These recaps are starting to become less about the LA Angels exhibition and more about the growing legend of Matt Thaiss. Well…legend may be getting too excited given its only been a few days of Spring Training. Then again, if you’ve been watching his performances you’ll understand the excitement that seems to hit a new high every day.
At this point, the only thing that can be said about LA Angels’ Matt Thaiss’ performance is “Opening Day material”. The young prospect isn’t just playing to earn a backup spot, he isn’t just playing to get re-acclimated to live baseball, he’s playing for an absolute starting role.
On a team with Albert Pujols incumbent at first it’s hard to even imagine anyone else taking over the starting role at 1B. Yet with the new direction of the organization and the rising star of Thaiss we may see Pujols relegated to a backup role sooner rather than later.
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It wasn’t all Thaiss in today’s comeback against the Rockies despite his wild line on the day, there was a good spread of offensive production all around. Despite the 7 runs allowed by the Angels pitching staff there was a ton of fantastic work pitchers making their Spring debuts.
There isn’t much that’s better than an Angels comeback win engineered by the rookies. Unless it’s in the playoffs of course.
Angels 9, Rockies 7
Winning Pitcher: Noe Ramirez (RHP): 1 IP, 1 Hit, 1 Run, 2 K’s
Losing Pitcher: Jeff Hoffman (RHP): 2 IP, 3 Hits, 4 Runs, 2 Walks
A lot of Angels had fantastic debuts, but Trevor Cahill was not one of them. Cahill was picked up as a Free Agent on a one year deal (worth 9 million) after a 2018 season that saw him maintain a 3.76 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 110 IP as an Oakland Athletic.
The Angels brought Cahill on board to add talent to the lower-end of the rotation and given the Angels depth struggles in recent years a bottom end talent is very valuable for this team. Unfortunately today wasn’t the best showing for Cahill as allowed 5 runs in one inning of work while allowing 2 hits and 3 walks.
We also saw Kole Calhoun showing off an open batting stance and after a rough offensive 2018 it’s good to see him taking strides to make adjustments. Unfortunately he came away with two strikeouts and no hits on the day, so hopefully we’ll be able to see more effective at-bats with this new stance throughout this Spring.
Luckily it was nothing but up from there. Noe Ramirez was looking much better than he did in his Spring debut as he earned the win, Cody Allen looked sharp with two strikeouts as well as standout debuts from two Top Angel prospects.
This wasn’t the smoothest game, but in the end the Angels pulled together as a team and brought in the win. Wins aren’t the most important thing in Spring Training, what’s most important is seeing a unified team effort and we got exactly that in this game (outside of Cahill)
Matt Thaiss did it again, but this time no one was surprised. Well, that triple may have been pretty stunning. It’s even crazier to think that was already his second triple of the Spring. Today he had two RBI’s which brings his total Spring total to 8 RBI’s in only 4 games.
We can’t exactly say that he’ll keep this pace up all the way to Opening Day, but from what he’s shown us I don’t see why not. Matt Thaiss is looking more and more like a big league ready contributor everyday and Angels manager Brad Ausmus is taking heavy note of this. Don’t be surprised to see him find his way onto the Opening Day roster.
Brandon Marsh brought it once more, this time with a walk, hit, RBI, and run scored. He’s starting to find his comfort zone now as that’s multiple games with an RBI for Marsh. It’s highly encouraging seeing Marsh perform the way he his given his newness to professional baseball in general. 2018 was his first full professional season at the age of 20 and he’s already finding success in a big league environment.
It’ll be exciting to see him continue a strong pace so that he can take both the confidence and experience back to the Minors and really hunker down on his development. His MLB trajectory may end up being much shorter than everyone initially expected.
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Griffin Canning made an incredibly efficient Spring debut with 10 pitches thrown in his one inning of work. Canning cruised through his inning of work with a healthy mix of breaking balls and a fastball that hit 93 mph.
This is Canning’s first exposure to this level of competition and to see him respond with this kind of comfort says a lot about how he’ll respond to his eventual MLB exposure. Canning has always been noted for his ability to compete at high levels of competition, games like this show how well on his way he is to eventual ace-dom. He’ll likely pump a bit more speed on his fastball as he develops even more.
Jose Suarez is another Top Angels Prospect that debuted today and did just as phenomenally as Canning. Suarez is just 20 years old and showed off a confidence beyond his age by pitching a 1-2-3 inning and throwing just eight pitches.
Suarez projects to be a top-level reliever and it’s easy to see why, on top of his skill he showed efficiency which is something the Angels bullpen has been in desperate need of. He’s still very young so there is development to be had, but from where he stands now he looks ready to face-off against Major League hitting. He still has some talent left to realize which only goes to show just how high his potential stands.
Ty Buttrey had a great bounce-back showing after giving up two runs in 0.2 IP in his last outing. Buttrey made his MLB debut with the Angels after coming over from the Red Sox in the Ian Kinsler trade in 2018. Today he struck out two in a full inning of work on the strength of a fastball that topped out at 98 miles an hour.
Buttrey finished his 2018 season off strong and to see him come back even stronger in Spring offers nothing but hope for the upcoming 2019 season. A stronger bullpen is something that will take the Angels over the top, and while the starting pitching is still a bit of a question mark it’s comforting to know that a lot of talent is heading into Opening Day primed and ready to go.
The Angels will return to your televisions tomorrow for a Spring exhibition against the AL West rival Texas Rangers. The game will be featured on Fox Sports West at 12:10 PM PT.