The September roster expansion is all an interesting time for fans. The LA Angels have recalled seven players since the September 1st expansion from 25 to a 40 man roster. Who will we see next season?
The LA Angels have used their minor league system a lot this season due to numerous injuries and also in-season trades. Twenty players on the current 40-man roster were not there at the beginning of the season. Of these 20 players some of them have been with the Angels since early-to-mid April such as Justin Anderson and Jaime Barria who were called upon early due to injuries to Keynan Middleton, Blake Wood, Matt Shoemaker, and J.C. Ramirez. Three of those players were lost for the season due to torn UCL’s with only Shoemaker returning to the team just this week.
So the question now becomes, who can we expect to see on the 25-man opening day roster in 2019?
Justin Anderson and Jaime Barria are pretty much a lock to make the opening day roster in 2019. Both of them have held their own since being called up to the majors. Anderson has become an internal part of the back end of the Angel bullpen serving as the set-up man and even a part-time closer this season. Barria has served as a starter in the Angels rotation for most of the season and although he has had his rough patches overall he has performed admirably and should be strongly considered for a spot in the Angels 2019 rotation.
Jose Briceno and Francisco Arcia – Both of these catchers have had their moments where they have played very well this season both as back-ups and now as a lefty-righty platoon system since Martin Maldonado was traded at the end of July. There will probably not be room on the roster for both of these catchers as the Angels will probably make a move in the off-season to acquire a starting catcher as Briceno and Arcia are both more suited for a back-up role. Arcia may have the upper hand as he is left-handed and has shown a little better numbers at the plate, but it is a toss-up.
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Joe Hudson – Hudson was just recalled from Salt Lake City when the rosters expanded this week. We will see how he does in September, but unless he kills it Hudson will be a long shot to make the roster in 2019.
Jose Miguel Fernandez – Fernandez has been up and down with the Angels this season and has done some positive things for the team when he has been up. Fernandez can play both first and second base which makes him somewhat versatile, but most likely he is still a long shot to make the Opening Day Roster in 2019.
Kaleb Cowart – Cowart has been the ultimate utility man, but unfortunately at the plate he has never been able to sustain success. If something does not change in the last month of the season this year you will most likely not see Cowart again in an Angel uniform.
David Fletcher – Fletcher has been the biggest surprise addition to this year’s Angels squad. Fletcher came up in mid-June from Triple-A Salt Lake and has played second and third base, as well as shortstop, and even a couple of games in the outfield. Fletcher has come through with numerous clutch hits to drive in runs or getting on base to start a rally. In the field he has been stellar too wherever Mike Scioscia has used him. He is pretty much a lock to make the opening day roster, but where he will play is still up in the air, most likely second base, but he could also be a utility infielder.
Taylor Ward – Ward just got called up in early August after tearing up Triple-A pitching. Ward has had his moments at the plate since he has been called up cracking three homers and driving in nine runs, but he needs to get his .211 batting average up. Defensively Ward has been solid at third and is getting better each game. Ward may get an opportunity to start at third base to begin the season if Zack Cozart is not ready to return from a torn labrum. If not he still has a chance to make the squad as a reserve.
Michael Hermosillo – Hermosillo has gotten a few chance to prove that he belongs in the majors. So far he has not taken advantage of it. He is hitting just .167 with no homers or RBIs. Defensively Hermosillo played well in limited opportunities. He has a 50/50 chance to make the team as an extra outfielder it will depend if he can hit.
Jabari Blash – Blash is your classic player who kills it in the minors, but has not shown he can hit major league pitching. Blash has tremendous power, but only in the minors. If he can prove that he can do it in the majors he may have a chance to be the 4th outfielder, if not he may get some call-ups but that is a long-shot at this time.
Eric Young Jr. – Eric Young Jr. Would be the ideal fourth outfielder. He has speed with some power too. Young also has been a spark plug when Mike Trout has missed time due to injury. Young Jr would be great because of his ability to play all the outfield spots. If things stay this way you could see Eric Young Jr. On the opening day.
Pitching wise there are a number of pitchers with potential. Some of the names you might see other than Anderson and Barria.
Miguel Almote – Almonte has only pitched three innings so far this year for the Angels and 13.2 innings in the major during the past three years. With this being said. This is Almonte’s chance to make an impression on the Angels. If he does well this last month you could see him in the Angels bullpen next year. Right now though he is a long shot.
Ty Buttrey – Buttery has a live young arm with a tremendous upside. The Angels acquired him from the Boston Red Sox for Ian Kinsler. So far in eight appearances he has looked pretty good posting a 1.08 with nine strikeouts in 8.1 innings. If he continues to pitch well he will definitely be in the bullpen mix in 2019.
Taylor Cole – Cole has been used in a variety of roles for the Angels since he was called up. He has shown some good promise and could be used as a swing man in the bullpen either innlong relief or as a spot starter. Cole has posted a 3.80 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 23.2 innings and has a 1.01 WHIP.. If Cole continues to do well he could be in the bullpen mix next season and the fact that he has made some spot starts could also help him earn a spot in the bullpen.
Odrisamer Despaigne – Despaigne was acquired from theMarlins and has a career record of 13-23 with a 4.88 as mostly a starter. So far for the Angels he is 0-2 with an 8.25 ERA. Unless he picks it up in the next few weeks he will not be a part of the Angels in 2019.
Williams Jerez – Jerez is a left-handed reliever acquired in the Ian Kinsler trade from Boston. He has shown tremendous upside in the minors with a mid-90’s fastball and 322 strikeouts in 307 innings of work. Jerez has only pitched a handful of games for the Angels working nine innings with eight strikeouts. His ERA was 6.00 but again this is in limited innings. We will see if he gets a chance to pitch much in September and how he does. However, with a limited amount of lefty options Jerez could get an opportunity to make the team out of the bullpen..
Junichi Tazawa – Tazawa is a veteran reliever the signed off waivers in mid-July. He has had some successful seasons in the majors most notably from 2012 to 2014 with the Red Sox when Tazawa had a 1.43, 3.16, and 2.86 ERA respectively. Since then Tazawa has seen his ERA keep rising as well as his WHIP with ERA’s in the 4 and 5’s. This season Tazawa was released from the Marlins after posting a 1-1 record and a 9.00 ERA with a 2.05 WHIP
He has only had two outings with the Angels allowing one earned run in two innings of work. Tazawa could be a guy that could get a chance to be a veteran arm in the Angels bullpen next season if he can prove himself in this last month. However, if he doesn’t do well in September the Angels will most likely release him.
So there you have it, a look at some of the young guys and veterans you will be seeing a lot of this month that may or may not be part of the Angels come next season. Billy Eppler and his crack staff of assistants will look very closely this month at the talent both young and old and start to put together a competitive roster for next season that can hopefully take the Angels back to the playoffs.