WIth the first week of Spring Training coming to a close there have been some pleasant surprises for the LA Angels so far this Spring. Which ones have a shot at making the Opening Day roster?
Every year there is always some surprises to make the LA Angels Opening Day roster on the hitting side. This Spring is looking Ike it will be no different.
In years past guys like Johnny Giavotella who was the surprise replacement for Howie Kendrick at second base after he was traded in the 2015 off-season. How about Jefry Marte in 2016 when he was a non-roster invitee and made the club after a stellar Spring.
In 2017 Eric Young Jr. Came to camp less than a month after losing his newborn son. Young Jr made his mark that Spring and made the roster and was a key player off the bench and he held down centerfield while Mike Trout was on the DL for seven weeks.
Last year there were no hitters that were surprises on the roster, but Blake Wood was definitely an underdog who made the roster in the bullpen performing admirably before a UCL tear took him out for the season.
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So far this year’s dark horse candidates to make the roster appear to be Peter Bourjos, Matt Thaiss, and Jared Walsh. There are some other lesser known names as well Jarrett Parker, Brandon Lund, and Wilfredo Tovar.
Peter Bourjos in some ways is not a dark horse because he has been a major leaguer since 2010. However Bourjos has struggled the last couple of seasons .205 last year and .223 the season before with Tampa Bay.
Bourjos however, looks renewed this Spring showing flashes of his 2011 season when he won a postion in the Angels outfield.
Bourjos has a .625 batting average this Spring in four games with a home run and four RBIs. Bourjos is battling for the 4th outfielder spot and is well on his way to doing so if he keeps up his stellar performance.
Matt Thaiss was not expected to be in Anaheim in the first half of the season, but with Justin Bour ailing with a strained hamstring, Thaiss has taken full advantage hitting .700 with eight RBIs. His defense has also been on point, so don’t be surprised if Thaiss finds a way to crack the Opening Day roster.
Jared Walsh is the interesting candidate as he is a two-way player who can play first base and the outfield and also pitches in relief. So far this Spring, Walsh is two for six so far and has done well defensively. We will need to see much more of him in order to deem if he is worthy of making the roster.
Walsh has yet to pitch this Spring and it will be interesting to see how much the Angels call on the left-handed reliever.
Jarrett Parker is a candidate for the fourth outfielder position who many Angel fans have probably never heard of, but that could change soon for the former San Francisco Giants second round draft pick in 2010. Parker is hitting .571 with a homer and four RBIs and has played well on defense as well.
The fact that he is a lefty could give him a leg up on some other candidates. He is a career a .257 hitter in parts of three season for the Giants in 2015-2017. He has 15 career homers and 51 RBIs and a .335 OBP. Peter Bourjos is winning the battle for the fourth outfielder so far, but watch out for Parker.
Brandon Lund is a home-grown talent drafted in the 11th round by the Angels in 2016 and has made it only as high as Double-A last season, but so far this Spring he is hitting .375 with three RBIs so far and has definitely made a nice showing, but will probably not make the roster, but it could bode well for his future with the Angels or another team.
Finally there is Wilfredo Tovar who is the long shot of all long shots. Tovar is a middle infielder with 18 at bats in the majors back in 2013 and 2014. He is a slick fielder, but has not shown he can hit big-league pitching. So far this Spring he has looked good, but it has only been four games.
Tovar has gone 3 for 8 (.375) with a homer and an RBI and flashed some nice leather at shortstop and second base. The Angels mix at those two spots is already full of potential candidates mostly at second base as Andrelton Simmons is a lock at shortstop.
Tovar is a nice early story, but it probably won’t last very long, but he is worth at least mentioning in the surprises at camp.
So let’s see how this next month goes and see who ends up be the Cinderella Story to come out of the 2019 Angels Spring Training Camp.