The Los Angeles Angels farm system has seen an incredible amount of movement over the last few weeks. The combination of injuries, promotions, and draft signings has led to drastic changes at each level. With top Angels prospects Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell getting routine playing time in the bigs, other Angels prospects are going to need to step up. Luckily, there have been impressive performances from many of the team’s top draft picks over the course of August.
Triple-A: Salt Lake City Bees (43-53)
Last week: 1-6
The problem in Salt Lake City is that the Angels have too many injuries. Thus, the shuttle never stops between the two clubs. Jose Marte, Kean Wong, Jake Petricka, Elvis Peguero, James Hoyt, Packy Naughton, Andrew Wantz, and Cooper Criswell have all been called up…in the past two weeks. So it comes as no surprise that the Bees have struggled. On offense, Luis Rengifo has shown that he has little left to learn in Triple-A by slashing .333/.375/.580/.955 during August. Yet, the star remains Michael Stefanic. The undrafted free agent has climbed the minor league ladder, improving at every stop. First, he dominated Double-A. After promotion, he hit .374 in July with a .952 OPS. Now, he’s hitting .367 in August with a 1.021 OPS. And, according to a recent article in The Athletic (subscription required), it all started by mailing homemade highlight reels to all 30 MLB teams.
Pitching options do remain in Salt Lake City. Kyle Tyler faltered early but has been excellent over his last four appearances. He posted a 0.75 ERA and 0.917 WHIP over 12 innings, striking out 17 hitters. Tyler’s move to the bullpen a few months ago seems to indicate that he might be next up if the Angels need another reliever. Oliver Ortega has pitched well as of late. He’s posted a 1.80 ERA over 10 August innings, striking out 15 hitters. The Angels farm system has had difficulty producing big-league relievers so the hope is that some of the recently promoted Angels prospects, or these in Triple-A, can end that drought.
Double-A: Rocket City Trash Pandas (50-48)
Last week: 5-4
Brendon Davis was promoted to Double-A earlier this season after posting a .872 OPS over 63 games. It only took the power-hitting infielder 30 games to get his next promotion. Davis moved up to Triple-A this week after slashing .268/.366/.536/.902 over 30 games for the Trash Pandas. The 2015 Dodgers fifth-round pick has firmly entered the team’s radar with his play this season. As Angels prospects go, Davis might not be ranked but his productivity might just make him part of the club’s future. Orlando Martinez has caught fire over his last seven games, slashing .448/.468/.759/1.225, with five multi-hit efforts. This earned him the Double-A South player of the week award.
Acquired in the Andrew Heaney deal with Elvis Peguero, Junk lost his perfect game in the ninth inning last night. He ended up giving up three runs but the power arm is obvious. The team’s best pitcher for August was either Cristopher Molina or Davis Daniel. Across four appearances, Molina posted a 1.53 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 17 2/3 innings. Molina has been equally effective as a starter or as a long reliever out of the bullpen. Daniel should be heading to Salt Lake City any day now. He gave up one run over five innings in his last start, posting a 1.59 ERA in August and a 2.63 ERA over eight starts for the Trash Pandas. Ryan Smith had another quality start, his third in a row, after a brutal loss to open August. He’s lowered his Double-A ERA from 10.24 to 5.40 in that period.
High-A: Tri-City Dust Devils (41-59)
Last week: 5-3
The Dust Devils have been getting reinforcements through the draft and recent promotions and it’s working. Jeremy Arocho is hitting .364 over his first 14 games with the club. No, he doesn’t have an extra-base hit. And while the promotion of Livan Soto to Double-A could have weakened the infield defense, his replacement is a major upgrade on offense. Kyren Paris, the Angels #5 prospect, slashed .274/.434/.491/.924 in 29 games for Inland Empire. The 19-year old shortstop has missed significant time this season due to injury but when on the field has shown strike zone knowledge that is tops in the system. Braxton Martinez was finally promoted from Low-A after embarrassing pitchers all season long. He picked up right where he left off, with two hits in his first game and a home run in his second.
Sam Bachman has shined over four starts. The Angels first-round pick has thrown 10 2/3 innings, allowed six hits, one walk, and struck out 11. His 1.69 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, and .158 average against speak to his impressive talent. With the current movement going on in the Angels minor leagues, Bachman might very well see Double-A this year. Second-round pick Ky Bush has been just as good. He’s struck out 14 over seven innings, in three starts, with a 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and .222 average against. Adam Seminaris allowed one run over six innings in his first start for the Dust Devils. Hector Yan has looked like the power arm the Angels hope he can be during his last three appearances out of the bullpen. Over 12 innings, he’s struck out 17, allowed six hits, and three earned runs. Yan walked 11 hitters.
Low-A: Inland Empire 66ers (50-49)
Last week: 4-3
The farm system promoted some exciting Angels prospects to full-season teams a few days ago. The 66ers were excited to welcome Angels #7 prospect Arol Vera and #18 prospect Edgar Quero. How did they respond? Vera had two hits, stole a base, and scored three runs. Quero had two hits, including a double, and scored a run. They both drove in one run as well. Vera posted a .317/.384/.469/.853 line in the Dominican Summer League. Quero was even better, with a .253/.440/.506/.945.
Angels fifth-round pick Brett Kerry has struck out 12 over 6 2/3 scoreless innings to start his career. His 0.60 WHIP and .136 average against suggest he’s ready to move up to High-A. John Swanda has posted a 2.08 ERA over his last three appearances. The 22-year old righty pitched 17 1/3 innings, allowed 11 hits, four walks while striking out 17. Julio Goff has a 2.37 August ERA over four appearances. His last start saw him go seven strong innings, allowing two earned runs. Lastly, the Angels 19th round pick, Nathan Burns has shined over his first five relief appearances. The Oregon State alum has struck out 13 over eight scoreless innings and allowed only three hits and two walks.
Players Mentioned: Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, Jose Marte, Kean Wong, Jake Petricka, Elvis Peguero, James Hoyt, Packy Naughton, Andrew Wantz, Cooper Criswell, Luis Rengifo, Michael Stefanic, Brendon Davis, Kyle Tyler, Oliver Ortega, Orlando Martinez, Andrew Heaney, Cristopher Molina, Davis Daniel, Ryan Smith, Jeremy Arocho, Livan Soto, Kyren Paris, Braxton Martinez, Sam Bachman, Ky Bush, Adam Seminaris, Hector Yan, Arol Vera, Edgar Quero, Brett Kerry, John Swanda, Julio Goff, Nathan Burns
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images