Geovany Soto displaying value both at plate and behind it
So here’s the thing.
Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron are not meeting expectations.
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The nucleus of the Angels offense has been off the tracks since the season started, although (mercifully) it seems as though at least the first two are starting to find themselves. Trout has raised his average to .300 and Pujols has hit three home runs in his last two games.
But the players who have really helped the Angels keep their heads above water during a rough 9-11 start to the season, are those who were quietly signed during the club’s mostly silent offseason.
Yunel Escobar and Daniel Nava come to mind but another should as well.
His name is Geovany Soto.
The Halos signed the 12-year veteran to a 1-year, $2.8 million contract for this season in the hopes that he would share time with Carlos Perez behind the plate and teach him about the daily grind of playing quarterback for a ball club.
Soto has done that and more.
He currently leads the team with a .304 batting average and has recorded a hit in five of the eight games he has played in. His .360 OBP is third-best on the club and his .478 slugging percentage is second only to Trout.
Those aren’t bad numbers for a career .246 hitter and a guy who hit .219 in 78 games last season.
But where Soto is really showing his value is helping young pitchers like Hector Santiago feel more comfortable on the mound.
Santiago and Soto have made for formidable battery mates as they’ve worked together in three of Santiago’s four starts this season.
In those starts, Santiago gave up an average of two earned runs and four hits in about 6 2/3 innings pitched. He also averaged almost seven strikeouts per outing and the Angels won each of those games.
Santiago is certainly an All-Star caliber pitcher as we saw last season, but it’s comforting to know that he works so well with Soto, who frequently talks to him on the mound and calms his nerves if things go array.
Soto also serves as a veteran mentor to the Angels preferred catcher, Perez.
Back in March, Perez said he was excited to work with Soto.
“He’s a really good catcher,” Perez told the OC Register. “He’s been in the big leagues for nine years. He’s going to help me a lot.”
In the same article, Soto said he was ready for the challenge of being that mentor.
“I think I’ve got a lot to offer,” Soto said. “How to call a game, how to carry yourself as a veteran guy. I think I’ve got that. As you get older, you see stuff. You can help guys with your information and input.”
Perez has struggled at the plate so far this season — hitting only .159 — but the 25-year-old has been impressive defensively and has shown promise as a leader behind the plate.
Soto can be thanked for that, in part.
The value he has provided goes beyond the stat sheet and his consistency in teaching will serve the Angels well as the team works to get out of a tough start to the season once again.