The Arms of the Angels (Fly Away From Here)

Written by: Zach Volland (@NotBrianKenny)

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With the Angels getting off to a hot start this season, I decided it was a good idea to dive into their minor league ranks and discuss five of their intriguing arms. The Angels have a plethora of arms at the major league level (though some have already fallen victim to injury), and they’ve been able to deploy a six man rotation in order to limit innings early in the season. We’ve seen Nick Tropeano, Jaime Barria, Parker Bridwell, Andrew Heaney (finally healthy) and several others cycle in-and-out of the rotation already in 2018. Shohei Ohtani has already dazzled, so there is no reason to discuss his greatness in this piece… we’ve already seen him dice MLB lineups. Keep in mind this list is primarily targeting starting pitchers who should remain in the rotation throughout their minor league and major league careers. Hope you enjoy!

  1. Griffin Canning (Organization Rank #8): Canning was a 2nd round pick in last season’s draft, but he actually made his professional debut this season because an injury kept him on the shelf down the stretch of last season. Canning possesses four pitches that all grade above average. His fastball grades at 55 but will likely grade higher as he learns to move the ball laterally. His best current pitch is his changeup, which I have also graded as a 55. He has great plane to this pitch, and he is able to throw it to both sides of the plate with relative ease. His other offerings (a slider and curveball) need some big league coaching and polishing but have shown well in lower levels (50 and 50). I think his ceiling is a #3 with further instruction and development throughout his minor league experience. Expected ETA is 2019
  2. Chris Rodriguez (Organization Rank #6) : Rodriguez comes in as my 2nd best pitching prospect in the Angels system. Like Canning, he also has four pitches that grade above major league average. The right-hander features a medium-effort delivery that needs some refinement as he matures in the minors. His best pitch might be his changeup, which I graded as a 55 with upside. His changeup also has great rotation and plane as it easily mimicks his fastball delivery. He’s able to throw a hard four-seamer as well as a hard sinking two-seamer (60). Rodriguez’s slider (55) has great rotation, and he often throws it hard-and-in to left handed hitters to induce swinging strikes (it’s a wipe out pitch to right handed hitters). Rodriguez has a good floor and should be able to maintain his starter status as he continues to throw strikes and keep hitters off balance. Note: Rodriguez is expected to miss at least a decent portion of the first half of the regular season due to a back injury. Expected ETA is 2020
  3. Jose Soriano (Organization Rank #13): 6’3 and raw! Soriano has the ability to run his fastball up to 97 at times with great plane. I graded it at 65. His two other offerings, a slider and changeup, both have potential to grade as 60 pitches (for now, they sit at 50). If Soriano can fill into his tall, lanky frame, his ability to pitch deeply into games will not be in question. His delivery is questionable at times because he has trouble reproducing it, but he often lands on-time and keeps his arm action short. I like his upside, and I think with time and patience he can be a #2 or #3. However, with questions centered around his mechanics, there’s certainly a chance ends up as bullpen asset. Expected ETA is 2021
  4. Jaime Barria (Organization Rank #7): Barria rounds out the Angels top arms. He’s only 6’1, but his ability to pitch downhill and control his arsenal will keep him in the rotation. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and it doesn’t seem as though he’ll add much velocity. His best offering is his changeup (55) which has great downward trajectory and late life. His slider sits around 82, but it isn’t an electric offering comparatively in today’s game. His upside is probably of a #4-5 in a big league rotation solely because of his ability to throw strikes and compete (see his 21 pitch AB with Brandon Belt for validation). Barria has already arrived in the big leagues
  5. Stiward Aquino (Organization Rank #19): Aquino stands at a massive 6’6 and a whopping 170 lbs.; he’s only 18 years old as well. Aquino signed in 2016 and reported to the Dominican League where he was pretty unspectacular, only sitting around 90-91 mph. He has a medium-effort delivery that doesn’t seem like he’s over exerting himself to “throw” the baseball. From what little film there is on the young man, it seems like he can reproduce his delivery but will have to continue to refine as he develops. Aquino added some muscle weight prior to last season, and it showed up at rookie ball when he sat in the 94-96 mph range. Aquino has 3 pitches that he commands decently. His fastball has life out of his hand and grades at 60. To me, his curveball (55) has the most potential as an out-pitch with a high spin rate. He also throws a changeup that needs some obvious refinement but with time could project as average (40-45). From reports, he has a pretty high ceiling and could project as a #4 starter without breaking too much of a sweat. Expected ETA is 2021-2022

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Featured image courtesy of Baseball America

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