Bryce Harper kept Mike Trout from ranking No. 1 on most prospect lists this year, but the 2009 first-round pick is a truly elite prospect and the Angels have pushed him very aggressively by sending him to Double-A as a 19-year-old this season.
It takes a special prospect to even hold his own in the high minors as a teenager, but Trout is beyond a special prospect and so far at least he’s crushing Double-A pitching.
Through six games he’s hitting .318 with three homers, more walks than strikeouts, and a 1.150 OPS. All the small sample size caveats apply, of course, but Trout hit .341 with 56 steals between two levels of Single-A as an 18-year-old last season and if his hot start leads to significant power development his upside may go from MVP-caliber to Hall of Fame-caliber.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.