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Angels sporting a bundle of near-ready arms in Triple A


ryanmfalla

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By Ryan Falla, AngelsWin.com Feature Reporter

Earlier this week we highlighted the Angels crop of arms developing at Double A and their potential ability to impact at the Majors in 2024. The first thing that came to mind when researching this article was just how many promising arms there actually are in the system, and a go around the Triple A the roster is no different. There are a number of talents brewing at Salt Lake, some you've seen before and some whose names you'll be hearing for the first time today. While the Angels may not be chock full of 5 star arms there is more than enough legitimate talent to impact a Major League bullpen, and starting rotation, for the better. Should the Angels see turbulence on the Major League roster any number of the following will be more than ready for a call-to-arms at any point throughout the rest of the season.

 

Hans Crouse

Formerly a @PitchingNinja star, Hans Crouse has brought his nasty slide-piece to the Angels organization and is currently thriving in the offense heavy PCL. His 15.2 innings of work has seen him strike out 24 hitters while holding an ERA of 3.45 off a .718 OPS. While he isn’t around around the zone as much as his peers a 17% swinging strike rate helps him stay on top of, and finish off, at-bats. His xFIP of 3.37 and swinging strike rate are both good for Top 5 in the PCL, firmly entrenching his status as a valuable arm. Although his previous Major League work was less than stellar his current peripherals point to a new sustainability in production. The biggest issue in his short Major League time was a propensity to allow hard hits, especially home runs, as he allowed 2 in 7 IP. There is still a slight HR bug as he's allowed three in 15.2 IP, but with Crouse currently pitching in the PCL that could easily be a product of his environment more so than his own effectiveness. Even though he's been around various minor league systems since 2017 he is just 25 years old, and as a former 2nd round pick there is more than enough juice in the tank to squeeze out legitimate production in the bigs. Hans Crouse is one of the more readily available arms in the Angels system and could be at the front of the line come time to make replacements at the Major League level.

Brett Kerry

Another arm from the notorious 2021 draft class, Brett Kerry has begun to truly settle into Triple A and display his Major League form this year. He’s shown a better grasp on efficiency in his volume as all but one of his six Triple A starts have gone for less than five innings. His longest outing saw him sling 8 innings of 1 run ball off of 98 pitches back on May 10th. It really seems as if the Angels are letting him go as his last four outings have all gone for 90+ pitches with his last two being 100+ affairs. There is still some growth to be had as he’s still refining his ability to miss bats and work around the zone, but should he pitch to the black more often and improve his ground out/K rates we will see his stock shift into very favorable territory. He currently mans a 4.21 ERA through 36.1IP with 31Ks off a .693 OPS and appears to be near the top of the pack for emergency spot starts. Kenny Rosenberg and Andrew Wantz are currently heading that pack, but with a few more months of seasoning we could easily see the demand rise on this young up-and-coming arm.

Ryan Langford

[as of writing Langford was sent to Double A]

Langford spent most of his 2023 debut season in Low A after coming to the Angels as an UDFA out of Florida Southern College. He spent the year working as the 66ers closer to the tune of a 3.34 ERA over 62 IP with 59 Ks. Elite breaking ball material elevated Langford’s stock to that of a legitimate relief prospect and his performances the past year have snowballed into serious MLB momentum. The only thing keeping Langford from fully blasting off is control, but like most fresh prospects he is still ramping up his professional stride. His season has been a bit turbulent this year, though not due to performance (2.08 ERA 17.1IP) as Langford has bounced around three different levels within the first month and a half. He started the season with a 2K 1IP performance in High A before being sent to Triple A for a 4IP 2K start which immediately saw him return to High A for 7 games (2.38 ERA 11IP). He was then returned to Triple A for a 1IP hitless appearance before, once again, being shuffled off, though this time to Double A. Some time to settle into a singular home for the next few months will do Langford well, and though realistically you would not want to see him pitching MLB innings until 2025 there is a some chance he can play his way into extended looks later this season. I would expect him to be a 2025 Spring Training non-roster invitee candidate moreso than anything else unless some type of Major League disaster strikes this year, in which case he would be fully in line for 2nd half looks.

Kenny Rosenberg

Rosenberg is the most known commodity on this list as we’ve seen him have real success at the Majors in his short stints. He has two wins in four MLB spot starts, though it really should be three as a 2022 start on June 19th saw him go 4.2 IP and leave with a lead that would hold for all 9. He currently owns a 3.13 ERA with the Salt Lake Bees in 54.2 IP while keeping hitters to a .699 OPS. He can reliably offer bulk work as a starter as he’s regularly gone for 90+ pitches each outing this year, and his efficiency has seen him make great use of those pitch loads by going for at least 6 IP in 6 of his 9 starts. He’s reached 7 IP three times with none of his starts going for less than five. All of this has led to Rosenberg predictably leading the PCL in innings pitched. There really is nothing more you can ask for in a starter; he can go deep with quality and his repertoire is sneakily better than most expect. Should the Angels find themselves in a spot where they will need a new arm for weeks at a time Rosenberg is the guy who will 100% hold down the fort while keeping the Angels in line for wins.

Tyler Thomas

Thomas came to the Angels by way of trade via the Max Stassi/David Fletcher move this past offseason, and while initially seen as a supplemental piece this funky reliever has put up serious production in the PCL. A blowup outing this past week inflated his stats a bit, but prior to this recent outing Thomas was spinning a 1.77 ERA through the first 13 appearances of his season. His current 3.86 era is still rather solid, especially for the PCL, though now we will have to see Thomas establish his baseline for a bit longer before making Major League earmarks. His control has been a work in progress through the year as he’s thrown for strikes just 58% of the time, leading to a 6.9 BB/9 rate. He’s definitely an arm that can plug in and play, though the front office may see him more as a guy with options they can burn through (ala Davis Daniel) rather than a guy to hang their hats on. Thomas can absolutely put up dominant innings, and I'm sure a good portion of his game can translate to the Majors, but I wouldn't imagine the Angels to see him as a "weeks at a time" type guy unless the control really comes into form. Should he manage to strengthen these control issues he could very well hit a real Linsanity run later this year.

Andrew Wantz

Another widely known name amongst Angel fans, Wantz has been one of their more effective in house relievers the past two seasons. He’s averaged a 3.51 ERA through 2022-2023, so there already exists a strong level of play. Now, however, the Angels have shifted him into the starter role, and with surprising results. His second start of the season saw him strike out 11 across a 6IP start (1 ER), though he still needs time to stretch out as just two of his starts have gone deeper than 5IP. His 17.1 innings of AAA work has seen him strike out 24 hitters with a 4.15 ERA off a .593 OPS. He may very well have the highest ceiling of all the MLB ready starters waiting for a shot, though his floor still needs establishing before considering any callups.  He hasn’t pitched since April 16th due to a short IL stint (forearm strain) though he is expected back soon. If Jose Soriano is any indication of the Angels ability to convert relievers into starters I would bet on Wantz showing his own measure of effectiveness come time for callup.

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