Could LA Angels have a legit MLB starter in Hector Yan?

By Vincent Page
ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 14: Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler answers questions during a press conference to introduce Anthony Rendon #6 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on December 14, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 14: Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler answers questions during a press conference to introduce Anthony Rendon #6 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on December 14, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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When the LA Angels were adding players to their 40-man roster prior to the MLB Rule 5 Draft, the team opted to add left-handed pitcher Hector Yan in a somewhat surprising move.

The LA Angels opted to keep Yan over names like Jose Rojas, who is a fan favorite amongst Angels faithful. Yan also had never made it past the lower levels of the minors, while Rojas was a legitimate option to call up to the MLB club last season. In theory, it would make more sense to protect Rojas. But yet, the Angels opted for Yan.

And while it ultimately didn’t matter – the Angels didn’t lose any talent in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft – the team’s protection of Yan showed just how confident the Angels are in the southpaw’s ability to make an impact at the MLB level. While it isn’t definite whether he’ll be a reliever or starter, Yan proved in 2019 that he definitely has the stuff to make the Angels look wise for adding him to their 40-man roster.

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The Angels signed Hector Yan as an international free agent in 2015 as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic. Ever since he made his way into the Angels’ developmental system, Yan has continued to make strides in improving himself as a pitcher.

His velocity has touched as high as 96-97 MPH at times, and sits in the mid-90’s. His small frame caps just how hard he’ll be able to throw in his career, but the movement at the backend of the pitch is enough for the heater to be a plus pitch for Yan. He pairs it with a curveball, his best pitch by far, that has a ton of drop late to fool hitters.

The debate between Yan developing into a starter or reliever comes down to his third pitch, a changeup. If Yan can keep working on his changeup until it’s just a league average pitch, he may be able to make a career out of starting. However, until he proves that pitch can be used effectively, I’ll put my money on him making an impact out of the bullpen.

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Yan has yet to get past Single-A, and his goal for 2020 should be to have success in both the Advanced A and Double-A levels. His impact in Anaheim won’t be until at least 2021, but the Angels feel confident that they have a pitcher who can be a legitimate difference-maker in Hector Yan.

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