An ongoing issue with the Los Angeles Angels has been their inability to build a top-end farm system behind their Major League roster, but after a mid-season trade in 2022 and a solid draft class, general manager Perry Minasian has positioned his club with a pulse at the prospect level.
Logan O’Hoppe and shortstop Zach Neto were both named on MLB Pipeline’s annual top-100 prospects rankings prior to the 2023 regular season. O’Hoppe, the Angels’ top farmhand, came in at No. 53, with Neto slotting at No. 89.
The Angels acquired O’Hoppe from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Brandon Marsh, providing solid value for both franchises, a rare plus-plus trade. The young catcher joins a room with Max Stassi, who figures to receive a decent share of the starts based on his veteran status.
O’Hoppe posted terrific numbers following the deal including a .306/.473/.673 slash in 29 games with the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas. The Angels found themselves in an odd spot, considering the difficulties with Stassi replicating the same offensive success that earned him a contract after the 2020 season.
Minasian looked at Stassi’s long-term status and presumably found a solution with O’Hoppe who was blocked by J.T. Realmuto with the Phillies.
Neto, drafted with the 13th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft out of Campbell University, required just seven games in High-A before joining O’Hoppe with the Trash Pandas in Double-A.
The shortstop excelled, posting a .874 OPS including four homers, nine doubles, and 23 RBI in 30 games. The 22-year-old doesn’t project to reach MLB for at least another year and should continue to progress in the Minor Leagues.
Without a clear-cut long-term solution at shortstop, once he reaches the big league level, Neto would fill a huge vacancy at a premium position.
Angels Minor Leaguer Ben Joyce making huge impression in Spring Training
Joyce made a name for himself at the University of Tennessee, featuring an 80-grade fastball with a powerful 6-foot-5 body. The 22-year-old then made his Minor League debut with the Trash Pandas, posting a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings pitched.
His top-end fastball carried him most of the way, and with a little help from an average secondary changeup, he notched 20 strikeouts in his short time in the minors last season. Early in spring camp, Joyce faced big league hitters, including Andrew Velazquez, who had some glowing words for the young righty.
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