LA Angels Weekly Spring Training Roundup (3/12/18)

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 06: Shohei Ohtani
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 06: Shohei Ohtani /

The first week of Angels Spring Training gave us Angel fans a lot to look forward too. As it so happens to be, this second week is pushing players to perform at a more advanced standard than what the middling initial days of Spring Training allows. Now that the Spring microscope is fully on the LA Angels what do we have to maintain confidence in, and vice versa?

This last week in LA Angels Spring Training has offered just as much good as it has bad. Of course “bad” is a relative term, given that many players accelerate towards the regular season at differing rates. While some leeway can be offered to the younger players there is still a lot worth keeping an eye on, even if it isn’t pretty.

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Like Shohei Ohtani, for example. A lot can be said regarding his natural talent and affinity for the game, but at the same time a lot needs to be said regarding his struggles within Spring Training. This past Friday was incredibly rocky for Ohtani during his appearance against the Tijuana Toros of the Mexican League.

This ‘B’ Squad start turned into a D-minus performance from Ohtani, as the young pitcher giving up six runs on six hits alongside two hit batters and two wild pitches. Meanwhile, he did strike out six hitters on 64 pitches, so there’s clearly a lot to work through. This development track is strangely comparable to ‘Wild Thing’ Ricky Vaughn of the classic baseball film “Major League” or even Nuke LaLoosh from ‘Bull Durham‘.

Don’t let the wistful performance of Ohtani get your anxiety working though, because the Angels have been showcasing some high-class pitching efforts this Spring. Most notably by Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards, both young(ish) pitchers looking to cast away the troubles of their Major League past and create a new present for their careers.

We haven’t gotten too much Garrett Richards action this week, but on the other hand Andrew Heaney brought a lot to the table. We were treated to two Heaney shows this week, Monday against the Reds and Saturday against the Giants. In those two games we saw supremacy before unseen with Heaney; against the Reds giving up no runs and two hits across 3 innings of 5 strikeout baseball. Then, against the Giants, Heaney allowed only one earned run across 3.1 IP while striking out 6 and walking only one.

Those are top of the rotation numbers right there, despite most people expecting Heaney to slot into the middle of the rotation it’s clear he has top-line stuff. Next to Garrett Richards, he’s been one of the most impressive Angels in Spring Training.

Speaking of impressive, how about that Matt Shoemaker start this week?

Against the Cubs this past Friday, Shoemaker put up one of the worst starts of his career, Spring Training or not. Across 3.2 IP, Shoemaker allowed  a deflating stat line of 8 hits and 6 ER on 4 strikeouts. There was a lot which keyed into this terrible start, most of which was Shoemaker’s actual pitches, which according to him are still in the process of “coming along”. It’s a very vague notion that offers more negative musings than positive, but all we can do is wait to see how he performs in his next outing.

Offensively, we’re starting to see guys beginning the full turn around towards Major League ready performance. Zack Cozart had a solid week, recording a hit in all but one appearance. Mike Trout and Justin Upton both clocked in homers this week. Matt Thaiss is still trending positively with a multi-hit week alongside a .577 SLG%, while Rymer Liriano continues to rack up opportunities with five games played this past week.

Next: A Look at Ohtani's Third Start

With the regular season slowly rearing its head around the corner we should be seeing “fuller” stat lines from our regulars. Look to see Mike Trout have a strong week while Garrett Richards and Heaney continue to trend towards top of the rotation starters.

As for the kids competing for Major League work? That’s always one of the factors that makes Spring Training worth watching.