If you ask most people what the LA Angels biggest need they would say pitching. They would be correct with the level of inconsistency the team’s starters have shown.
Fortunately for the LA Angels help on the mound is on the way. The only bad thing is most of the Angels best pitching prospects are still a year or two away in the lower minor leagues. The exceptions are guys like Jose Suarez (0.90 ERA in two starts in Triple-A) and Patrick Sandoval, who was acquired from Houston last summer in exchange for Martin Maldonado.
Both Suarez and Sandoval could make the jump t the majors in 2019 if needed. On Double-A the top pitching prospect that is healthy is Luis Madero, who was just promoted at the beginning of the month from Single-A Inland Empire. Madero probably won’t make it to Anaheim this season, But if he pitches well enough he will be in the mix next season.
For the Angels though, both Single-A Inland Empire (AKA High-A) and Single-A Burlington (AKA Low-A) both have some pitching prospects to keep your eye on over the season and next year as they could definitely help in Anaheim by 2021 for sure if not sooner.
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In Burlington a pitcher I did an article on last month is burning it up as of late. Jose Soriano and his 94-97 mile per hour fastball is starting to find himself. Soriano was just almost a part of a combined no-hitter on Friday night. Soriano went six innings without allowing a hit and struck out nine batters. So far Soriano has a 1.72 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 31 innings of work.
Soriano most likely will be heading to Inland Empire in the not too distant future if he continues to pitch well. Burlington has eight pitchers with ERAs under 3.00. Inland Empire also has a lot of quality arms. They had nine pitchers with ERAs under 3.00.
This is not to mention that Inland Empire has five pitchers that were high draft picks for the Angels within the last two years. Chris Rodriguez who tops out at 98 MPH on the radar gun was a 4th round pick in 2016 for the Angels and has started off the season well so far posting a 0.00 ERA in three starts with 13 strikeouts in nine innings of work. The Angels are being cautious with Rodriguez as he is coming back from a back injury that kept him out all of last season.
Two more pitchers that are standing out so far are reliever Brett Hannewich (9th round pick in 2017) who is a graduate of Stanford and has been the 66’ers top reliever so far this season posting a 1.17 ERA in 11 appearances with a 0.98 WHIP. He has 18 strikeouts in 15.1 innings.
Isaac Mattison has also been lights out with a 0.89 ERA in 12 appearances for the 66’ers with 30 strikeouts in 20.1 innings of work and he has a 0.84 WHIP. Mattison was a 19th round pick in 2017 out of the University of Pittsburgh. Both Hannewich and Mattison top out in the mid-to-high 90’s and are some of the Angels power arms they seem o be stockpiling.
As for starters in Inland Empire, we already mentioned Rodriguez and Madero, but the Angels have three high draft picks from 2018 who are starting their minor league careers this season in Single-A Inland Empire. Aaron Hernandez, Kyle Braddish, and Cooper Criswell all have great promise.
Hernandez is a third round pick in 2018 out Texas A&M Corpus Christi and he has a mid-90’s fastball that tops out around 95. He has been better after struggling in his first couple of outings. He has allowed only three runs in 13 innings (1.94 ERA) with 15 strikeouts. His biggest issue is 20 Walks in 22 innings which he will have to work on.
Criswell has also pitched better as of late giving up only one run in three of his last four starts. . Overall this season Criswell has pitched well in five of his seven outings allowing one run or less in those outings. He has given up five and six runs in the other two outings which is why Criswell’s ERA is so high at 4.71. He is a 13th round pick out of North Carolina.
Finally, there is Kyle Braddish who has been great so far and is the best of the Angels 2018 draft picks. Braddish was the Angels 4th pick out of New Mexico State University. Braddish has had three starts where he did not allow a run and three more where he only allowed one run.
Braddish has 32 strikeouts in 28.2 innings with a 1.19 WHIP. Braddish has walked 13 batters in 28.2 innings which is a little more than you would like to have, but he has a 2.5 to 1 Strikeouts to walks ratio which is still very good.
Over the next week to 10 days you will see profiles with interviews with Hernandez, Braddish, and Hannewich as well as Chris Rodriguez. These four pitchers have a bright future with the Angels if they can harness their command they could be in Anaheim in the next couple of seasons.