LA Angels Top 25 Prospects: #2 Griffin Canning
By Ryan Falla
The LA Angels drafted Griffin Canning in the second round of the 2017 draft, another big steal for the Angels, thanks to many teams backing off from a sure-fire 1st rounder due to concerns over his medicals. Usually after being drafted the athlete will go to a short season summer league and get their start, but the Angels decided to rest Canning that summer and let him make his debut in 2018. After starting the season, and his career, in Class A Advanced, Canning spent little time shooting his way up the organizational ranks by finishing the season in Triple A.
Griffin Canning is a bit of a phenom within the LA Angels system. Coming out of UCLA Canning had already built an illustrious name for himself. In his 2017 season with UCLA, his final college season, Canning held the position as the teams “Friday Night Ace” and pitched 119 innings to a 2.34 ERA with 140 K’s and only 32 BB’s. Those phenom stats have held up in his first year within the Angels system, overall Canning struck out 125 to only 44 BB’s to an overall 3.65 ERA (his ERA inflated by first exposure to Triple A). Griffin Canning seems to be everything the Angels need, he’s displayed durability and consistency while pitching at an Ace level with Ace responsibilities successfully. This is really looking like a huge steal for the Angels at this point.
Drafted in 2017 – 2nd Round (#47)
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Canning made his debut in Class A Advanced and pitched just 2 starts, 8.2 total innings of scoreless baseball, before being called up to Double A. Canning did just as well in Double A with 45.2 IP of 1.97 ERA baseball with 64 K’s before being sent to Triple A. He has remarkable pitching ability and showed it off in full force during this debut season across all three levels. Within his arsenal is a low-to-mid 90’s fastball with A+ control, a fastball which he often shows the ability to change speeds on. Though it sits near the low 90’s he can very well rear back and add on a couple extra ticks which messes with hitters in big ways. His best pitches are often seen as his secondary, with his change-up leading the pack. All his pitches are already seen as Major League average at least, and at the age of 22 with nowhere to go but up one has to wonder just how high his ceiling is. With comparisons made to current MLB pitcher Zack Greinke it seems the sky is the limit for the young Canning.
Canning is innately a deceptive pitcher, and while deception is the key to all successful pitching Canning is able to harness that ability in a special way. Based off how he uses his fastball to set-up and confuse hitters we can see his pitching style is more focused in the mental than the physical. Canning has an incredible mind behind his pitching philosophies that lead to such excellence. He is the definition of a cerebral pitcher, constantly setting up hitters while using the entirety of the zone in order to produce the best results, relying less on the power of his stuff and more on the strength of his deception and set-up game.
Griffin Canning is able to maximize his effectiveness by simplifying the pitching process. His delivery is simple and consistent, which feeds into his A+ control and snowballs into a strong strikeout ability. Griffin Canning struck out a total 125 hitters in 113.1 IP to the total of a 9.9 K/Rate though his debut 2018 season. There is more to be expected from Canning given his tools and mental prowess, but for a debut season that started in the higher ranks of the Minors this is an absolute gem of a debut year.
There is the fact that Canning hit a little bit of a wall in Triple A, producing a total 5.49 ERA in 59 IP to end the season. His strikeout numbers didn’t falter from where they were in Double A (49Ks in 45.2 IP), in fact you could even say there was a bit of a growth during that stint (64 Ks in 59 IP). Griffin Canning fell back on some his deception and got beat a little too regularly, but at the same time he maintained his ability to strike out hitters.
You can’t learn how to better yourself and minimize your weaknesses without battling your weaknesses head on. This is par for the course with a Minor League Journey, and despite his Triple A struggles he still had one of the best seasons for a prospect within the Angels system. He showed he can handle high level pitching early on, he displayed his sky-high baseball IQ and solidified even further his ability to command an Ace role as a professional athlete.
There is a lot to be excited about for Angel fans because Griffin Canning already looked like the real deal. There is no doubt we will see him in the Majors after one more year of Minor League development, and at that there’s a very real chance we see him come up next year. In fact he will probably get his Major League looks sometime next season and there is a very real chance he could find early success in 2019 as the Angels Ace of the Future.
Developmental Needs: Time
Best Tools: Pitching IQ, Reliability, Consistency, Deceptiveness, Versatile Fastball, Command, Excellent Secondary Pitches, Athleticism, Strikeout Ability
MLB ETA: 2019