Henceforth, when I refer to the three-headed monster, it shall be known as Mike Morin, R.J. Alvarez and Cam Bedrosian. Just when you think you have a favorite, the other two do something to absolutely amaze you. When those three fully arrive with the Angels, I believe we’ll be witnessing the best Angel bullpen in a decade. Just take a look.
Mike Morin – Low-90’s fastball, devastating change up, pinpoint control and already the closer in AAA. After quickly laying waste to AA, he had a rough intro to the PCL but has followed this up with two impressive scoreless frames with the game on the line. Despite not having “closer” stuff, he was the best closer in the college ranks at North Carolina, and has finished games at every level of the minors. It’s only a matter of time before the Angels start inserting him into a setup role at the big league level. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Madson pre-injury with the Phillies.
R.J. Alvarez – In terms of “stuff”, he’s the one that scouts love. Alvarez has a high-90’s fastball with movement and deception, which makes it near impossible to square up. Alvarez also has a tight, wipe-out slider and a very good change up. With this three-pitch repertoire, you’d think he’d be a starter, but his delivery makes that impossible. Still, he’s good for 2 innings at a time, which is a rarity among late-inning relievers. Alvarez aptly draws comparisons to K-Rod and one can only hope his career matches that of one of the best closers in history.
Cam Bedrosian – Bedrock was a disaster as a starter, so understandably I was hesitant to jump on board this bandwagon. Then I saw him in one-inning spurts and witnessed magic. Cam’s fastball sits at 96+ and his breaking ball is of the hammer variety that hitters either miss or just cut straight into the dirt for a weak infield grounder. To begin the season, Bedrosian has fanned 21 of his first 26 batters he’s faced. That’s completely unheard of. Bedrock is slotted in AA, but if he continues to strikeout every batter he faces, the Angels will be forced to promote him.
Triple-A Salt Lake
Grant Green has logged innings at 2B, 3B and SS and has looked particularly comfortable on the left-side of the infield. But it’s his bat that makes Green such an interesting prospect/player. He’s hitting .392 so far, and while that may be unsustainable, he’s still not challenged by the PCL at all.
C.J. Cron is hitting .300/.349 with a league leading 10 DB and 4 HR’s. He’s shown a more advanced approach at the plate than in seasons past and is, of course, playing in an environment that plays to his strengths. Expect a monster season from C.J. before promotion.
After a hot start, Kaleb Cowart has come back to Earth, but even in his downward trend he looks considerably more comfortable and confident at the plate than he did at any time last year. He’s patient and it also doesn’t hurt that he’s now built like the late-great Ken Caminiti. Alex Yarbrough has been a steady force at the top of the lineup, while Borenstein and Stamets are both struggling for the time being.
On the mound, Drew Rucinski who was picked up last season after being injured and dumped by the Indians, has been one of the best pitchers in the league, compiling a 0.86 ERA. Sappington and Roth are both struggling to begin the year, but Alvarez, Bedrock and Sisk have all been untouchable.
Advanced-A Inland Empire
1B Wade Hinkle is off to a hot start, batting .388 with 3 long balls. The Cal League should certainly play up to his strengths which should help inflate his status as a prospect. 19 year old SS Jose Rondon has skipped over A Ball and is batting .299 so far on the young season with impressive defense at shortstop. The rest of the lineup beyond them appears to be in a funk right now.
On the mound, the 66ers are jam-packed full of possibilities. Kyle McGowin skipped over A Ball after being drafted and has looked very good to start the season. Tall lefty Tyler DeLoach has picked up where he left off last year and is generating a lot of swings and misses and weak contact while throwing lots of strikes. In the bullpen, they have a collection of promising arms that includes Jairo Diaz, Austin Adams, Danny Reynolds and Jake Boyd.
Chad Hinshaw has been the bright offensive weapon so far, compiling 7 SB, though there’s still too much swing-and-miss to his game. Not a lot of offensive talent here but plenty on the mound. Ryan Etsell, Garrett Nuss, Elliot Morris and Michael Clevinger are all doing well in starting roles. Harrison Cooney and Alfonso Alcantara are piggybacking , and both are showing signs of future dominance. In the bullpen, Alan Busenitz looks like the one to keep an eye on.