3 LA Angels spring surprises you’ll see in MLB soon

There were some standout performers this spring in Tempe.

Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Kelvin Caceres (71) throws
Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Kelvin Caceres (71) throws / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels are entering a new era of baseball. While Mike Trout is still on the roster, the Halos will look a lot different without No. 17 in the middle of the lineup. With Shohei Ohtani off to that other team in LA, the Angels focus may begin to shift toward some of the organization's younger and lesser known talent.

Many of the Angels top prospects have already found their way to the major leagues. Zach Neto and Nolan Schanuel will be part of the Angels Opening Day roster, and top prospects like Nelson Rada and Caden Dana are easily two years away from making it to The Show.

But the Angels will soon embrace a handful of players who aren't yet household names, but had success this spring out in Tempe. Which three Angels players, who won't be part of Los Angeles' Opening Day roster, might find their way to the big leagues rather quickly this season?

Nick Jones, LA Angels LHP

The Los Angeles relief corps is flooded with a number of players who are out of minor league options. That means the Halos need to either carry those players into the regular season or bid them farewell. At this point of the season, most teams opt for the former rather than latter in order to maintain roster flexibility.

But it's a good bet that one or more of the relievers that LA takes into Opening Day will fail to impress or wind up on the injured list. When that happens, the Angels may turn to left-hander Nick Jones. The 25-year-old was a non-roster invite to spring training and performed quite well during his limited number of appearances.

Jones was an eighth-round draft pick of the Halos back in 2021 and had been striking batters out with regularity throughout his time in the minor leagues. Last season, Jones posted a 28.8% strikeout rate and allowed opposing batters to barely hit above .200.

This spring, Jones made only three appearances but didn't allow a run. In fact, only one of the 13 batters Jones faced during Cactus League play even recorded a hit. Jones struck out six and walked two over three innings of work. The southpaw is ticketed for Triple-A to start the 2024 season, but if Jose Suarez falters, look for Jones to get the call to join the active roster.

Jake Marisnick, LA Angels OF

Jake Marisnick is not a foreign name to Angels fans, but they're used to seeing him play for the opposing team. Marisinick's best stretch as a professional was during his time with the Angels' AL West rival, the Houston Astros.

Marisnick was signed to a minor-league deal this offseason and received a non-roster invite to spring training. It's not hyperbole to say that Marisnick was the most impressive position player in camp this spring, and it's honestly rather surprising that the veteran was left off the Angels' Opening Day roster.

But it appears as though the Angels are willing to give Jo Adell one last chance to show that he can be a major league ballplayer. If past performance is the best indicator of future performance, then Marisnick might be called up to the big leagues sometime in April or May.

Adell's history in the majors is littered with unsuccessful attempts to prove himself at the highest level. Seeing as how the former first-round pick is out of minor league options, Adell's spot on the Angels roster is hanging by a thread. If Marisnick's .891 OPS from spring ball carries over to the Triple-A regular season, then Angels fans will see the 32-year-old make his 2024 debut sooner than later.

Kelvin Caceres, LA Angels RHP

Kelvin Caceres made his major league debut last season, but it was little more than a cup of coffee. Caceres made two appearances out of the Angels bullpen, walked two of the eight batters he faced, threw a wild pitch, and allowed two runs to score. There have been worse debuts, but Caceres would like to prove that he's better than the effort he displayed in 2023.

This spring, Caceres put up some good numbers and stuck around until about the final week of spring training. That would suggest that new manager Ron Washington and his staff were willing to give Caceres an extended look.

As was the case with the aforementioned Nick Jones, the Halos bullpen doesn't allow for a lot of wiggle room at the moment. If any of the team's non-roster invitees were going to receive a shot at the Opening Day roster, it was going to be Drew Pomeranz or Hunter Strickland. Pomeranz was released, and Strickland could be part of the festivities later this week.

But keep an eye out for Caceres. If the right-hander's spring performance carries over to his first weeks in the minor leagues, it won't be long before the 24-year-old forces the Angels' hand. Caceres logged five innings, posted a 1.80 ERA, and struck out five batters during Cactus League play. Caceres is trying to work his way back to the big leagues, and his spring performance was quite encouraging.

More LA Angels News from Halo Hangout