The LA Angels have already been busy this offseason, claiming catcher Kevan Smith last week (who’s potential breakout season you can read about here), and now claiming former Reds pitcher Austin Brice on Friday.
At first glance, it seems like the LA Angels are wasting time in claiming Austin Brice. In three seasons, he owns a 5.68 ERA, and has arguably gotten worse and worse every year. His home runs allowed have skyrocketed, his walk rate gone up, and his strikeout percentage is dwindling.
So why do the Angels think they can fix Austin Brice?
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First off, Austin Brice is only 26-years old, and will be at the beginning of the 2019 season. He is still young and has been in two poor organizations with the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins. A new start in Anaheim could be what Brice needs.
New pitching coach Doug White could also be a big reason Brice can have his first good season. White spent the past three years with the Houston Astros as their minor league pitching coordinator and, last season, their bullpen coach. White was a key part to helping them turn around their franchise and win a World Series. With Brice heading for a long-relief/multi-inning, he could be working extensively with White to work out any inconsistencies in his windup.
Brice has the talent, Angels’ general manager Billy Eppler praised his above-average fastball and solid curveball shortly after the claim. However, he just has not put it all together yet. Whether it is a mental aspect of his game holding him back or a deficiency in his game, the Angels are going to figure it out this offseason. Eppler also hinted at the hopes of him making the big league roster next season, which shows even more confidence in the former ninth-round pick.
Billy Eppler has made phenomenal finds in the claim-market before. Blake Parker and Martin Maldonado were both major finds for Eppler and the Angels. They both seemingly came out of nowhere, and maybe, just maybe, Austin Brice can do the same.