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MLB draft 2019: Angels farm depth report - Infield

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The “next” wave of infield talent is arriving this year (or has already)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The MLB draft is coming up next week, so we’ll be taking look at the Angels farm system. Where are they strong? Where are they weak?

The Angels have some corner infield prospects in former catchers Matt Thaiss and Taylor Ward, and their best middle infield prospects may have already arrived. Jahmai Jones, Connor Justus, and Roberto Baldoquin all seem to be part of the next wave, but they have struggled in AA.

Leonardo Rivas, Livian Soto, and Jeremiah Jackson may be the next crop of middle infield guys after they but they are still a ways away from a big league job.

(age = age at end of season)

Big League Guys

Zack Cozart, 3B/2B/SS, 34
B-T: R-R
Contract: Through 2020, 3 year $38 Million

Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, 39
B-T: R-R
Contract: Through 2021, 10 year $240 million

David Fletcher, SS, 25
B-T: R-R
Contract: N/A

Andrelton Simmons, SS, 28
B-T: R-R
Contract: Signed through 2020, 7 year $58 Million

Tommy La Stella, SS/2B/3B, 29
B-T: L-R
Contract: Signed through 2019, 1 year $1.35 million

Luis Rengifo, SS, 22
B-T: S-R
Contract: N/A

Jared Walsh, 1B/P, 26
B-T: L-L
Contract: N/A

Major League Ready?:

Justin Bour, 1B, 31
Drafted: 25th Round, 2009 (Cubs)
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there, done that
Fortunately the Angels didn’t pay too much for Bour because he just wasn’t cutting it in the big leagues this year. He’s been tearing it up in AAA an I imagine we may see him back at some point.

Kaleb Cowart, 3B/P, 27
Drafted: 1st Round, 2010
B-T: S-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there, done that
Cowart’s prospect days are just about over and converting to a serviceable two way player could be his last shot at a regular big league job. However, for what it’s worth, he has allowed 11 ERs an 12 hits over his 6 innings at the AA and AAA level this year.

Matt Thaiss, 1B, 24
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: 2019
Thaiss is still a good OBP guy without a ton of power. He has a .365 OBP this year with 6 home runs. He may be a 20 home run guy with a .330+ OBP in the big leagues if he can stick.

Taylor Ward, 3B, 25
Drafted: 1st round, 2015
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there, done that
He’s obviously already seen some time in Anaheim but is currently blocked by Fletcher, Rengifo, and Cozart. His power has been developing and in 34 games this year for the Bees he has 9 home runs and a .418 OBP.

Probably Major League Some Day:

Jose Rojas, 1B/2B, 26
Drafted: 36th round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AAA
The Angels have been trying to find playing time for Rojas and so far have had him in LF for 7 games as well as 1B, 2B, and 3B (where he plays the most). Rojas had a strong spring and has 9 HRs and a .335 OBP for the Bees.

Jahmai Jones, 2B, 22
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA
Jones had a great showing in the Arizona Fall League but has been struggling to hit. His AA slashline is .186/.259/.244. He also has 7 errors in 38 games at second base. The Angels have also used him in the OF a bit. Last year across two levels, Jones made 26 errors in 115 games while adjusting to his new position.

Too soon to know:

Roberto Baldoquin, SS/3B, 25
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2014 for way too much money
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA
Baldoquin’s arrival has been a long time coming, but he is far from ready. Baldy had a brief resurgence in 2018 but has struggled again at the plate in 2019 - a problem he’s had most of his career.

Connor Justus, SS, 24
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA
Justus hit .220 across two levels last year and is hitting .208 for Mobile this season. Despite his ability to draw walks and his plus defense, he’ll need to hit better than that to continue climbing.

Leonardo Rivas, SS, 21
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2015
B-T: S-R
Current Level: A+
Rivas can play ball for a guy lists as 150# and 5’10”. He’s young enough to grow a bit more but will probably not have much more than below average power. Rivas gets on base and is a speed threat.

Kevin Maitan, SS, 18
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2017
B-T: S-R
Current Level: Rookie
Maitan was one of the pickups Eppler grabbed from the Braves after their sanctions. He is still only 19 years old so has plenty of time to develop. Over his two minor league seasons though he’s only hit .233 with a .291 OBP and has an .865 FPCT. MLB.com probably has him a bit high in their prospects ratings at #14.

Livian Soto, SS, 19
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2016 (Braves)
B-T: L-R
Current Level: A
Soto was one of the pickups Eppler grabbed from the Braves after their sanctions. Soto doesn’t turn 19 until June and is already in his 2nd year in the system. He has perhaps more upside than Maitan and has a good plate approach. Over his minor league career he has struck out as many times as he’s walk and he’s swiped 20 of the 26 stolen bases he’s attempted.