Over the last few weeks you have seen profiles on some of the LA Angels top prospects in the lower minor leagues. Cristopher Molina is not one of those high profile guys, but he could be one of the surprises.
Cristopher Molina was signed as an International free agent out of the Dominican Republic by the LA Angels in 2014. He was signed at only 17 and played two years in the Dominican Repulic Summer League before heading to the U.S. in 2016 to pitch in the Rookie League. His first few years were not great, this season Molina has finally putting things together.
In 2019 Molina started out in Low Single-A Burlington and pitched very well going 3-5 with a 2.69 ERA striking out 65 batters in 63.2 innings of work with a WHIP of 1.115 in 13 games. Opponents only were hitting .208 against Molina. Molina was then promoted by the Angels to High Single-A Inland Empire two weeks ago and so far he has pitched well there as well. In two games with the 66ers he has pitched 10 innings with eight strikeouts and a 3.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with a .216 opponents batting average in two starts.
Molina possesses a 93-95 MPH fastball with a good change-up and slider. Molina likes to uses his breaking stuff even more than his fastball at times. Inland Empire could be just a stop for Molina on his way to the next level. I caught up with Molina last Sunday after the game 66ers game and spoke with him through a translator about his meteoric rise this season.
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What do you attribute your success to this season?
“I have been pitching with more confidence and I have been able to locate my pitches well and have worked very hard to get up here to Inland Empire,” Molina said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity to come here and pitch and try to get better.”
What do you see as the difference between Burlington and Inland Empire?
“I don’t really look at is as different, I’m just going to work hard and try to do my best to help the team here,” Molina said. “This is a much faster place than Burlington. There is a lot more going on here than in Iowa.”
Who has been helpful to you from the Angels team?
“Albert Pujols and J.C. Ramirez have helped me a lot and given me good advice on how to move up to the majors,” Molina said.
What would it be like to play in the majors with Trout, Pujols, and Ohtani?
“It would be very satisfying to get to the majors. I would be very proud. It would be an honor to play with those guys,” Molina said. “I know the road (to the majors) is going to be tough and it will take a lot of hard work. But with the hel of God all things are possible.”
Molina biggest attribute which many young pitchers don’t have especially in the lower minors is control. In 331.2 career innings of work in the minor Molina has only walked 160 batters compared to 329 strikeouts. This means that Molina walks a batter only once every two innings and he has more than a 2 to 1 strikeouts to walk ratio which are both very good numbers. In 2019 he has an almost 3 to 1 innings pitched to walks ratio and the same can be said about his strikeout to walk ratio which both are almost a 3 to 1 ratio.
If Molina can continue this he will achieve great success and you could see Molina in the majors in the next couple of years. Go catch him in Inland Empire before he gets called up to the next level.