Who will Win the Final Spot in the Angels’ Rotation?

By Brian Helberg
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Sep 10, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Nick Tropeano (63) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Dark Horse – Nick Tropeano

This winter the Halos acquired 24-year-old Nick Tropeano and catching prospect Carlos Perez from the Houston Astros in exchange for veteran backup catcher Hank Conger. While Tropeano many not be a household name yet, the young right-hander has a strong track record of success in the minor leagues. Tropeano is currently ranked as the 6th best prospect in the Halos’ system, and should see some time in Anaheim this season.

The Astros selected Nick Tropeano in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, and he made his big league debut this past season in Houston. Trop’s best pitch may be his changeup, but his low 90’s fastball, split-finger fastball, and curveball are not far behind. He made four starts for the Astros in 2014, going 1-3, and recording an ERA of 4.57. Tropeano struck out just 5.4 hitters per 9 innings, and allowed 3.7 walks per 9 innings. His 3.32 FIP suggests he pitched much better than his 4.57 ERA implies. Tropeano did a fantastic job limiting the long ball last season, allowing 0 home runs in his 21.2 innings of work.

Prior to his September call-up, Nick Tropeano spent the entire 2014 season with the Astros triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. The 24-year-old shined in the notoriously hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, going 9-5, and posting a 3.03 ERA. He did a fabulous job limiting base runners, holding the opposition to just 0.987 walks/hits per inning. Tropeano struck out 8.7 batters per 9 innings last season with the Redhawks, and allowed just 2.4 walks per 9 innings. The imposing righty posted an impressive 3.64 strikeout to walk ratio in 2014.

The mathematicians over at FanGraphs project Nick Tropeano will appear in 32 games with the Angels in 2015, making 7 starts. Trop is expected to post a record of 4-3 and a 3.80 ERA. Dipoto did a great job dealing for the talented West Islip, NY product without having to give up much in return. Tropeano has the ability to make this competition interesting. If Garrett Richards has to start the year on the disabled list, and Trop manages to post solid numbers this spring, I could see him breaking camp in the Halos’ starting rotation.

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