The Los Angeles Angels took a calculated risk promoting Zach Neto despite such minimal minor league experience. He was drafted less than one year ago!
Despite his inexperience, Neto has looked more comfortable than anyone could've expected after being thrust into the role as the starting shortstop playing every day for this team. Neto has led off and hit at the bottom of the order. He's shown an ability to read the strike zone well, and after a slow start, has gotten on base at a nice clip (.382 OBP in his last 18 games). Perhaps most importantly, Neto has looked extremely comfortable on the defensive side of the ball, an area the Angels have struggled this season.
The one thing Neto hadn't done yet, was display his power. He hit eight home runs in his 44 career minor league games which would put him at a 29 home run pace for a 162-game season. He hadn't shown it, until last night.
Watch LA Angels rookie shortstop Zach Neto hit his first MLB home run
Zach Neto was the one bright spot against Houston Astros starter Framber Valdez. The southpaw was in complete command all night, delivering eight brilliant innings, allowing just one run on three hits with 12 strikeouts. One of only three Angels hitters who did not fan against Valdez, was Neto.
With two outs and nobody on in the third, Neto came up to the plate as the ninth hitter in the order. The Halos hadn't had a base runner yet. On a 1-1 pitch, Neto deposited a sinker into the right field seats.
With Mr. October, Reggie Jackson in the booth, Neto showed an impressive display of opposite field power for his first MLB home run. Doing it off of Framber Valdez, especially when he was as dominant as he was last night, is super impressive.
It's hard to not be blown away from what we've seen from Zach Neto in his first three weeks in the bigs. Tough loss last night, but this was a nice moment to remember.