Angels Coaches & Players Question Subpar Player Development System
Syndication: Arizona Republic
Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

The MLB standard is often compared to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who by many accounts, are widely regarded as the class of baseball in their player development system. Down the 5-freeway, the Los Angeles Angels are unfortunately on the flip side regarding the ‘gold standard’ of building a farm system.

General manager Perry Minasian inherited a poor prospect pool that was at the bottom of MLB from 2013 to 2017. The talent they’ve sent to the big league level that has stuck around has been far and few.

Former players and coaching staff members, including Shawn Wooten, detailed the ways the Angels have fallen behind the rest of the league, via Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

Wooten, an Angels player on their World Series team in 2002, was a hitting coach for four years in the Dodgers organization before he came to the Angels in 2017.

“The environment was really different,” Wooten recalled, saying everything from the food to the equipment to the collaboration of the coaches was better with the Dodgers. “They went over and beyond what they had to do.”

The Dodgers have churned out Rookie of the Year candidates for quite some time, but what separates them from the rest of MLB is their continued funnel of resources to their Minor League system. That focus continues to the Major League level and has certainly cemented them as the model for how to scout, teach, and run a successful franchise.

Cole Duensing was a sixth-round pick of the Angels in 2016, and after five unsuccessful seasons he was released and picked up by the Dodgers prior to the 2022 season. He posted a 3.68 ERA in 44 innings at High-A, a sharp difference from his past years, and he detailed the difference in organizations:

“The way the Dodgers phrase it is they say everybody’s a big leaguer until you prove to us that you’re not,” Duensing said. “I thought that the Angels were really the opposite of that. The Angels were saying you’re not a big leaguer until you prove to us that you are.”

This mindset has caught on throughout the Angels farm system, leaving players to wonder why the organization is so far behind their crosstown rivals:

Interviews with dozens of current and former Angels minor league players and coaches and officials painted a picture of why the system has been unproductive, usually with a reference to the Dodgers.

“You see things that other organizations were doing and it was like, ‘Why can’t we do this? or ‘Why are we so far behind?” one former Angels minor leaguer said. “It was always compared with the Dodgers.”

A few midseason deals have seen a slight shift in the Angels’ farm system as they acquired a few new prospects in their top rankings, but they’re still behind the curve. However, Minasian understands he needed to take a step in the right direction.

Angels farm system hindered by focus on big-name free agents

When Arte Moreno took over the team in 2003 following the Angels’ last World Series title, hopes for a stable run have been anything but a sure thing. The team has signed numerous highly sought-after players in the offseason and via trades, depleting an already thin farm system.

The Angels and their fans have witnessed Josh Hamilton, Gary Matthews Jr., Vernon Wells, Zack Cozart, Justin Upton, C.J. Wilson, Albert Pujols and Anthony Rendon sign with the team before regressing.

The countless trades and focus put into the wrong part of roster construction has been the hindrance of the club.

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