LA Angels prospect Matt Ball, the former Rule 5 Draft pick from 2017, has been lighting up the MiLB Cal League with his pitching talents in the 2018 season. Just last month the right-handed starting pitcher won a Cal League Pitcher of the Week Award, and to start this week Matt Ball has received this honor for the 2nd time in only 3 weeks.
To think that Matt Ball was under-valued enough by the Texas Rangers organization to allow his talents to come to Anaheim for free. While he did have his struggles last year with the Rangers organization, finishing the year with a 5+ ERA, Ball has found a serious groove in his time with the Inland Empire 66ers. Today Matt Ball was named Cal League Pitcher of the Week for his start last week, August 2nd, in which he pitched 5 innings of scoreless baseball while striking out 6.
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As a 66er, Matt Ball has put up a strong 3.58 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched on the 2018 season. Last month, on July 18th, Matt Ball had a wonderful start (5IP 1 hit allowed) which saw him receive his first Cal League Pitcher of the Week Award on the season. What’s more encouraging in these performances is the fact that Ball is coming off a season mired by injury, his 2017 within the Rangers system, only to find himself in the middle of his best season yet with the Angels. At the young age of 23, Matt Ball is beginning to settle into his groove as a professional athlete in big ways. Not only that, he’s beginning to really understand and tap into his fullest potential.
What was once a former Rule 5 “fringe” prospect is now one of the biggest under-the-radar talents to develop with the 66ers this season. This a season that has seen players like Luis Rengifo and Jared Walsh find their way with the 66ers and begin to systematically take apart each level of the Minors they found themselves in. It’s not easy to be one of the top under-the-radar prospects in a system that has seen potential future MLB All-Stars rise through the system in the same fashion, yet Ball has shown he has both the talent and drive to do so.
On the season, Matt Ball has held hitters to a paltry .215 batting average while keeping them at an overall OPS of .633. Ball was drafted in 2013 by the Chicago White Sox in the 11th round before being traded to the Rangers organization in 2016. In 2017 Matt Ball was picked by the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft, a draft which allows teams to select players from another organization that is not on the 40 man roster.
The Rule 5 Draft typically sees fringe prospects and journeyman picked up, yet the Angels managed to strike gold with the talents of 23 year old RHP Matt Ball. The future is bright for the young pitcher, that future holding a place for Ball as an Angel.