The Los Angeles Angels full-squad workouts begin Tuesday as they prepare for their first Cactus League games on Saturday.
As pitchers and catchers reported last week, the remaining infielders and outfielders are now in camp with a few having to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Here’s a preview of the Angels infield and outfield going into the first week of spring training.
The Angels outfield starting outfield is likely to consist of a rebounding Justin Upton in left, reigning AL MVP Mike Trout in center, and a platoon of Brian Goodwin and David Fletcher in right. While Mike Trout is locked in for as close to 162 games as possible in center, there are opportunities for others in the corner outfield positions. Upton is coming off an injury-plagued 2019 campaign but has arrived in camp in great condition and the Angels are hopeful he will return to his perennial 30 home run power in the middle of the order this season.
Jo Adell is the future right field answer for the Angels but is almost certain to begin the year in Triple-A for the first six weeks of the season. Brain Goodwin and David Fletcher will fill in as the starting right fielder until Adell’s arrival.
Michael Hermosillo and Taylor Ward will need incredible spring performances to earn them spots on this roster.
Another factor that could play into a role is two-way player Jared Walsh. While Walsh played primarily first base for Angels last year, he has played in the outfield during minor league career and could be used in left or right if needed.
The Angels starting infield will be anchored by future Hall of Fame first baseman Albert Pujols and new addition Anthony Rendon at third base. Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons will be returning in the final year of his contract with the Angels and Tommy La Stella and David Fletcher will split time at second base. Luis Rengifo is expected to return as the utility infielder with the ability to fill in at second, short, or third on any given night. First baseman Matt Thaiss, Jared Walsh, Taylor Ward, and non-roster invites Arismendy Alcantara, Elliot Soto, and Jose Rojas will be doing their best to earn the prized final spot on the roster.
Shohei Ohtani will be the full-time designated hitter for the Angels until his pitching rehab outings begin mid-May. We can expect to see Albert Pujols and Justin Upton get opportunities to be the designated hitter when Ohtani is needing a breather or off pitching a rehab game this spring. Angels lineup is much improved going into camp this year and it will be fun to see which players can battle their way on to the final roster.
Angels This Week
The Angels reportedly signed 33-year-old left-handed pitcher Ryan Buchter Monday afternoon to a minor league contract and invitation to Spring Training. Buchter is a veteran of six major league seasons and has to be considered a favorite for a spot in the Angels 2020 bullpen. Buchter has a career 2.86 ERA in 257 career games pitched with 235 strikeouts and 96 walks.
Buchter pitched 64 games for Oakland last season with 2.98 ERA across 45 innings and a K/BB ratio of 50/23.
Right-handed reliever Justin Anderson injured his oblique and is expected to miss up to six weeks and prevent him from being active on Opening Day. Anderson injured his oblique muscle while playing catch and will begin the season on the injured list and hopefully be available to begin a rehab assignment in April.
Ty Buttrey suffered an intercostal strain and is expected to be sidelined for the first couple weeks of spring training. Joe Maddon said he expects Buttrey should be ready for Opening Day March 26th. Buttrey is expected to be Angels set-up man for closer Hansel Robles going into 2020.
Angels Down on the Farm
Angels right-handed pitching prospect Chris Rodriguez is back and pitching from the mound the first week of camp. The gifted young pitcher is recovering from back surgery last May that cost him the bulk of last season after missing extended time before back issues. The Angels and Rodriguez are hopeful the surgery last May to fix a stress fracture in his lower spine has resolved the issues and allow Rodriguez to climb his way into the Angels rotation in the future.
The 21-year old Rodriguez has been limited to three games at Single-A Inland Empire the past two seasons but could see himself rise quickly through the Double-A and Triple-A levels if he’s finally healthy. In those three games last season at Inland Empire, Rodriguez pitched 9.1 innings, walking four and striking out 13, finishing the season with a 0.00 ERA.
If all goes well for Rodriguez, I would expect to see him begin the year again at Inland Empire with an opportunity to promotion to Double-A Rocket City if he picks up where he left off last season.