Which LA Angels non-roster infielders can make the Opening Day team?
By Ryan Falla
Matt Thaiss was drafted out of the University of Virginia in 2016 and since then has shown consistent prowess with the bat and the glove. Since 2016 Thaiss has collected 80 doubles across three MiLB seasons from Rookie Ball to Triple A. This past season (2018) saw Thaiss put up a .280/.335/.467 slash line across 176 Plate Appearances in Double A and 400 Plate Appearances in Triple A.
One of the bigger criticisms with Thaiss has been his lacking power for a first-baseman, although in 2018 Thaiss improved his power totals by a strong margin. Thaiss put up 16 HRs in 2018 (802 OPS) compared to 9 in 2017 (770). OPS
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At the age of 23 there is still some power that can be nurtured out of Thaiss; at this pace it’s not a world of power that can be waiting but there still is something that can be looked towards. We can’t really put a hard cap on Thaiss power-ability given his 2018 season improvements over his power peripherals from the season prior. However, this doesn’t change his outlook at a contact-first first-baseman, though we have seen his line-drive power elevate to HR power at a big rate this past season.
2018 saw Thaiss collect a total 34 doubles and 76 RBI’s across 576 Plate Appearances. Thaiss’ quick, smooth swing which cuts through the zone efficiently will be the anchor of his MLB success. If he can continue his power development he may be able to create an entirely new outlook for his career.
Thaiss looks to be on the cusp of a breakthrough and his Spring Training may put him in a position to do just that. As of now Thaiss projects as a depth option for Justin Bour and Albert Pujols in 2019, but a best case scenario can see him work as a platoon/bench option at first base in the major league level.