Disclaimer: We are not scouts and we don’t claim to be. We have not seen these players play in-person, unless otherwise explicitly stated. This series is undertaken in an effort to synthesize scouting reports and increase accessibility to the organization’s farm system, not to replace traditional scouting. 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.
10. Matt Thaiss (1b) — 154 points
Scouting Report: Thaiss was widely viewed at the time of the draft as a safe, conservative pick that could reach the majors quickly, thanks to a strong hit tool and accompanying plate discipline. The Angels signed him under slot value to pick up higher-upside talents in later rounds, moving him to first base in hopes that his bat would blossom.
Thaiss has an unconventional swing path but pulls it off thanks to above-average bat speed to make consistent contact. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen notes that “his hand-eye coordination and barrel control lead to quality, all-fields contact; and continued focus on patience and approach has helped Thaiss produce premium OBPs as a pro.” He has done well to reach base consistently, as evidenced by a lifetime .371 on-base percentage, but his lack of game power (a .134 and .096 ISO at high-A and double-A, respectively) is a severe hindrance to his overall value, particularly at a demanding offensive position.
Thaiss’s groundball tendencies pose an imminent threat to his future, as he has never recorded lower than a 45% figure. This profile encourages defenses to shift creatively, and as opponents compile more batted ball tendencies, Thaiss could be shifted into oblivion, unable to line grounders through the infield.
Thaiss is a patient, contact-oriented ground-ball hitter without an above average glove; pre-swing change Yonder Alonso at the plate is a good comp, minus Alonso’s very good glove. With little projection remaining, it’s incredibly difficult to see Thaiss peak as anything more than a low-end regular without significant swing alterations. The absence of game power is close to damning. —Rahul
9. Michael Hermosillo (OF) — 159 points
Scouting Report: It costed a mere $100,000 to sign Michael Hermosillo out of high school back in 2013, and he rewarded the front office’s faith in 2016 by breaking out in A-ball. For the past two seasons, he has not had lower than a 110 wRC+ at any level of the minors, shooting up to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Hermosillo gets the job done with a nice patience/speed combo that has carried him through the system. Frequently posting double digit walk rates, he has taken a newfound interest in stealing bases. In 2017, he stole 35 times in 48 attempts, with this steal percentage representing a substantial improvement over that of previous years. Interestingly enough, he also was hit by pitches 17 times (almost Martin Maldonado levels of plunking), a rather large outlier from previous seasons.
He doesn’t hit for very much power at this time, but he did manage an eyebrow-raising 17.9% HR/FB Rate in Salt Lake. While the park is known for being generous to hitters, it is notable that he hit more home runs there (5) in about 1⁄3 of the number of PA (129) than he did at Mobile (4 home runs in 340 PA). He also told Brian Hoxsey of MyWebTimes.com that he has been strength training at the Angels’ spring training complex, saying “This is the first season where I will be actually at the complex training all year round.”
With Hermosillo putting in some serious work in Tempe, he looks to become a earn a spot as the fourth outfielder (or even as a future platoon with Kole?) this Spring Training. Keep an eye on this one; he just keeps getting better with each passing level. —Rick
8. Chris Rodriguez (SP) — 179 points
Scouting Report: I want everyone reading this to keep one thing in mind: don’t look at Rodriguez’s numbers when evaluating the prospect. Rodriguez was selected 126th overall in the 2016 draft and on the surface, you wouldn’t think much of him in his limited time in pro ball. 5.40 ERA in 68.1 IP with a 1.32 WHIP in the lowest level of the minors? Eh. But there’s a reason Rodriguez is still on prospect gurus’ radars, and that’s the raw, pure stuff and upside he offers.
Not that I don’t think highly of Rodriguez, but I was surprised to see him ranked 82nd overall by Keith Law in his annual Top 100 Prospect rankings, nonetheless. The news and updates are glowing of the 19-year old Florida native. Rodriguez had a nice amount of velocity for a prep pitcher to begin with, but he’s only continued to add velocity and maintain a mid-90’s fastball later into games, and that could slightly improve as he gets physically more mature and stronger. Law even notes that Rodriguez has “the best slider in the Angels organization” and a changeup that continues to improve. This is important for Rodriguez’s development as a starter. An above average third pitch, along with improved command/control, obviously, would be the difference maker between him being a reliever or a stud starting pitcher. He’s able to mix in a two-seamer fastball with good sink, to go along with his four-seamer, and a curveball with promise as a “show-me” pitch. He has a chance at having a four pitch repertoire.
He had somewhat of an exaggerated and high-effort delivery, but he’s been able to clean that up a bit and his control/command have seen the benefits of that (despite there being more room to grow). If you’re really concerned about the earned-run average, Law offers a glimmer of hope in that department. “He was hurt by his defense last year, as he got ground balls but gave up a ton of singles and doubles that might have been converted by better infields.”
Rodriguez was always going to be a project and still has a long ways to go, but the Angels might have something here. For a system that generally lacks high-upside starting pitching, Rodriguez is a sight for sore eyes, and has the potential be a strong #2 starter in a rotation someday. If Richards ends up sticking around after this season (he’s in his final year of arbitration), I could get down with a rotation led by him, Ohtani, and Rodriguez. This is the guy to root for to develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter: there’s nothing left to do but stay patient, root for the kid, and watch him develop. —Chase
7. Griffin Canning (SP) — 217 points
Scouting Report: Orange County native Griffin Canning unexpectedly fell to the Angels in the second round after being rated as a mid to late first round pick leading up to the draft. There were concerns among scouts that UCLA rode the hurler too hard for his slightly undersized frame. Canning averaged 116 pitches over his 17 starts.
He did not miss any time due to injury his last two years in school but was shut down for the year by the Angels before pitching his first professional inning. “He hit his [innings] quota,” GM Billy Eppler said at the time. “He did exactly what he was supposed to do, but in a different uniform.”
Among the most polished college arms in the 2017 draft, he has a four pitch arsenal, solid command and should move through the system quickly. In Canning’s last year at UCLA he posted a 2.34 ERA across 111.1 innings, striking out 134 while walking only 30. He put up those numbers using a well controlled low 90s fastball and an excellent change up, which is his best pitch. His curve and slider should work at the MLB level and give hitters a little more to think about while Canning works his fastball/change-up dynamic. —Jeff
6. Jaime Barria (SP) — 227 points
Scouting Report: From unheralded signing to breakout player, Jaime Barria has built quite the resume for himself at age 21, including Pitching Prospect of the Year in 2016, a 2017 All Star Futures Games appearance (in which he pitched a scoreless inning with 2 Ks), 2017 Angels Organizational All Star, Mid Season All Star in 2016, and 2017, and a stellar year pitching across all three levels in 2017. Last season Barria put together a 2.80 ERA, .227 BAA, and 1.07 WHIP over 141.2 IP. Nothing has really slowed the rise of this young star, including a short stint in Triple-A at the end last season when he threw 14.2 innings over 3 starts with a 2.45 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 13 Ks to 3 walks.
Barria has an effective three-pitch mix that includes a low 90s fastball, a plus changeup, and curveball that has improved and is on it’s way to being an average (and decent) third pitch. Barria’s fastball isn’t huge but induces a lot of soft contact, and his changeup has some deception. Couple all of that with excellent command (at least his fastball and changeup) and Barria is the real deal. Where it gets interesting is that I’ve seen reports of Barria throwing a slider, but I’ve watched all his videos and can’t see anything other than his 12-6 curve with some nice movement at times.
All that being said, Barria still needs a bit more seasoning, but he is definitely an exciting prospect to track. It’s not completely unlikely we could see him in the big leagues later this year, but if not — in 2019, he will definitely get the call. Barria needs to develop his curveball a bit more to be effective as a big league starter, but his effective fastball/changeup combo is a great start.
Before last season, Barria projected as a back of rotation starter but his impressive 2017 performance makes it plausible that his ceiling could be that of a mid-rotation starter. —Jessica