Without officially saying it, the Los Angeles Angels are already looking forward to a highly anticipated fresh start during the 2019 season. With more players, (mainly pitchers) returning from injury and prospects developing, 2019 will be a big year for the Angels on many fronts. Here’s why:
Top prospects have been on the rise all season all over the Los Angeles Angels organization. 2017 first round draft pick Jo Adell has been promoted quickly from Low A, High A to now Double A. Angels current right fielder, Kole Calhoun is only under contract through the 2019 season. If Adell can keep his pace, we may be see his debut in late 2019 before eventually taking over for Calhoun permanently.
2017 second round and top starting pitching prospect, Griffin Canning has shot is way up too. After being drafted he was shut down for the remainder of the 2017 season for pitching too many innings during his time as an amateur at UCLA, Canning has been exactly what the Angels were hoping for. Staring the season with high A affiliate, Inland Empire 66ers, Canning has already found himself settling in with the Salt Lake City Bees, the Angels triple A affiliate. Canning should find himself competing for a roster spot with the Angels during the 2019 Spring Training.
Other notable players who are knocking on the big leagues or making waves in the minors are: Matt Thaiss, Jose Suarez, Jose Ramos, Jahmai Jones, Brandon Marsh, Brandon Sandoval, just to name a few.
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The future has already started in Anaheim too. Literally. David Fletcher, Taylor Ward, Francisco Arcia, Jose Briceno, Jamie Barria, are all guys who have been penciled into the starting Angels lineup this season. All started the season in Triple A Salt Lake, or lower and most have now become regular names. The Angels will start the 2019 with the best problem to have. Too much talent. Depth has certainly plauged the Angels for sometime now but times are changing. and as the old saying goes “You’re only as good as your minor leagues.”
With Zack Cozart coming back from a shoulder injury that has left him sidelined for much of the 2018 season, look for Cozart to move to second base, Ward to take over at 3rd and the very versatile, Fletcher to being on the Opening Day roster as one of the utility players. Maybe a super utility player, like the Dodgers Kike Hernandez. The only position Hernandez hasn’t played is catcher.
Speaking of pitching. The Angels have a lot of it coming into the 2019 campaign. More than they did in 2018 when they have eight players competing for 5 starting spots. As they did in 2018, a lot of it is coming back from injury. Shohei Ohtni, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs Matt Shoemaker, Jamie Barria, Alex Meyer, Feliz Pena, Nick Tropeano, and Parker Bridewell are all guys who will shooting their best shot to make the rotation.
The afore mentioned Griffin Canning will also be in that mix. The bullpen in 2018 needed help every step of the way and with a couple trades made before the deadline, that help seems to have arrived with Williams Jerez and Ty Buttery looking fine in their limited action so far. Free agency should bring in some help as well to solidify the bullpen. The Angels have so much talent, in the outfield of their minor league system, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of it go for some established bullpen arms. Maybe even bring in a proven closer.
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All of this is done for two simple reasons. The first and foremost reason, to build the club into a lasting contender, like most Angel fans have grown so accustomed to throughout most of the 2000’s. The Angels were so good for so long because they had depth. Depth keeps the team going full steam ahead even when the injury bug rears its ugly head. And it has so often the last few seasons. The second reason is to keep Mike Trout in an Angels uniform past the 2020 season when he would be set to become a free agent. The Angels have never had a guy that the rest of the league attributes as theirs when thought about.
The Giants have Willie Mays, Pirates have Roberto Clemente, Red Sox- Ted Williams, Dodgers and Yankees have many. Nolan Ryan is probably the closets to that being that four of his seven no-hitters with an A on his cap. However, when Cooperstown called, Ryan being the good old boy from Texas that he is, dawned a T and entered the hall of fame as a Texas Ranger.
Trout needs to remain an Angels for not just the good of today’s team but for the franchise as a whole. It is my opinion that after Bryce Harper signs whatever contract he will this offseason, (which should be far less than the $400 million he and agent Scott Boras talked about before this season started, and his inconsistent play) the Angels will offer Trout a humongous deal to ensure that the best player in baseball is also the best paid player in baseball, as well. Think $400mil for 10 years for Trout.
Though the 2018 season isn’t over yet, its hard for fans not to day dream about the abundance of what is to come. A deep playoff run isn’t that far away.