At 5’10” and 165 lbs., 21- year old Venezuelan Luis Rengifo has had a topsy turvy professional career the last two seasons. His career started when he was signed out of Venezuela by the Seattle Mariners in 2014 when he was just 16 years old.
In August 2017, the Mariners traded him. The M’s acquired pitcher Ryan Garton and catcher Mike Marjama from the Tampa Bay Rays for prospects Rengifo, Anthony Misiewicz and a player to be named later (Osmy Gregorio). In March 2018, he was once again traded. As Asher Feltman noted on minorleagueball.com, “Returning to the AL West, he was tabbed the player to be named later in the Rays-Angels deal that sent C.J. Cron to Tampa in February. Rengifo was the sole return for Cron, a former first-rounder with the Angels who had run out of literal options amidst a revamped L.A. depth chart.” Remember Angels fans. The jury is still out on whether or not the C.J. Cron trade worked in the Halos favor or not. It all depends on if Rengifo pans out.
So what are the chances that he does pan out? John Sickels of minorleague.com reported on his statistics in his minor league career up to this point. Rengifo hit .250/.316/.397 in Low-A, with 12 homers, 34 steals, and a 41/97 BB/K in 496 at-bats in 2017. It wasn’t spectacular, but pretty decent for a middle infielder in the pitching-oriented Midwest League. He opened 2018 in the High-A California League, hitting .323/.426/.466 in 161 at-bats. The Angels promoted him to Double-A and he kept showing off his talent with a slash line of .305/.420/.477 in 151 at-bats. He then moved up to AAA Salt Lake in July 2018 and finished the season at .274/.358/.421. In 190 at bats, he only had 3 home runs, but he had 5 triples. That was pretty impressive since he’s only been in Salt Lake for a limited time.
Even more impressive were his overall numbers in A, AA, and AAA in 2018. When you combine all of his levels in 2018, you get a .299/.399/.452 slash line with 7 home runs, 64 runs batted in, 41 stolen bases (57 attempts), 30 doubles, 109 runs, 75 walks, and 75 strikeouts in 590 at bats (a very good strikeout ratio for a batter). Despite playing for three different organizations (Seattle, Tampa Bay, and the Angels), he didn’t let that distract him from hitting well.
Due to his wiry stature, the only knock on this guy is his power. However, since his specialties are shortstop or second baseman, a lot of power isn’t needed for those positions. In Spring Training 2019, he will definitely get a chance to fight for a bench spot at worst and a spot in the starting lineup at best since David Fletcher isn’t guaranteed the second baseman’s job as of yet. If he can show more power, he might also get a chance to compete with Zack Cozart and Taylor Ward at third base. What we do know for now is that he has speed, doesn’t strike out a lot, and can get on base.
What’s most likely to happen is that Rengifo will play in Salt Lake most of 2019 and get called up for good in September. This in turn would most likely make him major league ready in 2020. But at the rate he’s going, maybe he’ll surprise the Angels brass and be ready for the Big Show this season.
Here’s a bit of advice for Angels fans: keep an eye out for Rengifo. As everyone’s eyes are on Jo Adell and Griffin Canning, Luis Rengifo is quietly making some waves, yet few people know it.
Featured Image: Luis Rengifo/dailybulletin.com