There hasn’t been a normal Spring Training since 2019. It was cut short in 2020, didn’t have split squad games in 2021, and got off to a late start last year.
Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, this one won’t be normal either. However, it should be pretty eventful and give the Angels ample opportunity to get good looks at some prospects.
Here are the stories to follow as camp gets underway.
Name Tags Everybody
The turnover at the Major League level this off season was pretty remarkable. Perry Minasian brought in Tyler Anderson, Carlos Estevez, Hunter Renfroe, Gio Urshela, and Brandon Drury to hopefully provide depth to the club.
In addition to all those faces, the club has announced a record number of non-roster invitees to big league camp. We have real prospects now in guys like Zach Neto, Edgar Quero, and Logan O’Hoppe. Plus there’s some intriguing talent from last year’s AA bullpen in Eric Torres, Luke Murphy, and Ben Joyce.
Here’s a list of all the NRI (non-roster invitees) heading to Tempe:
Where is everybody?
While you’ll get a good look at the future of the franchise, don’t expect to see many of the fan favorites for much of camp. The Angels have 19 players on WBC rosters with several playing overseas in the first round. Shohei Ohtani will leave for Japan. David Fletcher will join his brother on Team Italy and play in Taipei.
Mike Trout, captain of Team USA, will leave a week into March to play in the Team USA games in Phoenix. When he leaves, so will Patrick Sandoval (Mexico), Luis Rengifo (Venezuela), Gio Urshela (Columbia), Carlos Estevez (Dom. Rep.) and a host of others.
If their teams advance to the next round, they’ll need to leave again to play in the following rounds. With Team USA, Japan, and the Dominican Republic heavy favorites to advance we could be without Trout, Ohtani, and Estevez for quite a bit.
This Opens Doors
If we went back to March of 2019 and I told you the Angels would have Jo Adell and Mickey Moniak starting next to each other in Spring Training games, you’d be stoked and think the franchise was in good hands. Alas, neither player has lived up to billing thus far.
But both are still young. Both have the tools that made scouts drool. And both will get plenty of opportunities with Trout playing for our country.
Most of the real prospects on that list above are pitchers and with 9 of the Angels 19 WBC participants being pitchers, this will give them some time to shine.
Davis Daniel is a great guy who has done multiple interviews here. That always makes rooting for a guy more fun.
Ben Joyce has a 105 MPH fastball. Eric Torres was nails in AA last year.
Griffin Canning is supposedly healthy as is Chris Rodriguez and there’s a rotation job up for grabs.
MLB has instituted a slew of new rules designed to speed up game play and make the games more exciting. There’s no need to adjust your screen, the bases are larger, there is a pitch clock, and the pitchers can only disengage from the rubber twice with runners on. That’s a good link on which rules changed, why, and how they impacted the minor leagues.
There will be no phase in period. All of these rules will be instituted on the first day of Spring Training games. There will definitely be an adjustment period for players, umpires, announcers, and fans.
Split Squad Games Are Back
As if the players leaving for the WBC doesn’t offer enough playing time, the Angels will play a couple of split squad games and host a couple of split squads. This year’s schedule doesn’t feature as many two for one days as in years past, but that is largely due to none being scheduled around the WBC.
In the coming days I’ll preview the pitching and position player depth charts and look into the handful of position battles taking place. But for those of you just jumping back in after a long off season, this is what to look for as camp opens.