Angels Youth Pivotal to 2020 and Beyond

Angels youth

Angels Youth Pivotal in Sweep of Houston

With their 9-5 victory on Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Angels swept the Houston Astros for the first time since July of 2014. The Angels season-high five game winning streak comes at a time when the team is preparing for the future. Led early by Anthony Rendon‘s eighth home run of the season, the Angels youth was pivotal in the decisive eighth inning.

Jo Adell scored the go-ahead run after getting his second hit of the game. Adell has looked far more relaxed at the plate as of late, with five hits in 14 series at-bats. The five hits marks the first time this season where Adell had more than two hits in a series.

Jared Walsh was responsible for the RBI single that scored Adell in the eighth inning. Another young Angels hitter who struggled out of the gate with zero hits in 13 at-bats, Walsh has benefited from increased playing time over the last five days.

Taylor Ward broke out of a 1-20 slump, going 2-3 at the plate. Ward’s sixth inning triple was assisted by Astros right fielder, Josh Reddick, who was inches from the fence when the ball bounced out of his glove.

Jaime Barria pitched five solid innings although his two mistakes both ended up in the bleachers. Jose Quijada produced a clean sixth inning with two strikeouts. The Angels youth movement has begun.

The Home Stretch

With 18 games remaining in the 2020 season it will be difficult for the Angels to make the playoffs. Despite their five game winning streak, and having won eight out of 11, the Angels still sit five games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Plus, there are three other non-playoff teams ahead of them in the standings.

Despite the deficit, the team should not throw in the towel. While the playoffs might appear to be a difficult trek, crazier things have happened. Yet, with the trades of Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin the front office confirmed that while they aren’t fully punting on 2020, they are beginning to prepare for next season. The young guys are going to get opportunities over the final three weeks of the season.

The 60-Player Pool

There are a handful of young players already starting to get more playing time in Anaheim. From Jo Adell to Jared Walsh, the Angels have a handful of young players who should gain invaluable experience over the next few weeks.

MLB instituted a 60-player pool for the 2020 season. The pool limits the amount of young players who might get a look this season. Currently, the players not on the active roster are working out in the Angels alternate site at Blair Field in Long Beach.

Angels Best Options

An important thing to note is that roster expansions in 2020 are limited to 28 players. In the past, up to 40 players are allowed on the active roster during the September call-up period. Even though highly rated prospects Jordyn Adams and Chris Rodriguez are part of the player pool, both have only played a handful of games in High-A. Therefore, it is unlikely either will be called up to the Angels this season.

Here are four players the Angels could and should bring up this season:

Brandon Marsh – The 81st-ranked prospect in baseball, Marsh seems to get better every single season. A patient hitter who can run, Marsh is still growing into his power. Defensively, he might already be the Angels best outfielder. The only reason Marsh isn’t in Anaheim right now is the set nature of the Angels outfield.

Reid Detmers – The Angels first-round pick in 2020 is the 83rd-ranked prospect in baseball. Detmers was notable in the draft for his overall polish resume. Many baseball analysts believed he could move quickly through the minor leagues. Angels general manager Billy Eppler usually holds college pitchers out for the remainder of the season. Yet, the cancellation of the college season has afforded Detmers the opportunity to continue his season in Long Beach.

Jahmai Jones – The last two years have been a struggle for Jones at the plate. Yet, the second baseman/outfielder still has something to offer if he doesn’t turn out to be quite the hitter the team envisioned. Jones is a great athlete who would only benefit from major league pitching exposure. If nothing else, 15 or so games will give the team more information to determine whether to believe in Jones moving forward.

Packy Naughton – Recently acquired from the Cincinnati Reds. Naughton is very much in the mix for the 2021 rotation after a solid 2019 season. While he doesn’t possess incredible stuff, Naughton is able to succeed with excellent command. The Angels would be smart to see exactly where Naughton lands in the Patrick Sandoval/Jose Suarez/Barria mix.

Final Thoughts

The 2020 MLB season hasn’t been what anyone expected in early March. The Los Angeles Angels held out hope this year that they might return to the playoffs. It hasn’t quite gone as expected. Yet, the Angels have an opportunity to look to the future while still competing for a playoff spot over the final few weeks. With young players like Jo Adell, Jared Walsh and Taylor Ward getting playing time already, and the aforementioned prospects in Long Beach awaiting the call, the Angels have plenty to gain down the stretch.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images