One such name that immediately comes to mind would have to be Kole Calhoun. He wasn’t a highly regarded prospect but he has managed to become a productive Big Leaguer. So suffice to say even the teams that don’t have a farm headlined by top prospects can still have guys who become productive Big League players and the Angels system fits in this category since it is not deep by any means but it has the prospects who could fly under the radar to an extent and go on to have productive MLB careers. So in this piece, I am going to list some of their prospects who I believe will have the biggest fantasy baseball impact over the next few years.
We have seen some highly regarded prospects over the years graduate to the Big Leagues and make an impact in their first or second season. Most of these guys such as Lindor and Bryant were highly regarded prospects. However, there have been some players over the years who have managed to fly under the radar and have successful MLB careers.
1) Jahmai Jones: I am incredibly high on Jones and I believe he can be a true difference maker. He has the pure hitting ability to be able to hit for a good average and get on base. His speed and his instincts will help him become a very good base stealer who will be a valuable source of steals while also hitting for a high average. He doesn’t have all that HR power right now but there is room for him to grow into power as he matures. If everything goes as planned he has the upside to be a .290 hitter and manage to become a 15/30 threat which I believe is a valuable fantasy player potentially being similar to Starling Marte or Kevin Kiermaier from a fantasy perspective.
2) Brandon Marsh: Marsh is an intriguing talent and although he has yet to make his MLB debut I believe that he can be a solid hitter. He runs well and is able to hit for respectable power. He has the type of build that reminds evaluators of Josh Hamilton and if Marsh can come anywhere close to what Hamilton was in his prime then Marsh will be an impact fantasy outfielder and be very valuable in a few years time.
3) Matt Thaiss: Thaiss is the type of prospect who can move quickly through their farm team and ascend to the majors. He has the type of profile you want out of a bat-first prospect with a good ability to draw walks and get on base while also cutting down on his strikeouts. This approach should help him hit for a good average possibly around the .280-.290 range while also managing to tap into his power. Although in his professional debut he didn’t show massive power I believe that there is potential for him to grow into a player like James Loney with the potential to tap into more power than Loney was able to and probably become a 20 HR hitter.
4) Taylor Ward: I believe that Ward is a difficult player to project from a fantasy perspective because his bat isn’t overwhelming at all but I don’t think that he’s terrible with the bat. In his first full season, his SLG% was abysmal at .337 but I believe that there is a reason to believe he can bring that up and become a doubles hitter with the ability to swat 15 homers while hitting to a .250 or so average at the highest level. This isn’t overwhelming by any means but that’s a fine stat line for a catcher and can provide value to a fantasy lineup and he’ll have even more value in leagues that use two catchers.
5) Keynan Middleton: This is where the list starts to get a bit murky and guys become more of a longshot. Middleton switched to a relief role in 2016 and he thrived, to say the least, he managed to strike out 88 guys in 66 innings of work among three minor league levels. If everything manages to click for Middleton he can occupy a bullpen spot for the Angels in 2017 and even manage to find himself in the closer’s role before long especially with the injuries to the Angels bullpen and their lack of depth in that regard so he could be a cheap source of saves.
6) David Fletcher: Fletcher is a good player who manages to hit for average although he does it without much power at all. He has good speed and has the ability to steal 15/20 bases at the big league level. He may not have what it takes to become a regular however I think he can become a viable utilityman and he can potentially carve out a role similar to what Brock Holt has done and they do profile as similar players so I believe something along those lines would be his upside.
7) Michael Hermosillo: Hermosillo is a very interesting player to me because across two levels he managed to hit .317 and that is good production from a fantasy outfielder if he can come close to that at the MLB level although that is no sure thing. He doesn’t hit a lot of homers and his speed only allows him to steal a handful of bases but I think he could be a good reserve outfielder in deep fantasy leagues with the ability to hit 15 homers over the course of a full season while hitting 270 and swiping around 10-15 bases which would be good just don’t bank on him doing too much or else you’ll leave yourself open to disappointment.
8) Connor Justus: Justus has quite possibly the best glove in the Angels system at Short. I believe that his glove will get him to the MLB but his bat isn’t a slouch either. If he is able to add some weight to his build and bulk up then I believe that he could be a good line drive hitter who can hit for power but not offer much else. He’s has a future as a decent bench option as far as fantasy baseball comes and he’ll most likely be a solid but unexciting player at the next level.
9) Grayson Long: Long has the stuff to be a capable inning eater at the MLB level with room for more. I think that with his strikeout ability if he can learn to limit the walks than he can be a solid pitcher at the highest level. However, if the walks don’t come under control he may have more of a future in the bullpen. But if everything pans out I believe that he could be a Chris Tillman like pitcher since they both had similar starts to their minor league careers.
10) Jared Foster: Foster had a solid season in 2016 although he is fairly old for where he’s at with his career. I love his athletism and I believe that he can be pretty good with the bat. He is a good runner who should steal more bases as he adjusts. He also should be able to hit for a respectable average. He has some gap power now but I believe there’s reason to believe he can develop into the power department and in a few years he can be an under the radar type guy if everything goes according to plan.
Bonus Player- Sherman Johnson: Johnson is a really interesting player. He’s already 26 years old so he’s at a pretty advanced age as far as prospects go but he just plays the game the way you want. He draws a very good amount of walks and that will give him value in OBP leagues plus he has good speed so he’s able to steal a good amount of bases while displaying respectable pop. I think that Johnson can be a productive MLB player and be one who may fly under the radar.