If you haven’t noticed the LA Angels are in the middle of a youth movement as many of their top prospects are getting a chance to prove themselves this year due to needs caused by ineffectiveness or injury.
LA Angels infielder Luis Rengifo is one of these prospects who has got an extended look at multiple spots in the Angels infield due to injuries to Tommy La Stella, Zack Cozart, and now Andrelton Simmons. Although he has been a little bit of a hitting slump recently, Rengifo has shown that he can hang in the major leagues and things should only get better for the 22-year old Venezuelan native.
Rengifo was acquired at the end of Spring Training in 2018 from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for first baseman C.J. Cron. In 2018 Rengifo made a meteoric rise from High Single-A Inland Empire all the way to Triple-A Salt Lake. Along the way Rengifo hit .299 with seven homers and 64 RBIs with 41 stolen bases. Rengifo also had a .399 OBP with 13 triples in 2018.
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In the minors Rengifo played mostly second base and a little bit of shortstop, but since being called up he has played both second base and shortstop making a total of nine errors in 86 games good for a respectable .966 fielding percentage. His numbers at the plate have not been spectacular as he is hitting .235 with four homers and 23 RBIs. These numbers are definitely not what you would like to see from your now starting second baseman, again you have to remember Rengifo is only 22 years old and probably should still be in the minors, but due to circumstances Rengifo has been thrown into the fire. You can definitely see the sparks of brilliance and know that once he gets a little more experience Rengifo could be a solid second baseman for the Angels.
Rengifo is taking things in stride though as he is learning in the ropes in the bigs.
“It has been a good experience and a chance to play with a lot of good players. I’m just trying to work hard to get better each day,” Rengifo said. “I don’t what is the future, but I’m here now and I will do my best to do my job and help my team this year.”
Rengifo is not the only player to be learning on the fly as Triple-A teammate Matt Thaiss has also being baptized by fire after starting last season in Double-A getting the call up in early July. In addition to Thaiss and Rengifo the Angels also have three pitchers on the staff in Griffin Canning, Jose Suarez, and Patrick Sandoval who started last season in Single-A only to rise up to Triple-A by the end of 2018 and now are cutting their teeth while pitching in Anaheim. This group of talented young players along with 2018 Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani and David Fletcher, and the Angels top prospect Jo Adell who is knocking on the door of the majors and you can see why the future looks bright for the Angels despite a dismal last month.
“It’s great to have all these great young teammates that I have come up with here to the majors with. We are all having fun together and working hard to get better,” Rengifo said. “It’s good for us to have so great older guys here to learn from. (Andrelton) Simmons has been a great tutor for me to watch and he has taught me a lot about how to play short just be watching him.”
“It’s been amazing to play with these guys like Trout and Pujols. They are great players and their leadership has really helped young guys like me,” Rengifo said. “I think we have a good young group that has a lot of energy and I think we will be very good in the future. I’m very excited and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
So while 2019 has been a major disappointment for almost everyone, take heart that the future is much brighter and enjoy watching these young guys develop. It will not happen overnight, but the future is now a lot closer they you might think.