Los Angeles Angels News & Notes: 2016 #1pick signs

May 7, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) steals second against Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2) during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
May 7, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) steals second against Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2) during the fifth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Angels got some good news Wednesday as their 2016 first round draft pick catcher Matt Thaiss who was the sixteenth pick overall has signed a contract for 2.15 million dollars.

Even though the Los Angeles Angels have a catcher in training in Taylor Ward down in Single-A, they decided to spend their first-round draft pick this year on another catcher.  There has been talk that Thaiss could switch positions coming up in the Angels system.

Thaiss was a junior at the University of Virginia and led the Cavaliers in multiple offensive categories including batting average (.375) and home runs (10).  he also had 59 RBI’s and 134 total bases with an OBP of .473 and a slugging percentage of .578.

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Besides Thaiss the Angels also signed third round pick shortstop Nolan Williams, fifth round pick shortstop Connor Justis, 7th round second baseman Jordan Zimmerman, 8th round pick center fielder Troy Montgomery, 9th round pick catcher Michael Baresh, and 10th round pick pitcher Andrew Vinson.  Also signing is 11th round pick Brennon Lund, 12th round pick, Bo Tucker, 14th round pick Francisco Del Valle, as well as 24th round pick Brennan Morgan, 29th pick Blake Smith, and 36th pick Jose Rojas.

Other News and Notes:

Andrelton Simmons will be in the starting line-up today when the Angels take the field against the Minnesota Twins for the series finale.  Simmons has been out for just over five weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb.  Simmons has played 7 games for Inland Empire 66’ers and the Salt Lake City Bees batting .333 with 0 home runs and 6 RBI’s with two runs scored.

Simmons will be added back to the roster before today’s  game and he will start at shortstop.  Journeyman Gregorio Petit has more than held down the spot while Simmons has been on the mend.  Petit has hit .289 with one home run and ten RBI’s in 31 games.  Petit has 10 doubles and has also scored 13 runs.  His fielding percentage has been a sparkling .983 with two errors in 115 chances.  Petit’s only two errors occurred on Monday night in a 9-4 loss to the Twins.

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Tim Lincecum is gearing up for his return to the majors on Saturday for the Angels against the Oakland Athletics.  Lincecum has not pitched in a game since last July and underwent hip surgery. He has thrown the ball well in his three rehab starts for Triple-A Salt Lake City.  Lincecum has an 0-2 record with a 2.65 ERA throwing 17 innings giving up seven hits and five earned runs while walking six and striking out 19 batters.

With Lincecum gearing up for his return and Nick Tropeano who has been stellar so far this season, someone in the Angels current rotation will be pushed to the bullpen.  Matt Shoemaker has been stellar in the last month and Jhoulys Chacin has done an adequate job since being acquired in a trade in the middle of May.

So this leaves veterans Jered Weaver and Hector Santiago on the rotation chopping block.  Both have struggled in the last month.  Weaver is 5-6 with a 5.71 ERA this season, but recently he has been even worse as he is 2-5 with a 6.53 ERA in his last seven starts giving up 30 earned runs in 41.1 innings giving up 13 home runs in that span.  In five of his first six starts Weaver had an 3.42 ERA with four of those being quality starts going 3-1 in that span.  His only bad start in those first six games was a five inning 11 hit seven run outing Weaver had against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 2nd.

Los Angeles Angels
Jun 13, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver (36) reacts after surrendering a three-run home run in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins during a MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Weaver has thrown out of the bullpen only once in his career in the 2008 playoffs against the Boston Red Sox where Weaver threw two scoreless innings striking out three and getting the win in relief in game three of the ALDS. What his role would be if he was demoted to the bullpen is not known.

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The other candidate to be devoted to the bullpen is Hector Santiago.  Santiago was the ace of the staff through the first five weeks of the season as he was 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA.  In Santiago’s last seven starts he has sported a 8.28 ERA giving up 27 earned runs in 29.1 innings pitched with a 1-3 record.

In four of Santiago’s last five starts he has failed to last more than four innings giving up 25 runs in in 17 innings which is good for a 13.23 ERA.  So who will be the odd man out in the Angels rotation is anyone’s guess.  Santiago’s start today and then again next Tuesday as well as Weaver’s start next Sunday could be the determining factor in who gets bumped.

However, one other factor in the decision is the fact that the Angels left-handed relievers in the bullpen have been very ineffective in the last six weeks as both Jose Alvarez and Greg Mahle (who was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake last week) have struggled since starting the season strong.

Los Angeles Angels
Jun 10, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia (14) relieves starting pitcher Hector Santiago (53) during the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

With this being said Santiago moving to the bullpen while it could be seen as a demotion, could also be beneficial to the Angels.  Couple this with the fact that Santiago has a plethora of experience out of the bullpen as he was a reliever for almost all of his rookie year in Chicago White Sox and the first part of his second season.

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However, until the situation actually occurs and if everyone currently in the rotation remains healthy, there is no sense in worrying about this scenario.  You can bet Mike Scioscia and his coaching staff along with GM Billy Eppler are two or three steps ahead of us sportswriters on this one.  To be continued … Maybe.