With the Minor League Baseball season just underway, I wanted to throw some predictions out on who the big performers are going to be this season. Without further ado the 5 guys I think will make big strides this year.
Brandon Marsh, OF
Marsh had an up and down season last year. He performed well in Burlington (.295/.390/.470), he had a 10 day adjustment period when he was moved to Inland Empire he produced a slash line of .278/.367/.421. Marsh has always been a guy that has flashy tools, but has question marks surrounding if he can convert those tools into production. I am predicting a big breakout season for him this year. He did impress during Spring Training, although he was overmatched against major league competition. That’s understandable for a guy who hadn’t gone above AAA, but he performed well against the minor leaguers. His performance this spring is indicative of the swing change he underwent this off season. According to Emily Waldon’s article from the Athletic, Marsh worked to improve his bat path and that he is now able “to get to pitches I never would have gotten to last year”. He will be starting in AA this year on a team full of top Angels prospects and could see AAA by midseason. I predict big things from Marsh this season and expect him to rise on prospects list everywhere.
Jordyn Adams, OF
This time last year Adams was just starting to get onto the public’s radar at the NHSI tournament. The toolsy outfielder is praised for his 80 grade speed and moldable frame. He has the ability to become whatever type of player the Angels/Adams want to turn him into. The only question is his ability to hit, and this offseason he has made attempts to remedy that. Jason Peninni has a perfect video to showcase the changes he has made while in the Angels organization.
NHSI starts Wednesday. A year ago I was getting first looks at Angels eventual first rounder Jordyn Adams. This is what his swing looks like then vs now pic.twitter.com/RtSviQkY6o
— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) April 2, 2019
You notice that his swing during the tournament seems a little rushed and he’s catching the ball out is front, while on the left he has changed his leg kick and looks to have more body control allowing for him to be on time more consistently than before. I believe that Adams will answer those questions about hitting and cement himself as one of the top outfield prospects in baseball.
Chris Rodriguez, RHP
Rodriguez spent all last season on the DL dealing with a back issue, which may have been caused by a head wack in his delivery that has been a concern since he was drafted, before that he was getting high praise from the organization. Rodriguez has a 5 pitch mix with 4 plus pitches (four seam FB, two seam FB, slider, and change up) which he pairs with an average curve. He has been great at throwing strikes but currently he is more control over command right now as he got hit a bit too much of the plate in 2017. If he can refine his command and starts throwing the right strikes he will fly through the organization, and that’s what I am predicting.
Jose Soriano, RHP
Soriano has a projectable mid 90s fastball, a plus curve, and a change up. He has been dealing with growing pains as a professional (quite literally), but I believe those are over and he will pitch well this season. Soriano struggled with walks last season (6.8 BB/9) and if he can refine his command expect big things for him as he has done pretty well to limit hits across 3 levels (6.8 hits per 9) and has decent strike out numbers (7.3 SO/9).
Aaron Hernandez, RHP
Angels 3rd round pick last year, Hernandez didn’t pitch after being drafted which seems to be a pattern for Eppler’s college pitching draft picks. He has stuff to dream on with a plus fastball that has touch the 98 and above average secondary (slider, curve, and change up) that at times will all flash plus. I believe he’s a guy that could improve like Canning did last season where he could hit the upper 90s more consistently and get a better feel for his secondary offerings. He reminds me of Garrett Richards in that his college performance is not indicative of his talent level. If he can refine his command he’s another guy that could fly through the minors with his impressive arsenal.
Kevin Maitan, SS/3B
With the other players on this list, the breakout is staring me flat in the face and it’s hard not to chose those guys, Maitan is more of a wild card. Scouts like his new swing that he’s tried out during spring training and so I am going to go with what they have to say. I think Maitan has finally found a swing that works for him and will be successful going forward. Maitan came in to spring looking a healthy weight, but as many prognosticators, myself included, in the past have noted he has to maintain a healthy weight to remain at 3B. 2019 is going to be the year Maitan lives up to some (not all) of the potential that made him so highly touted.