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OC Register: Griffin Canning soaking up atmosphere of his first big league camp with Angels


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TEMPE, Ariz. — Griffin Canning has seen the projections and knows his crack at the major leagues could be coming soon.

“It’s hard not to think about it, but I try not to,” the Angels top pitching prospect said from his first major league spring training. “If I’m ready, I’m ready. If they think I’m ready, I’m ready. But I’m just going to keep my head down and keep doing what I do.”

Canning is one of the jewels of the Angels improving farm system. After the Angels drafted him in the second round out of UCLA in 2017, Canning pitched just one season in the minors and rose all the way to Triple-A.

Now, he’s in big league camp to get a taste of the big league atmosphere, even though he’s not really a candidate to break camp with the team.

“It’s important for young guys to come to major league camp and indoctrinate them to the big league atmosphere so when they walk into whatever major league stadium, they are comfortable,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “They know the people and the people know them. They are not wide-eyed. You are a little bit nervous and excited because it’s the big leagues, and that’s what your goal was, but there’s a comfort level because there are familiar faces.”

Ausmus got to see Canning just once in the minor leagues last year, but not for lack of effort. He said he arrived at Class-A Inland Empire just after Canning went to Double-A, and he went to Double-A just after Canning went to Triple-A.

Ausmus finally saw Canning pitch at Salt Lake, and he was impressed.

“We really like the stuff,” Ausmus said. “We love the makeup. But he’s not a finished product. He’s a guy that we continue to develop. He’s climbed through the system fast, but he’s not a finished product. We want him to continue on that trajectory.”

Canning, a 22-year-old product of Santa Margarita Catholic High, said last season was a learning experience. At the beginning of the season, he was throwing harder than usual, but his control suffered and he wasn’t efficient with his pitches.

Although he was pitching effectively, he didn’t once get through six innings with his allotted pitch count.

“Definitely I have to get my pitches per inning down,” Canning said. “Another thing I’m working on is two-strike pitches. Obviously these guys are a lot better hitters, so I need to be in the zone more.”

Canning had a 3.65 ERA over 25 starts at the three levels, with 9.9 strikeouts and 3.5 walks per nine innings.

Now that he’s sitting in a  big league clubhouse a few feet from veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and working out with dozens of experienced pitchers, he’s hoping to continue polishing his game.

“I’m going to pick these guys brains,” Canning said. “I’m excited to be around them for the spring.”


Michael Hermosillo said he’s been back to 100 percent for about a month after undergoing hernia surgery in October. Hermosillo had a groin issue in August and he aggravated it playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Hermosillo and Peter Bourjos are the top two candidates to win the fourth outfielder job. …

JC Ramírez threw his sixth bullpen session since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Ramírez is expected to be able to pitch in the majors sometime in June. …

Shohei Ohtani went down to the practice fields to watch some of the bullpen sessions during Friday’s workout. Ohtani’s workouts have been all indoors, either in the trainers room, the weight room or the batting cage. He’s been taking swings, without a ball. The next step will be hitting off a tee, but there’s no timetable for that to begin.

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