When the postseason begins next week, the Los Angeles Angels will be in the same place they've been each of the last nine years. On their couches. Meanwhile, a team that went through the rebuild the Halos refuse to go through, the Baltimore Orioles, will be playing for their fourth World Series title and their first since 1983.
When thinking about the Orioles, the first players that come to mind are obviously guys like Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and the other several young position players the O's have developed.
While the hitting is what you think of when you think of the 2023 Orioles, you don't win 98 games with a chance at 100 and a division title without pitching. The Orioles might not have the best rotation in baseball, but they do have a budding star. His name is Kyle Bradish, and this right-hander was once part of the Angels organization.
Kyle Bradish is the LA Angels prospect that nobody remembers who got away
Bradish was a fourth-round pick of the Angels back in 2018 out of New Mexico State University. He was the 21st-ranked prospect in the Angels system in the 2019 offseason, but that was more due to how poor the farm was than how good Bradish was. Still, he was the headliner in a deal that sent four right-handed pitching prospects from the Angels to the Orioles in exchange for Dylan Bundy.
The Angels desperately needed pitching and weren't having success in the free agency market so instead they acquired a guy in Bundy who was once a blue chip prospect for Baltimore but hadn't quite broken out yet. This trade was completed in December of 2019, and Bundy immediately became a key member of the Halos rotation the following season.
He only made 11 starts because of the short season, but the right-hander had a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts and 65.2 innings pitched for the Angels. He struck out 72 compared to just 17 walks. He was excellent, and even finished ninth in the AL Cy Young balloting.
Bundy unfortunately went from excellent to unusable in the blink of an eye, putting up a 6.06 ERA in 23 appearances (19 starts) in 2021 before seeing his Angels tenure come to an end. Bundy having a good year and a bad year wouldn't sting as much as it does if Kyle Bradish hadn't developed into a star for the Orioles.
Bradish made 23 starts last season and had an ERA approaching 5.00 for Baltimore, but earned a starting role out of Spring Training and has held onto it all season. He's gone 12-7 with a 2.86 ERA in 29 starts and 166.2 innings of work. The 27-year-old has been the best pitcher for the best team in the American League all season and will certainly be receiving some Cy Young votes.
This isn't me saying Bradish would be a Cy Young candidate had the Angels not traded him. In all likelihood, he wouldn't end up being very good. This is me saying that watching Bradish flourish in a different uniform while all the Angels got out of it was a solid short season from Dylan Bundy before he fell off a cliff production-wise is frustrating.
Hindsight is obviously 20/20 and nobody thought Bradish would develop into this, but it would've been fun seeing what the talented Oriole would've become with the Angels had they not moved him. He is absolutely one prospect that got away.