What a difference a season makes for LA Angels Taylor Ward. After falling off the grid in 2017, Ward came back with a vengeance after his position change from catcher to 3rd & got all the way to the majors.
For his efforts Taylor Ward along with 2017 second round pick Griffin Canning were named the LA Angels Prospects of the Year by MLB Pipeline. In the minors this season Ward tore up Double and Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .354 bating average with 14 homers and 60 runs batted in along with 18 stolen bases in102 games between Double and Triple-A this season. Ward was named to the Doube-A All-Star team.
In early August Ward got the call that he had long been waiting for, a chance to go up to the majors with the Angels. While Ward struggled at times hitting only .178 in 135 at-bats he did hit six homers and drove in 15 runs while filling in at third base.
Ward ended the 2018 season in spectacular fashion hitting a two-run walk-off home run off of Chris Hatcher of the A’s in the bottom of the ninth of the final game of the season a 5-4 Angels victory over the A’s. At third base he made five errors in 82 chances for a .939 fielding percentage which is adequate considered good he had never played third base in his professional career before being switched there in Spring Training.
More from Halo Hangout
- New York Post columnist has LA Angels bringing veteran starter back to LA
- Dodgers make wild mistake signing failed LA Angels starter
- Why LA Angels’ Qualifying Offer to Raisel Iglesias could become historical
- Both Gold Glove finalists for LA Angels getting snubbed is a complete joke
- Marcus Stroman definitely appears to be interested in the LA Angels
Ward will likely compete for a starting spot at third base or at the very least a reserve infielder role in Spring Training. The fact that he is an above average catcher defensively might also help him forge a spot on the roster although he has not caught since 2017. David Fletcher and Zack Cozart will also be in the mix for an infield starting job as he can play second, third, or shortstop which makes him extremely versatile. David Fletcher can also do the same. The difference is Cozart possesses a lot more power than Fletcher which could be a factor in the decision when defining roles for the upcoming season.
Canning on the other hand was in his first year in the Angels minor league system, but moved up very quickly. He only pitched two games in Single-A for Inland Empire. Hedidnotgive up a run in 8.2 innings and struck out12 batters. In Double-A Mobile it was more of the same for Canning as he posted a miniscule 1.97 ERA in 45.2 innings of work. Canning struck out 49 batters and posted a 1.01 WHIP.
When Canning got to Triple-A Salt Lake hittersstartedto catch-up to him Ashe posted a5.49 ERAin 13 starts. He did strikeout 64 batters in 59 innings but his WHIP of 1.53 told the story. Despite a less than stellar debut in Triple-A Canning still had a tremendous first season in the minors. The UCLA and Santa Margarita product finished the season with a 3.65 ERA and a 4-3 record starting 25 games. Canning pitched 113.1 innings striking out 125 batters and walking only 44, while posting a 1.26 WHIP.
Want your voice heard? Join the Halo Hangout team!
Canning for his exploits was named the Angels pitching prospect of the year by MLB Pipeline.Com and Ward received the same honor except his was for hitting. Both players could be a part of a young nucleus of talent that the Angels are building in their not-so-bad minor league system that used to be rated the worst farm system in baseball.
Jahmai Jones, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell, Luis Rengifo, Matt Thaiss, Chris Rodriguez Jesus Castillo, and Canning are among the Angels minor league prospects that are getting a lot of notice along with current major leaguers Fletcher, Jaime Barria, Justin Anderson, and Ward. The future is looking bright for the Halos it could be only a matter of time before this young blood infuses the major league to surround Mike Trout with some great talent.