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OC Register: Angels move prospect Taylor Ward from catcher to third base

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OAKLAND — Taylor Ward, once one of the Angels’ top prospects as a catcher, is now a third baseman.

Although Ward was in big league camp this spring as a catcher, he was moved to third base full time after getting sent to minor league game, General Manager Billy Eppler said on Friday.

“Athletically, how he profiles is very similar to some of our high-end position players, so we feel that’s where he profiles the best,” Eppler said.

Ward, 24, was the Angels’ top pick in the 2015 draft. At the time, they projected him as an above-average defensive catcher with potential to also have an offensive impact.

Now, thanks in part to an infusion of better prospects, Ward has dropped just out of the top 10 prospects.

Ward has a .272 average and a .366 on-base percentage in his career in the minors. His .375 slugging percentage likely needs to improve if he’s going to be in the big leagues as a corner infielder, although many players develop power later.

Eppler suggested the position move could help Ward reach the majors sooner, because now he will no longer have to deal with handling pitchers. Ward is likely to begin this season at Double-A.

“Basically now he’s responsible for himself, his defense, his offense,” Eppler said. “I think he will focus on defense and go from there.”

ALSO

Ian Kinsler, who had missed opening day with groin tightness, was in in the lineup for his Angels debut on Friday. Manager Mike Scioscia said Kinsler would likely get Saturday off, as they try to work him back in gradually. …

Andrew Heaney said his bullpen session on Friday went well. It was Heaney’s second session since being sidelined with elbow inflammation. Heaney is working toward a rehab game in the minors before he can join the Angels rotation. …

Scioscia’s reliever use in Thursday’s opener would seem to indicate that he’s beginning the year with Blake Parker as his preferred closer. He used Cam Bedrosian in the seventh and Jim Johnson in the ninth with the score tied. However, Scioscia would not commit to Parker. “It’s going to be fluid,” he said. …

Johnson was greeted by loud boos when he took the mound at the Oakland Coliseum on Thursday. He said the got the same treatment the last time he pitched in Oakland, apparently because the fans remember his 7.14 ERA with the A’s in 2014. “It won’t be the last time,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m fine with it.” Johnson pitched a perfect inning. …

Two Angels’ employees wore A’s uniforms before Friday’s game, part of a celebration of the 50 greatest A’s. Mike Gallego is the Angels’ director of player development, and Eric Chavez is a special assistant to the GM. “I warned Scioscia,” Gallego quipped, wearing the A’s jersey. “He said it was OK.”

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This is disastrous for his potential to make any kind of substanital impact as a big leaguer in Ward's career. I see nothing in his offensive profile or approach that suggests his bat will be anywhere near good enough to justify playing him at a corner infield spot.

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Weird. Wonder if there are plans for a Maldonado extension. 

Maybe they feel taking the pressure of catching off will help his offense, but you wouldn't think learning a new position would help then....

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KDWells is right -- this does not help the Angels much and is probably a real negative as far as Ward's MLB future is concerned.

Unless he becomes a slick fielding 3B/ middle infielder bench depth guy (sort of a Craig Biggio off the bench without the .300 BA) -- he could make it especially for teams wanting to carry d de facto third catcher.

but in terms of making with regular playing time, he's probably better sticking behind the dish and moving to another organization.

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I don't really get it. Ward wasn't the greatest at handling pitchers, but he improved a ton behind the plate in a short period of time. His glove was what was going to get him to the major leagues.

I'm sure he'll make a fine defensive  third baseman but now his bat has to carry him to the majors.

Not a good career move in my opinion.

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I'm guessing the FO just didn't like what they saw from Ward in terms of how he handled a staff.  Disappointing for sure.  I was thinking he could evolve to be a backup catcher, but alas.  As others have said, he'll need to seriously elevate his offensive game to have value at 3B, which doesn't seem terribly likely.

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LMAO, his only shot and value as a baseball player was as a catcher because he had no bat.  This is a pretty cruel move IMO, Angels better off trading him for cash or PTBNL to free up a spot while he still has minimal value as a prospect.  What a terrible draft pick by Dipoto. 

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The move doesn’t make much sense, but could it possibly be the Angels looking into the future?

Going forward if they plan on only having a 3 man bench (and Ohtani). Ward having the ability to give our 3B/1B the day off could be pretty valuable, especially if Maldonado is starting 120+ games a year. 

With so much of his value tied to his catching it just doesn’t make any sense this late into his career. 

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