If you’d like to view these prospect grades in greater detail, you can do so here.
15. Jesus Castillo (SP) — 62 points
Scouting Report: Castillo was acquired in a trade with the Cubs right before the deadline for Joe Smith and filled a major need in the organization: polished pitching prospects. This is rare for someone his age, 21-years old, but you won’t hear anyone here complain. On the season, he carried a BB/9 under 3 for the first time, which is a huge improvement from the BB/9 of over 4 he had in the previous two seasons in the Cub’s Rookie Ball league, and he only walked 7 batters in 29.2 innings after the trade to Burlington. Overall, he had a 2.43 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched in the Angels org. with only one home run surrendered and a healthy 3.07 FIP.
The stark difference in minor league numbers is as simple as Castillo getting older and filling out his athletic frame. Having lived in Spain at one point in his life, he grew up playing soccer and that athleticism has helped on the diamond as well, helping him repeat his smooth delivery with his loose arm and long extension. The significant uptick in fastball velocity is also an indication of his body maturing: when he first signed, he was sitting in the mid 80’s with his fastball. This past season? He was living in the low 90’s with his heater to go along with his advanced changeup, his best pitch, and his improving breaking ball. For a 21-year old to have good control/command, a much-improved fastball, a + changeup, and progressing breaking pitch, that’s exactly what you want to see. Especially since you gave up three months of Joe Smith to get him. Not a knock on Joe Smith, by any means, it’s just pretty good value all things considered.
Look for Jesus to maybe even start out the year with Inland Empire (A+) where he’ll be handed the challenge of facing more advanced hitters in a hitter friendly league, but his feel for pitching and improvement could very well warrant that and if he holds his own there, then he’ll really place himself on the Angels’ radar as a potential future major leaguer. If he can add one more tick to that fastball, he’s still only 165 pounds, and keep improving that secondary pitch, then Eppler really has found a gem here and I applaud him for that trade. The Angels farm system lacks impact pitching, and while it’s still a glaring organizational need, Castillo at least offers some optimism in that department. He’s worth keeping an eye on. —CK
14. Michael Hermosillo (OF) — 89 points
Scouting Report: Drafted out of high school in the 28th round, Hermosillo and his plus-plus athleticism finally translated to box score statistics. It may have taken a little longer than the Angels would have liked, but 600 at-bats later, the multi-sport athlete had the breakout season that many evaluators envisioned he would. Despite being about a year younger than the competition he’s faced, Hermosillo put up a .317/.402/.467 in 72 games of A and high-A ball in 2016. On top of it all, he raked against lefties (1.119 OPS), slashed .362/.450/.574 in August, and had a .898 OPS against older pitchers. He capped off his solid year at Arizona Fall League, where he held his own against more advanced competition in a small sample size (.267/.353/.400, 112 wRC+ in 9 games).
In the batter’s box, Hermosillo works counts well and knows the strike zone well, which is reflected in his consistently high walk percentages and increased BABIP. He makes good, hard contact at the plate and hit for a little more power in the second half of the year. Should he fill out his frame with muscle, he would be a candidate to have a rise in power.
He is goal driven and oriented and uses the off-season to fine tune his swing. He stays low to the ground to make the strike zone smaller, drives with his lower half and has a short compact stroke from the right-side. He has good bat speed, but will need to learn to extend when necessary to drive the ball with more force. — Taylor Blake Ward
As mentioned earlier, Hermosillo’s incredible athleticism and speed give him tremendous range in the outfield. He has a quick first step, and his arm is only going to continue to get stronger as he matures. His speed also gives him the potential to be a strong baserunner. He’s stolen 10 bases but he’s also been caught stealing 10 times, indicating the need to become a smarter baserunner.
The Angels have to be thrilled with Hermosillo’s development so far, but there’s still much to be done. He made strides this season and he should continue to do so. A 28th round pick, Hermosillo might be the best value of the entire 2013 Angels draft class. He’s still somewhat raw, but his strong 2016 showing leaves him as a future starting outfielder if he continues to develop. —RS
13. Nonie Williams (SS) — 101 points
Scouting Report: The Angels 3rd round pick from 2016 is far from short on tools and work ethic. After the 2016 draft, I had the opportunity to speak to Nonie’s high school coach (George Walden) and he couldn’t say enough great things about Williams, from the batting tunnel his parents built in their house (and the team practices there in the winter), to his pure speed and athleticism. Nonie was drafted at age 17 and didn’t even finish high school until after his pro debut in the Arizona League. He played varsity ball his freshman through junior years and with 156 plate appearances hit .464/.523/.876 with 11 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 26 attempts.
Nonie Williams is the definition of a very raw player with huge upside potential in that he has insane athletic ability and build, but he definitely has some fine tuning that needs to happen from a baseball perspective. In High school, he even pitched 13 innings over two seasons and struck out 17 with a 2.15 ERA - a testament to his athleticism and arm strength.
Williams will probably not stick at SS, but could make a great outfielder with his plus arm and plus plus speed. In 38 rookie ball games, he played all of them at short stop, but he made 19 errors. He may also land at third base with his good hands and footwork. Power, speed, and arm are his best assets. In fact, Williams is pretty strong across the board and it’s hard to not get a little bit of cautious excitement over his future potential as a guy who could hit .270 with 30 home run and 30 stolen base potential.
Williams struggled at the plate to start 2016, but don’t let that fool you. He spent a lot of time hitting from the left side, and although is listed as a switch hitter, the right side is where his best skills are. Despite that, Williams adjusted and turned his .205 average from the first half into a .277 with a .318 OBP in the second half of the season. Surprisingly, he didn’t hit any home runs, but he DID swipe 8 bases in 38 games. Williams ended the season strong, hitting .326 over his last 10 games. Williams was sent to the instructional league in the fall and should start in Orem in 2017. He is young, so his arrival could be years away, but he will sure be exciting to watch develop as he moves through the system. —JD
12. David Fletcher (2B) — 113 points
Scouting Report: David Fletcher is not a big, buff, slugger; nor is he a tall, slender, defense-dominant gazelle. He is 100% unassuming, if you’re just judging the book by the cover, and the things he brings to the table, the things that all his coaches have raved about, aren’t exactly anything you can pinpoint by looking at his stats. It’s pure X-factor (yes, while playing at Cypress High, his favorite player was David Eckstein, FYI).
He has a killer work ethic, an A+ baseball intellect, and rock solid fundamentals. He’s quick, he’s tough, and despite all the odds, he continues to find ways to surprise and punish opponents. Sure, the David Eckstein comparison is right there for the taking, but I like thinking of him as the baseball Danny Woodhead. Wishful thinking? Probably, but the dude has seemed legit, so far.
He was drafted in 2015 (sixth round), and he’s already found himself at the AA level. That’s quite the speedy run through the lower levels, but each jump was well earned. He killed it in Orem, and had a 22-game hitting streak while he was with Inland Empire. Then came another promotion, and he hit .300 in 20 games at Arkansas. So you can see why I’m excited to see what he does in his first full season with the (new AA affiliate) Mobile Bay Bears.
Fletcher seems like he was born to play the game, cut out of a giant piece of full grain leather; a guy who is contact-first with every at-bat, who is smart enough to constantly make adjustments against any pitcher he’s facing down, and whose glove work can hang with the big boys. He’s prone to some slumps, but who isn’t? He also needs to work on that OBP, which has taken a dive once he got to some stiffer competition. There’s still a lot of work to do here, but there’s also a lot to like.
I think 2017, with Fletcher beginning the year at AA, will reveal his place and his future in this organization. If he gets hot again, and excels in Mobile, then all of a sudden we have ourselves a young, 2B stud that’s already sniffing at Salt Lake City. If he stalls out a bit, then we’re going to get the best look yet at his flaws, and then we have a better picture of how to temper and manage our expectations.
For now, though, David Fletcher, representing his hometown Orange, CA (my old stomping grounds!), is someone that should already have your attention. He’s definitely got mine, and I can’t wait to check him out this season. —JM
11. Vicente Campos (SP) — 131 points
Scouting Report: Billy Eppler cast a wide net this offseason to compile his pitching depth, spending much of his time fishing in waters where former top prospects go to swim. Vicente Campos just might be the most intriguing catch of the season. Signed by the Mariners as a 16 year-old, Campos (at the time known as “Jose”) made a name for himself by dominating low-A ball as an 18 year-old. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball and unusually good command, the Mariners raised eyebrows when they included him along with Michael Pineda in the now-laughable trade for Jesus Montero. He continued to dominate the lower levels of the Yankees system before Tommy John surgery cost him the entirety of his 2014 season.
Campos recovered enough to make 11 starts at high-A in 2015, though struggled to the tune of a 7.05 ERA. His command was still spot-on, walking only two batters per nine innings, though his strikeout rate dropped to 6.25 per nine innings, after averaging roughly a whiff per inning in his first four seasons. He came back strong in 2016, recovering his velocity and earned a promotion to AA, where he maintained a 3.02 ERA to go along with 7.62 K/9, 2.22 BB/9 and only one home run allowed across nine starts. Despite promising results, the Yankees made the curious move of flipping him to Arizona for expensive veteran reliever Tyler Clippard, apparently to absorb some relief innings after cashing in on Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. It was in Arizona where Campos got his first sip of coffee, pitching one game in relief, throwing 5.2 innings while allowing two home runs and two walks, striking out 4 batters.
Despite a modestly successful major league debut, something was off. Scouting reports had his fastball sitting 93-95 MPH in the minors, while the radar gun readings in his big league debut had him sitting around 89 MPH. Shortly after it was announced he had a broken arm and would require surgery, putting him on the shelf for 8 months. It was a fractured ulnar, right below his surgically repaired right elbow. And there’s the rub. If not for his history of injuries, he would very likely be top 5 on this list. If we are being honest, if there were no health concerns, he would probably be fighting for a spot in the D-Backs rotation this spring.
Should Campos make a full recovery, he has a plus fastball, excellent change-up and unwavering command. He has a rich baseball pedigree, being a cousin to former Angel Kelvim Escobar, Alcides Escobar, Edwin Escobar and a nephew of former shortstop Jose Escobar. He is not expected to be ready to pitch until mid-season. For a team with no pitching depth like the Angels, he makes perfect sense as a waiver claim. He is out of options, so any minor league time he sees once he recovers would have to fall under the rehab classification, forcing the team into a decision if he shows he’s healthy. He would be fine out of the pen, though a guy with his injury history would likely benefit from a regular routine. If he does return to form and forces his way into the Angels’ rotation, it could be viewed as the steal of Billy Eppler’s tenure thus far. —CF