AL West 2021 Breakout Prospects

AL West 2021 Breakout Prospects

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The AL West has some franchise altering prospects on the cusp of their big league debuts in the near future with the Mariners Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. Also the Angels Jo Adell looking to turn around his poor rough rookie year into a special sophomore campaign. And the Astros Forrest Whitley looking to turn in a strong campaign on the heels of his big league debut after a rough 2019 season.

This is a division that could use some reinforcements over the next few seasons, today we take a look at few from each team that you need to get excited about heading into 2021 for a breakout

This series will go division by division. Breaking down 2 prospects per team from multiple analysts: Today, the AL West. @JTillinghast27, @d__brack, @DrakeMann4, @MLBUKAnalysis1, @MPRichards1981, each tasked with digging into the back half of each team’s farm system to find some high upside prospects that we will be talking about much differently this time next year.

Criteria for the Prospects Below:
Must be ranked 10-20 or unranked in their teams rankings (via Prospects Worldwide ranks)
Prospects we feel will make a big impact in 2021.
Click each players Team Ranking to be directed to their teams Top 20 Prospect Ranks with scouting report attached
Click each players Dynasty Rankings to be directed to our Top 300 Dynasty Prospects List.


ANGELS

1. OF David Calabrese | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: 15th | Dynasty Rank: 169th

David Calabrese, one of the youngest players in the 2021 MLB Draft, was one of the most overlooked prospects in the class mostly due to the fact he wasn’t seen as often as some of the top prospects due to him being from Canada. That didn’t stop the Angels from drafting the speedy left handed hitter in the 3rd Round. But had teams been able to get more looks at him, I doubt he would have been lingering around for the Angels to add to their toolshed of athletic OF in their system.

At 5’11” 160lbs, Calabrese lacks the physical strength right now to drive the ball deep and put out some nice HR totals. But as he ages, I expect him to develop into 10-15 HR per season with potential for 25-30 SB totals with his 70 Grade Speed and high OBP numbers due to a strong approach at the plate and a Plus Hit tool working with a true gap-gap approach.

The overall profile reminds me a lot of a slightly lesser version of Diamondbacks top prospect Corbin Carroll. From the Plus Hit and Defense and Double Plus Speed. Both have the ability to stick in CF long-term as a plus defender and be an impact offensively at the top of the order. Although Carroll likely will be a bit better run producer and power threat then Calabrese will ever be. But overall I really like the comp. Buy into the hype early.
– Jake Tillinghast; @JTillinghast27

2. RHP Jack Kochanowicz | 19 Years Old
Team Rank: 12th | Dynasty Rank: Unranked

Jack Kochanowicz has a chance to fill a major need for the Angels’ organization when he gets to finally debut in pro ball after being drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Although he did get some good work in at the teams Alternate Site this season and reportedly was looking good and was one of the more polished HS arms coming out of that 2019 Class.

Kochanowicz is a big, tall right-hander standing 6’7 224lbs with a mid 90s Fastball, that likely has a tick still to come but still presently gets ride up in the zone and has shown some bat missing ability in his prep days. His best pitch however is his Curveball, that he has loads of confidence in. A Plus pitch with 11/5 shape registering 2700+ RPM and is his go to strikeout pitch vs lefties and righties. It’s tough on young hitters and should continue to develop a sharper break as he grows into that body and velo only adding to the swing and miss potential. Rounding out his 3 pitch mix is a Changeup that has the makings of an above-average pitch and one he can go to for outs in big situations.

There is some concern that he has yet to get a single inning under his belt 2 years after being drafted. But we can blame COVID-19 for that. Innings in 2021 will be the biggest part of the development for Kochanowicz. Getting near 100 IP is going to be key for his development and put him on track for a 2023/24 ETA. But regardless, this is a true starters profile and a potential #2 or 3 SP if it works out. 
– Jake Tillinghast; @JTillinghast27

ASTROS

1. RHP Alex Santos | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: 11th | Dynasty Rank: 209th

In the 2nd compensation round of the 2020 Draft, the Astros took a gamble and selected cold-weather prep arm Alex Santos II. Though types like Santos are typically seen as high-risk due to the playing environment they’re from (southern/western kids practice outdoors year-round with no snow), Santos brings some raw characteristics to the table that are few and far between.

Santos is still only 18, and he’s still growing, adding an inch of height and over 10LBs of muscle since draft day according to his listing on BA’s instructs roster. With his body now around 6’4 and 200LBs, you can dream on his stuff getting even better as well. Considering his fastball is already in the 93-95 range—while topping out at nearly 2700 RPMs with over 18 inches of Rapsodo vertical break—if the pitch gets much better, it could have a case for being one of the best fastballs in MiLB down the line.

Santos throws a very sharp slider with virtually all of the movement going horizontally to his glove side, giving him a nice go-to breaker. He also throws a change and a curve, and though both aren’t quite as developed, the offerings give him enough of a foundation to work as a true starter. If he’s able to develop one or both of those offerings, the Astros might’ve snagged a high-school arm with as much potential as any from this past draft. He has a lot of work to do with keeping his mechanics consistent and improving command, but Santos is going to be a fun arm to watch develop in 2021.
Danny Brackman, @d__brack

2. OF Zach Daniels | 21 Years Old
Team Rank: 14th| Dynasty Rank: Unranked

Zach Daniels had some of the most intriguing potential in the entire 2020 draft class, though questions about his breakout left organizations concerned enough to see him fall to the 4th round. At that point, the Astros decided the risk was worth the reward and snatched him up.

Daniels struggled mightily in his first two seasons at Tennessee, though in 2018 a productive summer in the Northwoods League showed a preview of the possibilities. There, Daniels was flashing power, speed, plate discipline, and defense that appeared to be a preview for his 2020 breakout. In 2020 before the COVID shutdown, Daniels was obliterating inferior non-SEC opponents to the tune of a .357/.478/.750 line.

At 6’1 and 211LBs, Daniels has enough physicality to do significant damage at the plate while also having more than enough athleticism to contribute on the bases and in the outfield. His raw strength is off the charts, and in 2020, he did a great job keeping his swing compact, shortening his lever-length, and letting his rotational ability generate the force behind it. Glimpses of all-fields power, strong plate discipline, good speed, and solid outfield defense have seen Daniels’ name talked about by individuals like BA’s Ben Badler as one of the most exciting prospects in the Astros system.
– Danny Brackman, @d__brack

ATHLETICS

1. RHP Jeff Criswell | 21 Years Old
Team Rank: 10th | Dynasty Rank: Unranked

Criswell was a staple in University of Michigan’s rotation after pitching to a 2.88 ERA, 25.8 K%, 11.5 BB% in 162.1 innings pitched across three seasons. The Athletics rewarded Criswell by taking him in the second round in the 2020 draft.

Criswell relies on a nice three-pitch mix with his best pitch being a fastball that operates 92-93 MPH but has touched 96 MPH with heavy sink, his slider is a plus pitch, especially when thrown on the outer half. His changeup has good depth and is thrown in the low-80’s. While Criswell has good control of his pitches but tends to overthrow and rush his mechanics causing his control to be a little inconsistent. I do believe he fixes this issue in Oakland and when he’s fully developed he can turn into a nice middle of rotation starter as he has three legit offerings. 2021 is the year he can start experimenting with different pitches and maybe adding a fourth pitch that could add another look for hitters as he goes through the minors.

Criswell is one arm to watch in 2021 as he has the chance to advance quickly through the system and with how good his stuff is Oakland could’ve gotten a steal in the second round.
– Drake Mann, @DrakeMann4

2. OF Lazaro Armenteros | 21 Years Old
Team Rank: 18th | Dynasty Rank: Unranked

Signed way back in 2016, it feels like Armenteros has been in the system for a long time without really having a breakout campaign. His astronomical bonus of $3m has yet to be justified, but the Athletics hope that he can tap into his raw power and his speed that saw him be one of the most exciting International prospects of 2016-17.

His first season in Rookie ball saw him average .276 and hit just 4 HRs, whilst his big climb in 2018 to Beloit Snappers (A) saw him average .277 with 8 HRs. Although this isn’t to the level expected of him, he flashed glimpses of his potential with high exit velocities and well-placed HRs.

This progression had the Athletics thinking he would do the same, if not better, for Stockton Ports (A+). Whilst his power potential shone through with 17 HRs, and his speed picked up 22 SBs, he struck out at an alarming rate. For the 2019 season he struck out 227 times in 459 ABs, walking a further 73 times. This showed that when he does make contact within the zone, he can do so with solid power, but his pitch reading and swing control severely lacks to be a consistent hitter.

At 21 years old, he should be able to rectify a few of these problems, but there is emphasis on improving his plate discipline and developing his swing to be more controlled and spend longer within the strike zone.
– Jake Tweedie; @MLBUKAnalysis1

MARINERS

1. OF Jonatan Clase | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: Unranked
| Dynasty Rank: 193rd

Originally, signed during the 2018 international period out of the Dominican Republic. Clase was considered undersized, and his physical stature played a significant role in being overlooked by most organizations. Since that time, the speedy centerfielder has grown taller and looks very strong and athletic. The calling card for fantasy purposes is his elite 70-grade speed, which he has not sacrificed with the added lean-muscle. Clase clocked at 3.7 seconds from home-to-first, so he is one of the fastest players in professional baseball at any level. He also showed an excellent approach at the plate in the first season in the Minors posting an impressive 17.8 BB% and 19.6 K%.

The speedy outfielder has received high praise for his motor, work ethic, and infectious love for the game. It is clear to see how Clase will make a noticeable impression on any organization. Most of his development has happened away from the spotlight, so there is still an opportunity to get on the bandwagon relatively cheap in dynasty leagues. The Mariners are building a reputation for identifying international prospects with upside and developing them into top prospects. Clase appears to have all the necessary components to become the next in line.
– Michael Richards; @MPRichards1981

2. RHP Juan Then | 20 Years Old
Team Rank: 12th | Dynasty Rank:
Unranked

Then is an interesting prospect he was traded to the Yankees for Nick Rumbelow and the Yankees would later trade him back to Seattle for Edwin Encarnacion in 2019. He owns a career 2.76 ERA, 23.2 K%, 6.2 BB%, and 1.002 WHIP in 159.2 innings pitched. Then has a nice ability to miss bats and at 20-years-old he has plenty of time to hit his ceiling.

While undersized, Then has the stuff to stick as a starter. His fastball/slider combo has plus potential and he normally operates between 92-94 MPH with late life on his fastball, as mentioned prior his best secondary is a hard slider that he buries in the dirt regularly. His good arm speed makes his changeup a potentially quality pitch in his arsenal.

He’s continued developing his stuff and has matured with the Mariners quite well, much like Criswell he has the upside of being a middle of the rotation starter for the Mariners. 2021 is going to be the year we start seeing Then among the top 10 prospects in the Mariners system and he could slowly start getting the attention from baseball fans and personnel alike with a good 2021 season.
– Drake Mann, @DrakeMann4

RANGERS

1. OF Bayron Lora | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: 10th | Dynasty Rank: 142nd

The big slugger was a high-profile international signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2019. Lora received a substantial $3.9 million signing bonus to join the Rangers organization, the third-largest signing bonus in the class. Listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, the 18-year old is already producing elite exit velocities that are rare to see from someone his age. The righty produces impressive bat-speed, 70-grade power, and has received praise for his effortless swing. As with all sluggers of his ilk, the ability to make consistent enough contact for the power tool to flourish will be the determining factor in whether the righty becomes a cornerstone piece.

Lora has shown early signs of struggling with breaking pitches, which he must improve upon to reach his lofty potential. With his massive frame, plus-plus power, and contact skills, players like Joey Gallo, Franmil Reyes, and Miguel Sano come to mind as potential player comps down the road. As with most young prospects, there is a wide range of outcomes. Few players in the Minor Leagues possess the pure raw power that Lora shows off regularly. If you are looking for someone who has 40 home run upside outside Top 100 lists, look no further.

2. SS Luisangel Acuna | 18 Years Old
Team Rank: 13th | Dynasty Rank: 94th

Most baseball fans recognize the name because of his older brother, Ronald. However, Luisangel stands his ground as one of the most exciting hitters within the Rangers’ organization. His size and frame can be deceiving, standing at 5’10” and weighing 155lbs, he can be explosive and has raw power potential.

The 18 year old was signed out of Venezuela for $425k, and didn’t hang around in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. He averaged .342, hitting 11 doubles and 2 HRs, in an impressive debut campaign. He also flashed glimpses of his above-average speed and aggressiveness between the bases by stealing 17 bases. There were glimpses of his plate discipline and advanced hitting tools, as he struck out just 26 times in 202 ABs.

His advanced tools are highlighted by his ability to make consistent hard contact around the field. He can pick gaps, be aggressive on the base paths to turn singles into doubles, and even hit the occasional HR. Whilst the pop off his bat may have to come as he develops physically to be a stronger athlete, his quick swing and clean action demonstrates that he has the raw potential there to work on.

Defensively, there is plenty of work to be done. He made 16 errors in just 48 appearances, but he has the arm strength and quick hands to help him develop that as he progresses. He looked far more comfortable at 2B than he did at SS, so he may move there on a permanent basis. Overall he has a bright future, albeit with the pressure to match his brother’s achievements. The Rangers need all the positivity they can get, and Luisangel Acuna certainly give them that.
– Jake Tweedie; @MLBUKAnalysis1


Past Articles of other divisions Breakout Prospects:
AL East Breakout Prospects | AL Central Breakout Prospects
NL East Breakout Prospects | NL Central Breakout Prospects | NL West Breakout Prospects


For more information on a number of prospects throughout the league follow the links below:


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