In a roster move following a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Angels optioned first baseman Justin Bour to AAA. This leaves the Angels with only one true first baseman in Albert Pujols, and with Kole Calhoun being put on the paternity list earlier in the day, the Angels only had two true outfielders on the 25 man roster in Mike Trout and Brian Goodwin. In addition to all of this, the Angels only left handed pitcher in the majors is Tyler Skaggs, with no left handed presence in the bullpen.
Enter Jared Walsh.
Walsh, drafted in the 39th round out of the University of Georgia in 2015, has received extremely limited fanfare as far as prospects go during his time in the Angels’ farm. He made his first appearance on the Angels’ Top 30 Prospects list this year, listed by MLB.com as the Angels’ 20th best prospect. Walsh made his way all the way from A+ ball in the Inland Empire to AAA in Salt Lake City as a 24 year old. Across A+, AA, and AAA he hit to a slashline of .277/.359/.536, good for an .895 OPS which included 29 home runs and an 11% walk rate. While he did strikeout at an alarming 28% clip, his ability to take walks and make consistent solid contact somewhat overshadows it. His lowest batting average in any full season in the minors is .277, and he currently has a 1.002 OPS in AAA Salt Lake.
Walsh is the 6th highest ranked outfield prospect in the Angels’ system, as well as the 2nd highest ranked first baseman. He’s also their 3rd highest ranked left handed pitching prospect.
Yes, the Angels now have two two way players in the major leagues.
On a technicality, Walsh will be the only two way player on the roster for the foreseeable future, due to Shohei Ohtani’s Tommy John surgery that will keep him off the mound until 2020. But just the fact that the Angels have two different players who, in 2020, will be able to provide them with both offensive and pitching boosts. I can already see it in my head.
Shohei Ohtani (W): 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K; 2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Jared Walsh (S): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; 1-1, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Who needs a stinkin’ DH? (Everybody does. All 30 teams need the DH. #UniversalDH2020).
In baseball you have super utility men, players who can play almost every position on the diamond, who operate as an amazing source of roster flexibility for teams because of how much depth they offer on their own. There is absolutely no comparison to having a guy who can offer a plus bat in the lineup on Monday, then come in to retire a lefty with the tying run on second on Tuesday. A plus in the lineup or off the bench and a plus in the bullpen?? From the same guy! Is that cheating?
In addition to all this, Jared Walsh will make his debut after signing out of the 39th round of the amateur draft, being selected in the 1,185th spot of the draft. There have been only 15 other players in the history of the draft to be selected in round 39 that went on to play in the major leagues. One of them was Kenny Rogers, a left handed pitcher known for twirling a perfect game that also compiled 50.4 career bWAR over the course of his career. The stats from the rest of the 14 (8 hitters, 6 pitchers) total out to 894.1 IP, 407 ER (good for a 4.10 ERA), 577 strikeouts, and a cumulative 7.2 bWAR from the pitchers. The hitters total out to 7,406 AB, 1,803 hits (for a .243 batting average), 104 home runs, and a cumulative 9.9 career bWAR.
Being signed out of the 39th round typically doesn’t give a player any chance of reaching the major leagues, so Jared Walsh already deserves some credit for that alone. He will become the 16th player in major league history to make his debut after signing out of the 39th round, and become the second legitimate two way player in the major leagues. The Angels gain a power left handed pitcher out of the bullpen and a power left handed bat all in one.
Featured Photo: Jerry Espinoza/Inland Empire 66ers