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The Halos are rolling the dice on bringing up top prospect Griffin Canning in hopes that he will help stabilize a struggling starting Halos rotation that has rarely had any starters go past five innings to begin 2019.

Canning will make his debut against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday (Ohtani Rookie of the Year Sweatshirt Night) in Anaheim.

Trevor Cahill’s latest disappointing outing was probably the last straw for GM Billy Eppler and Manager Brad Ausmus to signal the alarm. On Friday, Cahill went 4 innings, gave up 4 runs, 6 hits, 4 walks, and had 2 strikeouts against the Yankees at home. He got hit hard prompting the Angels to make a move to help get them out of last place.

The S.O.S. signal is 22-year old Griffin Canning. Canning was given a look in Spring Training and struggled a bit by pitching a total of 4 innings, allowing 10 baserunners (5 walks and 5 hits), and gave up 6 runs. However, once he began the season in AAA Salt Lake City this season, it was another story. He went 16 innings, had 17 strikeouts, gave up only 2 walks, and allowed just one earned run. This has been nothing short of impressive and fans are excited to see if he’s the real deal.

But if you need more evidence, let’s look at Canning’s whole minor league career. Throughout Canning’s experience in the minors, he threw 129.1 innings, gave up 112 hits, allowed only 8 home runs, and had an excellent strikeout to walk ratio better than 3:1 (146 strikeouts to 46 walks).

Canning is a Southern California product as many pitchers in MLB have historically come from. He attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita. As a senior, he had an 11–3 record with a 1.51 ERA and 123 strikeouts and was named the Orange County Register Pitcher of the Year. In his final game, he led Santa Margarita to victory in the 2014 California Interscholastic Federation SS Division I Championship, recording 11 strikeouts and allowing only two hits. Canning was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 38th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft but did not sign and played college baseball at UCLA. Was Canning hoping the Angels would sign him instead of the Rockies? Maybe we’ll find that out from him later.

Canning made 15 appearances with 11 starts as a freshman with the Bruins in 2015. He was 7–1 with a 2.97 ERA and 66 strikeouts. As a sophomore, he became UCLA’s #1 starter and made 15 starts, going 5–8 with a 3.70 ERA and 95 strikeouts. Then he returned as UCLA’s ace in 2016 and in 17 starts, he went 7–4 with a 2.34 ERA and 140 strikeouts.

The Angels selected Canning with the 47th pick in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft. He signed with the Angels for a $1,459,200 signing bonus but did not pitch in 2017. In 2018, Canning soared through the system at an extremely fast rate. Pitching for A Inland Empire, he pitched 8.2 innings, didn’t allow a run, had 12 strikeouts and allowed 3 hits. AA didn’t slow him down. In Mobile, he started 10 games, pitched 45.2 innings, allowed only 10 earned runs (1.97 ERA), had 49 strikeouts, and only 19 walks. Although Canning has a 5.49 ERA in AAA, his last three starts in Salt Lake City were spectacular as mentioned earlier.

Now Angels fans, this is something to get excited about. Imagine a rotation of Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning, Matt Harvey, and Felix Peña or Jaime Barria as your #5 starter (sorry Trevor Cahill).


The starting pitching could easily look like this in late May if Angels management wanted to get the best results. It would also depend on the following factors: Canning shows that he’s not a fluke, Skaggs stays healthy, and Heaney comes back stronger. Then maybe, just maybe, a wild card spot isn’t too far out of reach.

Featured Image: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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