30 Teams in 30 Days - Angels

General Overview - When you have the greatest player on the planet you should at least make the playoffs. The Angels are now a couple years away from the playoffs, even after having Mike Trout win two MVP awards. Maybe they should go back to calling themselves the Anaheim Angels. At some point Mike Scioscia has to get this team into the playoffs to keep his job, but you look at the farm system and the current roster and they define below average. Better health to the starting pitchers could help the Angels achieve average.

Strengths - If Cameron Maybin can repeat his .300 hitting season he had with the Tigers this will be a very formidable outfield. Maybin does not have the power of Mike Trout or Kole Calhoun but he is a centerfielder playing left field. Trout is just the best player in baseball and Calhoun has shown he can hit 20 plus homeruns per year (though he fell two homeruns shy last year). Ben Revere provides excellent depth as a fourth outfielder having the capability to play all three outfield positions, though his arm makes right field a challenge. He has speed and can hit for average, though last year was a failure. The defense up the middle with Andrelton Simmons and Danny Espinosa should cut off a number of runs. The offense will suffer, though Espinosa did hit 24 homeruns last year, most of them in a early season outburst. Albert Pujols will settle into the DH spot and hit 30 plus homers and drive in 100 plus runs. You can’t ask for more than that from your DH. His mobility for playing defense at first base now is in question with all his foot problems.

Weaknesses - They don’t have any proven starter behind the plate. This is an area the Angels may still try to still fill on the short term. Taylor Ward was a first round pick but he is still at least a couple years away, struggling behind the plate with 19 passed balls last year. He still has a ways to go to be ready for the major leagues. Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez are the two players on the 40-man roster listed as catchers but they are better used in backup roles. Starting pitching was plagued by injuries last year and the Angels do not have any knowledge of how those pitchers stuff will play out when they return. Garrett Richards will get back to being the ace but following him will be a bunch of back end pitchers having to pitch the front end. They have veterans in Ricky Nolasco and Matt Shoemaker and unproven youth in Tyler Skaggs and Alex Meyer. Alex could be better suited for the bullpen. Finally, the Angels lack a talented left handed option for the bullpen. Jose Alvarez is the best left handed option but he struggled last year.

Impact Prospects - The Angels have done a good job of picking up other teams rejects to enhance their slim pitching depth. Alex Meyer was acquired from the Twins. He could fit in the starting rotation, but his fragility may make it best he pitch out of the bullpen. His mid to high 90s stuff makes him a potential closer. Other pitchers who could find themselves in the bullpen before the year is out is hard throwing righty Brooks Pounders, who got smacked around a bit last year in his major league debut. His fastball can hit triple digits. Vicente Campos has found himself bouncing around a number of different teams in his minor league career. He started 25 games last year in the minors but the Angels could use him in the bullpen. Abel de los Santos has pitched mainly in the bullpen. Last year he bounced around the waiver wire appearing on three different teams. His fastball can hit mid-90s and the opposition in the Southern League only hit .134 against him in 17 appearances. Manny Banuelos was once one of the Yankees top prospects until Tommy John surgery impacted the velocity on his fastball. It could be just a matter of time before he recovers that velocity or perfects his other pitches to be effective. Lastly, Nolan Fontana could make the team as a utility player. He doesn’t walk as frequently as he did in college but he plays a number of positions. His bat will not be a factor.

Prospects to Watch - The Angels have a propensity to draft power hitters who have no position to play but first base. Matt Thaiss fits that mold. The 2016 first round pick was a catcher in college but the Angels already have Taylor Ward developing there so they moved his lefthanded bat to first base. He had an .824 OPS in his minor league debut. Taylor Ward could become the catcher of the future. He was the Angels first round pick in 2015 but the Angels have kept him behind the plate. His 19 passed balls last season in High A shows there is still a lot of development needed in his game and his .337 slugging and .659 OPS were a disappointment when compared to his debut season in 2015. If Ward doesn’t make it behind the plate it will be tough to find a second position for him. Roberto Baldoquin was signed out of Cuba for $8 million. Last year he hit .198 with a .233 slugging. If the Angels had not made such a big investment in him Roberto would have been released. He needs to show better numbers in 2017.

2017 Finish - They will finish ahead of the Athletics but will not be a force in the AL West playoff run. They have made a couple nice signings to add depth to their roster but they fall far short of being a playoff team, despite having the best player in the game on their roster.

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