The LA Angels saw a plethora of young players contributing in the big leagues this year. However, Taylor Ward was not one of them, and now he needs to be.
When the LA Angels moves Taylor Ward from catcher to third base, he lost a lot of the value that made him a first round pick. A defense first catcher, they were seemingly taking away the best part of his game in hopes of it improving his offensive production.
They did just that, in a sense. Since his switch to third base (and the outfield/first base since then), Ward has seemed more adept at the plate. So while his value as a trade chip dropped, his hopes of becoming a contributor in the MLB rose.
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To be fair, both Rengifo and Thaiss have done well in the big leagues, and Walsh’s two-way abilities gives him an obvious edge. However, with the Angels’ injuries piling up and playing time opening more and more, it’s time for Ward to be an everyday player.
If the Angels want 2019 to be an outlier season and contend for the playoffs in 2020, they need to know what they have in terms of prospects and potential role players next season. Taylor Ward falls into that category, and a great season at the minor league levels doesn’t mean Ward is a shoe-in for an easy transition to the MLB.
With these games really meaning nothing (and it even benefitting the Angels to lose as many as they can), putting Ward in the outfield while Rengifo, Thaiss, and Walsh patrol the infield is fine. Sure, it’ll be sloppy and hard to watch at times, but the part of his game they really need to see at the MLB level is what Ward can do in the batter’s box. That’s what matters for his development, not how many errors he makes at a position he just began playing this year.
With so many injuries, the Angels’ focus needs to be on their young players in general. However, considering how little playing time he received in Anaheim this season, Taylor Ward needs to be in the lineup each and every day until the end of this awful season.