San Bernardino, California —— Matt Thaiss, the Los Angeles Angels‘ #2 prospect, has been promoted from High-A Inland Empire to Double-A Mobile, per reports coming out Tuesday morning. Thaiss hadn’t exactly been killing the ball—he was hitting just .265/.353/.399/.752 over 84 games with Inland Empire—but good plate discipline and an advanced approach for the level have him moving up to Double-A for the first time in his career after being drafted in the first round out of the University of Virginia last summer.
Put simply, I really like this move for the Los Angeles Angels, and for Matt Thaiss himself. A catcher in college, he’s converted successfully to first base in the pros and I like the way he looks there. He’s comfortable with good footwork and very soft hands, and he moves well around the bag. You can see the catcher in him still—he’s good staying down on short hops and tough throws—and he looks like he’s been playing the position a lot longer than parts of two pro seasons. I don’t know if he’ll end up a true plus defender there in the big leagues one day, but he’s certainly above-average and will be good enough to play it in an everyday role in The Show.
Offensively, though, is where Thaiss is going to draw a lot of attention. His power stroke has been hit or miss, and as I hypothesized earlier this summer in a scouting report, it’ll take some time for the UVA product to develop true over-the-fence pop. But he’s got a quick, short bat and a very simple, well-balanced mechanical approach at the plate. He combines it with above-average strike zone discipline and good awareness of what he can and can’t hit. He walks quite a bit (10.4% this year at Inland), and that alone is arguably a sign he’s ready to move up to better pitchers and a bigger challenge.
Of course, the Los Angeles Angels don’t exactly have a deep farm system, and so there’s maybe more attention on Thaiss than there would otherwise be in some other organizations, but he’s a solid, polished player who has taken to first base quickly and will find himself playing the position in the big leagues relatively soon. The jump to Double-A is a very big one for anybody, but I think his short swing will translate well to the upper minors, and as he grows into his approach at the plate over the next year or two, he’ll produce a bit more over-the-fence pop to go along with his strong strike zone understanding.
Long term, I’m still bullish on Matt Thaiss becoming a productive big league first baseman, and though he may be more of a doubles guy than a home run hitter in the position, he’ll hit enough to earn his keep while turning into a smooth defender in an everyday role.
Matt Thaiss, 1B, Los Angeles Angels — Scouting Video
We’ve got several long looks at Matt Thaiss from his time with the Inland Empire 66ers across the first few months of this summer:
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