The Angels starting rotation in 2014 is one that lacks depth and experience with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson potentially being the only starters having put together seasons with at least 150 innings pitched. Like in 2002, the bullpen will most likely be a key component if the Angels want to put together another World Series winning team and will need at least one breakout performer.
Rule 5 draft pick Brian Moran could be that guy.
The American League West added a couple potent left-handed bats during the offseason with the Seattle Mariners signing of Robinson Cano and the Texas Rangers acquisition of Prince Fielder, placing an even larger importance for the Angels to have an effective left-handed reliever in the bullpen this year.
The left-handed heavy A.L. West now features a Mariners projected starting lineup of seven left-handed hitters, the Rangers are at four plus switch-hitting Jurickson Profar and the Oakland Atheltics also have four left-handers and switch-hitting Jed Lowrie in their starting lineup. The Houston Astros will be the only right-handed dominant lineup in the division.
Sean Burnett is the only left-handed reliever that appears to be a lock for the Angels’ bullpen and his role needs to be more than just a lefty specialist. Even with that, there is still uncertainty whether Burnett will be healthy come opening day, adding even more incentive for the Angels to find a left-hander for their Opening Day roster.
Moran, 24, is a career minor leaguer with a 3.04 ERA across five seasons and held left-handed hitters to a .235/.272/.322 batting line with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers last season. Moran also posted promising rates of 2.9 BB/9 and 12.2 K/9 over 62 2/3 innings last year.
Moran was selected in the Rule 5 draft this offseason by the Toronto Blue Jays then traded to the Angels minutes later for an international bonus slot. He must make the Angels’ Opening Day roster or they will be forced to offer him back to the Mariners. Moran would be the first Rule 5 pick since Derrick Turnbow in 2000 to stay with the team.
Spring Training will be make or break for Moran and he could potentially flourish into an important role for an Angels’ bullpen that should rack up plenty of innings this season.