Prospect Countdown #61 : Jose Briceno

Top 100 Los Angeles Angels' Prospects Countdown, #61 : Catcher, Jose Briceno (photo : Ángel Daniel Conde T)

Jose Briceno, Catcher

HT : 6'1
WT : 210
DOB : September 19, 1992 (23), in Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : N/A
Acquired : Traded from Atlanta to Los Angeles, November 12, 2015
Last Year's Ranking : Unranked


The last time a prospect was thrown into a Los Angeles Angels' trade as a "fill in," his name was Trevor Gott. In one of the Angels most recent trades to acquire star defensive shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, there was a "throw in" prospect by the name of Jose Briceno. This young catcher has all the tools to become something more than just a throw in, and become something much, much better.


SCOUTING REPORT:

Catchers tend to be graded on how they perform behind the plate, which is something Briceno flashes average tools. He has above-average arm strength which has shown proper results in throwing out a high load of base runners. He is still working on his receiving and blocking skills, which is common for young raw catchers.

Something Briceno does have that most foreign players don't possess is communication skills. His English is near flawless and he has a knack for creating good relationships and trust from his pitching staff. He's a true leader, which goes unnoticed in any box score, but is something all good catchers need to have.

Briceno is an excellent athlete which could suggest either a move to first base or quick progress behind the plate. He has taken reps at all infield positions, but never in games excluding first base. There is a keen instinct to Briceno's game that should translate at the higher levels.

Briceno has raw tools at the plate that. He makes consistent hard contact, but sometimes gets overly aggressive and swings ahead of the ball, forcing weaker contact and ground balls. He is learning to use his free swing to take the ball to all parts of the field. This could in turn, create power to all fields as he has good lifting abilities in his swing.

The young catchers athleticism translates to speed as well. Though he will never be a double digit threat for stolen bases, he has better than average speed for a catcher on the paths. He also isn't afraid of using his full frame to take extra full strides and dive safely into a base.

VIDEO : Minor League Baseball

Scouting Report from Taylor Blake Ward - Senior Publisher for Scout.com


STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN:

Briceno's debut season came with the Rockies DSL affiliate, where he hit .205/.295/.245 with six doubles, 17 RBI and 12 runs scored. He kicked things off and ended things well well, batting .278 with a .594 OPS in his first seven games and .417 with a 1.023 OPS in his final seven. The 31 games in between saw just a .147 average and .426 OPS at a teenager.

As a sophomore professional, Briceno shined over his first 27 games, hitting .319/.418/.385 with 12 RBI and 18 runs scored. Over his final 20 games, Briceno fell off slightly, hitting .246 with a .683 OPS. Briceno did have 12 of his 47 games go for multiple hits, including five games with three or more hits. Briceno also threw out 33% of potential thieves.

After being plagued by injuries in 2013, seeing just seven games of success (.391 BA, 1.114 OPS), Briceno split time between Rookie Ball and Low-A as a 20-year-old. In Rookie Ball, Briceno hit .333/.356/.614 with nine home runs and 16 doubles, collecting an extra-base hit every 6.12 at bats. This included a 16-game hit-streak where he held a .994 OPS. In a stretch prior, Briceno hit six doubles and five home runs in a four game stretch (20 at bats). In Low-A, five of Briceno's 26 games went for multiple hits, and he collected a .264/.302/.363 slash.

Developmental wise, 2014 was one of Briceno's best seasons at the plate, where he hit .283/.336/.476 with 12 home runs, 23 doubles, 50 RBI and 38 runs scored in Low-A. Briceno collected a 10-game hit-streak in mid May, where he went 17-for-39 (.436) with a 1.143 OPS. Behind the plate, Briceno threw out 44% of runners.

Last season, Briceno struggled mightily in High-A, batting .183/.215/.267 with 18 extra-base hits in 88 games. Briceno did find a nice stretch in late June, following a season-long five-game hit-streak. During a five-game stretch, Briceno collected four multi-hit games in a five-game stetch, going 9-for-19, striking out just once.

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EXPECTED FUTURE:

Briceno played in High-A last season and the results were quite poor. He's only 23 and will be for the entire Minor League season next year, which hints that he'll be of prime age for a return High-A. However, he begins to fall in line with the catching depth charts and could be plagued by those who the Angels have developed ahead of him already, which could mean he begins the year in Low-A Burlington.

Briceno has the tools to become a Major League catcher, but it will take some application of what he's learned and much needed progress at the plate. His ceiling could fall into a starting catcher, but it's much more likely he'll hang around to the minors for awhile and stick as a backup catcher in the future at the highest levels.



For more updates on the Los Angeles Angels, their prospects, and our Top 100 Prospects Countdown, follow us on Twitter, @AngelsOnScout. Keep up with our countdown on Twitter with the hashtag, #LAATop100Prospects.

This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.



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