LA Angels 2021 spring training guide: best infield in the league?
By Brad Senecal
Players battling for bench spot (Career Statistics)
- Franklin Barreto (MLB, 4 seasons): 219 PA .180/.210/.360 9 HR 29 RBI
- Jack Mayfield (MLB, 2 seasons): 112 PA .170/.198/.283 2 HR 8 RBI
- Luis Rengifo (MLB, 2 seasons): 512 PA .221/.310/.331 8 HR 36 RBI
- Matt Thaiss (MLB, 2 seasons): 189 PA .202/.291/.405 9 HR 24 RBI
When looking at this group, there are players that have a lot to prove as they battle to earn a reserve spot.
Mayfield was acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Braves after playing the two previous seasons with the Houston Astros. He was initially waved by Houston back in November before being claimed by the Braves. Seeing as the Halos acquired the 30-year old as a trade and got rid of Robel Garcia, they must like his game by giving him a major league spot.
Franklin Barreto is another acquisition the Halos are hoping can find the potential he had as a former top prospect. Acquired in exchange for Tommy La Stella, Barreto will provide a versatile glove off the bench. However, the bat has not shown up for the 24-year-old.
Roughly a year after the Angels acquired Luis Rengifo in exchange for CJ Cron in 2018, it seemed like a fleecing of the Rays after the young infielder shot up the prospect ranks. Fast forward three years and Rengifo has consistently seen time with the Halos, providing a solid glove at second and shortstop while filling in for injured players.
Like Barreto, it has been a bit of a struggle to get consistent hitting for the 24-year-old. While batting a respectable .238 with seven home runs as a rookie in 2019, Rengifo could not build momentum from that. Last summer, his batting average dropped to .156 with one home run.
Angels: One of the reserves on the active roster is looking to take the next steps in their careers.
After being selected 16th overall in 2016 as a catcher, the Angels moved Thaiss permanently to first base to focus on his advanced college at the time.
Thaiss was noted for his patience at the plate, along with his ability to use the entire field as a hitter. Not known for his power, the hope was that he would grow into it as he progressed through the minors, and once he arrived at triple-A, the team decided to improve his versatility by shifting him to third base. In parts of two seasons at Salt Lake, Thaiss has hit a combined .276 along with 24 home runs and 100 RBI.
Thaiss, like others before him, had difficulty translating his bat to the big league-level hitting .202 in parts of two seasons. The 25-year old has also continued to work on his versatility by playing some reps at second base and the outfield in order to improve his value. With his first-round pedigree and minor league success, watch for Thaiss to take a step when his next opportunity is presented.