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OC Register: Rookie catcher Jose Briceno impresses Angels

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ANAHEIM — Back when the Angels acquired Andrelton Simmons from the Atlanta Braves, they gave up two of their top pitching prospects and their starting shortstop.

The Angels got back more than Simmons, though.

Although there was little mention of him at the time, nowadays catcher José Briceño is making a name for himself as a legitimate major leaguer.

Briceño, who started behind the plate on Friday night against the Dodgers, came into the game hitting .300 with two homers in 30 at-bats, an admittedly small sample. He’s also left an impression on the pitchers for his work behind the plate, and he’d thrown out half of the four would-be base-stealers.

“José is making a quick study of the major leagues,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s had a couple spring trainings with us. Once you get up here, that’s the first time you are going to be able to see what the beast is in the major leagues.”

Briceño, a 25-year-old from Venezuela, had hit just .182 in Class-A in 2015 before the Angels got him. It was his sixth season without cracking Double-A. Once in the Angels’ system, he began to move up the ladder, finally getting his major league debut after René Rivera went on the disabled list.

Rivera, who is expected to come back shortly after the All-Star break, said he’s been impressed.

“He’s doing a great job,” Rivera said. “He’s calling a good game and hitting well too. … Young guys in the big leagues want to show you they can play, and that’s what he’s been doing.”


One of the reasons for the Angels’ offensive inconsistency over the past month or so is that Justin Upton has not taken advantage of the opportunities presented by hitting behind Mike Trout.

Upton was hitting .165 with runners in scoring position heading into Friday’s game. He was just 3 for 30 with runners in scoring position since June 1.

Scioscia said it’s just temporary.

“He’s usually a terrific run producer and he will be,” Scioscia said. “There are some cycles guys get into. He’s having a little problem getting some hits to fall in with guys on. But he’s hitting some balls hard too. He’ll be fine.”


Jo Adell, the Angels’ top prospect, was selected to play in the Futures Game, which will be next Sunday as part of the All-Star Game festivities. He’s the only Angels representative picked for the game. Adell has hit a combined .319 with 17 homers and a .975 OPS at two levels of Class-A. …

Tyler Skaggs (hamstring) played catch on Friday and said it went well. He said he was scheduled for a bullpen session on Sunday, and that would determine when he can make his next start. He is likely to start either Wednesday or Thursday against the Seattle Mariners. …

The Angels signed 29 of their 40 draft picks by Friday, which was the deadline. They signed the top 21, and used up almost all of their allowed bonus pool space, scouting director Matt Swanson said.


Angels (Deck McGuire, 0-1, 7.59) vs. Dodgers (Ross Stripling, 6-2, 2.27), Saturday, 4 p.m., Fox/11, KLAA (830 AM)

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