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Previewing Angels Catchers Heading Into Camp 

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Jason Castro should be arriving at Angels camp with his new club feeling pretty relaxed.

In fact, Castro arrives in Tempe without any competition for the Angels starting catcher job when pitchers and catchers report for their first workout this Wednesday. The veteran backstop was grabbed last month by the Angels and is one of only three Angels catchers in camp with prior MLB experience behind the plate. The Angels are hoping they can get a healthy season from Castro with numbers similar to what he provided Minnesota last season exponentially across more games and plate appearances. 

The 32-year-old Castro comes to the Angels coming off a season where he .232 with 13 home runs for Minnesota. He found himself sharing playing time with Silver Slugger catcher Mitch Garver and Willians Astudillo. Castro will be counted on by the Angels to play with the regularity he displayed with Houston and Minnesota between 2013 and 2017, averaging 114 games caught per season. Castro has caught 777 games during his nine MLB seasons; 711 more than the combined total of all other healthy Angels catchers reporting to camp. 

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The 30-year-old minor league veteran Anthony Bemboom made his major league debut last season and caught 25 games between the Rays and Angels. Bemboom has a golden opportunity to seize the back-up catcher job this spring as Max Stassi is still recovering from hip surgery and likely to begin the season on the injured list. Bemboom struggled at the plate but like Stassi did well behind the plate during his limited opportunity last season. 

Max Stassi is known for his framing and his ability to handle a pitching staff well but is an offensive liability. The strengthening of the Angels lineup in other areas will help make that shortcoming forgivable for a team in need of great receivers for their pitching staff. The Angels hope to have Stassi back healthy by early-summer. Until then, it will be up to Bemboom or minor league catcher Jose Briceno to handle back-up catching duties for the Halos. The 27-year-old Briceno re-signed a minor league contract with the Angels this winter after spending 2019 at Triple-A. Briceno was acquired from Atlanta with Andrelton Simmons and caught 41 games in Anaheim during his 2018 rookie season. 

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A very likely scenario that Bemboom and Briceno don’t want to think about is the strong likelihood that the Angels find another catcher at the end of Spring Training as other clubs trim their rosters. The Angels have a history of making this kind of acquisition to button up their roster going into the season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that occur next month. 

Other Angels catchers to watch during the games this spring are prospects Jack Kruger, Franklin Torres, Keinner Pina, and Harrison Wenson. All should see action in the later innings of Cactus League games this month and next. While Taylor Ward is two years removed from catching, one would think he would have a better chance of making the Angels roster this spring as a catcher. Don’t think the Angels are going to make a position change with Ward but it’s at least worth the club’s consideration. 

Angels This Week 

The Angels claimed lefty reliever Jose Quijada from the Miami Marlins and designated pitcher Parker Markel for assignment. The 24-year-old Quijada pitched 34 games for Miami last season striking out 44 hitters in 29.2 innings pitched. He struggled with control walking 26 batters and registered a 5.76 ERA for the year. Quijada should benefit from time with Mickey Callaway and join Dillon Peters as a candidate for a left-handed relief role for the 2020 Angels. 

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Former Angels’ first baseman Kendrys Morales announced his retirement from baseball last week after 13 major league seasons. Morales finishes his career hitting .265 with 213 home runs and 740 runs batted in. His finest season came with the Angels in 2009 when Morales hit .306, 34 home runs, 108 runs batted in while finishing fifth in American League MVO voting.  

The Angels fan went from thinking Joc Pederson, Ross Stripling, and Andy Pages were coming to the Halos for about five days this past week. The details as to exactly why the deal fell apart are sure to come out in the coming days but, for now, Brian Goodwin and Jo Adell are leading candidates for the starting right field job.  Patrick Sandoval, Matt Andriese, and Jaime Barria are all still in play for the fifth starter role for the Angels without Stripling on the Halos. 

Angels Down on the Farm 

Several MLB publications have recently released an updated top prospects list with the notable inclusion of several Los Angeles Angels prospects. The following Angels prospects were ranked accordingly on these publications’ latest list of Major League Baseball’s top minor league prospects. 

MLB.com has outfielders Jo Adell ranked 6th and Brandon Marsh 79th overall on their latest MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects list.  The same two future Angels outfielders both ranked better on the recent Baseball America Top 100 list with Adell ranking 3rd and Marsh 43rd overall. Four Angels prospects cracked the Baseball Prospectus Top 100 list with Adell ranked second, Marsh at 51, outfielders Jordyn Adams at 72 and D’Shawn Knowles at 99 on their pre-season list. The future Angels in the outfield are looking to be a strong position in the Angels farm system. 

 

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