The Angels made Christmas brighter in the lives of twenty aspiring minor leaguers today. The club invited them to Spring Training, giving each one a fair shot to prove he deserves to be on the 2015 opening day roster wearing a Halo.
Here is a rundown on twenty players (ten pitchers, ten position players) from the organization who got an early Christmas present from Santa Dipoto Claus...
Trevor Gott - This righty blossomed in AA with the Travs after coming over with Huston Street from the Padres. He had 18 K in 17.2 IP with a 1.53 ERA in Arkansas. Our bullpen is deep but he is in the picture now.
Yoslan Herrera - RHP who spent time in the bigs with the Halos last season out of the pen, he had a great story, making it back to the bigs after six years from first appearing there with the Pirates in 2008. Went thru waivers though, not exactly a hot property but still a live arm.
Edgar Ibarra - This 25 year old relief pitcher had a 3.44 ERA in 31 AAA appearances last year with the Twins minor league club. He is a lefty so keep your eye on him.
Sean Newcomb - Our #1 draft pick in 2014, this big lefthander dazzled in a short stint with the Low-A Burlington Bees last season. He will not likely make the Angels out of camp but is one guy to watch in Tempe so you can brag and say you saw him when he was still in the minors. Spring performance will decide if he starts the season at High-A, AA or AAA. A bug future awaits Newcomb and with a full rotation Jerry Dipoto will not rush him. Angels marketers are salivating with possibilities including stadium souvenir combs that fans will be expected to purchase before every one of Sean's starts in order to bring their "NEW COMBS" to the game.
Alex Sanabia - I hit my thumb with a hammer the other day and shouted "SANABIA" so you would think i was more familiar with this Right Handed pitcher who played for both the Florida and Miami Marlins. At 25 he was still a year younger than the average AAA player last year where he started 19 games in a pitchers park for the New Orleans Zephyrs and had a 3.98 ERA in 110 IP after being dumped by the Diamondbacks in May when he could not hang on the mound in Reno's Triple-A hitters park.
Atahualpa Severino - He signed with the Montreal Expos in February of 2004 before he had turned twenty years old and eventually made it to the Post-Montreal Nationals in 2011. He signed with the Angels in November right after turning thirty years old and brings a left arm that has delivered more than one strikeout per inning consistently in over a decade of professional baseball.
Nate Smith - From the most interesting name in the world to the most boring, this 6' 3" lefty is anything but boring on the mound. One of the survivors of that "somethings-gotta-stick" 2013 draft class where the Halos took pitchers on all but a handful of rounds, Smith had a 2.97 ERA in an evenly divided season of starting for the 66ers in the High-A California League and the Travelers in the AA Texas League. his 118 Ks over 118 IP looks pretty good, especially considering he was two and half years younger than the average AA player.
Scott Snodgrass - He was non-tendered by the White Sox on December 3 and signed with the Halos on December 11. He is a lefty who is till quite young and consistently keeps his ERA under five, that is all I got - actually that sounds like C.J. Wilson when you think about it - except for the "young" part.
Albert Suarez - A right handed castoff from the Rays system recently signed with the Halos to fill out the non-roster.
Adam Wilk - This lefty had cups of coffee with the Tigers in 2011 and 2012. He spilled is coffee. With a 4.72 ERA in AAA with the Pirates last year he was nothing special. But he went to Cypress High and Cal State Long Beach so, in the words of Joseph Campbell, the hero always returns home in mythology.
Charles Cutler - Dipoto grabbed this 28-year old in November after he was released by the Cubs - who had stolen him in the Rulke 5 Draft from the pirates the year before. He had a .415 On Base Percentage in AA and could be an under the radar pickup who lands in Salt Lake. Keep an eye on this guy, he could be the Jewish Bengie Molina.
Stephen McGee - When you have this many pitchers, you gotta bring along a few more catchers. McGee hit .220 Low-A ball last year where he was one and half years older than the average player. Probably not going to be in Anaheim this April.
Jackson Williams - A 2007 first round pick of the San Francisco Giants, he got a cup of coffee with the Rockies in August and was waived soon after the season ended. He has never batted above .256 so look for Mike Scioscia to fall in love with his defense, right? Oh boy...
Sherman Johnson - Drafted in 2012, this 24-year old hit 17 HRs at Inland Empire High-A ball last season, had a .382 On Base Percentage and played great D at 2B. You never know what might happen when the spotlight hits, but this kid is a pick to click.
Eric Stamets - He was two years younger than his average AA opponent last season and is a month and a half younger than Mike Trout. This guy is an all glove shortstop, but what a glove! Plenty of time here for him to develop but get a good look in Spring, he won't hit Anaheim until at least 2016.
Ryan Wheeler - A 1B who batted .326 in a month at Slat Lake after the Angels claimed him on waivers from the Rockies. He had been with the Diamondbacks so Dipoto knew what he was getting.
Alex Yarbrough - Halo Geeks have long awaited the arrival of Alexander Wyatt Yarbrough. Drafted in the fourth round in 2012 out of Ole Miss, he is the reigning Texas League MVP, where he just did beat out another 2B for the trophy, Taylor Featherston - who was subsequently taken by the Halos in the Rule 5 Draft! With all of the activity in acquisitions surrounding 2B, look for Yarbrough to get playing time early in Spring and be sent to the minors for another year of seasoning.
Roger Kieschnik - waived by the DBacks in October and swiped by Dipoto, RK had a cup of coffee in Phoenix and saw 38 games in Frisco in 2013. He bats left but the pickup of Matt Joyce has pushed him down int the realm of roster filler.
Alfredo Marte - Dipoto grabbed him the same day he took Kieschnik. Marte bats right and is also a former DBack. Understand that he and RK were both subsequently waived from the 40-Man Roster and nobody else in baseball took them. Salt-Lake-bound one could guess.
D'Arby Myers - I have been waiting most of my life for the Angels to have a player named Darby so I could scream "Darby Crash" at the games. He was a little old for AA last year where he had a career best .357 OBP but he is 26 and has never seen AAA. Doesn't look like he has a shot to make the Angels but could get into the Salt Lake lineup with a good spring and we will see where it goes from there!
Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training on February 19.
If you have to make a bet here of one of these players making the opening day roster and can select two players, my advice would be to go with Gott and Cutler. Who would you choose?