The next round of Los Angeles Angels roster cuts have taken place, and two Spring Training stars were part of it.
Mickey Moniak and Ben Joyce were two of the more surprising players of Angels Spring Training. Moniak has slashed .409/.435/.750 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 44 at-bats. His 18 hits are four more than the players with the second most as they have 14. His bat combined with his speed and defense made him a fun watch.
Ben Joyce and his 104 mph fastball will also begin the season in Salt Lake. He allowed two runs in 6.2 innings pitched and struck out 10. Control ended up being a bit of an issue towards the end of camp as he walked six batters overall, and could use some more seasoning to help with that. Joyce has 13 (!) professional innings, so the fact that he was even in contention for a spot speaks volumes about the pitcher he is and will be.
Angels make next round of Spring Training roster cuts
Moniak along with Jo Adell and Andrew Velazquez was optioned to AAA as they're on the 40-man roster but won't begin the season with the big league club. Adell started to swing the bat a little better at the end of camp but 22 strikeouts in 48 at-bats is not going to cut it. Andrew Velazquez hitting only right-handed had just six hits in 37 at-bats with 16 strikeouts. Both will need to improve offensively in the minors if they want to spend any time in the bigs this year, Adell in particular.
I've gone in-depth as to why Moniak making the Opening Day roster would be a bad idea, but it all comes down to opportunity. With the Angels having as good of an outfield as they have, Moniak would rarely play. If there's an injury to one of these outfielders, he'll be back. Phillips in the role he is going to play is fine. Sam Blum of The Athletic says Taylor Ward will play CF when Trout isn't starting, so Phillips is literally only going to run and defend. Two things he excels at.
In addition to those position players, the Angels sent three relievers to minor league camp. Joyce is the headliner, but Webb and Warren both pitched particularly well as well. If relievers struggle or there're injuries, all three will be in consideration for promotion.
As much as it hurts to see Moniak and Joyce in particular go down, these were the right decisions. Moniak wasn't going to get enough at-bats and would benefit much more from playing every day in AAA. In Joyce's case, he wasn't quite ready with his lack of command at times, and Andrew Wantz earned that last bullpen spot.
What we can really take away from this is the Angels have a TON of depth. Adell started on Opening Day last season, he's not going to make the team in 2023. Andrew Velazquez was up and starting just days after Opening Day. Moniak was going to start for the Phillies before getting injured right before Opening Day. All three begin in the minors alongside other talented ballplayers.
The Angels Opening Day roster is becoming much clearer with catcher being one of the last hurdles. Most of it lines up with what I had projected here. I have no issue with the Angels choosing either Thaiss or O'Hoppe.