The LA Angels had great success with their first two-way player, Shohei Ohtani, last season. Ohtani infused some life into the Angels and won the Rookie of the Year.
The LA Angels are trying to catch lightning in bottle for a second time this season as they promoted another two-way prospect Jared Walsh, from Triple-A to the majors on Tuesday night. Walsh got his first action Wednesday and went 3 for 5 at the plate against the Minnesota Twins in an 8-7 loss.
Unlike Ohtani, Walsh is a reliever so he will not need the same type of treatment as Ohtani. He can be put in the game as a first baseman or an outfielder and he has a left-handed bat with some power. Within the same game the Angels could then switch Walsh to the mound to face a tough lefty or two.
Walsh has shown good power over the past couple of seasons in the minors. In 2017 Walsh hit 11 home runs with 61 RBIs while batting .311 in Single and Double-A. Then in 2018 he spent time at all three levels of the minors smacking 29 homers and driving in 99 runs while hitting .277.
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Before being called up Tuesday Walsh has already hit 10 homers with 26 RBIs hitting .302 in 139 at-bats for the Salt Lake City Bees. On the mound Walsh has pitched five inning allowing two runs with an ERA of 3.60. Walsh has a low 90’s fastball and a change-up as well as a curve ball.
How often will the Angels use Walsh on the mound is anyone’s guess. The Angels have been content so far to go with right-handed pitchers out of the bullpen and not employ a lefty specialist. If Walsh shows he can get batters out consistently, especially lefties, then you may see Walsh’s role enhanced.
Walsh, for now will be used mostly as a hitter from the left-handed side. He will spell Albert Pujols at first base when necessary. He could also be used as a late game pinch-hitter. It definitely gives Angel manager Brad Ausmus more flexibility with the roster being that Walsh can both pitch and hit.
With Shohei Ohtani not able to pitch in 2019 due to Tommy John Surgery, but he is still hitting as a designated hitter this season for the Angels. It would be unfair to compare Walsh to Ohtani other than the fact that they are both left-handed hitters and both are two-way players, which is unique enough.
Call to the Pen put out the following story on Twitter about Walsh.
Halo Hangout co-editor Vincent Page wrote an initial piece on Walsh’s call-up yesterday and spoke of the Angels being trendsetters in the area of developing two-way players. It is amazing thing to hear the Angels as trendsetters as the franchise has always been known to be a few years behind the times, especially during the Mike Scioscia era.
Scioscia did not put much stock in all the new metrics and statistical analysis that has been sweeping over baseball. The Angels have already joined the ranks of teams employing the opener strategy and for the most part it has been successful with only one opener giving up a run in the first inning, which was yesterday when Cam Bedrosian gave up a first inning run.
More importantly the starting pitcher who has followed an opener has made to the seventh inning on all but one occasion and they are 4-2 in games where the Angels have used an opener. Felix Pena has been the main beneficiary of this strategy.
Pena struggled in his first three regular starts of the season failing to get through the fifth inning in any of them. Since then in Pena’s last five starts Pena has pitched five innings in four of them including going seven innings against Detroit last week. His ERA is 3.33 in his last five appearances after an opener and is 2-0 in that span.
You may or may not like all of the new innovations being made in baseball, but like it or not they are coming or already here so you might as well get used to them. Being on the cutting edge of the new era in baseball is better than waiting too late to start or not adapting whatsoever.
For now enjoy watching this year’s potential two-way player Jared Walsh. Hopefully he will do well and keep the two-way phenomenon going strong.