The Angels are Ahead of the Curve on Two-Way Players 

The Los Angeles Angels burst onto the scene as pioneers in the new generation of two-way players when they signed international free agent Shohei Ohtani in Dec. 2017. Ohtani earned 2018 American League Rookie of the Year honors with his dominant starting performances during the first half of the season and his middle of the order power for the Angels.

This has prompted the Tampa Bay Rays to draft and develop Brendan McKay as a pitcher/first baseman and the Cincinnati Reds to utilize middle reliever Michael Lorenzen as an outfielder and pinch-hitter.  

While Ohtani is the first Angels two-way player on the scene, another is battling for a final spot on the 2020 Opening Day roster. Jared Walsh’s 36 home runs at Salt Lake last season trailed only Kevin Cron (38) and Seth Brown (37) among Triple-A leaders last season.

Walsh hit those 36 home runs at Triple-A while spending a considerable period of time on the Angels MLB roster. He made his MLB debut May 15, 2019, in Minnesota going 3-5 in his debut at first base. Eight days later, Walsh made his MLB pitching debut against the Twins in Anaheim May 23, allowing one earned run on two hits in one inning of work.

This spring, the 26-year old lefty has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game but has been getting a considerable amount of playing time at designated hitter and first base for the Angels. While Walsh has yet to hit at the level of bench spot competitors Taylor Ward, Matt Thaiss, and Arismendy Alcantara, his two-way capability is something that gives him an edge.

While MLB clubs cannot keep more than 13 pitchers on the 26-man roster, Walsh would qualify on the roster as one of the 13 position players and provide a 14th pitcher to the Angels staff. As the rosters begin to trim it will be interesting to see if Walsh gets some outings out of the bullpen and where that could lead with final roster decisions in a couple weeks. 

At the lower levels, the Angels have top prospects William Holmes and Erik Rivera developing as two-way players going into the 2020 minor league seasons. Outfielder Bo Way, who split last season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Salt Lake has also begun pitching out of the bullpen at those levels as well.

Former Angels prospect Kaleb Cowart was also being developed as a relief pitcher last year when not playing infield and outfield positions at Salt Lake last season. The Angels are sure to continue to monitor the success of all these two-way players at the plate and on the mound in the coming years as they offer incredible potential for more versatile MLB rosters. 

This Week 

Andrew Heaney has been named the Opening Day starter by Angels manager Joe MaddonMaddon stated that he had considered both Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran as well but that Heaney’s tenure with the organization was a factor in choosing him for the honor. The Angels will open the regular season March 26 against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Maddon also made it clear to the media that he was instructing his club’s pitchers to not retaliate against Houston hitters in the opening series. 

The Angels signed first baseman and outfielder Dustin Peterson to a minor-league contract Friday morning. The 25-year-old Peterson was originally a second-round selection by the San Diego Padres in the 2013 MLB draft out of Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Arizona.

After making his MLB debut in two games for the 2018 Atlanta Braves, Peterson appeared in 17 games for the Detroit Tigers last season hitting .227 with four doubles and six runs batted in across 44 at-bats. Peterson, a .262 career minor league hitter, will likely provide organizational depth for the Angels at first baseman and outfield and begin the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. 


Angels Down on the Farm 

Kevin Maitan was signed by the Angels during the winter prior to the 2018 season when the Atlanta Braves were forced to forfeit international signed players. Maitan was the jewel of the group and seemed destined to be fast tracked to the Angels. The first two seasons for Maitan in the Angels organization have been tough with the 20-year old infielder finishing 2019 at Low-A Burlington hitting .214 with 12 home runs in 123 games. This Cactus League the young infielder has shown some improvement at the plate highlighted by his eighth inning one-out game tying double against the Brewers in Maryvale. Following the game, Angels manager Joe Maddon made comparisons to a young Bobby Abreu when referring to Maitan and his performance this spring. Maitan will likely begin 2020 at High-A Inland Empire next month. 

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