Minors | General | 12/6/2021

PG Down on the Farm: AL West

David Rawnsley     
Photo: Nick Allen (Perfect Game)
It’s been especially difficult to follow the minors over the past two years, with the pandemic-canceled 2020 season and the complete restructuring of the minor leagues by Major League Baseball in 2021. So, over a two-week period, Perfect Game will be taking a look at former PG standouts who are continuing to build their baseball skills and resumes in the minor leagues in an attempt to bring things into a bit more focus.  One player from each organization will be highlighted, with the schedule as follows: 
American League East: November 29
American League Central: December 1
American League West: December 6
National League East: December 7
National League Central: December 8 
National League West: December 10

American League West

Houston Astros: INF Joseph Perez

High School: Archbishop McCarthy HS (Fla.)
Travel Team: Elite Squad
Final PG Class Ranking: No. 56 (2017)
Drafted/Signing Bonus: 53rd overall, Houston Astros (2017), $1.6M
Highest 2021 Level: AA
2022 Age: 22

Perez was a high-level two-way prospect in high school, equipped with a strong and mature 6-foot-3, 205-pound build and an easy plus power/arm combination.  He went to the 2016 PG National Showcase as a primary third baseman but worked up to 96 mph with his fastball at that event to go with a power slider and most teams thought of him as a primary pitcher going into his senior spring.  After touching 98 mph early, Perez first developed a sore shoulder, though, and eventually hurt his elbow and underwent TJ surgery late in the spring.

However, Perez was able to hit while attempting to rehab his arm and hit he did, hitting .526 with 9 home runs and 14 doubles for Archbishop McCarthy HS and convinced at least one team, the Astros, that he had a higher ceiling as a power hitting third baseman.

Due to his surgery, other injuries and the pandemic canceled 2020 minor league season, Perez was barely able to get 200 at-bats during his first four professional seasons.  Finally healthy and ready play in 2021, Perez broke out in a big way, cruising through the A and A+ levels during the first half of the season and spending the second half in AA, hitting a combined .291-18-61/.849 OPS with 35 doubles.  He played mostly third base but also started a dozen games at first base.

Because Perez was exceptionally young for his draft class, he will play almost his entire 2022 season at 22 years old, giving him plenty of time to build on his big 2021 campaign.

Los Angeles Angels: SS Jeremiah Jackson

High School: St. Lukes HS (Ala.)
Travel Team: East Coast Sox
Final PG Class Ranking: No. 16 (2018)
Drafted/Signing Bonus: 57th overall, Los Angeles Angels (2018), $1,194,000
Highest 2021 Level: A
2022 Age: 22

Jackson was a 2017 PG All-American who stood out on defense with his big arm strength and plus athleticism and balance at shortstop.  But since signing with the Angels in 2018, he’s made his mark as a prospect more with his offensive potential than his defense, although he still projects as a shortstop as he moves up the Angels system.

There were hints of his power in high school.  He consistently drove the ball hard up the right-center field gap and flashed the ability to turn on balls, including a big home run in Jupiter.  But his high school numbers put video game numbers to shame.  Jackson hit .637-15-49 in 34 games as a senior and had 32 home runs over his last three high school springs.  Looking at video of his swing approach as a teenager, there is definitely power traits obvious in his swing then.

Jackson hit 5 home runs in the Arizona Summer League in 21 games after signing in 2018, then really exploded in 2019 in the Pioneer League, blasting 23 home runs in 65 games while hitting .266-23-60/.939 OPS.  He only played 51 games in 2021, mostly at the A level, because of persistent quad muscle problems, but hit .277-10-50/.906.

It wouldn’t be a big surprise given good health and the ability to play a full season for the first time as a professional if 2022 wasn’t a big breakout year for Jackson.

Oakland A’s: SS Nick Allen

High School: Francis Parker HS (Calif.)
Travel Team: CBA Marucci
Final PG Class Ranking: No. 12 (2017)
Drafted/Signing Bonus: 3rd round, Oakland A’s (2017), $2M
Highest 2021 Level: AAA
2022 Age: 23

Nick Allen may be the best high school age defensive shortstop this scout has ever seen.  He played the position with both huge tools and outstanding imagination, making plays consistently that left one shaking one’s head.  He was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2014 PG California World Series despite getting only two hits because his defense was so spectacular.  He made multiple plays at the 2016 PG All-American Classic that were as good as any that have been made in that annual game.  Carrying it forward, he was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player at the 2021 Olympic Games after starting all six of the USA contests.  In addition to playing shortstop, Allen played 36 games at second base in 2021 and didn’t make an error in 182 chances.

The question with Allen, of course, has always been whether he would hit enough to let his defense shine on a Major League field.  If 2021 is any indication, he certainly has a strong chance of making that happen.  Allen missed a chunk of the minor league season to play in the Olympics (hitting .286 with a home run against South Korea) but still got into 89 games between AA and AAA, hitting a combined .288-6-41/.749 OPS.

Considering that the A’s are going into a rebuild mode and that their starting shortstop in 2020, Elvis Andrus, is 33 years old, coming off a season-ending broken leg and hit .243-3-37/.614, there isn’t much ahead holding him back.

Seattle Mariners: OF Zach DeLoach

High School: Hebron HS (Texas)
College: Texas A&M
Travel Team: Dallas Tigers
Final PG Class Ranking: No. 165 (2017)
Drafted/Signing Bonus: 43rd overall, Seattle Mariners (2020), $1,729,800
Highest 2021 Level: AA
2022 Age: 23

DeLoach always seemed to be a much-discussed name when the PG scouts talked prospects and rankings during his high school days.  He had a full range of tools that were solid average, including 6.7 speed, a strong arm that measured 93 mph from the outfield and 89 mph from the mound and lots of left-handed bat speed and power potential.  But there wasn’t that plus tool to put him over the top and DeLoach ended up at Texas A&M.

DeLoach started from Day 1 at College Station and was solid his first two years, if not a bit light in his power production.  After his sophomore year in 2019, he went to the Cape Cod League and had a huge summer, hitting .353-5-23/.969 OPS in 37 games and strongly drawing scout’s attention.  He continued that at the start of 2020, hitting .421-6-17/1.1336 in 18 games before the pandemic shut down the college season.  The six home runs more than doubled his combined total of five for his first two seasons.

After picking DeLoach in the second round in 2020, the Mariners were very aggressive in his assignments in 2021, starting him in A+ for the first half of the season, then promoting DeLoach to AA at mid-season.  He hit .276-14-59/.841 with 33 doubles combined while splitting time between right field and left field.  He has clearly put himself in the picture for a spot in Seattle’s future outfield alongside Jarred Kelenic and uber-prospect Julio Rodriguez.

Texas Rangers: RHP Cole Winn

High School: Orange Lutheran HS (Calif.)
Travel Team: CBA Marucci
Final PG Class Ranking: No. 12 (2018)
Drafted/Signing Bonus: 15th overall, Texas Rangers (2018), $3.15M
Highest 2021 Level: AAA
2022 Age: 22

Winn grew up in Colorado and was named the Colorado Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year as a junior at Silver Creek HS after going 9-0 with a 0.73 ERA.  He and his family decided to move to Southern California and attend Orange Lutheran HS for his senior year to access better competition and get more exposure to scouts.  Before the move, Winn was a solid top-100 prospect, with a low-90s fastball and a sharp mid-70s breaking ball along with being a plus athlete.

Once at Orange Lutheran, Winn calmed down his delivery and developed separation between a slider and a curveball, giving him four pitches and much better overall command of his arsenal.  He fastball also crept up 92-95 mph and he completely dominated the better competition, going 8-2 with a 0.20 ERA with 120 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 70 innings.

Winn entered the 2018 draft with a tag of being one of the highest floor high school right-handers in recent memory and ended up as the fourth high school pitcher taken at 15th overall.

Winn struggled somewhat during his debut season in 2019 while making delivery adjustments but played at the Rangers alternate site during the canceled 2020 minor league season and blossomed between AA and AAA in 2021.  He allowed only 43 hits in 86 total innings while striking out 107 hitters, completely dominating the older level hitters despite being only 21 years old the entire season.

The Rangers' minor league system is basically barren of prospect pitchers at present, with only Winn and 2021 first round pick Jack Leiter ranking in the top-10 in the system, so the path is clear for Winn after some more minor league seasoning.
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