Prospect Countdown Review: #31-35

Prospect Countdown Review: #31-35

We give you another look at prospects #31-35, three starters, one reliever, and an outfielder, all with future Major League talent... #31. LHP Kramer Sneed... #32. OF Matt Long... #33. RHP Mike Piazza... #34. RHP Eduard Santos... #35. RHP Matt Shoemaker

We started jumping in to the starting pitchers a bit more, and some who have seen or have gotten close to Major League action. As always we start from the top and work our way to the bottom, this time from #35-31.

# 35. Matt Shoemaker, RHP, Starter

A jersey boy on the Angels roster that isn't Mike Trout... or drafted? It's never a bad thing for an undrafted guy to make it to the Major Leagues, or any prospects list. Matt Shoemaker never had his name called after his time at Eastern Michigan University, but something special about him made the Angels like him, and so do we.


"Matt Shoemaker is a guy that isn't going to 'wow' you with his stuff, he isn't going to go out there and throw 95. But, he has a sneaky fastball with a terrific splitter and I think his whole stuff works off each other, he changes speed well, and he's going to throw strikes."

Mike Scioscia wasn't kidding when he told us that. Strikes comes in the plenties as he hardly ever walks guys (career 2.3 BB/9), and his fastball has unique break. When I say unique, I mean it breaks differently almost every time. Sometime it sinks, sometime it breaks like a two-seam, sometimes it cuts, it's a very unique fastball with the same grip each time.

"It is a thing of beauty when a pitch breaks the way you'd expect it to break when it's explained to you. That's what Matt Shoemaker has in his splitter."

A scout (quote above) and Scioscia both see Shoemaker's as something special, and so do we. After seeing it, I would put it with some of the best splitters in the game currently. He has no trouble with commanding it either, or throwing it in any count, but he prefers it as his two-strike pitch.


Sadly, Shoemaker has never had that great of statistics.

Through four seasons below Triple-A ball, Shoemaker combined to have a 3.51 earned run average and 1.214 WHIP, which is right around par for the average minor leaguer.

Shoemaker became a familiar name for Salt Lake Bees fans as he made appearances in four straight seasons in Triple-A, where he progressed each season. In the first two seasons Shoemaker appeared in Triple-A, he made six starts and one relief appearance where he had a combined for a 7.18 earned run average.

In the past two seasons though, Shoemaker developed more and more progressively, and started striking out more batters, and forcing less contact at the plate.


Shoemaker has already seen Major League time as he made one spot start when Jered Weaver had some forearm tightness. With the pickups of Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, you can't imagine that Shoemaker will be forced in to the rotation, but could be a middle reliever in the bullpen. We expect Shoemaker to start near the front of the rotation in Triple-A next season, possibly coming up to start Major League games in injury spot starts, and possibly find himself a full time role in the Angels bullpen.

#34. Eduard Santos, RHP, Reliever

He's on the fast track to the bigs, and he's very well liked by many in the organization. Eduard Santos was signed in his late teens by the Angels in 2008, and since coming to America in 2012, has taken the quick route through the minor league system as a closer. His body and pitching mechanics have developed, which have made Santos adjust, which he's done well.


"Santos is deceptive, and that's where he's most effective. Same arm slot for fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider, which is something not a lot of guys have."

Deception is one of the many keys to good pitching, and as you saw what the an Angels scout told us above, Santos is good at being deceptive. His fastball sits anywhere from 92-95 depending on the grip of the ball, as he's shown good cutting movement in his slower fastballs. His changeup is above average, as well as his off-speed pitches, and with the deception, they become very effective.

As Santos grew in to his body and developed, he picked up velocity, but lost some command. It showed quite a bit as he kept the ball up a bit too much, and lost quite a bit control, almost doubling his walks per nine from previous seasons. This is something he'll learn to control though, as he showed late in the 2013 season.


At the beginning of his Dominican League career, he was very hot and cold. His first two seasons combined for a 4.60 earned run average, a 1.604 WHIP, and 5.86 strikeouts per nine. As he developed though, his next two seasons were the exact opposite of the first two. In his next two seasons in the DSL, he had a combined for a 1.44 earned run average and 1.259 WHIP.

Once in America, Santos continued his late success with a 2.64 earned run average, fooling batters left and right as a closer, getting six saves, striking out 9.7 per nine.

Over this past season, Santos excelled at two different Single-A levels. First with Low-A Burlington Bees, his pickup in velocity worked well to his advantage as he used the fastball as a two-strike pitch, which caused a lot of swing and misses, and an 11.5 strikeouts per nine, earning him a callup to the High-A Inland Empire 66ers. While with the Sixers, Santos learned to keep the ball low but had trouble hitting the strike zone. His 2.87 earned run average over 31 games put him at the top of the California League leader boards for relievers. His 4.8 walks per nine was almost double previous seasons though, which will be something he needs to fix with time.


At the rate he's at now, you could expect Santos to pitch for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in 2014. He should stay there for the whole season, but could possibly get a callup to Triple-A Salt Lake depending on how he develops to Double-A hitters, a level he has yet to see.

When it comes to Santos' Major League future, we see him pitching in the Angels bullpen sometime in late 2015, or out of Spring Training in 2016. His pitch velocity won't allow him to be a closer for the Angels, but he will pitch somewhere in the latter innings when he makes the show.

#33. Mike Piazza, RHP, Reliever/Starter

Okay, no jokes on this one. Yes, his name is Mike Piazza, the same as former All-Star catcher, but it's not him. Mike Piazza is actually one heck of a pitcher coming through the Angels farm system. The tall pitcher has become a clubhouse favorite, as well as a fan favorite, not just for his name, but his outstanding pitching. Piazza has split time being a reliever and starter over the past few seasons, but in 2013, really shined starting games from the first pitch, deep into the late innings.


He has the same body frame as the "original" Mike Piazza, which for a pitcher... is a great thing. He throws from a high slot, which is already high at his 6'4 stature, giving hitters a hard time reading what looks like a sinking fastball but is actually a standard four-seam. His off-speed stuff breaks well with his size too, giving batters a hard time at the plate. His mechanics are fine, and he is growing in to a steady, Major League style player, with very small kinks to adjust. He is old for a guy just going in to Triple-A at 27, but his pitching knowledge could excel him to the next level very early in the coming year. Stamina is no problem, as he's been pushed in to a starter role the past few seasons, particularly this last one. He has slight struggles keeping the ball away from left-handed batters.


Piazza's been getting steadily better each season. His earned run average sits right at his career 3.17, and doesn't move much higher or lower. He had just 24 appearances in Rookie ball in 2009 and 2010, before getting a call up to High-A Inland Empire 66ers.

While in High-A, Piazza dominated the hitter friendly California League with a 2.57 earned run average with a 1.079 WHIP, striking out 10.6 per nine, becoming a prominent relief pitching name in the Angels system.

Piazza took a quick jump to Double-A where's been with the Arkansas Travelers the past three seasons. In 2012, he was turned into a spot starting pitcher, and this past season in late May was put in the full time rotation where he excelled.

In 2013, Piazza kept right-handed batters to a .218 batting average. He also had a season 3.15 earned run average, that were not exactly helped by a pair of poor starts at the beginning of the season. Piazza's best performance of 2013 came on June 15th where he allowed just two hits in six innings, striking out six in a no decision against Tulsa.


Piazza has showed that he can pitch in Double-A, so we'd expect him to pitch for Triple-A Salt Lake coming out of Spring Training. At 27-years-old, his knowledge of pitching is unlike most of the prospects that will be in the 2013 Salt Lake rotation. This could help him with a late season callup to the Big League Club, where we would imagine he would be used as a middle reliever or spot starter.

#32. Matt Long, OF

Every teams wants a guy like Matt Long on their roster. Long is pretty darn close to being a Major Leaguer, and if he were to be on any other team, possibly a starter. Long is a guy who could easily win a heart and hustle award, because he plays at 100% every game, which is very easy to like. Truly, when we talked about Long as a group, we all had stories about how much we all liked this guy.

SCOUTING REPORT: "Matt Long is what every Major League team wants, a good baserunner with speed who can really mash. For a guy his size, he hits the ball hard and consistently, and will battle well with a two-strike count. I really like him."

He isn't big by stature or overall size in any way at five-foot, 11 inches, and 175 pounds, but what he lacks in size, he has in hustle. Long has a combination of hitting the ball hard, good running on the base paths and outstanding speed, which will and has lead to some big extra base hits. When it comes to his swing, along with hitting the ball hard, he has above average contact, but there is something very small that is keeping him from the Majors.

The scout that was quoted in the beginning of this report also stated, "He pulls the ball just a little too much. I won't say he has struggles placing the ball, but he could have a little bit more control at the plate."

When it comes to Long's fielding, the Angels gave him an interesting challenge in 2012. He was moved to the infield to play second base. While in his new role, he had very slight problems adjusting, and was able to split time from the infield and outfield. Long has a strong arm for a smaller guy, and the mixture of reading the ball well off the bat with his raw speed have put him as a great presence in the outfield.


From the start of his minor league career to the end, Long's extra base hits and stolen base numbers have always been with each league's leaders. Long has yet to have a season where he has had less than either 25 doubles or 20 stolen bases, the career best being in 2011, where he had 34 doubles and 34 stolen bases.

Long has never really had a poor season at the plate either, as his career worst batting average came in 2012, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, batting .282. It really shows with his minor league career split of .293/.370/.469, and his strikeout percentage of 15.6% (1 strikeout per 6.3 plate appearances).

His power numbers aren't high, which comes with not being a power hitter. He has the same amount of career home runs as triples actually at 50 (an average of 10 each season). With those extra bases though, he's managed to keep a steady diet of RBIs at 64.8 per season.


Oh boy, would we all like to see Matt Long on the Angels bench. Problem is, there are so many outfielders already on the Angels 40-man roster, as well as the 25-man roster of the Major League club. Long could easily be a fifth outfielder for the Angels, possibly where Collin Cowgill is currently. We never want to deem a guy as "trade bait" but Long could possibly be that.

Long will most likely start in Triple-A Salt Lake out of Spring Training, but we expect him to see at least a few Major League appearances over the 2014 season. Possibly even gain a full time spot on the 25-man roster depending on how well he excels at the Major League level.

#31. Kramer Sneed, LHP, Starter

One of the answers to the Vernon Wells trade with the New York Yankees, Kramer Sneed became a favorite of Publisher, Taylor Ward, following a California League playoff performance.

"Sneed put together a playoff performance in High-A that I've only seen from Major Leaguers. It was one of the best games I've been to, but Kramer Sneed will forever be etched in my mind as one of the studs from that night."

It's only fitting that with a name like Kramer Sneed, you would be self described as a "corky left hander." Sneed has always been a good athlete however. From his early high school years, Sneed was a talented basketball player and also a good pitcher. After some decisions, pitching became a priority in his life, and right now, is looking like a pretty good life choice.


Sneed has an oddly gripped changeup that is his go to pitch. He grips the ball similar to a circle change but open up just a little a little at the thumb and puts all his pressure on the middle finger to help make it break. The break is at a plus as is his command of the pitch making it possibly the best in his arsenal.

Sneed has a four-seam fastball that has picked up velocity by a mile per hour or two of recent and now sits at 92-94. This is also an effective pitch for him as he throws from a high angle, which is already high at his six-foot-three stature. Sneed also has an 85 mile per hour slider that has average break and can be considered an average pitch.

Something that was noticeably a problem for Sneed when he came to the Angels organization was control which was fixed immediately. Whether it was development due to age or better coaching, Sneed's control became near flawless this past season in a league that usually brings your walk count up from it's original placement.


Sneed began the first three years of his career with the Yankees as a reliever who would make spot starts. Over his time wearing pinstripes, Sneed combined to have a 4.39 earned run average and 1.367 WHIP, while striking out 9.13 per nine, and walking 3.39 per nine. Not exactly stats you'd expect to match each other.

In 2013, Sneed's statistics took no hit once in the hitter friendly California League, where his struggles came at the high elevation and heavy winded stadiums in the league such as Lancaster, High Desert, and Rancho Cucamonga.

Sneed finished the 2013 season with a 4.09 earned run average with a 1.28 WHIP. However, there is one GIANT note worth mentioning. Late in the season, Sneed had an 8 earned run performance with 10 hits and a walk. If you take that one poor start away, Sneed would have finished the season with a 3.41 earned run average. If that start were to never have occurred, Sneed would have had the fourth best ERA in the Cal League, and would have been just four points behind fellow Angels prospect, Mark Sappington.

When it comes to the clutch playoff performance mentioned earlier in this article, Sneed pitched 5.2 innings, while striking out six, and allowing three hits in an elimination game against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, ending in a walkoff single from Alex Yarbrough.


Sneed will enter and end this season being 25-years-old, something you wouldn't like to see in High-A. We expect Sneed to start in the Double-A rotation out of Spring Training and possibly work his way towards Triple-A late in the 2014 season. With what we've seen, we expect a Major League future out of Kramer Sneed, possibly as early as mid 2015 or early 2016.

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