For teams out of the playoff picture, like the Los Angeles Angels, September means a time for evaluation
Every September three things happen; grills across the nation ignite to make burgers on Labor Day, leaves fall and mark the beginning of Autumn, and September call-ups across Major League Baseball. For many, the most exciting of those three would be the latter, especially struggling baseball teams like the Los Angeles Angels.
September is a time for organizations like the Angels to take stock of their young talent. The Angels have already seen mid-level prospects, like David Fletcher and Jaime Barria, play important roles in winning games. Because these prospects aren’t elite but still good, they allow teams to fill holes in a cost-effective way. Finding low risk, high reward players like Fletcher and Barria can help the Angels compete in their ever-narrowing window.
One player Angels fans can be excited about is outfielder Michael Hermosillo. He had limited playing time earlier in the season, hitting just .167 while left fielder Justin Upton was hurt. What makes Hermosillo intriguing is his age and a quick rise through the minor leagues. The 12th-ranked prospect in the Angels system was drafted in the 28th round in 2013. After that, he played Rookie and A-level ball for three years. Eventually, in 2017, Hermosillo had his breakout year.
Michael Hermosillo hits his 12th homer of the season for Salt Lake to put us up 4-1 after 5 innings. Last game of the year. Can't hold anything back! #WakandaForever pic.twitter.com/6VmGHgU6WN
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) September 3, 2018
What popped out to the Angels that year was Hermosillo’s power. Through his previous three years, he only hit nine home runs. However, in 2017 he hit nine in one season. This trend continued in 2018 as Hermosillo hit twelve home runs. He is a young, exciting outfielder who has a blend of speed and power the Angels could use. A player like him can add another quality bat around Mike Trout for years.
While this player is higher on the top prospects list, it was not long ago he was a failing catcher. Third baseman Taylor Ward has been playing in the majors for almost a month, showing flashes of his offensive potential. For Ward, September is the time for him to step up and showcase his advanced hitting.
In the minors, Ward had a .349 batting average with 14 home runs in 102 games. He is only hitting .211, but has shown his pure power potential with three home runs and nine RBI.
Taylor Ward, the @Angels No. 8 prospect, put the #Angels out in front with this two-run homer – the third of his @MLB career. Watch live: https://t.co/I06xX9Bn2d pic.twitter.com/1VHjILU9bb
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 4, 2018
While those numbers don’t pop off of the page, his projection would be around 20 home runs and 70 RBIs. That production could help an Angels offense that might struggle in 2019. Ward has already shown improvement in the few September games already played. In five games, Ward is hitting .250 with four RBI. If he continues to improve, Ward could solidify a third base position that has been bad for the Angels.
With all the injuries to the starting rotation this year, it would make sense to talk about pitching. Miguel Almonte was traded to the Angels on April 4 and has been on the DL for most of that time.
With RHP Miguel Almonte being acquired by the #Angels from the #Royals, here's where he enters the @Angels' Top 30 Prospects list: https://t.co/ysW3AyqPzF pic.twitter.com/1QzGGtJWD9
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 4, 2018
He has not impressed since being called up with a 9.00 ERA in three innings. Despite that, the Angels believe the 25-year-old pitcher can return to his 2017 minor league form. In that year, Almonte had a 2.47 ERA in 51 innings. What makes Almonte intriguing as well is that he has starting and bullpen experience.
The Angels have dealt with a lot of injuries to their pitching, so Almonte has not been high on their watch list. However, if he can remain healthy and end the season strong, Almonte will be a great long reliever option. Almonte has experience in both the rotation and bullpen, which could lead to him playing the long reliever role. The diversity of Almonte will help him, but he needs to show the Angels he can pitch well if he wants to make the team next year.
September is an important month for players like Hermosillo, Ward, and Almonte. It is their audition for a roster spot next year. The Angels know their time with Trout is ending soon, so every game will matter to the front office. If the three players highlighted above can have a memorable September, an Opening Day roster spot is likely in their future.
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