After what seems like an eternity, we are finally on the cusp of Spring Training. Each year around this time, fans get ideas in their heads as to who they want to catch fire in Tempe and earn a roster spot or some playing time. What a difference a year makes. Last year, Brandon Wood was the man with the most support from the Angels faithful. Jordan Walden and Hank Conger also received a lot of love. How about this year?
Heading into 2012, the Angels seem to have more players than spots. However, a few critical roster spots are up for grabs and who gets to play how much could have a major impact in an A.L. West race most expect to be close.
Here are mine and some names I think will get plenty of support:
- Kendrys Morales -- to me, he is the key to the season. If he can hit behind Albert Pujols at even close to 2009 production, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride. The Angels would have the best 1-2 punch in the league and an extremely deep offense.
- Mike Trout -- the last time we saw him, he was struggling in the Arizona Fall League. Considering he has no AAA experience and had fairly pedestrian results in his MLB callup, I would love to see him hold his own against this level of competition. He is going to play soon and I want his confidence to be sky high when he does.
- Vernon Wells -- thank God you guys can't throw tomatos at me, but hear me out. Wells is going to get every opportunity to be the Opening Day starter and will probably get at least a month or two at the beginning of the season. Why not let him get going in Tempe and carry some momentum into the season? He has been working all offseason and was spun tighter than a top last year. A productive Wells will really make the lineup deeper and give Trout some more experience in the minors.
- Jordan Walden -- please develop some more control and a secondary pitch.
- Hank Conger -- this is an annual thing for me. Maybe it's because he is a local kid. Maybe it's because he seems so genuinely nice and humble. I really want to see him catch fire and fulfill his potential.
- Bobby Cassevah -- he can justify not bringing in a high priced veteran by continuing the progress he made last year.
- Garrett Richards -- the kid has nasty stuff and will need to kick the door in to win the #5 spot. Even if he doesn't earn an Opening Day roster spot, he will push the other contestants and ease the anxiety over our pitching depth.
I realize there will be many people pulling for Mark Trumbo to transition to third effectively, Trevor Bell to win the 5th starters spot or Jerome Williams to continue his magical run. I was impressed with Jeremy Moore last year and am monitoring the development of Jean Segura. Don't sleep on Efren Navarro, either. He might turn into a decent trade chip.
So, who are you paying a little extra attention to this year?