The Los Angeles Angels farm system continues to struggle through the first month of the minor league season. Altogether, the Angels minor league teams have accrued a record of 47-66. Each of the four clubs has a sub-.500 winning record. The wait for this week’s review was strategic, hoping that someone or some team would do something noteworthy. As luck would have it, multiple prospects came through in the last few days. In Triple-A, Jo Adell remains the minor league home run king, as he hit his 15th home run last night for Salt Lake City. In Double-A, the Angels’ top pitching prospect, Reid Detmers, notched his first professional victory. And in Low-A, Jeremiah Jackson keeps fighting his way back to respectability after a disastrous start to his season.
Angels Farm System Review
Triple-A: Salt Lake City Bees (11-16)
Since the previous recap: 3-7
The Angels continue to shake up the roster hoping to get back into the playoff race. It might be working as they’ve won five of their last seven. With Kean Wong’s call-up and Anthony Bemboom bouncing back and forth, José Quijada, each prospect continues to produce. Yet, the spotlight in Salt Lake remains on the team’s top prospect in Adell. After clubbing his minor league-leading 15th home run yesterday, Adell has four in four June contests. More importantly, he only has two strikeouts. If this type of performance continues, with a few walks added in for good measure, Adell will be packing his bags for Anaheim in no time.
Another top prospect, Brandon Marsh, hasn’t played in a game since June 1 after being removed for a pinch-hitter. While there were calls for Marsh or Adell to replace Trout on the roster, Marsh has only played 16 games in 2021 due to injury. Former first-round pick Matt Thaiss’s return to catch hasn’t caused his hitting to suffer. He’s slashing .302/.423/.512/.935 and remains on the shortlist of options the Angels could bring up. Scott Schebler has shown that Triple-A is no match for him either, with a 1.025 OPS.
Salt Lake’s pitching has little to discuss. The only Top-30 prospect on the roster is Packy Naughton, who hasn’t pitched in a game since May 23. While Quijada continues to prove his worth and Naughton looked solid before his unknown injury, the rest of the staff has struggled mightily, which is why their 11-16 record. If the Angels improve their pitching in 2021, the answer will not come from their Triple-A roster.
Double-A: Rocket City Trash Pandas (13-16)
Since the previous recap: 5-6
In a script reversal from Triple-A, the Trash Pandas offense has been sub-par while the pitching staff has produced. Even worse for the offense, Michael Stefanic, possibly their best hitter, was promoted to Triple-A last week. While David MacKinnon continues to get on base and Orlando Martinez has raised his batting average 47 points since May 25, the remainder of the lineup has struggled. Even Martinez, the Angels’ #17 prospect, has shown his limitations with only one walk during his last 40 plate appearances.
Yet, the reason most Angels fans are tuning into the Trash Pandas is Angels’ #2 prospect, Reid Detmers. And if they caught his line last night, it certainly put a smile on their faces. Detmers won his first game as a pro, striking out ten over five innings. He didn’t walk a batter after walking five in 8 2/3 innings over his last two starts. And, it was his third straight start where he didn’t allow a home run after giving up four in his first three starts. Much of the information about the Angels selection of Detmers revolved around how he was the most polished college pitcher in the draft. The Angels hoped he would move through the system quickly, and another start or two like this will surely see them challenge the young southpaw in Triple-A.
High-A: Tri-City Dust Devils (10-19)
Since the previous recap: 5-6
Currently the least successful team in the Angels farm system, the Dust Devils seem to be improving. While Angels #3 prospect Jordan Adams remains sidelined with a leg injury, Francisco Del Valle has stepped up. A 14th round pick in 2016, Del Valle has three home runs in June as he continues to add power to his game. According to Weighted Runs Created Plus, along with Brendon Davis and Carlos Herrera, Del Valle is the only hitter better than league average.
On the mound, there have been a couple of bright spots for Tri-City. Angels #19 prospect Davis Daniel threw five shutout innings in his last start. Daniel allowed only one hit and struck out eight. He did walk four batters as he lowered his ERA to 3.04 on the season. Cristopher Molina continues to be a revelation out of the bullpen. In his last appearance, he threw four perfect innings, striking out seven. His 1.42 ERA proves he is ready for Double-A, as does his team-leading 0.91 WHIP and 4.29 K/BB. If a few more players at the upper levels surprised like Molina, the Angels farm system wouldn’t be in the bottom-10 of baseball.
Low-A: Inland Empire 66ers (13-15)
Since the previous recap: 5-6
The Angels farm system was a few days away from a stacked lineup in Low-A. Unfortunately, the return of D’Shawn Knowles coincided with the injury to Kyren Paris, who remains out. Knowles has proven to be a solid replacement after a slow start. Also, Jeremiah Jackson has begun to show the bat skills that catapulted him to #5 on the Angels prospect rankings. Since bottoming out with a .167/.267/.306/.573 slash line on May 26, Jackson has started to rake. In his last eight games, he’s slashed .345/.406/.793/1.199 to move his season OPS up to a more respectable .751. His strikeouts remain a problem, with 12 over the 29 at-bats.
The electric start by Ryan Smith was rewarded yesterday with a promotion to High-A. All Smith did in five games was dominate the competition. The 1.63 ERA is only the beginning as the Princeton graduate also sported a 14.31 K/9, 0.76 WHIP, and a .146 average against. Following Smith to Tri-City is fellow starter Brent Killam. Second, to Smith with a 2.63 ERA, Killam surpassed him with a team-leading 15.38 K/9. These two have been mentioned before as being too talented for Low-A. Julio Goff (2.96 ERA) and John Swanda (2.92 ERA) will remain at Inland Empire with the hopes of joining them soon.
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