Los Angeles Angels roster starting to take shape.

Apr 5, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar (6) scores a run in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar (6) scores a run in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Los Angeles Angels head into their final week of Spring Training they must pare down their roster to 25 before opening day.  As of today they are at 34 players which means 9 more players have to be cut from their roster in a week.

So let’s look at how the roster is shaping up for the Los Angeles Angels and who will and will not make the team for Opening Day. Let’s look at the locks, question marks, and the wait til’ next year group on the Angels roster at the moment.

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Locks to make the Opening Day Rosters.

DH-1B – Albert Pujols It looks like the ‘Machine’ is already in maximum overdrive as he has been driving the ball and has also looked good running the bases. Although Pujols may not play the field any time soon, he is a good bet to be on the Opening Day roster. So far Pujols has hit .321 with two homers and seven RBI’s in 28 at-bats with an OPS of .959 this Spring so he looks to be dialed in.

1B-DH C.J. Cron Cron was looking at possibly being either relegated to a platoon role with Luis Valbuena or even being sent to Triple-A which would have been a tragedy as he has proved to be an every day player over the past two seasons. So far this Spring Cron is hitting .328 with three homers and seven RBI’s and a .961 OPS and looks ready for a breakout season if given the chance.

With Luis Valbuena injuring his hamstring and scheduled to be out four to six weeks, Cron will get a chance to prove himself the first month of the season.  Hopefully he will take advantage of the opportunity in Valbuena’s absence.

2B – Danny Espinosa Espinosa despite having a less than stellar Spring which saw the SOCAL native hit .216 with no homers and nine RNI’s and a paltry OPS of .553 will be the Angels Opening Day second baseman.  Espinosa is a big upgrade defensively to Johnny Giavotella and he also has shown some pop hitting 37 homers over the last two seasons.  Hopefully he will improve on his .209 batting average and lower his 174 strikeout total from 2016 this season for the Angels.  We will see.

3B – Yunel Escobar Escobar has had a roller coaster Spring tice having to leave the team to travel to Miami to finish off the process for the Cuban-born Escobar to become a U.S. Citizen.  Escobar has struggled at the plate this Spring, but still has a firm hold on third base starting this season at the Hot Corner. Escobar is hitting .162 with no homers and two RBI’s this Spring going six-for-37.  If he should continue to falter when the season starts Jefry Marte could see more time and Valbuena when he is healthy.

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SS – Andrelton Simmons  Simmons is as much of a lock as anyone on the roster at shortstop. Although his Spring numbers are less than stellar .188 average with 0 homers and two RBI’s, Simmons saw limited Cactus League action due to playing for three weeks with the Netherlands national team in the World Baseball Classic.  He should have another good year for the Angels.

C – Martin Maldonado Maldonado who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for catcher Jett Bandy is a defensive wizard and has been no different this Spring throwing out would-be-base stealers right around his career numbers of 57% and he also calls a good game behind the plate. The only issue with Maldonado is his lack of production at the plate.  This Spring he is batting .103 with one RBI going four for 39 at the plate.

However, despite his problems at the plate Maldonado seems to have won the starting catching job although no official announcement has been made yet.

C- Carlos Perez –  Perez has been the starting catcher for parts of the last two seasons, but his lack of hitting has kept him from keeping his spot.  This Spring Perez is hitting .189 with three homers and eight RBI’s.  Defensively Perez has been solid, but it seems he is losing the e for the primary catcher role to Maldonado.  However, this could change quickly if the Angels offense sputters and Maldonado doesn’t hit early in the season.

LF – Cameron Maybin – Maybin seems to have the left field spot for now and to start the season.  Maybin started off 0 for 20 this Spring but has righted his ship somewhat in recent weeks going four for 13,  Maybin is still batting .121 with no homers and two RBI’s with four stolen bases.  The Angels like his defense and power potential in left so he will most likely be the starter on opening day.

LF – Ben Revere Revere was brought in to be the fourth outfielder and a late-inning pinch runner but is making a case to be the starter in left. All Revere has done this Spring is bat .407 with one homer driving in seven runs and steal four bases.  He also has an OPS of 1.048 and could make a case to bump Maybin from his starting spot if Maybin continues to slump.

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CF – Mike Trout  – I don’t think Trout ever had anything to worry about despite a slow start this Spring as he would have been in the Angels starting line-up even if he batted .100. Trout has been hot over the last two weeks and raised his batting average almost a 100 points to its current .302 average.  He has hit one homer and drove in five runs also stealing three bases with a .969 OPS.  This is a no-brainer.

RF – Kole CalhounCalhoun has been solid this Spring hitting .250 with one homer and driving in eight runs.  His .630 OPS leaves some to be desired, but he shouldn’t have any problems picking that up once the season starts.  Calhoun is almost as much of a lock as Trout and will definitely be in the Opening Day Line-up in 2017.

2B-SS – Cliff Pennington Pennington is in the second year of a two-year contract and is about the only man left on the roster who can play both shortstop and second base. This makes Pennington a virtual lock to start the season on the Opening Day roster.  It doesn’t hurt that Pennington has had an outstanding Spring that has seen him hit ..406 with no homers and six RBI’s.  He also has a .910 OPS.  Hopefully this will continue into the season.

1B, 3B, LF, DH – Jefry Marte – Marte burst on the scene in 2016 smacking 15 homers and driving in 44 runs with a .252 batting average. However, Marte had to be a little nervous considering the Angels had three other first baseman still on the roster and two third basemen. Marte has only hit .300 with three homers and 13 RBI’s too.  Marte was in danger of being sent to Triple-A with Luis Valbuena looking like he may not make the roster.  However, when Valbuena pulled a hamstring and will be out four to six weeks that changed everything.

There are no hitters still on active roster that are questionable to make the squad.

On the pitching side there are a few question marks that remain, but most of what you see now is what you will see when the season starts

P- Garrett Richards  –    Richards is trying to comeback again from another serious injury as the former staff ace tore his UCL last May and used stem cell therapy to heal the tear.  Richards last full season in 2015 he went 15-12 with a 3.65 ERA. This Spring has not been a great time for Richards as he has gone 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts. He has a 1.44 WHIP as well.  The good news is that Richards has been pain free. Hopefully he will get it together by the start of the season.

P- Matt Shoemaker Shoemaker had a good season in 2016 after a rough start in the first month.  The veteran righty finished with a 9-13 Record and a 3.88 ERA. They may not seem very impressive, but after a 1-4 start with a 9.12 ERA through the first five weeks, the comeback was remarkable. Unfortunately Shoemaker had his season cut short as he was struck by a line drive off the bat of the Seattle Mariners’ Kyle Seager in late August and was lost for the season with a small skull fracture and bleeding on the brain.

Shoemaker is back this Spring and has looked decent going 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA striking out 18 batters in 13 innings.  He is slated to be the Opening Day starter but so far has not been named the official starter for the season opener next Monday in Seattle.

P – Tyler SkaggsSkaggs is another Angels hurler who is trying to comeback from an injury as he was out for nearly two seasons due to Tommy John surgery.  Skaggs was 3-4 last season in 10 starts with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP.  At times he looked outstanding and at other times he looked lost.  This Spring Skaggs has looked pretty good posting a 1-1 record and a 1.35 ERA in three starts.  Hopefully he will get stronger as the season moves on.

 P- Ricky Nolasco Nolasco has looked the best of all the starters posting a 1-1 record with a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings of work.  He has 10 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP in 15.1 innings. Last year Nolasco went 8-14 with a 4.42 ERA and a WHIP of 1.24.  However he was much better after being traded to the Angels in late July going 4-6 with a 3.21 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP.

These four are locks to make the starting rotation in 2017.

P – Jesse Chavez  Although it is not official Jesse Chavez is most likely going to be named the 5th starter to start the season.  He solidified the spot today going six innings allowing no runs three hits to improve to 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA this Spring and he has a 1.05 WHIP.

In the bullpen it looks like Cam Bedrosian the closer and Andrew Bailey has locked down the set-up role. Jose Alvarez will be the lefty specialist. The other lock to make the team is J.C. Ramirez, who the Angels had thought about making a starter but will likely be used bullpen for now.

The question marks for the Opening Day Roster.

Relievers Austin Adams, Vicente Campos, Mike Morin have all had their moments of effectiveness this Spring, but overall have not fared very well putting them is grave danger of being sent down to the minors.

On the other hand veterans Bud Norris and Yusmeiro Petit have been outstanding Spring and still have an outside shot at the 5th starter role, but at the very least they are both likely to make the Opening Day roster in the bullpen as both have been stellar this Spring.

Next: Angels throw Spring No-No

The final bullpen spot will most likely go to one of two non-roster invitees, either Kirby Yates or Blake Parker who have both been outstanding this Spring.  We will soon find out the whole roster for sure as Opening Day is almost upon us.