Angels Top 51 Prospects Countdown, #46-51

Angels Top 51 Prospects Countdown, #46-51

51. Francisco Del Valle, Outfielder

6'1, 187 lbs, L/L
August 18, 1998 (18); Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, PR)
Drafted in 14th Round (426th overall) of 2016 MLB Draft

In back-to-back years, the Angels used their 14th round pick on a young Puerto Rican-born outfielder. Del Valle became the sixth from the island nation to be selected and first from it's largest baseball program in last year's draft. Drafted over a month prior to his 18th birthday, the young outfielder signed and was sent to the AZL where he showcased his raw skill set.

Though his game is still relatively raw, Del Valle does have big tools that could carry him into a larger role in the future. He showed plus speed, running a 6.71 60-yard for Perfect Game. With his speed, plus athleticsm, and strong arm, many feel that if he can show a quicker first step, he could be a center fielder, but is best suited for a corner outfield spot for the time being.

At the plate, Del Valle has flashed some interesting tools. Though his swing can get erratic and long at times, he's shown some consistency with a fluid stroke from the left side. Loading with his hands, and using his strong frame, there's signs of raw power to the pull side. Del Valle has some loft at the tail end of his swing, which should suggest he could see double digit home runs as he fills into his frame. Though scouts have seen positive signs in his pitch selection, many feel there's work to be done to take him away from an overly aggressive approach.

In the AZL, Del Valle saw success in limited at bats. He made consistent contact, hitting .250 with a 81.8% contact rate and .308 BAbip. He drew just one walk in 35 plate appearances, but kept his strikeout rate low, going down just six times. His .607 OPS fell well below the league average, primarily due to his lack of walks, which should be a key item in his development over the years. Del Valle was over two-and-a-half years younger than the average talent of the AZL, and will likely repeat Rookie Ball due to his youth and lack of professional experience.

Francisco Del Valle Stats

50. Keith Grieshaber, Shortstop/Second Baseman

6'2, 185 lbs, R/R
June 29, 1995 (21); Chesterfield, Missouri
Jefferson College (Hillsboro, MO)
Drafted in 16th Round (486th overall) of 2016 MLB Draft

After transferring from Arkansas to Jefferson College, there may not have been a flocking of scouts seeing Keith Grieshaber, but he was at the forefront of their attention. The Angels nabbed him in the 16th round of the most recent draft and signed him for $100 thousand, and all he did from then on was hit, and hit, and hit some more. The former Missouri Soccer Player of the Year is exploring a career as a baseball player, and has proven to have the tools to be something to watch for moving forward.

Maybe he got it from soccer, but in the field, Grieshaber uses his quick feet to make rapid burst to the ball at shortstop. He has been shown the ability to take accurate routes to the ball, and is best going to his left, which could suggest he'd be a plus defender as a second baseman, or be able to take away that base hit up the middle as a shortstop. He charges the ball with authority, and fires with a strong and accurate arm, but many feel he could fix his transfer to make it more swift. Both in the field and on the paths, Grieshaber has above-average speed, and a fleet initial burst.

Scouts really like Grieshaber's bat, and believe it could carry him through the minors and into a much larger role in time. He goes to the plate with a low stance, keeping himself square in the box, ready to pounce on any mistake offered to him. He shows a line-drive stroke from the right-side with good extension, which mixed with his good bat speed and good extension, could see some power come in to play. Grieshaber repeats his swing well, and can really drive through the ball, with already good signs of consistent timing. Very aggressive, the Angels would like to see him become a bit more disciplined, but as long as he continues to hit, they won't change too much and keep his offensive game simple.

Grieshaber began his pro career with a 19-game on-base streak, which led into a promotion to Rookie Orem. While in the AZL, he hit .356 with an .837 OPS. Moving into Orem, he couldn't match his offensive numbers over the first 100 plate appearances, notching a .640 OPS. That all changed quickly, as over his final 50 PA, he went 16-for-43 (.372), with four doubles and a triple, seeing a .912 OPS over the span. Proving he can matchup with the Rookie Ball prospects, Grieshaber should make the move to A-Ball in 2017.

Keith Grieshaber Stats

49. Ryan Vega, Outfielder

6'2, 180 lbs, R/R
September 17, 1996 (20); Manati, Puerto Rico
El Paso Community College (El Paso, TX)
Drafted in 14th round (435th overall) of 2015 MLB Draft

Since it's assembly in 2013, the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy has produce 14 draftees. In 2014, Ryan Vega was not one of those draftees, and it turned into the Angels reward. Though it took 435 picks, the Angels nabbed Vega out of community college as one of the top outfielders in Texas. Though his professional debut was lack luster, his performance in 2016 was enough to bring his name to the attention of many in the industry.

Vega uses his strength in all assets of his game. Using his hands as a timing mechanism, he brings the barrel of the bat around through the zone and extends to get a full drive through the ball. He has surprising power up to center and pull side, but has shown the ability to go the other way with authority. There is a need for Vega to improve his ability to his off-speed, but he maintains a high contact rate with his swing staying through the zone.

Seeing a 60-yard mark as low as 6.58, Vega has plus speed. Mixed with his plus athleticism and above-average arm strength, Vega has shown the ability to play center field in the low minors. This should continue to be a mark of success for him in the future as he makes quick decisions off the bat, and takes proper routes to the ball in doing so. Many would like to see his speed used more on the base paths, but with a high baseball IQ, his base running and stolen bases should improve with experience.

In his first year of pro ball, Vega could only muster a .188 batting average and .491 OPS. That all changed in 2016, as there was no player as menacing as Vega in the AZL. Leading the league in batting average (.413), and finishing second in on-base percentage (.455) and slugging percentage (.600), Vegas drew high marks of attention to his game. Earning a mid-season callup to Orem, Vega homered in his first at bat in the Pioneer League and went 5-for-12 with two home runs and a double in his first three games. Following that, Vega went 4-for-35 over his final nine games, and will likely repeat Rookie Ball as a 20-year-old in 2017.

Ryan Vega Stats

48. Hector Yan, Left-Handed Pitcher

5'11, 180 lbs, L/L
April 26, 1999 (17); La Romania, Dominican Republic
Signed as International Free Agent, August 20, 2015

The Angels have been held to limitations on the international front since the $8 million investment on Roberto Baldoquin who has yet to show any potential as a professional. Due to the limits, the Halos have not been able to go after any premier names since 2014, but one of the players they did sign for under $300 thousand was Hector Yan, who has flashed some interesting tools and shown those in games on the international level for the easy price of $80 thousand.

Though reports are limited, what is available is desirable. Yan was signed as a 16-year-old, who threw 90 miles per hour as a lefty. That velocity jumped to 95 MPH, gaining late life with the added speed to his fastball. In excess of the big fastball, he throws a good breaking ball with tight spin. There is concern as to how his command will play out, as he walked 11.9% of the batters he's faced as a professional.

In his professional debut, Yan could not have been better. Yan faced 99 batters and created 74 outs before allowing a run this season (24.1 innings pitched), and finished with just three total in 30.1 innings. He was shutdown early for an undisclosed reason, but not before seeing a 0.89 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, 6.8 H/9 and 9.8 K/9. Though the Dominican Summer League is known for limiting power, Yan held bats to just two extra-base hits (both doubles), and a .236 slugging percentage. Despite his youth, it seems the Angels are ready for Yan to make the trip stateside in the AZL for 2017.

Hector Yan Stats

47. Leonardo Rivas, Second Baseman/Shortstop

5'10, 150 lbs, S/R
October 10, 1997 (19); Maracay, Venezuela
Signed as International Free Agent, July 11, 2014

Months before the restrictions on international spending, it didn't seem to matter much anyways as Jerry Dipoto didn't explore signing the top amateur players in Central and South America. One of the final pieces he was able to give the Angels future came in the form of Leonardo Rivas, who's tools could turn him into more than just an organizational filler. Being young in his career hasn't taken away anything from Rivas' understanding of the game and how to create opportunities for his team's success.

Speed kills, and Rivas has plenty of it. Easy to pull the trigger, he'll need to work on his base stealing abilities, but Rivas has some of the top speed marks throughout the organization. Along with his quick feet on the paths, his speed translates in the field which was seen with a move from second base to shortstop this past season. He makes quick-twitch actions, but has a lot of room for improvement in his ability to read the ball of the bat. He has a clean and easy transfer, but scouts question if his arm is strong enough to keep him at shortstop. It's likely he'll land as a swift moving second baseman, where he began his career.

Rivas' approach is far beyond his years, as pitch selection and discipline are his biggest components. With the ability to draw walks and make pitchers work to gain an out, it's no surprise his on-base percentage has been over 40% in his professional career. When mixed with his speed, it's no surprise many are craving to learn more about him. There's surprising pop from Rivas' line-drive stroke from both sides, primarily due to his lack of size. However, with a heavier stride and better extension from the right-side, there could be more coming from as a rightie. There's plenty of room to fill into his five-foot-10, 150 pound frame, and with the gap power already showing, there's much more to desire in the future as he grows.

For a second straight year, all Rivas did in the Dominican Summer League is reach base. With 42 teams in the league, and over 25 men on each roster, it's only more remarkable that Rivas ranked ninth in the league in OBP, at .455. Reaching base in 30 of the 33 games played, Rivas finished his time in the DSL with a .323/.455/.414 slash with 26 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.

The likely destination for Rivas in 2017 will be the AZL, where he wrapped up 2016. After a mid-season callup, Rivas strung together small sampled success, hitting .253 with a .364 OBP and .705 OPS. He scored 22 runs in 26 games and reached base in all but three of those 26. In his debut in the AZL, Rivas went 3-for-5 with a walk, double, and home run.

Leonardo Rivas Stats

46. Kevin Grendell, Left-Handed Pitcher

6'2, 210 lbs, L/L
August 22, 1993 (23); La Jolla, California
San Pasqual High School (Escondido, CA)
Signed as Minor League Free Agent, April 8, 2016

The professional journey for Kevin Grendell has been a unique path. In three seasons with the Orioles' organization, he posted a 3.56 ERA, and was considered one of their up-and-coming prospects. Following a season in A-Ball where he held a 1.64 ERA, Grendell was released. That suddenly became a reward for the Angels, as they signed him and through him into the lurks of their farm system where he shined as a reliever with pure stuff.

Being moved to the bullpen full-time, Grendell saw his fastball jump from the low 90's to 93-96 range with ease with late life. Backing it up with a big looping, high 70's curveball, he's been able to miss bats consistently. Working downhill from the left-side, Grendell has controlled and repeatable mechanics, he uses a quick stride, hurling from a clean 3/4 angle, driving hard with his lower half towards the plate. He commands his fastball to both sides of the plate, and uses it to setup his curveball, which he uses primarily while ahead and on two-strike counts. One of the first signings that led to the ultimate outlook of future signings in Eppler's system, Grendell is very loose and flexible on the mound, taking away any concerns about potential arm fatigue.

Following the 2012 draft, Grendell was given a 50-game suspension for Dehydroepiandrosterone, a substance produced naturally by the body and an item that can be bought over the counter. The substance gives you a better sex-drive, and is a common drug that may not be viewed as a plague mark for someone trying to "cheat the game." NBA player, O.J. Mayo, received a suspension for usage of the same substance. It was never noted if it was a personal choice or trainer choice for Grendell to take the substance, making it a unique scenario of whether or not it was a youthful decision and mistake, but it is in the past and does not seem to be a problem for future endeavors.

Grendell was among the multiple relief prospects to garner attention with his 2016 performance. Beginning the year in Low-A and rising to Double-A by season's end, Grendell notched a 2.64 ERA and 1.158 WHIP in 61.1 innings pitched. Through the season, Grendell kept bats quiet, limiting them to a .171/.286/.260 slash line, but the most impressive came in his final 11 appearances. Earning a late season callup to Double-A, where he should begin 2017, Grendell allowed just seven hits to 76 batters faced, and held opposing bats to a .472 OPS over his time in Arkansas.

Kevin Grendell Stats

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