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Unpacking the Angels Nolan Schanuel promotion


ryanmfalla

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AWC_2736.webpThese last few Angel seasons have seen the team display a certain aggressiveness when it comes to prospect promotions by being the first organization to promote a draft pick to big league play in each of the last three draft classes. The Angels were the first to break the prospect seal from the 2021 draft with their promotion of Chase Silseth and followed suit this season with their promotion of Zach Neto. With Nolan Schanuel soon to see his Major League debut practically right out of the 2023 draft it appears trends will continue. This move has fans split in two as some praise the Angels aggressiveness in giving a shot to a guy who's blowing MiLB pitching away with others crying desperation at what seems to be a Hail Mary attempt at playoff hopes. The truth behind the matter lies somewhere in between, requiring a more nuanced analysis to understand the logic behind such move. Nolan Schanuels offensive profile right out of the draft already had him as close to Major League ready as it gets, and though this may seem a response to the dire straits of this season in truth this promotion has potential to set the Angels up for competitive play both now and in the future. 

When analyzing this move you first have to account for the extremely advanced profile of Nolan Schanuel. While the Angels could have easily called Trey Cabbage back up there is a clear desire for a more nuanced offensive approach. The Angels current 1B depth offers power potential at the cost of high strikeout percentages, and given the teams low affinity for situational hitting it may not serve future outlook well to continue stacking the cards in such a way. Lack of “development” aside, Schanuel comes into this organization with a truly mind-boggling offensive profile; his last year in college saw him hit .447 across 197 ABs while featuring a ridiculous 71 BBs to 14 Ks across the season, all to the tune of a 1.483 OPS. His previous seasons were no different with Schanuel regularly walking at a far higher clip than he would strikeout while putting up an OPS over 1.000 each season with the school. His lack of current big league power may be a mark against him for some, but with the biggest issue for the Angels being their inability to score runs outside of the long ball Schanuels offensive profile suddenly becomes incredibly desirable on the big league lineup. His current skillset profiles him as a Luis Arraez type, which would be a boon for any organization regardless size or position, and should his power swing develop he could top out as a Freddie Freeman. His offensive build on its own warrants a look or two against big league pitching and once you consider the Angels lack of a true starter at 1B going into 2024 it becomes much more clear as to why the organization would want to evaluate all in-house options.

This organizations recent track record with quick promotions does not go against them either, most of the quality on this team (aside from Trout and Ohtani) have come off of quick prospect turnarounds. Chase Silseth and Zach Neto were both the first players to be called up out of their respective draft classes and have each shown a mixture of promise alongside current ability. On the year Silseth has collected a 3.27 ERA across 41.1 IP and and with his recent streak of quality starts against the Yankees, Braves, and Mariners he’s looking to solidify his reputation as a top of the line starter. On the other hand Zach Neto has shown himself a team leader both with attitude and play; offensively he’s amassed 8 HRs and 14 doubles in 67 games while defensively operating as one of the best shortstop gloves in the game. The current MLB landscape sees teams getting younger every year, ultimately behooving the Angels to let their advanced prospects learn how to operate in the big leagues as soon as their talent call for it. There is clearly steam to the nationwide philosophy of calling up advanced prospects and letting them play it out in the Majors, making it no coincidence as to why the best things about the Angels 2023 season (aside from Ohtani) have been the talent of their young prospect callups. Any moves made to catch this team up to the current standard is worthy of praise considering how far behind the organization has fallen under watch of owner Arte Moreno

Schanuel_Player_of_the_Year_Release.pngMore organizations should be encouraged to give shots to their advanced prospect talents based on their skill set and not an arbitrary amount of time spent in the Minors. There is a good reason as to why teams like the Dodgers, Braves, and Astros seem to the run the league year in and year out. People may cry foul and offer the argument that the Angels are disrupting Schanuels development, but if anything offering him opportunity to see Major League at-bats only accelerates his ability to reach Major League form (for obvious reasons). If Nolan Schanuel can translate his high walk, high contact approach this lineup will be in the best place it’s been all year, especially considering close returns by Logan O’Hoppe and Mike Trout.

The rest of August will see the Angels match up against teams facing their own degrees of recent struggle, offering plenty of opportunity to jump back on the playoff horse. A streak of series wins could very well wash out the palate of a decidedly horrific first half of August and put the team in line for a competitive September. The biggest frustrations with the Angels have been their extreme underperformance despite the talent on this team, but in that same vein this is a team with enough talent to flip current fortunes in a major way. This upcoming stretch is going to be a dream come true as the Angels look to match up against a multitude of teams either below or within 5 games of .500. This Rays series is crucial as it will either reinforce this negative August stretch or give Angels ground to break out moving forward, so it only makes sense to add as much potential talent into this lineup as soon as possible even if it is just prospect talent. At the very least it will give Angel fans something worth watching amidst this late season collapse.

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