

 

His first 75 games were in A ball, where he showed far more power than before. He hit 8 of his 10 total home runs in 2018 during A ball. The power improved, but his AVG dropped to .235. When he moved to AA ball, his AVG began to improve, and the Jahmai Jones the Angels were used to was back.

Jones has great speed that has led to three consecutive seasons of 20 or more stolen bases. If he can consistently steal bases, Jones could be an asset in the majors sooner rather than later. Look for the Angels fourth-ranked prospect in 2018 to terrorize base paths in Arizona

Brandon Marsh

The former second round pick out of Georgia had to wait to make his debut, but it seems to have been worth the wait. After a post-draft back injury, Brandon Marsh impressed the Angels with above average hitting and an even better arm.

While the Angels expect him to hit closer to what his 2018 season was like, there is still plenty of upside for the outfielder. His ability to make solid contact consistently shows a lot about how quickly Marsh has developed. Like Thaiss, Marsh has a mature approach to the plate, evident by his impressive OBP.

AVG OBP OPS HR RBI
2017

(Rookie ball)

.350 .396 .944 4 44
2018

(A ball)

.266 .359 .767 10 70
Total

(166 games

.288 .368 .812 14 114

 

Along with a mature approach at the plate, Marsh is an exceptional base stealer. While he doesn’t use his speed as much as Jones, he is efficient. In 30 attempts, Marsh has 24 stolen bases, resulting in an 80% SB percentage. To put that in perspective, Whit Merrifield led the MLB in stolen bases with an 82% SB percentage.

Marsh will be a very solid outfielder for the Angels when he makes it to the major league roster. His combination of patience, speed and defense will make him a versatile tool in the majors. Until then, look for Marsh to display his versatility like he did last spring training.

Griffin Canning

The prospect with the least amount of games under his belt is also one of the most intriguing. Griffin Canning seemed to follow the Brandon Marsh path in taking his first professional year off to recover from injury. The year of rest seemed to only help the second round pick as he dominated in AA ball.

In 45.2 innings in AA ball, Canning had a 1.97 ERA and started two no hitters. The former UCLA pitcher proved he has the potential to be absolutely dominant with four pitches that are graded at or above major league average. However, his AAA career got off to a rocky start.

IP ERA WHIP K HR
2018

(A, AA, &AAA)

 

113.1

 

3.65

 

1.26

 

125

 

6

 

While Salt Lake City, the Angels AAA affiliate, is not an easy place to pitch, Canning became a different pitcher in AAA. His ERA spiked to a 5.49 in 59 innings as he became a feast or famine pitcher. Despite a bad AAA stint, Canning was able to supply a similar groundball/air out rate. This means his struggles seem to be bad luck or worse defense behind him.

Whatever the reason for his dip in production, Canning remains the Angels’ second-ranked prospect and the highest ranked pitcher in their minor leagues. In spring training, look for Canning to use his low 90’s fastball to set up hitters for his best pitch, his changeup. If he can bounce back from a bad time in Salt Lake, Canning could see a call up to the majors soon.

Jo Adell

Finally, we reach the Angels’ number one prospect. Jo Adell has skyrocketed through the minor league rankings after being selected 10th overall in 2017. His combination of speed, power and defense make him the 15th overall prospect in baseball.

While his rookie ball debut suggested Adell may be a better contact hitter than a power bat, his 2018 campaign is where he showed the home run ability. In 99 total games, Adell hit 20 HR and 77 RBI, showing true middle and top of the order potential. The 19-year-old scared some with his potential to strikeout a lot but showed he can outhit his negatives.

AVG OBP OPS HR RBI
2017

(Rookie ball)

.325 .376 .908 5 30
2018

(A and AA)

.290 .355 .897 20 77
Total

(148 games)

.302 .362 .901 25 107

 

Like Jones and Marsh, Adell is a plus athlete who uses his speed to his advantage. While not stealing as frequently as some would hope, Adell still produces a career SB percentage of 82%. Along with a career OPS of .901, Adell looks like a star in the making if the Angels are patient enough. His ETA is 2020, so fans won’t get to see the exciting prospect in Anaheim for at least one full season.

Despite wanting to see what Adell can do in the majors, fans will have to settle for spring training. Look for the former first round pick to show his full range of tools and continue to improve like he has at every level. Hopefully, we see Adell in Anaheim soon, so we can truly appreciate the talent of the prospect.

Wrap-Up

For the first time in years, the Angels have a solid minor league system, and this spring training is their opportunity to announce their young core to the league. Angels fans, be excited about the near future when these prospects get their chance to play in the Big A.

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Content Creator at Armchair Anaheim Angels , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
My name is Ryan Kanne, and I am a journalism major at Emerson College. I am a born Chicago sports fan but grew up in Chino Hills, California. No, I don’t know the Ball brothers, but I did go to their rival high school. I’m a big fan of the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls as well as the Los Angeles Angels, and Clippers, which means I’m very used to disappointment. I grew up in a sports heavy family, evident by me going to a baseball-themed elementary school and being named after a Cubs Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. Talk to me about the MLB or NFL and I won’t be quiet for a while
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Content Creator at Armchair Anaheim Angels , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
My name is Ryan Kanne, and I am a journalism major at Emerson College. I am a born Chicago sports fan but grew up in Chino Hills, California. No, I don’t know the Ball brothers, but I did go to their rival high school. I’m a big fan of the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls as well as the Los Angeles Angels, and Clippers, which means I’m very used to disappointment. I grew up in a sports heavy family, evident by me going to a baseball-themed elementary school and being named after a Cubs Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. Talk to me about the MLB or NFL and I won’t be quiet for a while
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