When the LA Angels drafted David Fletcher in the 6th round in 2015, the Loyola Marymount star was considered to be a fringe prospect. However since then Fletcher has shown that he can be so much more.
Just two short years ago LA Angels middle infielder David Fletcher was playing Single-A ball for the Inland Empire 66’ers dreaming of being one hour down the road in Anaheim playing for the Angels. At that time that dream seemed years away for Fletcher, but his play over these past two seasons has made Fletcher’s dream a reality.
When Jefry Marte and Kaleb Cowart went on the disabled list within the last week the Angels needed to make some moves to increase their infield depth. When Cowart went down the Angels called up Nolan Fontana from Triple-A Salt Lake City, seemingly passing over Fletcher even though he had been tearing up the Pacific Coast League to the tune of a .350 batting average with six homers and 37 RBIs in only 58 games for the Bees. Fontana was batting a respectable .282 with one homer and 12 RBIs, not bad, but it paled in comparison to Fletcher.
Three days later Marte headed to the disabled list with a sprained wrist. This time the Angels rewarded one of their top middle infield prospects, Fletcher by promoting him to the majors late Tuesday night. Fletcher, who is listed as the 21st best prospect in the Angels farm system by MLB Pipeline http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2018?list=ana
made the most of his opportunity. In his first major league game against Seattle on Wednesday night Fletcher went three for four with two RBIs. Not bad for someone who was considered to be only a fringe prospect. One game does not a career make. However, Fletcher has gone from being a fringe prospect just a few years ago to being considered by many as the Angels second baseman of the future.
Just like Justin Anderson and Keynan Middleton before him (Anderson and Middleton were also both members of the 2016 Inland Empire squad), now Fletcher will have to produce in order to stay. He will play some shortstop and back-up Ian Kinsler at second base. With Zack Cozart on sidelined with a sprained shoulder, Fletcher may even see action at third base. Wherever he plays, Fletcher will soak in the experience and try to improve.
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So what changed for Fletcher since being drafted. How did he go from being a fringe prospect to being the ‘second baseman of th future’. Honestly, not very much. Fletcher has just kept doing what he has done since high school hit well, get on base, and play solid defense. This is something the Angels have been lacking at second base since they traded Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers for pitcher Andrew Heaney in December of 2014. The Angels traded for second baseman Ian Kinsler this winter, but he was considered only a stop-gap until Fletcher was deemed to be ready to assume the position.
However Fletcher has come along ahead of schedule. This should be no surprise since the Orange County native hit .308 during the 2018 Spring Training and was one of the last players to be sent down at the end of Spring Training.
I felt privileged to watch David Fletcher play multiple times in 2016 while he was playing for the Inland Empire 66’ers. That year Fletcher got to watch Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons for a few days because, Simba was doing an injury rehab assignment with the 66’ers. Unfortunately Fletcher was not able to play with Simmons at that time, but this Spring he was able to do so.
I had the chance to interview Fletcher when he played for the 66’ers about his approach to the game and what he hoped to accomplish. He was very soft-spoken and unassuming, but you could even see back then that he had the drive to succeed.
“My goal is to try to improve each day I go out and play,” Fletcher said. “I try to learn from my mistakes, get better, and hopefully one day I will make it to the majors.”
Fletcher played very well that season and was called up to Double-A Arkansas the last month of the season. Fletcher finished the year batting .280 with three homers and 37 RBIs with 16 stolen bases. In 2017 Fletcher started in Double-A in Mobile, but was promoted to Triple-A for the last six weeks of the season and again did a good job. All the while Fletcher played solid defense both at second base and shortstop.
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That brings us to 2018 where Fletcher was able to put everything together and have a breakout season. When he received the call on Tuesday Fletcher’s journey was now complete as he had reached the mountain top in making it to the majors. Now he has to keep focused and do the same things that got him here. After Wednesday’s game Fletcher is off to a good start.