LA Angels pitching prospect UNC alum Cooper Criswell is trying to figure things out in minors

Los Angeles Angels, (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Angels, (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

When the LA Angels drafted 6’6 210 pound righty Cooper Criswell in the 13th round of the June 2018 MLB Amateur draft they saw tremendous potential in the Carrollton,Georgia native.

LA Angels pitching prospect Cooper Criswell is an imposing figure on the mound with his six-foot six inch frame coming at you with his low 90’s fastball that has been clocked as high as 94 MPH along with a slider, change-up, and curve ball.  Criswell pitched in college at the University of North Carolina in 2018 before getting drafted by the Angels at the end of his junior season. (Criswell went to junior college before that).

While at UNC in 2018 Criswell went 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 75 innings of work and a 1.102 WHIP. The Angels decided to shut Criswell down after drafting him last June and let him have a fresh start in High Single-A Inland Empire. Criswell struggled in his first two moths going 0-4 with a 5.44 ERA giving up 23 earned runs in 38 innings of work for the 66ers.

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Since then Criswell is 2-2 with a 3.65 ERA in 30.1 innings of work and only walking six batters during that span with a 1.25 WHIP compared to walking 17 batters in the first 38 innings.  Criswell’s strikeout total has also increased greatly with 33 punchouts in the 30.1 innings of work compared the 29 he had in 38 innings in the first two months of the season. Criswell is relying more on his fastball, but is starting to use his slider more often as he gets better command of the pitch since adding it to his repertoire during this past off-season after signing with the Angels.

“I was getting a little frustrated early, but I just had to shake it off and try to get better and better each outing,” Criswell said of his season so far. “It’s been an adjustment to playing every day compared to college.  The strike zone is a little tighter here in the minors so you got to locate the ball better.”

As for his goals for this season Criswell said its about adjusting to a higher level of competition in the minors.

“My main goal is to get bigger and stronger this season. I came in here at 200 lbs and now I have worked at it and have gained 15 pounds of muscles which will help to strengthen my arm and add some to my velo,” Criswell said. “I’m just trying to work on learning the hitters and what I have to be able to do to get them out consistently.”

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With Anaheim so close by to Inland Empire you can’t help but think about it, but Criswell says that he still has a lot to do before he can get there.

“It is something I’m been dreaming about since I was a kid,” said Criswell of making the majors. “Hopefully once I get some more experience I will be able to get there one day.”