Grayson Long is a solid prospect, and considered by many to be a #3-5 starter with some saying he has a floor of a spot starter / swing man. Losing him in the Justin Upton trade kinda sucks right? Well, in a way it does, but don’t get something for nothing (unless you are Dire Straits).
Long was a 3rd round pick in 2015 and spent the season mostly pitching for AA Mobile. He’s about the value you would expect to give up for 4 years of Justin Upton (assuming he doesn’t opt out of his contract - topic for another article).
In 2017, Long put together a solid season for Mobile with a 2.52 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, and 111 Ks to 38 walks over 121.2 innings. He essentially emerged as the ace of their staff.
But the future pitching hopes of the Angels don’t rely just on Long’s shoulders. There are other guys waiting. Other guys who are equally as good - or potentially even better.
Here’s how pitching depth stacks up over the next few years.
Garrett Richards, 29. Assuming the Angels go through arbitration with him, 2018 will be Richards last year as an Angel. He could be a key piece in the 2018 rotation.
Matt Shoemaker, 30. Ole Shoey isn’t a free agent until 2021. He’s arbitration eligible in 2018.
Tyler Skaggs, 26. Like Shoemaker, he’s around through the 2020 season. He’s arbitration eligible in 2018.
JC Ramirez, 29. Ramirez is locked in through 2021 assuming the Angels keep going through arbitration with him (much like Skaggs and Shoemaker). His arbitration years begin in 2019.
Alex Meyer, 27. Meyer is under team control through 2019 and not a free agent until 2023.
Andrew Heaney, 26. Heaney is arbitration eligible and not a free agent until 2021.
Parker Bridewell, 26. Bridwell is under team control through 2019 and not a free agent until 2023.
Nick Tropeano, 27. Currently out from TJ surgery but should be pitching in the fall and ready to come back when next season starts.
There you already have 7 solid starters listed above who, if they are all healthy, will compete for the 5 starting spots next spring.
Waiting in the wings (best of the rest)
Jaime Barria, 21. ETA 2018. Barria took the minors by storm in 2017 and pitched across 3 levels. He’s the strong guy in the system right now that is closest to a big league job. He should pitch for the Angels at some point in 2018.
Nate Smith, 26. ETA Soon? Smith has struggled with injuries all season and pitched only 15 total innings in 2017. He has back end of the rotation potential if he can stay healthy and would be MLB ready to pitch some time in 2018.
Jesus Castillo, 22. ETA 2020. Remember Joe Smith? Billy Eppler flipped him for this dude. Castillo has been solid for the Angels and played through 3 levels in 2017 until he landed in AA on the BayBears.
Griffin Canning, 21. ETA 2020. Canning had a full load pitching for UCLA in 2017 so didn’t pitch pro ball at all in 2017. He’s currently the Angels #4 overall (and top pitching) prospect according to MLB.com. He could move through the system quickly as a mid-rotation type guy.
Chris Rodriguez, 19. ETA 2020. Rodriguez is young but with likely a bright future. He was a single A All Star this year but has struggled in his second pro season. He still remains a top Angels pitching prospect, however.
Cole Duensing, 19. ETA 2020. This 6th round pick from 2016 had a really rough time in Orem after moving on from the AZL Angels. Duensing is young and still needs to gain strength but definitely has big league rotation potential.
Pitcher Master Table
Of course, most of the guys below Bridwell have no guarantee they will make it to the majors, but neither does Grayson Long. What this table shows you is that the Angels already have within their system, plenty of pitching talent to get them through the next few years. Eppler has also worked his magic before - see Jesus Castillo, Parker Bridwell, Alex Meyer, etc., so this isn’t even the end of this pitching tables.
Grayson long will be missed, but not as much as he would have been a year or two ago. Kudos to Billy Eppler.