With the Angels now a whopping 13.5 games out of a playoff spot, the focus is now on 2020.
Griffin Canning has already been shut down for the season and the Angels are ranked #12 in the 2020 draft order. We’ll look at which Angels minor leaguers could play a big role in 2020. We’ll also look at who will help contribute to a winning team next year?
Hitters to Look Out for in 2020
Let’s discuss the hitters. The Halos have to be excited. Let’s start off with Jose Rojas. He plays third base for the AAA Salt Lake Bees and is having an outstanding season. He’s batting .300, has 29 home runs, 102 runs batted in, 39 doubles, and 6 triples. The only downside is that he strikes out a lot. He has 126 strikeouts in 483 at-bats. Zack Cozart should be shaking in his boots.
The Angels other two-way player had an appearance with the big club as a hitter (.237 in 38 at-bats as a first baseman) and a relief pitcher (gave up only 1 run in 4.1 innings) for the Halos. As a hitter with Salt Lake, he’s batting .322 with 31 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 28 doubles. But he has a downside, which is similar to Rojas. He strikes out a lot: 107 times in 351 at-bats. On the other hand, Walsh could be very valuable as a backup first baseman for Pujols in 2020 (since Justin Bour will be gone). On top of that, he could be a big asset in the bullpen next season.
And the most exciting news yet is the news on Jo Adell. Adell is only 20 years old and the Angels promoted him three times this season. The Halos promoted him from Single-A Inland Empire, to AA Mobile, and to AAA Salt Lake respectively. Adell’s 2019 stats at all three levels: He’s batting .280, has 10 home runs, 33 RBIs, and 22 doubles in 268 at-bats. Here’s a great Yahoo! article about how well he has succeeded in moving up the minor league ladder in such a short time: Outfielder Jo Adell on the Rise for the Los Angeles Angels
Which Young Starters Will Make an Impact in 2020?
Before we look at how the Angels minor league depth is concerned with regards to starting pitching, let’s look at who the Halos will already have penciled in for 2020. The Angels will expect Shohei Ohtani to be back at full strength. Andrew Heaney is healthy and pitched an outstanding game against the Rangers on August 21. He threw eight innings, gave up one run, walked none, and struck out 14 batters. As mentioned earlier, Griffin Canning has been shut down due to inflammation in his right elbow but should be good to go in 2020.
If the Angels do not sign a legitimate starting pitcher this offseason (that wouldn’t be a smart move; see Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill disasters here), who could make an impact with the club that is already in the organization? Unfortunately, the pitching depth for starters is thin and there are only three young pitchers that are possible options but unproven so far.
He was sent down to AAA after he had been struggling consistently, but was brought back to the big club after the Angels shut down Griffin Canning for the season. The last time Suarez won was on June 15. At that time, he went 5.2 innings and gave up three runs against the Tampa Bay Rays on the road. However, hasn’t been nearly as good since then and in his most recent outing against the Astros on August 23. Against Houston, he went 4.2 innings, gave up seven hits, three runs, walked two, and struck out three.
Suarez did marginally better than his outing against the White Sox on August 17. In that start, he went four innings, gave up six hits, four runs, walked three, and struck out five. Although he has a great change-up, but when it’s not working, opponents hit him hard. He has a tendency to groove a fastball over the plate when he falls behind. Suarez has a ceiling of a #4 or a #5 starter and he’ll get an extended look as he will stay in the rotation for the rest of the season.
He has been pretty reliable in 2019 until he ran into the Astros in Houston on August 19. He promptly allowed Houston to go up 5-0 in the first three innings. Peters finished by only pitching four innings, giving up four-five runs (four earned), seven hits, and four walks. He probably has a ceiling of a #4 or a #5 starter just like Suarez. Similar to Suarez, he’ll get an extended look to see how well he can finish 2019.
He is only 22 years old and is the Angels best pitching prospect. The Angels rushed him up due to the team’s lack of depth with their starting pitching. However, since Sandoval has so much potential, the Halos thought they would give him a chance to get his feet wet since the team doesn’t have many options at this point. And despite him clearly not ready to be a full-time major leaguer, he’s held his own.
In his first game against the Cincinnati Reds on the road, he impressed the team. He did this by going five innings, striking out eight, walking two, while giving up up two runs and three hits. Unfortunately in his last three games in 12.1 innings he has struggled. In those 12.1 innings, he has given up 11 runs and not being able to last five innings. He will have the potential of being a #2 starter but just needs to be a bit more seasoned in the minors. He’ll probably stay in the rotation in 2019, but they also don’t want to destroy the youngster’s confidence, so we’ll see if he can improve on his performances in 2019.
He has had his chances with the Angels despite having Tommy John surgery. He started off 2018 wonderfully after his surgery. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t keep it working all season long. He gave up four runs in four of his last six starts in 2018 and lost his job when the Angels signed Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey in the offseason. In 2019, Tropeano started off by pitching a good game (gave up three runs in five innings) on May 28 against Oakland. His success didn’t last long as he struggled against the Seattle Mariners at home on June 9. Tropeano lasted only 3.2 innings and gave up five runs.
Tropeano got another spot start on July 26 against the Baltimore Orioles and went five innings and gave up seven runs at home. This made his ERA jump up to 9.88 in three games with the Halos this season. He’s back in AAA pitching for the Bees and Tropeano has been decent in his last two outings. Unfortunately, he struggled with his control in his last outing by walking four in five innings. That makes it 10 walks in his last 14 innings. Don’t expect him to make a huge impact in the majors at this point in time.
The Angels offense looks good for 2020. But the fans want Mike Trout to get a championship. Since he has played for the Angels, starting pitching continues to be the elephant in the room. The Angels obviously know the problem but haven’t addressed the issue properly for quite some time.
Let’s hope Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, or even possibly Stephen Strasburg is coming to Anaheim this winter. They will not make the playoffs without at least one more top of the line starting pitcher next season.
Featured Image: Matt York/Associated Press