Spring training is upon us and with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp today it seemed like a good time to take a look at two important battles. The two most intriguing position battles at spring training will be the infield battle between 2nd base and 3rd base and the final spot in the starting rotation.
The 2nd base and 3rd base battle consists of Zack Cozart and four others fighting for those spots. Zack Cozart is going to play either 2B or 3B depending on who wins what position. There are still plenty of guys on the free agent market like Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison, and Mike Moustakas to name a few. The Angels could sign them, but the Angels seem fine with what they have.
Cozart, signed a 3 year deal last off-season with the Angels and appeared in only 58 games last season. He underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and is ready to go for spring training. Cozart is pretty much guaranteed either 2B or 3B depending on who wins the starting position out of the next 4 guys.
Rengifo, was acquired last March as the player to be named later from the Rays in the C.J. Cron trade. Rengifo broke out last season in the minors and was added to the 40 man roster this off-season. His primary position is 2B, but played SS as well last season.
The Angels drafted Ward as their 2015 1st round pick, but was drafted as a catcher. The Angels moved him to 3B last season after struggling at the catching position. His power numbers went up after the move to third and earned a call up to the big leagues in mid-August. Ward did show some power in his short amount of time with the Halos by hitting 6 home runs in 135 at-bats. He, will come in to spring fighting to start at 3B.
Fletcher is the favorite to win the 2B starting job after he impressed after he got called up in Mid-June of last season. He appeared in 80 games, is versatile and appeared at 2B, SS, 3B, and RF last season. Fletcher is will liked for his ability to put the ball in play, but does not provide much power as he hit 1 home run in 284 at-bats last season.
Tommy La Stella
La Stella was acquired by the Angels in late November and is more than likely going to be the utility guy on the bench for the Angels. La Stella can play anywhere in the infield and will get a shot at starting at 2B/3B.
The final spot in the rotation features quite a few guys including one of the Angels best pitchers last season in Jaime Barria. There are still some starters left in the free agent market including Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez at the top. The Angels likely won’t sign Keuchel due to how much he wants and maybe the Angels will took a look at him if his price drops.
Final spot in the starting rotation
Barria is the favorite to win the 5th and final spot in the rotation due to how well he performed last year in his age 21 season. Barria, led the Angels in wins with 10 wins and started in 26 games while logging a 3.41 ERA in 129.1 innings pitched.
Tropeano has the most experience in this group as he has pitched in 4 seasons in the big leagues. He was acquired from the Houston Astros in November of 2014 and missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. He also ended the season last year on the disabled list due to shoulder inflammation. Tropeano, has a career ERA of 4.15 through 203.2 innings. He started 14 games last season and held a record of 5-6 with a 4.74 ERA in 76 innings.
Pena, was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in October 2017. Felix Pena made a pair of relief appearances early in the season and after that the Angels converted Pena to be a starting pitcher. Due to injuries in the rotation, he was called up in mid-June to make his first start and was in the rotation through the end of the season. Pena became more effective as time went on and started 17 games and put up a record of 3-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 90 innings.
Peters, was acquired from the Miami Marlins in late November and has only pitched 59 innings in the big leagues. Peters has a career ERA of 6.10 in 11 starts and 2 relief appearances in 2017 and 2018 combined. Peters is more than likely depth for the rotation, but if he impresses in spring he could earn that final spot.
The next two guys are big prospects for the Angels and were invited to big league camp. They will likely not make the rotation and start the season in the minors.
The Angels 2nd round pick in 2017 and in his 1st season in his pro career he flew through the minors and was nearly untouchable until he hit Triple-A. Canning, struggled once he got promoted to Triple-A although the Pacific Coast League is a tough league to pitch in. He pitched 113.1 innings across three levels in the minors.
Suarez like Canning pitched across three different minor league levels for the Angels and struggled once he got promoted to the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. He, will also likely start the season in the minors after pitching 117 innings in the 2018 season
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