Could Angels' top pitching prospect finally turn farm system woes around?

The Angels may have struck gold ... finally.
 Los Angeles Angels pitcher Caden Dana (91) pitches
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Caden Dana (91) pitches / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels have historically been atrocious when it comes to drafting and developing pitchers. The last great starter Anaheim drafted and developed was probably Jered Weaver. Taken in the first round of the 2004 MLB Draft, Weaver went to three All-Star Games during his 11-year career with the Halos.

More recently, the Angels have made efforts to develop some of their top talent. While there's hope for Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers, another young hurler down on the farm is turning into quite the pitching prospect as well.

Caden Dana, an 11th-round draft pick in 2022, began his 2024 season at Double-A Rocket City. That's a rather aggressive promotion for a 20-year-old, but so far things are working out quite swimmingly. Will the Angels finally find success drafting and developing their own pitching talent?

Could LA Angels prospect Caden Dana finally turn farm system woes around?

Dana, who's viewed as the team's second-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, spent just three games at Low-A Inland Empire last season before the Angels' brass had seen enough to determine he was ready for the next step. Dana was nearly flawless for the 66ers in his three starts, going 15 innings while striking out 18 batters and allowing just two earned runs.

But the competition at High-A Tri-City proved to be much tougher. The right-hander slogged through 11 starts for the Dust Devils and finished his first full season in the pros with a 4.22 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 71 punch outs. The strikeouts were great, but as is the case with most young pitchers, Dana struggled with control and command. The right-hander owned a 10.7% walk rate last season.

But during the first three starts in 2024 for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, Dana has looked like the frontline starter that LAA fans are hopeful to see toe the rubber at Angel Stadium someday soon. Dana owns a 1.47 ERA through just over 18 innings of work and has walked just three batters.

The strikeouts have taken a dip, but that 4.5% walk rate on the stat sheet is a thing of beauty. Most GMs will readily accept fewer strikeouts if it means fewer walks. That's what Dana has produced thus far with Double-A Rocket City.

The Angels have shown a penchant to rapidly advance some of their top prospects through the farm system in recent years. There's no need to do that with such a young pitcher, but it's fantastic to see Dana making adjustments so early in his career. Angels fans are hopeful that, for the first time in a long time, they have a homegrown top-of-the-rotation starter.

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