Martin: Los Angeles Angels’ Secret Weapon is David Fletcher


Coming up through the Angels’ farm system, the comparisons to David Eckstein were unmistakable. David Fletcher’s diminutive build, scrappy toughness, and hustle allowed many to assume the young prospect could fill a void in the Angels’ middle infield in the future.

What the Angels and their fans have received is a player who still echoes the spirit of Eckstein but possesses the versatility of former All-Star super-utility player Chone Figgins.

Fletcher stepped up as the Angels’ everyday third baseman in 2019 but the signing of Anthony Rendon this offseason will move Fletcher to playing more second base. Tommy La Stella was a surprise All-Star for the Angels before a broken leg ended his season in the first week of July 2019; Fletcher will likely force La Stella back to the role of backup infielder for Angels. Fletcher has played well in left and right field when given the chance and could challenge Justin Upton, Brian Goodwin, or Jo Adell at times this season.  


Fletcher provides the Angels with good baserunning, solid contact hitting, and versatile defensive capabilities that can assure a healthy Fletcher a spot in the daily lineup if and when the 2020 season finally begins. 

Chone Figgins was the last everyday player the Angels had that played virtually all infield and outfield positions and provided the top-of-the-order ability that Fletcher has displayed. During Figgins’s tenure with the Angels, the club appeared in six postseasons in their most successful decade in the history of the franchise. Fletcher could be that catalyst for the 2020-decade Angels and a spark plug for the next wave of postseason Angels clubs. 


While the Angels would love to sign impending free agent Andrelton Simmons to an extension, Fletcher could find himself as the everyday shortstop in 2021 if Simmons cannot be retained. Just as the Angels found a home for Figgins at third base after Troy Glaus’s departure and an unsuccessful Dallas McPherson period, Fletcher could land at shortstop if the team needs that hole filled in the future. A move to shortstop would also open up second base to Jahmai Jones if he continues to progress when he gets a chance to play for Triple-A Salt Lake. Jones took a real step forward in the Arizona Fall League last year and could be a future starter at second base for the Halos. 

Angels This Week 

The Angels announced Monday that they would be opening team facilities in Anaheim, Calif., and Tempe, Ariz., for players to begin working out in preparation for Spring Training 2.0. Initially, these workouts have been approved and limited to Angels players currently on the 40-man roster but this could be expanded in the coming weeks. 

There is still no word on when the 2020 Major League Baseball season will resume as MLB and the MLBPA plan to exchange more proposals this week. Minor League Baseball clubs have not heard if they will be playing baseball in 2020 yet.


Former Angels in the KBO This Week 

Jose Miguel Fernandez has continued his hot hitting to begin the 2020 season for the Doosan Bears. As of Monday, Fernandez was leading the KBO in batting average (.500), on-base percentage (.544), OPS (1.308), and hits (36) across his first 81 plate appearances of the season. The 2018 Los Angeles infielder is beginning his second season in the KBO with defending champion Doosan. For the week, Fernandez hit a ridiculous .542 (13-24) with two home runs and eight runs batted in. 

Drew Rucinski won his lone game started for the first-place NC Dinos on Saturday evening, pitching eight shutout innings and allowing only four hits while walking one batter and striking out nine Hanwha Eagles batters. Rucinski, who played for the Angels in 2014 and 2015, has started his second KBO season with NC Dinos at a 3-0 clip with a 2.49 ERA across his first four starts. 

2018 Angels starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne received a no decision in his fourth start for the KT Wiz on Friday evening against the LG Twins. Despaigne walked none and allowed only one earned run on six hits across seven innings; he is now 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts for the KT Wiz in his first season of KBO ball. 

Drew Gagnon was acquired along with Martin Maldonado from Milwaukee in December 2016. Although Gagnon never appeared in the majors with the Angels, he is still former property of the club and thus a former Angel. Gagnon won his first KBO game of the season in his third start for the Kia Tigers last Wednesday, pitching six shutout innings and allowing only two hits while walking two and striking out nine Lotte Giants hitters. Gagnon enters this week 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in his first three starts for Kia Tigers.  

Jared Hoying was Angels property for just under a month in the winter of 2017 before the Angels released him to allow him to play in Korea. In three KBO seasons, Hoying is a .294/.356/.513 hitter with 49 home runs, 188 runs batted, and 48 stolen bases across two-plus seasons with the Hanwha Eagles. The outfielder is hitting .294 (five-for-17) in four games played last week and is .260 with a home run, five runs batted in, and three stolen bases for Hanwha. 


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