Spring Training is here, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, position players report on Friday. This is it. The Angels are about to dip their toes into the 2017 baseball waters, and us fans get to sit back and see whether those waters are filled with (figurative) blood thirsty sharks, ready to devour our beloved team, or if those waters are not only shark-free, but also the perfect temperature and full of tasty, a-frame waves that the Halos can shred for days.
There are still some things with this team that are up in the air, like the pitching staff, for example, and there are a lot of different avenues they could go down over the next seven months or so. I have no clue what’s going to happen...but that’s never stopped me from totally pretending like I do! Here are my bold predictions for the Angels’ spring training in 2017.
#1 Jesse Chavez is your 5th starter
Bold? OK, maybe not so much. In fact, it SHOULD seem obvious, seeing as how Chavez was picked up so early into the offseason and given a one-year deal. But Billy Eppler added a bunch of those types of guys in the past couple months, like Brooks Pounders, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, Manny Banuelos, and the list goes on and on.
Really, any of those guys could have a good camp and take the 5th starter spot, and I wouldn’t be too surprised. Or maybe Nate Smith takes a leap forward in his pro career and shows us he’s got the goods to pitch regularly for the Angels. So many fringe starting arms, so little time.
Chavez will be the guy, though, that has the good camp and cements himself as the caboose of the starting rotation.
#2 Keynan Middleton makes the bullpen
Middleton had a good 2016 in the Angels’ minor league system, getting some good innings in and also raising eyebrows with some 100+ MPH fireball power. The bullpen is currently the team leader in confusion, as Huston Street seems to be on the outs, and younger arms like Cam Bedrosian and Middleton, or reclamation projects like Andrew Bailey, seem to be the team’s best bets.
Most would project Middleton as having one more year, at least, at the AAA level before making the jump, but I think a good camp out of him, couple with lackluster outings from some of the other contenders, will open the door for him to make an impact in 2017, as soon as Opening Day.
Is it bold to also say that I don’t think Huston Street will be the team’s closer this season? I’m betting on a Bedrosian promotion, with Andrew Bailey being the go-to setup man.
#3 Ben Revere outshines Cameron Maybin
Both of these guys should form a two-headed LF beast for the majority of the season, but what if Revere, a burgeoning bounceback candidate if there ever was one, has a way better camp than Maybin? I was thinking all winter that Maybin is the obvious 1-A in left field, especially considering how atrocious Revere was in 2016 ( .216/.260/.300 slash line) and how good Maybin was ( .315/.383/.418), and I’ve even wondered if Revere makes it out of camp on the big league team, and someone like Ryan Lamarre becomes 4th OF. Now THAT is a bold prediction.
But I’ll go ahead and guess that Revere surprises everybody, hits a ton in the spring training games, and earns the most LF playing time to begin the season.
Honestly, this team seems pretty cut and dry, lacking in any real surprises or fodder for bold predictions relative to Angels teams of Cactus League past; outside of 5th starter and bullpen stuff, what else is there? Of course, this is baseball, and I’m sure we’ll be thrown some curveballs and some injuries and there will be developments that nobody saw coming. But for now, I’m having a hard time coming up with predictions that we can’t already see coming down the pike.
So i’ll turn it over to you, dear readers. What bold predictions do you have for the Angels’ spring training this year?