While most of the Los Angeles Angels making the trip to spring training in 2013 have been seemingly in the headlines all offseason—with Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton leading the way—not every player that received an invite to camp is as media hyped.
And, for the Angels, that’s not a bad thing. In fact, the more surprising pieces that come out of Tempe, Arizona the better—especially pitchers.
The team, though marked with a $150-plus million tag, has been shadowed with concerns about the pitching staff every step of the (financial) way this offseason.
Sure, general manager Jerry Dipoto has pieced together a very powerful offense, but the effort to solidify the pitching staff still remains questionable.
However, it’s too late, at this point, to map out what could have been done better over the past months. The juggling and realigning of the current pitchers, while wishing for what could have been the 2013 staff, is nothing more than a waste of time.
What the Angels have, is, well, what they have.
But the great thing about that scenario is this: what the Angels have is not completely set in stone—it’s why February and March are so exciting in the MLB.
The game-to-game trials in spring training will shed light on the starting rotation, and the order—including the final spot—of the improved bullpen.
And while fans and media will be keeping an eye on the main list of hopeful hurlers in camp, there may be a few “unknowns" or “forgottens” that can make a real difference for the club and add a completely different element to the staff that was not there even a few days ago.
Most of you know, or probably heard of, the top prospects waiting for their shot. Nick Maronde, a strong lefty that should have the opportunity to compete for the final spot in the bullpen, while also getting a crack at the rotation, leads the list.
Garrett Richards, the right-hander expected to not only contend for the final bullpen spot, but also with Jerome Williams as a spot-starter, is also up there.
David Carpenter and Bobby Cassevah will also have an opportunity, again, to earn a spot.
In all, there are 13 possible candidates that could, surprisingly or not, find a spot come April—Fernando Cabrera, David Carpenter, Bobby Cassevah, Robert Coello, Steve Geltz, Kevin Johnson, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Michael Kohn, Nick Maronde, Tony Pena, Garrett Richards, Brandon Sisk and Mitch Stetter (h/t MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez).
However, out of those 13 pitchers floating under or just near the “radar,” I see only one player that can really shake up the order of things at the Big League level this year—Steve Geltz
I honestly thought that, based on the horrendousness of the bullpen last year, Geltz would have gotten more than just an August call-up. The right-hander does a well-above-average job of getting outs in the later innings of games, and he has the kind of heat (93-95 mph) that can last more than a few batters.
The 25-year-old has only totaled two innings of work so far for the Angels, but if he can show a little more control in the spring, with improved off-speed pitches, then his chances to grab a bullpen spot are decent.
Which player has a better shot at the last bullpen spot?
Yes, Maronde and Richards are still in front of him. But they also face the issue of whether to start or relieve. If either earns the final spot on the bullpen, then the sacrifice will be losing innings to strengthen their arms, with the idea of becoming a starter.
Most likely, that put both of them in the Minor Leagues, waiting for their shot as a starter.
Geltz, though, is a bullpen guy all the way. If he has a strong spring, the final spot in the bullpen could be his.
At the very least, he will be someone to watch out for—starting today.
That's right, the days of waiting, aimlessly predicting, analyzing and critiquing—with only the power of opinion, backed by the statistical smorgasbord of baseball-reference.com—are over.
Spring training is finally here—rejoice.