Halo Hangout recently stopped by the Angels Class A Advanced affiliate, the Inland Empire 66ers, to meet with some of the top talent down in the Angels system. It’s our pleasure to introduce to you some of the finest young athletic talent within the Angels organization.
Twenty-nine strikeouts in 18.1 IP. Zero earned runs. Zero home runs allowed. Ten games played and an ERA of 0.49 out of the bullpen.
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What do those numbers tell you? Minor League All-Star? Top 100 Prospect? Future Major League talent?
How about one of the best young pitchers in the Angels organization, even going as far as to say many other organizations talent as well.
His name is Daniel Procopio, number #48 on the Inland Empire 66ers, and at just 22 years of age, Procopio is turning heads.
Especially the heads of the opposing batters he works over time and time again. Procopio has struck out at least 3 batters in 8 of his 10 appearances on the season. He’s pitched less than 2 innings out of the bullpen only twice this season, and even then he collected a 3K appearance in 1 IP against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on 4/14/18.
You wouldn’t know it, but this is his first full season as a professional ballplayer. In 2017 he pitched just 21.2 innings to a 2.91 ERA with the Orem Owlz. Daniel Procopio has not just the stuff to get himself to the big leagues, but the mental fortitude as well; and he keeps getting better.
RHP Daniel Procopio, #48
H.H: Last year  with Orem you pitched in 16 games and dominated in practically every appearance. You’re off to an even better start this year, how confident are you in your progression through the minors?
Procopio: I’m pretty confident, but I’m patient. Just taking my time, building up my strengths, working on weaknesses. I’m trying to fill out whatever role the Angels need in the farm system.
H.H: What adjustments have you made after the jump to Class A Advanced?
Procopio: The only adjustments I’ve took from last year was I moved from the first base side of the rubber to the third base side and I feel a lot more confident in my accuracy than I was last year.
H.H: Last season you saved 3 games with Orem. Is the closer role a goal for you?
Procopio: Yeah it is. In college I was a starter but they put me as a closer in Orem and I really liked it. You basically go up there for an inning or two, throw as hard as you can and that’s something I really like doing.
2018 Opposing Batters Slash Line [.115/.250/.148]
Daniel Procopio is only in his first full season with the Angels system and he’s already achieving his personal goals. His tenth appearance this season came against the Stockon Ports on May 4th, 2018, as a closer for the Inland Empire 66ers. In 2IP Procopio struck out four, walked zero, and allowed only two hits in his first save of the season.
It’s not just the talent that keeps pushing this young star further along the journey, it’s the attitude he takes with him each and every appearance. Procopio is a prime competitor, a Jered Weaver type; an athlete walking the path of a warrior. This is the kind of mindset that comes with great maturity.
At the age of 22, Procopio has already made the best moves possible to ensure the realizations of his goals. Instead of coming to the Minors out of high school Procopio decided to take the college path, one that he already feels has set his career on the best path possible.
Total HR’s allowed in 40 career IP: One
H.H: You were drafted by the Mets in 2013 before opting to attend college in New York where the Angels drafted you in 2017. How impactful was that extra experience for you?
Procopio: It actually helped me out a lot, it made me mature a lot more. I realized that if I took the draft in 2013 I probably would have found myself as a free agent by now. That extra four years helped me mature a lot and grow with my pitches.
H.H: Growing up in Canada, did you find yourself coming to the states to play ball often?
Procopio: Actually, yeah. I haven’t really lived at home since I was, I think 16? I’m 22 now, before college, for two years, I’ve been in and out of the states playing baseball, staying in hotels with my teammates. I’ve grown adjusted to that.
Total batters faced in career: 166. Total K’s: 61
It’s no surprise that someone with an advanced maturity would play the game with the fierce, but subtle disposition Procopio does. He is very much the pitchers pitcher; surgically dissecting hitters as he sends them back to the bench.
Even with such a high K rate, his SO/9 at 14.2, he doesn’t center himself around the strikeout. It’s simply a product of doing his job well.
H.H: You’ve struck out at least 3 batters in all but two appearances this season. Do you aim for the strikeout on every batter you face?
Procopio: I just look at my catchers glove, whatever pitch he calls I try to make it my best pitch every pitch. It’s bound to happen [strikeouts] if you keep throwing up the zone.
H.H: I know it’s not popular for athletes to keep track of their own stats, but with an ERA of 0.55 is that something on you mind? [ERA at 0.49 at time of writing]
Procopio: [laughs] Not really, I haven’t really looked at my stats other than my strikeouts. That’s because being a closer or reliever out of the bullpen your strikeouts are a thing people look at, but I haven’t really been keeping track of my ERA.
H.H: You’ve faced 65 batters this season and only allowed five hits. What’s in your gameplan that allows such success? [At the time of writing Procopio has faced 73 and allowed 7 hits]
Procopio: Just mixing up my pitches, throwing my breaking ball in the right counts and then just blowing my fastball by them when they’re not expecting it.
RHP Daniel Procopio, #48
Procopio is a stand-out talent wherever he plays. In sixteen games with the Orem Owlz he excelled, and in ten games with the Inland Empire 66ers he’s dominating. The one constant in Daniel Procopio’s life is challenge, and he’s proven on and off the field challenges are the only way to improve yourself.
At this rate we won’t be seeing Procopio in Class A Advanced for much longer. It’s very possible we’ll be seeing Daniel Procopio with the Double-A Mobile Baybears by seasons end, and with the Angels need for this level of talent at the Big League level we may very well be seeing him contribute at the highest level very soon.