Many MLB experts were confused when the LA Angels selected Matt Thaiss in the first round of the 2016 Amateur Draft. After his first Spring Training, however, Thaiss looks like he is on the way to a solid future with the Halos.
The LA Angels made Thaiss a non-roster invitee this Spring Training. Allowing prospects to be with the big league club without the pressure of fighting for a big league spot has proved valuable, and there were definitely positives and negatives to take away from Thaiss’ first trip to Tempe.
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Overall, Thaiss went 7-27 with two doubles and two big flies. In those 15 games, he did strike out ten times (a whopping 37% of the time). That mark is the biggest negative of Thaiss’ playing time, as that amount of strikeouts is the opposite of what the Halos’ philosophy has been. While Billy Eppler and Co. have put an emphasis on on-base percentage and good defense, Thaiss does not have either of those as a great trait.
Originally drafted after playing catcher in college, Thaiss was immediately moved to first base after joining the Angels. He did not possess the arm strength to play catcher for a defensive minded team, but has done well at first. He finished Spring Training with no errors in 69.1 innings in the field.
After finishing his three-year career at the University of Virginia with a .338/.427/.518 line, Thaiss has shown growth throughout his career in the minor leagues. His strikeout numbers have been worrying no matter what level he has played at though. There are signs for encouragement, however. At the highest level he has played at (AA), Thaiss played 49 games and hit .292 with 37 walks and 50 strikeouts. While that is a lot of strikeouts, he walked at a good rate as well.
Matt Thaiss is far from a finished product. As he grows more into his frame, that doubles power will turn into long ball power. If he can continue to improve upon his plate discipline and work on reducing strikeouts, he can become a potential All Star player at the highest level.
While he probably won’t debut at some point in the summer of 2019, Thaiss’ timeline lines up perfectly with Albert Pujols‘ pending retirement. When that days comes, Thaiss will be ready for Anaheim.