It’s that time of the off-season where teams needed to make big decisions on who was going on their 40-man roster and who didn’t make the cut. The Angels selected Jahmai Jones and Hector Yan, leaving Jose Rojas and Oliver Ortega eligible for the rule 5 draft.
We’ll start with Jahmai Jones, where I do believe that it was a great idea to keep him aboard the staff because of the athleticism he showed the LA Angels early on being involved in both football and baseball. MLB Pipeline has him ranked 6th in the terms of the depth chart for the Angels system which is impressive and he covers second base well.
Although he did have a rough season in 2019 offensively, he performed well in the Arizona Fall League and I believe that his athleticism is one of the reasons why the Angels like him so much. While he is part of the 40-man roster, this could also benefit the Angels in terms of making a trade as there could potentially be a log jam in the infield which could prompt the Angels to take a closer look. Having Jones ranked 6th in the system could open up some other clubs eyes for those who are in need of a second basemen and it is understandable that the Angels will seek pitching help.
Some relief help could be on the way for the Angels in terms of one Hector Yan, who was also selected on the 40-man roster and is ranked 17th on MLB Pipeline. He seems to be a two pitch pitcher with a good fastball and curveball combination that could help the Angels in the bullpen should they choose to have him that way.
Considering that those are his only two pitches, there shouldn’t be a reason to argue his case for the rotation unless he develops more pitches that compliment his well thrown fastball and curveball already. Command seems to be one of his issues as he struggled with the finding the strike zone last season which could improve if he continues to work on it and works with the right coaching staff.
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Yan throws left-handed which means the Angels could see him as a specialist to get left-handed hitters out should they decide to go that route. One thing that I found interesting is that even though he is mostly a two pitch pitcher, occasionally throwing a decent changeup, he started 20 games in the minor leagues which leaves me to believe that the Angels could look at him in the starting rotation if he further develops more pitches.
The one player that wasn’t selected and will be participating in the rule 5 draft is Anaheim native Jose Rojas who was a surprise to some as he really produces last season. The one thing that Rojas had a problem with was his defensive capabilities which is something that must have played a big factor considering he finished the season with a .293 batting average, 31 home runs, and 107 runs batted in.
His defensive skills must have been a big issue and considering the designated hitter spot is filled up for the future with Pujols and Ohtani, there was no other choice but to let him go. He can still be picked up by another team that values the offensive production that he put up and can further develop him into a big league player that many fans were hoping to see in Anaheim.
Another big player that was didn’t make the 40-man roster was Oliver Ortega, who was ranked 18th according to MLB Pipeline. He is a three pitch pitcher similar to Hector Yan, and he showed impressive stuff at the beginning of the season with the possibility of him filling another spot in the bullpen.
Like Yan, Oliver Ortega also struggled with command and started all 5 games he played in AA when he received a call up. One of the possibilities that I believe why the Angels didn’t select him on the 40-man roster was because they have what is already similar to him in Hector Yan with Yan being slightly better than the two.
The Angels could certainly pick him back up if another team doesn’t decide to take him in the rule 5 draft and his makeup could certainly see him in the bullpen unless he develops more pitches.
Other players that were left unprotected from the rule 5 draft included Leonardo Rivas, Jack Kruger, Brennon Lund, Gareth Morgan, Adrian De Horta, and Joe Gatto. All of these other players can be picked up by any other team in the rule 5 draft and if they are not picked up, then they can certainly go back into the Angels system.
One thing to keep in mind is that once a player is picked up, that player must remain on the active major league roster, so that is something to consider for other teams that might want to pick up a player who may not be ready as of yet.