Meet the Prospects: Players Who Can Make an Impact in 2017

Updated: October 6, 2016

It is a widely known fact that the Angels have the worst farm systems in the league, but that doesn’t mean that their system isn’t capable of producing major league quality talent. Just look at Kole Calhoun.

He was never ranked as a top 100 prospect, yet he already has a Gold Glove and hopefully more honors to come. Matt Shoemaker wasn’t even drafted, yet he is one of the Angels’ most reliable starters. There is talent in the Angels system. It’s just hard to see when all the hype is going towards guys like Dansby Swanson. Here are a few guys that can make an impact next season.

Cal Towey, OF/1B

Towey is a guy whose stats won’t jump out at you like other top prospect’s might. He isn’t even ranked in the Angels’ top 30 prospects. The 26-year-old doesn’t hit much for average, as shown by his career .267 average, but Towey can get on base. Towey hit .264 this season between Arkansas and Salt Lake.

His OBP over the course of the season was .376, more than .100 points higher than his average. Towey also slugged .436 for an OPS of .812, showing that he can hit for power. If Towey can refine his swing in order to get more base hits, he could be a very scary hitter. Cal is also a very good defender in the outfield and a better than decent one at first. Over the course of the season, Towey committed just one error in 82 games in the outfield and three errors in 32 games at first base.

Cal also played a few games at third this year and few at catcher back in 2014. Talk about versatility. The clock is ticking on Cal, as he will be going into next season at the age of 27. 2017 may be his final shot at the big leagues.

Keynan Middleton, RHP

There is no doubt Middleton’s stuff is electrifying. The former starter turned late-inning reliever sits at 95-99 MPH with his fastball and an ever improving slider. Keynan saw his ERA drop from 5.30 as a starter in 2015 to 3.41 as a reliever this season.

Middleton’s WHIP also dropped nearly half a point. His .196 BAA and 12.0 K/9 is what pops out you the most. If Middleton can continue the success he had this season in Salt Lake next season, we may see him out of the ‘pen after the All-Star break.

Eric Aguilera, 1B

First of all, there is no known relation between Eric and I despite us both having the same last name. If there is, though, I’ll be waiting for some kind of family get-together. Aguilera, who ended the season with AA Arkansas, has hit in every level of the minors he has been in.

He has a career slash line of .294/.344/.471, as well as a slash line of .275/.342/.449 in last year’s Arizona Fall League. He also has a career .989 fielding percentage. The only problem is that Eric was suspended for poor conduct in late August.

There are questions about his attitude and whether he will start the year in AA again. My guess is he starts with new AA affiliate Mobile, is promoted to AAA early in the season, and is called up sometime late in the season, which would be incredible as Aguilera was selected in the 34th round of the 2013 draft, a round that doesn’t produce much major league quality talent.

Nate Smith, LHP

Smith is one of the guys who has a real shot of making the team out of Spring Training. He’s a lefty, which adds to his value as the Angels only have one projected southpaw in the rotation in Tyler Skaggs. A 4.61 ERA last season might not look pretty, but that is in an extremely hitter friendly environment.

He was basically playing at Coors Field all season. The stat that should get more attention is his 7.3 K/9. For context, Smith’s K/9 is just a few points off from guys like Johnny Cueto and Masahiro Tanaka. I’m not saying that Smith will be a front-of-the-line starter in the MLB, but he can be an effective one. Smith throws a low-90s fastball to go along with a curve, slider, and a very good changeup. If Smith can show he has a good feel for these pitches in Tempe, he could be the number five starter coming into 2017.

Sherman Johnson, 2B

Johnson only has a shot at the majors this season because the Angels are in desperate need of a second baseman. Only he and Alex Yarbrough are internal options at this point, but I give Johnson the edge because he had a little more success this season.

That and Yarbrough somehow ended up with an average that’s higher than his OBP in AAA this season. Johnson hasn’t hit as well as Yarbrough has, as the two have hit .250 and .276 respectively. Johnson also swiped 18 bases throughout the season, giving him the edge in speed as well. Johnson is a year older, meaning he has less time to develop.

If Sherman can hit well enough during the AAA season, I expect him to get a shot at the majors late in the season as a September call-up.

Forrestt Allday, OF

Not going to lie, Forrestt has little to no shot to make his debut this season. If he does, though, I’ll be the first in line to buy his jersey. He would also have the greatest walk-up song of all time in Kanye’s “All Day”. How long does Forrestt ball? All day playa.


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