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MLB draft 2017: Angels farm depth report - Middle Infield

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Fontana, Fletcher, and Baldoquin - oh my!

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

The MLB draft is about 3 weeks 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).

Fortunately, the Angels shouldn’t need to worry about SS for a few more years (at least until 2020) with Andrelton Simmons locked up. Second base in another story though. The pipeline is thin (as per usual), with Nolan Fontana and David Fletcher maybe being the next best things and a few others like Connor Justus and Julio Garcia currently in the lower levels working on their game.

The Angels have 5 guys who can play middle infield in Salt Lake, but none of them really stand out at this point to take on a full time big league role, so for now they serve mostly as depth.

Best Tools (Minor League):

Hit: Jordan Zimmerman
Power: Jordan Zimmerman, Nonie Williams
Run: Nonie Williams
Arm: Jake Yacinich, Nonie Williams, Julio Garcia
Field: Connor Justus, Julio Garcia, David Fletcher

Big League Guys

Andrelton Simmons, SS, 27
B-T: R-R
Contract: Signed through 2020, 7 year $58 Million

Danny Espinosa, 2B, 30
B-T: L-R
Contract: Through 2017, 1 year $5.425 million

Cliff Pennington, SS/2B, 32
B-T: S-R
Contract: Through 2017, 2 year $3.75 million

Major League Ready:

Rey Navarro, SS, 27
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2007 (ARI)
B-T: S-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there done that
Navarro played in 10 games for the Orioles at second base back in 2015 and went 8 for 29. He is in his 3rd season in the Angels org. Navarro is a plus fielder with very good range and a bit of power, but isn’t the best hitter. He’s mostly depth at this point in the system.

Nolan Fontana, SS, 25
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2012 (HOU)
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Late 2017/2018
Fontana had a good spring with the Angels, slashing .311/.415/.511 and providing some solid defense. The backlog of infielders in the Astros system is probably why the Angels were able to nab Fontana and he could get a call-up at some point this year and could be a replacement for the Pennington utility role in 2018. FUN FACT: In 2013, Fontana was the #10 Astros Prospect according to Baseball America - 1 spot behind Nick Tropeano.

Sherman Johnson, 2B, 26
Drafted: 14th Round, 2012
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Late 2017/2018
Johnson’s speed and high on base percentage make him a great lead off candidate. He has a .380 OBP in Salt Lake this year with 9 stolen bases in 9 attempts. Depending on which way the Angels go this off season, Johnson could have a shot at the second base gig to start off in 2018.

Near Future Major League Ready:

David Fletcher, SS, 22
Drafted: 6th Round, 2015
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA
MLB ETA: 2018
Fletcher was super impressive in spring training and the Angels gave him a long look with 15 games and 28 AB. He hit .357 with a .438 OBP and showed some pretty solid defensive skills as well. Fletcher could get called up to AAA at some point in 2017. Fletcher is a guy you can get excited about filling in that 2B hole in the not so distant future or as a utility player. His average arm means he probably doesn’t have a future as an every day short stop.

Matt Williams, SS, 27
Drafted: 15th Round, 2011 (STL)
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AAA
Williams is not a high ceiling guy and the Angels grabbed him in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft last December. He’s pretty much around just for organizational depth.


Probably Major League Some Day:

Tim Arakawa, 2B, 24
Drafted: 23rd Round, 2015
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: 2019
Currently on the DL, Arakawa was a mid season All Star for the 66ers in 2016 and mostly skipped over AA last year to be challenged the last few weeks in Salt Lake where he went 6 for 38. He’ll probably land in AA once he comes off the DL. He has played the bulk of his minor league career at 2B, though he was moved around a bit in the outfield last year and even played some SS. He’s not a strong hitter so will have to improve upon that to have success in the big leagues and could get a crack as a utility player in a few years.

Hutton Moyer, 2B, 24
Drafted: 7th Round, 2015
B-T: S-R
Current Level: AA
MLB ETA: TBD
Being the son of former major leaguer Jamie Moyer gives him some good genes and background. Moyer has the skills to be a AAA depth player at worst and an every day second baseman at his ceiling. He has pretty average tools across the board, however, so his ceiling is probably closer to a utility guy.

Connor Justus, SS, 22
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+
Justus has the defensive skills to stick at SS at the big league level. He has an average hit tool with below average power but is a plus fielder and thrower. He’s been struggling with his bat a bit his year but is very good at getting on base and has a .364 OBP for the 66ers with a .384 OBP in his short minor league career. Justus’ development as a hitter will greatly determine what his ceiling will be - which could be as a major league starter at SS if that hit tool improves.

Cody Ramer, 2B, 23
Drafted: 19th Round, 2016
B-T: L-R
Current Level: A+
Not much info to be found on Ramer who is not off to the best start for the 66ers. He skipped over A ball after tearing it up in Orem last year.

Jake Yacinich, SS, 24
Drafted: 8th Round, 2014
B-T: L-R
Current Level: A+
Yacinich is said to maybe have the best SS arm in the system (at least last year). Defense isn’t a concern for him, but he doesn’t have the best hit tool or power. He will have to develop more at the plate before his potential in the majors is fully known.

Too soon to know:

Julio Garcia, SS, 19
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2014
B-T: S-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. His strong arm and plus fielding could allow him to stick at SS, at least for a while.

Keith Grieshaber, SS, 21
Drafted: 16th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

Nonie Williams, SS, 19
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016
B-T: S-R
Current Level: Rookie
Williams is too young and new to professional baseball to really project out very far, but he’s at least 3-4 years away from being major league ready. He might not stick at SS and his plus speed could end up landing him at CF in the future.

Juan Moreno, SS, 22
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2012
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

Jordan Zimmerman, 2B, 22
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A
Defensively, there is some questions where Zimmerman will end up. However, unlike many of the other Angels middle infield prospects, Zimmerman is a good hitter with double digit homerun potential.

Roberto Baldoquin, SS, 23
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2014 for way too much money
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A
The 7 million dollar man has struggled to adjust to pro ball and even took a step backwards this year when the Angels sent him down to A ball after he spun his wheels in high A for two seasons.

Leonardo Rivas, SS, 19
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2015
B-T: S-R
Current Level: Rookie
5’10” and 150#. Aren’t you a little small for ball player? This Rivas dude can play and since he doesn’t even turn 20 until after the 2017 season, It’s a bit early to see what his upside is.