If you’d like to view these prospect grades in greater detail, you can do so here.
25. Troy Montgomery (OF) — 22 points
Scouting Report: Montgomery, in a lot of ways, is a bit reminiscent of another former 8th round pick by the Angels, Kole Calhoun. He’s a bit on the smaller side, nearly identical to Kole’s 5’10”, 190 lb. frame (just 5 lbs. lighter than Kole is now), he’s left-handed, comes from a big state school, and nothing in particular jumps off the page when you look at his scouting reports. Sound familiar?
Montgomery’s current value comes from his glove work. He was rated the best defensive outfielder in the Big Ten by Baseball America, he can play all three outfield positions, thanks to his plus speed, and he offers a tad bit of upside with the bat just for an added benefit. He’s shown a knack for having a good idea/approach at the plate (which translated to a 13.3 BB% in Rookie Ball and 9.6 BB% in his first full-season showing in Burlington), which is nice to see since he walked more than he struck out in college, but the K’s are still of a concern. He had 20 K’s in in 26 games in Orem and 30 K’s in 38 games with Burlington. The stark difference in walks, K’s, and BABIP led to his slashline falling from .341/.453/.557 in Rookie Ball, to .261/.340/.401 in the more advanced Class A.
So his bat was exposed when he ran into more polished pitching, not too surprising, but his ability to limit K’s will be the big thing to follow in 2017. He doesn’t have the power to make up for striking out at high rates, so his offensive value in a potential Major League role will have to come by walking, getting on base, and trying to hold a respectable batting average with fringe-to-average power. His glove work, positional flexibility, speed, and relative youth to offer a small glimpse of hope, though. If he can turn into an average hitter, he could provide plenty of value as a backup outfielder, and I’m sure the Angels would be glad to have that in an 8th round pick. —CK
T-23. Brooks Pounders (SP/RP) — 23 points
Scouting Report: Acquired in a deal for Jared Ruxer last month, Pounders is a 26-year old pitcher who is prospect-eligible only because he has not exceeded the 50-inning threshold in the majors. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014, which delayed his development in a big way. As for health, it’s been over two years and he is probably in the clear. He’s bounced back well since then, pitching to a sub-3 ERA and a sub-4 FIP as both a starter and reliever in AA and AAA.
Overlooked because of his heavy build, Pounders’ fastball sits at 92-93 mph with his changeup being a plus pitch. Because of his sizable frame and downhill delivery, the baseball has added movement, making it tougher on opposing hitters. Given his proximity to the majors, Pounders has finished his development but both his command and control should be better than what he showed in his lone big-league stint with the Royals.
Pounders projects — projects is the wrong word given his finished development, but I digress — as a swing starter, someone who can start and eat innings when called upon but otherwise can relieve well. Though he was rocked in his big-league stint, his versatility should give him an increased chance to stick despite the Angels’ crowded starter/reliever situation. Pounders is as ready for the show as he’ll ever be, and even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he and his 80-grade name will definitely be with the big league club in some capacity this year. —RS
T-23. Connor Justus (SS) — 23 points
Scouting Report: Justus is not a flashy defender, but it’s his best asset. Many players drafted at SS don’t stick there, but Justus probably will and should be a big league starter there some day. He has a great first step and a solid arm that gives him good range. When he moved up to A ball he played 362 innings at shortstop and had a strong range factor of 4.59. Justus’ bat is definitely a weak point and he has below average speed for a middle infielder with a 7.07 second 60 yard time (from Perfect Game).
He played college ball 3 years then entered draft after his junior year as one of the top middle infield prospects. Just doesn't really have any plus tools that wow but is solid enough to play SS at the major league level in a few years. Justus had a breakout year his junior year in college with a .324/.442/.486 slash line which was about 75 points above his previous two years. When he went to hitter-friendly Orem, he was one of the top 5 hitters on the team with a .344 AVG and has the second-best OBP of .465. Justus seems to make up for his weaker hitting with a good eye at the plate an a very high on base percentage.
While he thrived at the rookie level, his batting average dropped over 100 points moving to A ball. Despite that drop in average, his OBP remained high and he knocked out 2 home runs. Justus showed definite improvement in his approach at the plate over this past year from college to rookie to A ball.
Fun Stats: Walked as much as he struck out in rookie ball - 19 times in 26 games. He actually walked MORE times than he struck out his junior year in college - 41 v. 38 in 63 games. —JD
22. Andrew Daniel (2B) — 25 points
Scouting Report: In his first couple years in the Angels’ farm system, since getting drafted in the 11th round in ‘14, Andrew Daniel was giving prospect hounds lots and lots to like, and his stock was rising with every game.
Coming off a great collegiate career, which included some all-american honors and capped off with a senior season where he slashed .369/.421/.554 , there was plenty to like about the athletic infielder. The main attraction with Daniel is his bat, but not so much for power, but for his great hand speed and ability to make consistent contact. Oh, and the guy barely ever struck out. This is a guy that can get the most out of at-bats, and knock hard-hit liners all around the diamond.
He brought those heralded hitting chops to rookie ball, where he hit .340 and earned himself a shot at low-A ball for the 2015 season. Once there, he was finally facing some legit competition and while he considerably cooled down, he still showed enough to get promoted to high-A Inland Empire halfway through the season. His time in Burlington was almost identical to his time in San Bernadino (he hit .263 AVG and .327 OBP in the former, .265 AVG and .333 OBP in the latter), and while he had finally come down to Earth, the organization seems to still have a lot of faith in the youngster.
Daniel was promoted to AA for the 2016 season, and he pretty much mirrored his 2015 numbers ( .266/.331/.355), but he also showed off his stout glove and extremely high baseball IQ. Honestly, the numbers don’t exactly pop out at you, but he’s still one of the better infielders in the Angels’ admittedly weak farm system. Our very own Ryan Ghan will do a rundown of the top minor league performances of 2016 in the next month or two, and SPOILER...Daniel was actually 7th overall in WAR (2.3).
Again, the farm isn’t great...or good...but Daniel is putting in some work, enough for him to stand out a bit, at least. He’s primarily played 2B throughout college and first couple seasons in the minors, but he’s now been at 3B enough to make him a well-rounded infield option for the future.
Honestly, for a guy towards the bottom of the league’s most lackluster minor league system, I honestly think there’s plenty to like about Andrew Daniel. —JM
21. Elvin Rodriguez (SP) — 30 points
Scouting Report: A product of the Angels’ Dominican academy, Elvin Rodriguez made his stateside debut for their rookie league affiliate in 2016, going 2-2 with a 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings. Across two seasons in the Dominican and Arizona, he has made 22 starts and four relief appearances, holding a respectable 2.95 ERA over 109.2 IP. Very much a raw talent, Rodriguez has surprisingly good command, walking only 2.7 batters per nine innings in his career.
He sports a low-90’s fastball with solid movement, getting 57% of his outs via the groundball and allowing only three HR across two levels in 2016. He allowed a very stingy 4.9 H/9, resulting in an excellent 0.784 WHIP. Expect both those numbers to climb as he sees more action in 2017, as he boasted a fairly modest 7.2 K/9 in Arizona, down from a dominant 10.2 K/9 in the DSL.
Elvin enjoyed the highlight of his young career on July 7, combing with Richard De Los Santos on 7 inning no-hitter. Starting the first game of a double-header, Rodriguez struck out five batters over five innings, allowing only two baserunners on a walk and error. Two weeks later, he made his debut in Arizona and was just as impressive, striking out seven batters against no walks over five innings, allowing only two hits and no runs.
At 6-3, 160 lbs., Rodriguez certainly has room to fill out. If he can add a couple MPH to his fastball while refining his off-speed repertoire, he could climb the rankings of the Angels’ modest system rather quickly. Any 18 year-old pitcher with modest stuff is a long shot, but Rodriguez appears to already possess the type of pitchability you see in prospects with far more experience, making him a player worth keeping an eye on over the next few seasons. —CF