What Can the Angels Do to Improve Their Farm System?
The Angels have long been known to possess one of the worst farm systems in the league and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon. Sure, you could also say that the Royals, Dbacks, and Orioles all rank alongisde the angels, as none of the 4 have any prospects on the Top 100 list according to MLB.com, but for now let's focus solely on the Angels and what they can do to improve their farm.
According to MLB.com, the best prospect in the Angels farm system is 21-year old first baseman, Matt Thaiss. Thaiss comes with mixed reviews, but does look poised to impact the Angels at the big league level in the future either at first base or a corner outfield position.
Following Thaiss, is 19-year old outfielder, Jahmai Jones, who is expected to arrive at the big league level sometime in 2019. Scouts believe that Jones will eventually be an everyday centerfielder for the team given his extreme athleticism and the fact that he is a 5-tool player.
Besides Thaiss and Jones, the Angels have 4 pitching prospects, another outfield prospect, 2 middle infield prospects, and a catching prospect rounding out their Top 10 list. Within that Top 10 in the 3rd spot is catching prospect, Taylor Ward, who was the Angels first round draft pick in 2015. Ward has struggled severely to this point and held back the Angels farm system more than helped it.
Aside highlighting the prospects within the Top 10 list, many scouts say that the entire Angels farm system lacks impact prospects that can be game changers and doesn't really have any prospects that might be attractive to other clubs. Other clubs have noticed the lack of talent within the Angels farm system hence why there have been trades made in the past for only sub-par players and the has focused so heavily on the free agent market. In fact, last year alone, the Angels did not have one minor league prospect that hit 20 or more home runs.
Therefore, what can the angels do to improve their farm system, capitalize on the window they currently have with Mike Trout, and become a force within the AL West again? The biggest thing is to focus on the International and Amateur Drafts coming up this summer.
Heading into the 2017 draft, the Angels will possess the 10th first round pick and must use it carefully as a way of trying to add some impact. The best type of prospect for the team to focus on obtaining is a pitcher who eventually projects to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher at the big league level. In addition, the team needs to focus the entire draft this coming summer around prospects who can impact their rotation and bullpen in the future. While the first round pick might not necessarily pan out to be the next Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale, that piece will tell what the future state of the Angels farm system will be.
Besides focusing on the upcoming International and Amateur Drafts this summer, the Angels also have a number of potential trade chips depending on where they are at in the standings come July. CJ Cron has long been believed to be a potential trade candidate especially since Luis Valbuena was recently brought in, newly acquired, Danny Espinosa, could always be traded later on this season as could Cameron Maybin who the Angels acquired from the Tigers earlier this winter.
In addition, the Angels could always make a trade involving Mike Trout, but that would be a very poor decision as Trout is the face of that franchise and is one reason why the team is able to get fans to come to the stadium. After all, Trout is highly regarded in the game and could provide a game changing trade for the Angels farm system, but they're not ready to cross that bridge yet.
Moving forward, GM Billy Eppler & Company will need to focus their attention towards obtaining as many impact prospects as possible, while also keeping a competitive team on the field at the major league level. It will not be an easy thing to do, but the Houston Astros provided it's possible as they went from having one of the worst farm systems just a few years ago to now having one that is deep and rich with talent.