Being a big fish in a small pond has it’s perks. In the case of 21 year old prospect Matt Thaiss, those perks come in the form of ready-made awards and superlatives to bestow upon him and his hitting skills, while also getting his name out there in the baseball world as a prospect to keep an eye on.
The small pond in that metaphor is, of course, the half-full kiddie pool that is the Halos’ farm system. It’s become a running joke around here that as soon as this team picks up any other team’s low rung prospects in a trade or off waivers, they automatically become one of our top guys. It’s funny because it’s true!
But what if you’re a legit young ball player, who would rank up there no matter what organization you were playing for? Well, then you’d be Matt Thaiss, who not only gets the extra boost in his praise and awards by being that big fish, but HE’S ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD!
In just a few months after being drafted out of college by Billy Eppler, as the Angels’ 1st round pick, and having just had his first pro games under his belt, MLBPipeline.com had seen enough to name Matt Thaiss the Angels’ Top Prospect, in the player category. Young Halos hurler Jaime Barria won their Prospect of the Year in the pitching category.
Our very own Jessica Deline had been chronicling the 2016 draft class’ efforts on a weekly basis, up until the end of the minor league season a few weeks ago, and Thaiss was almost always up to something good.
The dude can make contact with the ball like it’s as easy as breathing, and after taking the Pioneer League by storm (he had a 338/.394/.569 slash line for Orem in 15 games), he was quickly promoted to low-A Burlington where he continued having success at the dish (.276/.351/.427 with 19 extra-base hits in 52 games.), and all of this as a 21 year old who was just a couple months removed from his college days at Virginia and that big draft night.
I have to admit, Billy Eppler may have snagged one heck of a ballplayer with his first draft pick as Angels GM, and now the rest of the prospect analysis community is taking notice. Matt Thaiss was put in a great situation and is making the most out of it, and I’m counting the days til we can see some more of him.
We can’t just gloss over our top pitching prospect though, so mad props to Jaime Barria for getting this proud distinction, as he earned it, and all at the young age of 20 years old. Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say:
Barria, the Angels' No. 7 prospect, spent the entire season in the rotation for the Burlington Bees, his first action in Class A. He was 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA over 25 starts. The right-hander worked 117 innings, his highest total in four seasons in the Minors.
Barria, 20, features a three-pitch mix with a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a developing changeup and a curveball. He struck out 78 against 21 walks this year.
There are some nuggets on that Burlington Bees team, some strong pieces that I think will make us remember what it’s like to have young talent on the horizon. The AAA side of the farm may be barren of any immediate help, but there are some interesting developments coming down the prospect pipeline in two or three years. Now, we just wait.