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Giavotella, Featherston Make Opening Day Roster

treyhannula
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Last night the Angels announced that Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, and others were optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake meaning that Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston have won the jobs at second base and utility infielder, respectively.

The decision to select the two young infielders wasn’t really a shocker as both players played well in Spring Training and visibly better than their competition in Green and Rutledge.

Giavotella, who was acquired from the Royals in the offseason, came into camp as a depth piece and was thought to have the slimmest chance to make the team. However, the Louisiana native put on a show at second base with the bat and the glove. Giavotella slugged .538 at the plate and struck out in just 12% of his plate appearances, far better than his peers. On the field, Giavotella made a collection of nifty plays and played adequate defense at the keystone. While he has never hit well at the major league level, Giavotella carries a career .816 OPS from the minors into his new starting gig with the Angels and hopefully he can replicate some of that success in 2015.

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Featherston came over from the Cubs in the aftermath of the Rule 5 Draft and had a fairly successful spring for the Halos. The Angels had a need for an infielder that could handle second, short, and third base and Featherston fit that profile perfectly as he played all three positions in Tempe. Whether it be at shortstop or the hot corner, Featherston has made difficult plays look easy and shouldn’t be a defensive liability while on the field. There is a definite uncertainty surrounding Featherston’s transition to the majors from a hitting standpoint but I’d imagine that the Angels will limit his at bats until he can get adjusted. Something interesting to note is Featherston’s success against left-handers the past few years, posting an OPS greater than .900 from 2013-14. It’s very possible that the 25-year-old could platoon at second or get pinch hit at bats late in the game against southpaws to maximize his value.

Unfortunately for Rutledge and Green, they will head back to Salt Lake to begin the year, disappointed to say the least. Rutledge was almost guaranteed a spot after being acquired from the Rockies minutes after Howie Kendrick was traded to the Dodgers but will begin the year in Triple-A and try to work on his swing mechanics after ugly results in Spring Training. Green will head back to Salt Lake for his third straight season and may not get a better chance to start for the Angels than he had this spring.

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