Here is the introductory post to this series, explaining our methodology.
If you’d like to view these prospect grades in greater detail, you can do so here.
20. Jose Suarez (SP) — 50 points
Scouting Report [Video]: Stocky Jose Suarez threw his third pro season in 2017 at the age of 19 (he turned 20 on January 3rd) and it was an impressive one. Suarez combined for a 3.28 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and .236 BAA across rookie and A ball, while raking up 90 Ks in 68.2 innings. Suarez was arguably one of the best (if not the best) starter in Burlington last season with a number of impressive outings including back to back starts in July in which he struck out 19 over 9.2 innings while allowing 5 hits. Suarez allowed 3 hits or less in half of his 12 starts for Burlington.
Suarez has an above average changeup that could be plus in the future. He locates his fastball exceptionally well, and although he only throws around 89-90, it’s effective thanks to good movement and placement. His fastball should see a few ticks of increased speed as he grows into his frame. Suarez’s third pitch is a curve with good 12-6 movement but he doesn’t command it well. It has room for refinement as he progresses in the system. Suarez generates a lot of weak contact and ground balls - mostly thanks to his command of the zone. Last year in Burlington he had an impressive overall GB rate of 46.5%.
Thanks to being only 5’10”, a lot of teams passed on Suarez but the Angels took a chance - which so far has been paying off. Suarez will have time to mature and if all goes well for him, he could a solid back of rotation starter. —Jessica
T-19. Trent Deveaux (OF) — 53 points
Scouting Report: The Angels were restricted in their ability to sign top tier talent in the international market thanks to Jerry Dipoto and his ill fated signing of Robert Baldoquin. So their presence in the international market was basically non-existent due to their inability to sign a player to a bonus larger than $300K, that was all in the past this last summer when Billy Eppler got the wiggle room he desperately needed. So he went out and signed, per Baseball America, the number 19 international prospect out of the Bahamas: Trent Deveaux. The $1.7 million bonus Deveaux got was the largest since, well, you guessed it, Roberto Baldoquin.
Deveaux didn’t play in 2017, but there’s plenty to get excited about in 2018. Originally a shortstop, the Angels are shifting Deveaux to center field where he can fully utilize his 80-grade speed. That’s the best grade you can get. He ran a 6.3-6.4 second 60-yard dashes during his showcases, allowing him to glide in center field to hunt down balls. He also has an arm that’s been clocked at 93 mph from the outfield. Overall, he’s an amazing athlete who shows his athleticism off the most on defense and on the bases. With more experience in center, he can easily be a plus in three areas already: defense, baserunning, and his arm.
The bat taking a leap forward was always the biggest key in his development and progress through the minors. Per Ben Badler from Baseball America:
Scouts highest on Deveaux said his hitting ability has taken a huge leap forward. Last year, Deveaux had an upright, open stance and a tendency to either slice or roll over too many balls. He closed off his stance, improved his balance and did a better job of staying through the ball and using the middle of the field. He also shows a solid understanding of the strike zone. Deveaux has the frame to add more power later on, though right now he’s mostly a line-drive hitter who can occasionally hit a ball out.
Despite his youth and total inexperience in pro ball so far, Deveaux is expected to rise fast through the minors if the bat continues to develop. As he physically matures, he can easily tap into that power potential. Deveaux has mostly received rave reviews on his personality and aptitude. He’s even fluent in English and Spanish.
I’m quite high on Deveaux, I think he does a number of things well which helps with his floor. If he’s able to continue to develop as a hitter, that only increases that floor (and that’s without taking into consideration his ceiling as an overall player if the power develops to be above average). The dude’s only 18 and it’s obvious we should tamper expectations before getting too bullish on the kid, but I think he has the potential to be a top 10 guy easily for the Angels when we do this exact same thing next year.
All-in-all, Deveaux is getting added into a system loaded with some quality outfield prospects in guys like Adell, Jones, Marsh, and Hermosillo, but his tools and intangibles are worth keeping around. This is definitely a guy worth keeping an eye on in 2018, and if his bat comes around stateside, he has a chance to fly through the minors faster than he could run through them. This was just the beginning of the Angels adding international talent and we can so how this types of signings increase the depth and overall outlook of a farm system. Deveaux can be a huge part in the continued revamping of the farm system. Thanks, Billy! —Chase
T-19. Eduardo Paredes (RP) — 53 points
Scouting Report: Paredes started 2017 in AA Mobile and worked his way up to Anaheim last year, pitching 22.1 innings and striking out 17 batters at the big league level. His go to pitch is his mid 90s fastball which he throws just over 60% of the time. He also has a respectable curve ball and a change up he throws sparingly (11%) to keep batters off balance.
As can be expected, he had a bit of an adjustment to life in MLB and saw his numbers dip a bit from the loftier numbers down on the farm. But, a quick look at his career ups and downs shows there is plenty of reason for optimism in 2018. Each time Paredes has been promoted he’s seen his K/9 drop by roughly 40%, then rebound back to the 12-13% range his second time at that level. In Anaheim last year he sat at 6.85%, his lowest at any level by a substantial margin. If he follows his pattern, look for him to be striking out better than a batter per inning next year.
Paredes will head to Tempe with every opportunity to earn a spot in the 2018 bullpen. He does have options, though, so he could start the year in AAA if he is unable to seize an Opening Day roster spot. Expect him to pitch in Anaheim for most, if not all, of the year. —Jeff
17. David Fletcher (2b/SS) — 60 points
Scouting Report: After spending most the first five weeks on the disabled list, David Fletcher continued to show off one of his best tools in 2017, hitting .276 with a .341 on-base percentage for a 103 wRC+ in double-A Mobile. Given that AA is often the demarcation between a significantly higher level of difficulty, the success there is certainly notable in his journey to the majors. Those gains did not carry over into Salt Lake City, however, where Fletcher put up a .254/.285/.322 (56 wRC+) in 47 games, keeping the strikeouts low (11.5% strikeouts at AAA) but sacrificing plate discipline (2.8% walks) in the process.
At the plate, Fletcher makes consistent contact with a short, compact swing that has served him well in making contact and hitting for average. The two things most preventing Fletcher from an everyday role, however, are plate discipline and power. Isolated slugging marks stayed constant while plate discipline took a nosedive in his Triple-A stint. While it was his first experience at the higher level and he is likely to improve those plate discipline numbers over time, the lack of any notable power will keep him from seeing a starting role in the future (and prevent him from taking advantage of the newer, juiced ball). He will need to work on patience in order to achieve his likely outcome, a versatile infielder who can fill in on the diamond where needed.
In the field, Fletcher is a twitchy athlete that has better range than one might expect but a fringe-average arm which leaves him better suited for second base than other infield positions. Though not especially fast, Fletcher’s instincts and baserunning aggressiveness allow him to take the extra base more times than not, capitalizing off of fielders’ mistakes.
Overall, Fletcher looks the part of the utility infielder already so there’s little to no risk here, but his plate discipline will be telling as he looks to make his major league debut in the coming months. —Rahul
16. Brennon Lund (OF) — 65 points
Scouting Report: Brennon Lund didn’t even crack the HH top prospects list last year but his jump to #16 shows you how much he has impressed as he’s moved up in the system. Lund found himself being promoted twice in 2017 after starting out the season in Class A Burlington. Starting back in 2016, Lund has showed the ability to hit the ball at all levels and this past season was no exception with a .306 AVG at Class A, .321 at High A, and .287 in AA. Hitting has always been Lund’s forte and he spent all 3 years in college as a lead off hitter and has spent the bulk of his time batting first since he joined the Angels system. Lund also swiped 20 bases in 121 games last year.
Lund is not short on tools. Back in college he was throwing a 90 MPH fastball thanks to his above average arm strength. Perfect Game also clocked him at a time of 6.45 in the 60 yard dash which is very speedy and even tops guys like Bryce Harper who ran a 6.6. Lund has also been showing off his arm and fielding skills at the pro level with 6 OF assists in 2016 and 10 more last year in 117 games. Lund has showed versatility in playing all 3 outfield positions throughout his minor league career and has the potential to stick as a center fielder if he can find regular playing time at the big league level.
Plate discipline is not Lund’s best skill, though he does manage to put enough balls into play to make his approach work for him so far. He had a painfully low 2.3% walk rate in AA last year and it’s an area that will need improvement as he moves up the ladder. Lund has struck out 100 times to 43 walks in 491 ABs throughout his career so far. When Lund does put the ball in play, he sprays to all fields. In Mobile last year he pulled 38.5% of his batted balls with 28.6% going to center and 33% going to opposite field (left). Power is probably Lund’s weakest tool and he only hit 3 home runs during his 159 game collegiate career. He has developed a small bit of power since then and has hit 9 HRs through his 184 minor league games.
Brennon Lund is toolsy enough to be a near sure thing at the big league level with a floor of a 4th outfielder and the potential to be an every day starter with a bit more development and plate discipline. —Jessica