Angels Farm System: Week One Recap

The minor league season is a week old. Old veterans and young prospects alike try to move up the ladder to that ultimate goal: Major League Baseball. Yet, in the early going, the excitement is muted for the Los Angeles Angels down on the farm. With a major overhaul to minor league baseball this offseason, the landscape for young professionals has been drastically altered. The elimination of more than forty minor league affiliations has forced major league franchises to adapt on the fly. Early returns for the Angels signal a learning curve they haven’t quite figured out. Again, it is only one week into the season so there’s no need to overreact. Yet. Overall, the Angels farm system is 10-19 (.345) in the early going.

Triple-A: Salt Lake City Bees (1-5)

Due to COVID-19, minor league scheduling in 2021 has been simplified. Therefore, the Salt Lake City Bees began their 2021 season with a six-game series against the Reno Aces. It didn’t go well. They gave up 48 runs while scoring only 34, with ten of those runs coming in one contest. The Pacific Coast League, now called Triple-A West, is notorious for offensive outbursts so the lack of scoring is more noteworthy than the runs the Bees gave up.

Top prospect Brandon Marsh is currently on the Triple-A roster but has yet to debut this season due to a left elbow strain he incurred during Spring Training. No longer a prospect, 22-year old Jo Adell is still as important as anyone in the Angels minor league system. His early returns have shown both his prodigious power and alarming strikeout rate. Adell’s three home runs have been highlight-reel worthy, yet he’s also struck out ten times in 26 at-bats. The only Top-30 pitching prospect on the team is #22 Packy Naughton, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Brian Goodwin trade. His one appearance, four innings of relief, left him with a 6.75 ERA due to some bad luck.

Double-A: Rocket City Trash Pandas (3-5)

The best-named team in the minors had some difficulty on the road before splitting a two-game series at home against the Tennessee Smokies. The big name in Rocket City is Angels 2020 1st Round pick, #2 Reid Detmers. Considered a fast-riser, the Angels started Detmer in Double-A for his first taste of pro ball. That aggressive decision speaks to Detmers’ readiness and to the quality of his four-pitch arsenal. After two starts, there is a lot to dream about, and a warning that he still needs time. Detmers only went 1.2 innings in his first start, giving up three runs, including a home run while striking out two and walking two. In his second start, he looked much better, going 4.2 innings and striking out nine while only issuing one walk. Yet, the home run ball caught up with him again as he surrendered two solo shots.

Top-30 prospect #17 Orlando Martinez had an incredible start to his season with a homerun trifecta on May 7th, yet he has otherwise struggled to hit overall as he currently sports a .182/.222/.515/.737 line. As a team, they are hitting .219 with a 33.6% strikeout rate. The Trash Pandas position players are mostly career minor leaguers so this isn’t a total surprise. Yet, the Angels farm system is in need of another overachiever, a la Jared Walsh, and Angels coaches have mentioned Izzy Wilson as someone who might surprise this season.

High-A: Tri-City Dust Devils (3-5)

Another Angels minor league club that has struggled across the board, the Dust Devils have still been able to eke out a few wins. #3 Angels prospect, Jordyn Adams is the big name here, and he looked good through three games. Then, a leg injury occurred and he hasn’t played since. No other news has come out about the injury. Before that, Adams looked excellent in the field and at the plate. His .300/.364/.900/1.264 line comes complimentary of three extra-base hits in his first ten at-bats. The other Top-30 position player on the team, and early season pleasant surprise, is #13, Livan Soto. Known as a glove-first shortstop when he was signed after the Atlanta Braves‘ international debacle, Soto has started fast. Through eight games his line sits at .294/.368/.618/.986. He’s also stolen two bases.

On the pitching side, the Angels have Hector Yan, Robinson Pina, Davis Daniel, and Aaron Hernandez–all Top-30 prospects in the Angels farm system. None have looked great, with even Hernandez’s 0.00 ERA in direct contrast to his 1.91 WHIP. Former Top-30 prospect Cristopher Molina has pitched well in two appearances, striking out 13 over seven innings with a 2.57 ERA.

Low-A: Inland Empire 66ers (3-4)

To make it a clean sweep of sub-.500 teams, the 66ers gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose to Lake Elsinore last night. On the offensive side, Angels #5 and #6 prospects, Jeremiah Jackson and Kyren Paris, lead the way. Jackson hit a three-run shot in the ninth last night for his first home run of the season. To say he is struggling would be putting it mildly: .133/.188/.267/.454. The 2019 Pioneer League home run champion has also struck out in 14 of his 30 at-bats. Paris has fared much better. The 19-year old second baseman has hit .296/.441/.444/.886 through his three lone games in the Arizona Rookie League during the 2019 season after being drafted in the second round.

On the mound, #7 Jack Kochanowicz struggled in his first start, giving up three runs over two innings. Two-way player, #24 Erik Rivera, has yet to play in the outfield as he did in 2019. But, he looked amazing in his first pitching appearance, going 3.1 innings while surrendering one hit, one walk, and striking out six. Two other pitchers who haven’t cracked the Top-30, both looked impressive in week one. Julio Goff has struck out 15 over 7.1 innings in two appearances while sporting a 1.23 ERA. Jose Salvador pitched 4.1 innings of relief and struck out 12 while giving up just one run.

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Players Mentioned:

Jo Adell, Packy Naughton, Brian Goodwin, Reid Detmers, Orlando Martinez, Jared Walsh, Izzy Wilson, Jordyn Adams, Livan Soto, Hector Yan, Robinson Pina, Davis Daniel, Aaron Hernandez, Cristopher Molina, Jeremiah Jackso, Jack Kochanowicz, Kyren Paris, Erik Rivera, Julio Goff, Jose Salvador