Remember the last time the Angels had a prospect worth getting excited over? Yeah, me neither. Well actually, it probably spans back to early November, but even before that? You're probably looking at the superstar centerfielder that is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (hint: his name rhymes with "Spike Gout"). A teenager drafted from a cold weather region who wasn't on many radars, but blossomed into a megastar regardless of the lower draft profile. Yep, that was way back in 2009. Obama was inaugurated for his first term, Michael Jackson let out one last "Ah Hee Hee", John Madden retired, MLB Network premiered, I was a freshman in high school, and the Angels were a legitimate power house in baseball...seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?
But have no fear fellow Halo die-hards! The 2016 MLB Amateur Draft is less than two weeks away and the Angels actually have a pick in the first round! Feels like Christmas (aside from the anxiety of buying a significant other a present or having an excuse to get plastered) and much like Christmas, I'm expecting a couple of nice gifts underneath the tree. And at the top of my wishlist, is a prep bat with as much upside as possible. There are a number of different routes the Angels could go, and there's a valid argument for almost every single one of them (sans another freakin' catcher). The Angels farm system is so bad, they just need talent, period. Need a starting pitcher who can climb the ladder at an accelerated rate despite not having the highest of upsides? TJ Zeuch, Dakota Hudson, Connor Jones, or Jordan Sheffield might be your guy. Want a college bat who could do the same? You might be classified in team "Bryan Reynolds or Buddy Reed". Want young, raw talent that could potentially lead to the next great thing for the Angels, despite the lack of polish and certainty? I present to you outfielders Alex Kirilloff, and my new favorite entry, William Benson (or Will if you're feeling cordial).
Let's start off with the early consensus favorite, Pennsylvania prep outfielder, Alex Kirilloff. As many of you, who I'm sure have been constantly checking mock drafts around the web like I have, have noticed, Kirilloff's name's been connected to the Angels in almost all of them. He's a left handed hitting/throwing first baseman and outfielder with considerable raw power. SBNation's own John Sickels gives his take on Kirilloff.
Kirilloff is listed at 6-2, 195, a left-handed hitter and thrower born November 9th, 1997. His weakest tool is average running speed, though there's enough there for him to handle right field combined with an arm that draws 55-60 grades. He also has experience at first base and could certainly be a quality glove at that position if he loses too much speed as he matures.
Bat speed and raw power are considered his main strengths and this could be a 20+ homer bat eventually. There were some concerns with swing mechanics and pitch recognition last summer but word this spring is that he's closed up those issues and shows the ability to hit for both average and power against good pitching, as he's put in the hard work necessary to fix any approach flaws.
Here's some video of Kirilloff, it's pretty clear to see the talent, but I wanted to make this FanPost focused on another alternative, and it's a guy that's become my new prospect crush, Georgia prep outfielder, Will Benson.
That's a dinger.
Benson is often compared to Jason Heyward since they're both from Georgia, left handed, and offer very big, athletic frames (Benson is 6'5 at 220 lbs at the age of, in a month, 18). Benson is a two sport star, a very talented basketball player which I like, and much like Kirilloff, plays the outfield along with some first base, but will seemingly man a corner outfield spot if he doesn't fill out too much as he matures. He has very good bat speed and a very sweet left handed swing, as seen in this round of batting practice, runs like a deer, has a commitment to Duke that he'll turn down once he's drafted, and is said to have great makeup and an equally impressive work ethic. While all of that sounds fine and dandy, he wouldn't be a prep prospect without some warts, which Baseball America and MLB.com help break down.
Benson showed plus-plus raw power throughout the summer, though his ability to get to his power is still a question due to concerns that some scouts have about his hitting ability. Benson does not consistently use his lower half, forcing him to commit to swinging at pitches early. His bat path can be a bit steep, leading to a tendency to roll over pitches and hit them on the ground with topspin. -Baseball America
He's at his best when he uses a short stroke, though he falls into the trap of trying to do too much at times. He hasn't had a great spring with the bat but still has enough offensive upside and all-around potential to go in the first round. -MLB.com