The Los Angeles Angels have worked to shape their organization by constructing a stronger farm system. Now that the likes of Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, and others have graduated to the majors, the Halos’ focus appears to be bolstering its core of pitching prospects. In fact, all 20 of the Angels’ draft picks were used on pitchers last year, marking the first time a team spent all of its selections on hurlers (excluding the shortened 2020 draft).
Going forward, the Angels will hope that a decent chunk of its pipeline pans out so they can free themselves from the rut of mediocrity that has plagued them for several years.
Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.
1. Sam Bachman, Right-Handed Pitcher
Bachman landed with the Halos in the first round of their all-pitcher draft in 2021. Through five starts at High-A, he has managed a 3.77 ERA with 15 strikeouts, four walks, and just one home run. He was a very established pitcher at Miami (OH), so it was no surprise to see him transition into pro ball with ease. Similarly, his development should progress quite nicely over the next few years.
Bachman has two top-tier offerings. His fantastic heater has hit triple-digits while his slider features absolutely lethal break. As MLB Pipeline so accurately puts it, his slider has “nastier bite and destroys left-handers and right-handers alike.” The right-hander has one more pitch: a changeup. Much like his slider, this pitch sits in the mid-80s and complements his two primary offerings very well. In terms of repertoire, Bachman has the makings of a quality MLB arm. On a more negative note, his command was inconsistent at times during collegiate action. The 2022 season will be pivotal in terms of assessing his outlook, but the future is certainly bright with Bachman.
2. Reid Detmers, Left-Handed Pitcher
The Angels drafted Detmers with their first-round pick in 2020, showing signs of their increased commitment to the pitching department. He managed a 3.19 ERA with 19 walks and 108 strikeouts in the minors last year. His quick stint in the minors was headlined by a fantastic 1-0 record with a 1.13 ERA, one walk, and 11 strikeouts through eight innings at the Triple-A level. With just 62 minor league innings under his belt, Detmers quickly earned a promotion to the majors. Through five starts with Los Angeles last season, he went 1-3 with a 7.40 ERA, 1.79 WHIP, and .295 OBA.
Statistically, Detmers’ short sample size in the majors has not been ideal. However, that’s not much of a surprise considering he opened 2021 with no pro experience and finished the year pitching against big-league hitting. What really matters right now are Detmers’ tools. He has a strong mid-90s fastball with good command, plus a really effective curveball. The latter is both slow and features a lot of break, meaning hitters will frequently load up too early and look foolish when they can only manage a weak ground ball if they’re lucky. He also offers a slider and changeup, both of which would certainly work as most pitchers’ No. 2 offerings. The fact that Detmers has a really strong four-pitch mix and established command suggests that he’ll find MLB success very soon. Assuming he continues to progress in Spring Training, the southpaw will likely open 2022 in the majors.
3. Arol Vera, Shortstop
Currently 19 years old, Vera signed with the Angels for $2 million in 2019. The latest update lists him at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds. Vera saw his first game action between Rookie ball and Single-A in 2021, slashing .304/.370/.401 with 17 RBI, 12 walks, and 39 strikeouts. He also stated 19 extra-base hits, including three triples.
Fielding is Vera’s top tool. He is a really smooth, fluid player at shortstop who should stick there long-term. He moves around and fields ground balls with intelligence and poise, all while complementing his glovework with a decent arm. Vera is also a solid hitter. There’s not a lot of power in his makeup, but he has good bat-on-ball skills and showed signs of his hitting ability with his very strong slash line in the minors last year. On the other hand, speed and running ability are concerns. Vera isn’t very quick out of the box, and he doesn’t project as a frequent base-stealer. Still, the fact that he is such a strong fielder and hitter bodes well for his development.
4. Jordyn Adams, Outfielder
As you can tell by the grades for each of his five tools, Adams is a very interesting player to analyze. On one hand, he has elite speed. Not only does this make him a threat on the basepaths, but it also bodes well for his ability to stay in center field long-term. The same can be said in regards to his strong fielding ability and good enough arm. On the other hand, though, Adams leaves a lot to be desired at the plate. After showing some positive signs in 2020, he totally struggled last season, recording just 28 walks and 116 strikeouts through 71 games (277 at-bats). His strikeouts represent a glaring concern. He has a poor swing and doesn’t adjust well, and although he has tapped into his power before, it doesn’t come often. Adams needs a lot of development and growth in the hitting department in order for him to ever sniff the majors.
5. Kyren Paris, Shortstop
Three injuries and the pandemic have held Paris, a 2019 second-round pick, to just 50 games over the last three years. During that time, he has racked up a modest .26.9/.393/.456 slash line with four homers, 27 RBI, 33 walks, 68 strikeouts, and 20 stolen bases. It will be very important for him to stay healthy in 2022 so his development can continue.
Paris’ speed and running is his best tool. He has clearly swiped bags with ease in the minors and also demonstrated enough range to justify keeping him at shortstop for a while. Speaking of his position on the left side of the infield, Paris’ fielding ability is above average. He has good, fluid motions and a strong arm when it comes to fielding and throwing. As for his hitting, Paris is definitely hit-over-power. Neither of these traits are poor, but they aren’t exceptional, either. He can put balls in play and draw walks, but his strikeout rate is also concerningly high. For now, this can be blamed on a small sample size, but it’s something he will need to improve on in 2022.
What Does the Future Hold?
There is a clear gap between Nos. 2 and 3 on this list. On one hand, that’s good, considering the first two players are pitchers. The Angels have demonstrated a clear need for help on the mound and, hopefully, help is on the way in the form of Detmers, Bachman, and others. On the other hand, the three hitters listed all have glaring concerns in specific parts of their games. Los Angeles can survive such a scenario since it rosters the likes of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be content with losing out on key prospects. These youngsters’ progression and development in the Angels’ system will be imperative over the next few seasons.
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