Six players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Los Angeles Angels prospects are with the Burlington Bees to start the 2017 season, including the highly-touted Jahmai Jones.
Jones, the Angels’ No. 1 prospect, returns to Burlington after finishing the 2016 season with the Bees. He batted .242 with 1 HR and 10 RBI in 16 Midwest League games, but that came after he batted .321 with 3 HR, 20 RBI and 19 SB in 48 games with the rookie-level Orem Owlz earlier in the season. Baseball America lauds “his baseball smarts, quick-twitch athleticism, and above-average-to-plus speed,” and calls him “a good teammate and clubhouse leader with an advanced mix of smarts, skills and effort that earns everyone’s respect.”
The other top-30 Angels prospects assigned to the Bees are RHP Sam Pastrone (No. 17), RHP Jesus Castillo (No. 23), second baseman Jordan Zimmerman (No. 26), outfielder Brennon Lund (No. 28) and RHP Joe Gatto (No. 30).
Pastrone had a disappointing season in the Pioneer League last year (6.00 ERA, 45 Ks, 21 BB in 57 IP), but he finished strong and is still young, not turning 20 until the end of June. Baseball America rates his curveball as one of the best in the Angels organization, and says his fastball can get up to 96 mph.
Castillo started last season as a Chicago Cubs prospect pitching in the short-season Northwest League, and joined the Angels organization mid-season via a deadline trade. L.A. assigned him to Burlington, where he went 3-2 with a 2.43 ERA, 23 strikeouts and seven walks in 30 innings/six starts. If he repeats that success to start this season, he likely will earn a promotion to High-A later this year.
Gatto struggled in his full season with the Bees last year, going 3-8 with a 7.03 ERA, 54 strikeouts and 33 walks in 64 innings/15 starts. That prompted Baseball America to drop him from being a top-10 Angels prospect down to being ranked No. 30 in what the publication says is the worst farm system in baseball. Sometimes rankings like that help fuel a player’s desire to excel; perhaps that will be the case with Gatto, whom BA says still has a 92-95 mph fastball and flashes of the best curveball in the system.
Zimmerman gets another shot at the Midwest League after batting only .154 with 13 RBI in 37 games with the Bees last year. His season started much better than that when he batted .422 with 4 HR and 22 RBI in 19 games with the Orem Owlz.
Lund looks to improve on the numbers he posted for the Bees last season: .271 BA, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 8 SB in 45 games. Fellow outfielder Troy Montgomery, who wasn’t ranked by Baseball America but was slotted at No. 18 by MLB Pipeline, looks to do the same after posting these numbers for the Bees last year: .261 BA, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB in 38 games.
You can see the entire Bees roster here.
You can read about the team’s coaching staff here.