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MLB draft 2017: Angels farm depth report - Corner Infield

Matt Thaiss and a whole bunch of other guys

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Glendale Desert Dogs at Scottsdale Scorpions Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB draft is about 1 month away, so we’ll be taking look at the Angels farm system. Where are they strong? Where are they weak? In this edition, let’s take a look at the corner infielders (and DH).

The Angels have a plethora of depth at the major league and AAA level including Escobar, Valbuena, Pujols, Cron, Marte, Ackley, and Cowart. But when it come to 1B, the Angels really just have Matt Thaiss, maybe Jared Walsh, and not much else.

At the hot corner, the Angels have a lot of depth throughout the system but few standouts. Beyond Cowart, you have Houchins and maybe Daniel (both currently at the AA level), and beyond them you have a whole lot of question marks aside from Jordan Serena (if you read the rave comments Stirrups has on this guy).

Big League Guys

Yunel Escobar, 3B, 34
B-T: R-R
Contract: Signed through 2017, 3 year $19 Million

Luis Valbuena, 3B/1B/2B, 31
B-T: L-R
Contract: Through 2018, 2 year $15 million

Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, 37
B-T: R-R
Contract: Through 2021, 10 year $240 million

Pujols will earn 26 million in 2017. That number goes up every year until 2021 when he will make 30 million as a 41 year old. Pujols will be a fixture for 4 more years after this one unless he retires early.

CJ Cron, 1B/DH, 27
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / $565,000

Cron has 3 more arbitration years after this one. 1B/DH is crowded do he’s going to have to earn his spot to stick around, especially in a couple years when Matt Thaiss may be ready.

Jefry Marte, 1B/3B/LF, 25
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / $547,000

Marte is still a youngster that is under team control for one more year. He had a pretty good 2016 campaign but has struggled this year at the plate. His versatility and power could keep him around a bit if he can improve his hitting since he’s a pretty average fielder.

Major League Ready:

Kaleb Cowart, 3B, 24
Drafted: 1st Round, 2010
B-T: S-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there done that

Kaleb Cowart has had two cups of coffee now in the big leagues. Hard to believ he’s still only 24 years old. He has always struggled with hitting at the big league level and with a pretty high strikeout to walk ratio which has changed quite a bit in 2017 with Cowart walking nearly as many times as he has struck out.

Dustin Ackley, 1B/ETC, 29
Drafted: 1st Round, 2009 (SEA)
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there done that

Ackley has played just about everywhere but shortstop, pitcher and catchier in his career. He’s been predominately used as a DH in Salt Lake with just a pair of games at 1B to date. He’s mostly just there for depth at this point and has spent portions of the last 7 years between the majors and minors.

Near Future Major League Ready:

Matt Thaiss, 1B, 22
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016
B-T: L-R
Current Level: A+
MLB ETA: late 2018

Thaiss is the best thing the Angels have to major league ready at either corner and is pretty much the only real corner standout at any level in the system right now. He was drafted in the 1st round for a reason and could see some big league playing time by the end of next year.

Probably Major League Some Day:

Jared Wash, 1B, 23
Drafted: 39th round, 2015
B-T: L-L
Current Level: AA

Walsh was a standout in high school and had TJ surgery in college. At 6’1” 210#, he has the size and some power to play 1B but is now log jammed behind Matt Thaiss who is (and probably will be getting) the bulk of the time at First base for the 66ers. Walsh has a career .298/.353/.461 line with 11 homeruns in 146 minor league games. Walsh didn’t get a spring invite this year but had a 1 strikeout 1 AB pop-in back in 2016.

Andrew Daniel, 3B/2B, 24
Drafted: 11th round, 2014
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA

Daniel was drafted as a second baseman but played the majority of his games in 2016 at the hot corner and the majority of his games in 2017 so far at second base. The Angels have moved him around a bit trying to find the best fit and he probably has the stuff to be a major league starter some day. He has a strong arm, but not a lot of range. He may have a better shot at cracking the big league roster as a second baseman since he has Cowart, and probably Houchins in front of him for third base. Daniel had 2 plate appearances this spring with a HBP and a walk.

Zach Houchins, 3B, 24
Drafted: 13th round, 2014
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA

Houchins has got some pop and hit 18 homeruns for the 66ers in 2016 in 134 games. He has strong defensive tools as well and his combination of offense & defense probably puts him next in line at third behind Cowart. Houchins had 2 AB in spring training this year with 1 hit.

Luis Tejada, 1B, 24
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2010 by the Padres
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA

Tejada was drafted by the Padres at age 17 and the Angels snatched him up this past off season after he elected free agency. The Angels don’t have a lot of 1B prospects in the system and with Matt Thaiss on the horizon, Tejada probably takes a back burner. His power increased in 2016 with 11 homers in 125 games. He also had a pretty respectable 43 walks to his 76 strikeouts. Tejada some some very brief spring action with 2 plate appearances.

Too soon to know:

Franklin Torres, 3B, 20
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2013
B-T: R-R
Current Level: Rookie

Drafted as a second baseman and converted to third base. He’s too young and it’s too early to see what his future holds.

Angel Almao, 3B, 22
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2012
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

At 5’10” and 145 pounds, he is not the picture of a third baseman and if he ever lands on a major league roster, it will probably be as a utility player.

Jose Rojas, 3B, 24
Drafted: 36th round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+

Rojas has played quite a bit of second base but the Angels are using him mostly at third now. If he cracks a big league roster, he has a future as a utility player most likely.

Jordan Serena, 3B, 24
Drafted: 35th round, 2015
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+

Serena has played all over the field in 2017, including 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF. It’s pretty clear like many of the other guys on this list that he’s destined to be a utility player if he ever cracks a big league roster.