Despite the ongoing lockout around baseball finishing its second full month yesterday, one standard part of the offseason that hasn’t been put on hold is prospect ranking season. We’ve seen both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus come out with their rankings in recent weeks, and on Monday, it was Keith Law of The Athletic’s turn to release his annual top 100 prospect list. Reid Detmers and Sam Bachman were the two Angels farmhands to crack Law’s version of the list at No. 19 and No. 60 respectively, with both earning very high praise in the process.
Starting with Detmers, his brief struggles in the majors in 2021 did not seem to override his entire body of work over the course of the year, as he managed to jump up a whopping 46 spots from the No. 65 placement that he came in at this time last year. According to Law, Detmers’ increased velocity and arm strength helped his projection out a lot, and he sees the young lefty as a potential frontline guy if he is able to move past the uncharacteristic command issues that plagued him with the big league club in August.
Maybe it was the different baseball, or learning to harness the new velocity, but Detmers had a track record in college of doing … not this, fastballs middle-up and sliders close to the heart of the zone. His ceiling now is tied to whether any of his pitches emerges as a clear swing-and-miss offering, but if he returns to plus command of a repertoire that should have three grade-55 pitches, that’s a solid No. 2 starter on any staff.
As for Bachman, his No. 60 ranking was the highest that he’s been listed at among all the major publications since being drafted with the 9th overall pick in last year’s draft. The University of Miami (Ohio) product made five starts for High-A Tri-City in the month or so after joining the organization, posting a 3.77 ERA with 15 strikeouts and an incredible 67 percent ground ball rate over 14 innings. He was scheduled to make his Double-A debut in early September, but COVID cancellations ended the Trash Pandas’ season before he got a chance to do so.
In Law’s eyes, Bachman had one of the better arsenals of any starter in his draft class, and he believes that the righty could join Detmers as a top-of-the-rotation caliber arm with some further development while in the minors next year.
Bachman had the best pure stuff of any starting pitching prospect in the 2021 draft, running his fastball up to 102 mph, along with a plus slider in the low 90s, which resulted in him striking out 41 percent of opposing hitters for the University of Miami (Ohio).
He’ll need to use his changeup more often in pro ball to get lefties out, and has to stay healthy, of course, but he has No. 1 starter upside with those two plus-plus pitches.
One Angels prospect that did not make The Athletic’s list but came close was shortstop Kyren Paris, who was one of 14 names that Law mentioned in his just missed list that released on Tuesday. The 20-year-old Paris split time between Low-A Inland Empire and High-A Tri-City in 2021, his first full season of professional baseball since being selected in the second round of the 2019 draft. A fractured fibula limited Paris to just 47 games, but he performed very well when on the field, slashing .267/.388/.459 with 18 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases.
[Paris] plays above-average defense at short with quick feet and an above-average arm, and he’s a plus runner who could get to 40 bags if he stays healthy and gets on base enough. He’ll probably return to High A this year as a 20-year-old and work on cutting down on his chase rate, after which it should be clearer how likely he is to get to that above-average everyday shortstop ceiling.
During this ranking season, the trio of Detmers, Bachman and Paris have started to emerge as the consensus top tier of the Angels system, as all three have gotten recognition in some form from every major publication. Between The Athletic, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, we’ve seen Detmers rank highly in all three, Bachman rank in two and just miss the third, and Paris just miss in two of the three. This version of the Halos’ farm isn’t the strongest it’s ever been, but at the very least, they have these guys that they can hang their hat on.
Angels ranked on top 100 prospect lists