Jared Walsh (1B/OF/LHP)
The Angels are going in on the two-way player philosophy pretty hard heading into the future of the franchise. Jared Walsh, the crushingly powerful lefty first-baseman, hit .277/.359/.536 with 29 HR’s and 99 RBI’s while racking up 7 K’s in 5.2 IP. He was pretty under-the-radar for a while until the end of the 2018 season when Angels GM Billy Eppler pegged him as a possible offensive piece for 2019. Eppler didn’t stop there, shortly after he sent Walsh to invitationals with the intent of working him out as a pitcher.
Walsh spends the majority of his time playing 1B/OF but when need be he is able to go on the mound and get Major League outs thanks to an actual repertoire. Walsh goes beyond “position player pitching” and expands into the realm of “super-utility player”. Not only is he crushing 29 HR’s for you, not only is he offering versatility on defense, he a viable lefty reliever that can contribute to a bullpen dominated by right handers.
Walsh had a solid spring on the mound aside from one terrible outing that saw him walk 3 hitters and give up a handful of runs, but aside from that he showed great mound presence in his 6.2 IP. On the offensive side Walsh went on a tear, hitting .304/.429/.739 with 4 Doubles, 2 HRs, and 8 RBI’s in 29 PA’s. On top of that he showed fantastic defense at 1B. Was it better than Pujols? Possibly. I hate to keep coming back to Pujols, but the fact that he is blocking so much young talent is undeniable and detrimental to the ballclub. Walsh will get MLB looks sometime this season but it should be much sooner rather than later.
Walsh is an emerging wildcard that can be employed in multiple fashions at any given time, a new breed of “super-utility”. There should be no shortage of opportunity for Walsh to play; he can cover the outfield while slamming HR’s as 1B and working as a reliever . Out of all those talents there will be a place for Walsh to slip into the Major League club and show the rest of the MLB how deep the two-way philosophy goes.
It’s not just for Supermen like Shohei Ohtani, it’s for anyone should they be capable. The super-utility role may be a real thing in the Majors soon, but right now it all starts with Jared Walsh.