LA Angels News

First Impressions of LA Angels Griffin Canning Following Debut

By David Peng
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 30: Griffin Canning #47 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the first inning of the game in his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 30, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 30: Griffin Canning #47 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the first inning of the game in his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 30, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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38,797 lucky people where in attendance to watch LA Angels top prospect Griffin Canning make his first big league start on Tuesday night.

The 22-year-old Mission Viejo native gave the LA Angels big crowd on hand (including a reported 300 people in his own personal rooting section) a look at just how high his ceiling could be. Canning started the game with three perfect innings, striking out the side in the second inning, and struck out six in a row at one point.

Some initial impressions:

Canning throws four pitches: fastball, slider, curve, and change. The fastball sat around 95 MPH, and he was consistently in that zone until the top of the 5th inning.

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  • He’s willing to throw his breaking stuff, and does so effectively. Unlike most young pitchers, Canning threw his fastball less than half the time. Most of the time, Canning would go between fastball and 90 MPH slider, but he would also throw a big bender of a curveball that’s reminiscent of Cliff Lee‘s big curve, with a big drop as it comes towards the plate.
  • Canning works very quickly. During the 2nd and 3rd innings, when he retired all six batters he faced — five via strikeout — he was only taking 7 to 9 seconds on most of his pitches from the moment he received the ball to the moment he started his windup. It wasn’t until the last batter of the third inning, Rowdy Tellez, that he slowed down, taking over 20 seconds on his last few pitches before striking Tellez out.
  • Canning is much better with a full windup. In the fourth inning, pitching from the stretch he skipped several sliders, with one getting past

    Jonathan Lucroy

    to allow a run. With men on, he looked like he was trying to get swings and misses with the slider, but wasn’t throwing them for strikes.

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    That said, the two hits he allowed in the 4th inning weren’t hit hard: a grounder up the middle and a short flyball to left-center that found grass were all he gave up. The hardest ball hit in the 4th was by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who smoked a one-hopper to shortstop with two men on that was hit too hard to score the runner on third base.

    By his 82nd pitch, Canning was clearly gassed. He gave a homer, a double, and a deep flyball out before getting pulled with one out in the top of the 5th. His last fastball of the night hit just 91 on the stadium speed gun.

    By the time Brian Goodwin homered to provide the winning margin in the Angels’ 4-3 win, Canning was long finished. However, there was no question that it was his night. The final numbers (4.1 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 6 strikeouts) are less important than what Canning showed during the outing: that he is a quality big league prospect.

    Next. Four Other Angels Prospect Due for Anaheim Soon

    Time will tell how well Canning improves from his first game, but the first impression is that he’s validating the Angels’ decision to skip the free agent market, and instead focus on the farm system. For one night, at least, the decision looked good.

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