The LA Angels have needed to have a lot of people sub-in this season due to injuries. That is especially true for the bullpen and starting rotation. These injuries forced the Halos to call up top prospect Keynan Middleton. Doing so has shown the Angels they have a true stud in their bullpen.
The LA Angels drafted Middleton in the third round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft. Originally drafted as a starting pitcher, he was moved to a relief role after not performing well as a starter. Middleton has high heat, topping at at 100 MPH with his fastball. He also has exceptional control of it. He has good breaking stuff as well, but his fastball is his claim to fame.
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The best part about Middleton’s game is the emotion he plays with. When he’s on the mound he believes he is the best in the game. He does not shy away or pitch around any batters. When he faced AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, he froze Judge with a fastball that hit triple digits on the speedometer.
Earlier this week against the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, Middleton struck him out to end the eighth inning. After the strikeout, he celebrated on the mound and yelled, which resulted in a stare down from Bellinger. While too much emotion can be a negative for a pitcher, Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes the young hurler will control his.
“Every young pitcher needs to temper it and harness it, and Keynan will,” Scioscia said. “He’s a great kid and he wants to do well.” The LA Angels have one of the best bullpens in the league, and Middleton has gone from an arm used in non-impactful innings, the the team’s premier setup man. He has 25 strikeouts in 24 innings, with control of his secondary pitches being the only thing holding him back from greatness.
With names likes Troy Percival, Francisco Rodriguez, and Scot Shields having been some of the great Angels’ relievers, Middleton has a chance to join that elite club. At 23 years old, he could be the staple of the Angels’ bullpen for years to come.