Jared Walsh is the most likely to make the team out of Spring from this infielder batch, though depending on the Angels depth preferences he could be blocked by Matt Thaiss or any reserve outfielder. Walsh not only plays excellent first base, he’s a very competent defender in the outfield.
Walsh is very much a 1B guy, though his ability to roam the outfield expands his value massively. His defense at first is nothing to be taken lightly; not only does Walsh display top-level reflexes and strong range, he has one hell of an arm. As a first baseman you can count on Walsh as the stalwart defender with excellent foul line protection, he’s nothing short of a wall at first.
As an outfielder, particularly right, Walsh provides excellent value. He has the range and a reliable ability to track difficult fly balls, and the cherry on top is his strong arm. Walsh has shown time and time again an arm powerful enough to hold runners and even shows the potential to gun them down.
It may not be as advanced or accurate as Kole Calhoun’s gun, but as a reserve outfielder you couldn’t ask for more. Walsh’s ability to play 1B as a starter and RF as a reserve can keep him on the field at almost all times, and with Walsh that would be something the Angels will want.
In 2018 Walsh showed off some of the best power from an Angels prospect, knocking in 29 HR’s and 99 RBI’s in 549 Plate Appearances. As a left-handed power hitter he offers a particular value the Angels desperately need. His 2018 slash line of .277/.359/.536, at the age of 24, shows a properly matured hitter ready for a shot at the Big Leagues.
With many prospects there is still a bit to be desired from Walsh, such as a cut-down on strike-outs (154 K’s in 2018), yet with an improving two-strike approach there is potential to limit the damage from strikeouts once he hits the bigs. On top of his excellent power stroke there is great run scoring ability to be had, in 2018 Walsh came around to score 86 total times.
Sure, his 34 doubles is something that always keeps him in position to score, yet when you compare to guys like Jahmai Jones who can steal the bag and still not score as much you can easily surmise that Walsh is far more than a guy who just “hits the ball hard”.
Walsh was invited to Angels instructional camp just after the season ended in order to work out as a pitcher. In 2018 Walsh made eight appearances out of the bullpen and pitched to a 1.59 ERA with 7 K’s.
There is a thin line between “position player pitching” and actual reliever and Walsh seemed to blur that line. As a lefty Walsh displayed a fastball that showed speeds of 94mph coupled with a curveball proper enough to earn Major League outs, as said by his Triple A catcher Joe Hudson.
Given that Walsh was invited to Spring Training as a two-way player you have to believe that the Angels believe he can bring value out of the ‘pen. No one is expecting him to provide regular relief, but as a LOOGY option he could find serious success in the Majors.
He might end up being the one of the most valuable players, not just on the Angels, but in all of the MLB. Imagine that, a 25-30 HR hitting first baseman who can also work as a reserve outfielder while getting lefty outs from the bullpen. This last factor is especially important once you realize how short the Angels are on lefty-relievers.
Given the way baseball is trending towards analytics and expanding as much value out of a player as possible we could see Walsh become a powerful “secret” weapon in the Angels arsenal. A strong Spring Training could very well realize Walsh’s potential to becoming one of the more valuable players in this organization