Meet the 2023 Angels

Ben Montgomery's new blog upon returning to the IBC in 2021.

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Meet the 2023 Angels

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1. 2B/CF: Ketel Marte (29) S/R
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Ketel Marte is the straw that stirs the drink for the Angels. His defensive versatility allows for many lineup iterations. Marte struggled at times last year with a higher strikeout rate and much lower ISO, but his walk rate was up and he was punished with a .276 BABIP. The Angels are betting on a big bounceback from Marte when he doesn't get off to a terrible start. Marte is looking to be right in the middle of the Angels lineup as a guy with good discipline that will make pitchers work.
Projection: .283/.352/.470
Prediction: .294/.365/.485
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2. SP Roansy Contreras (23) R/R
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Roansy has been the best acquisition of the new management. He has rocketed up the minors and is the best chance for the Angels to have a difference making ace on the team this year. He is building up his arm to a higher workload, but the results in 2022 made management quite sure he is ready. Outside of a rough outing against the Brewers, Contreras was everything the Angels could have hoped for. He needs to continue to attack the zone as depending on two breaking balls can lead to some control issues. His fastball should allow him to be more aggressive in 2023. If you want hopes for the new year, he struck out 46 in 33 innings in AAA and maintained most of that strikeout rate in his first taste of the majors.
Projection: 5-6, 4.05 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.09 BB/9
Prediction 8-7, 3.78 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 3.25 BB/9
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3. SS Gavin Lux (25) L/R
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Gavin Lux is about to ascend to Superstardom. There is no one that the Angels are higher on than Gavin as he will finally settle down into a regular job. In 2022, Gavin quietly hit .276/.346/.399 as he found more playing time on the team. If you look at those arms, Lux has not lost the power potential and now that he has settled in to MLB pitching, the power will blossom as he enters his age 25 season. The Angels are looking for him to repeat his July hitting all year (.320/.416/.533). He talked this spring about how the transition to 2B was tough on him and settling back into SS is priming him for a big breakout.
This guy is definitely hitting more than 6 HR this year!

Projection: .260/.332/.397
Prediction: .280/.356/.485
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4. SP Dean Kremer (27) R/R
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Baseball's first pro from Israel broke out in 2022. Kremer rides a very high spin rate to low walk and home run rates. He had a strong chase rate. His largest struggle last year was facing batters the third time through the order. Hopefully with some more confidence, he will be able to go deeper into games. Kremer solidly pitches with a 4 pitch mix that is highlighted by his cutter and curveball. Hopefully the WBC will just be a warm up to a strong season from Kremer who solidifies himself in the Angel rotation.
Projection: 10-6, 3.51, 6.88 K/9, 2.32 BB/9
Prediction: 9-7, 3.75, 7.11 K/9, 2.45 BB/9
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5. OF/DH Josh Naylor (26) L/L
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Is Josh Naylor ready to be the Angel's dog in the middle of the lineup? Naylor may struggle to figure out where he is going to stand on the field, but his ability to crush the ball is sorely needed in an Angels lineup based on getting on base. While getting his first extended time last year, Naylor was able to increase his BB rate and lessen his K rate. Naylor is sorely in need of a platoon partner as he crushed RHP to the tune of .283/.334/.522. Naylor was a much better hitter with runners on base and the Angel management is trying to put guys all around him that will help him have those opportunities.
Projection: .258/.323/.443
Prediction: .262/.325/.485
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6. 1B Josh Bell (30) S/R
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Take off that glove and Josh Bell looks like he could be trying out for the NFL combine as an offensive lineman. Bell brings his large body and personality to Angels spring training camp with goals to be a more consistent player. He has a career full of hot starts that just fade down the stretch. The Angels are hoping that he not only can continue to bring his trademark hot start, but as he blossoms into his 30's, his experience allows him to hold onto that hitting. Bell's switch hitting allow him to fit into the lineup in many places depending on how his season is going. The Angels are banking on him finding that June magic where he hit .358/.447/.695 and really driving the lineup. His thoughtful approach to hitting should help with the shift being banned this year.
Projection: .249/.343/.399
Prediction : .270/.365/.480
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7. SP Merrill Kelly (34) R/R
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Merrill Kelly has had one of the most interesting routes to stable starter in the league. He was a reasonable prospect in the Rays organization that just didn't wow anyone and was a bit overage. He turned that into a very successful career in the KBO. Upon returning from Korea, Kelly has just put up solid workmanlike numbers. Last year was a bit of a breakout as Kelly rode a hot start to a fine season which saw him limit home runs better than he ever had before. Look for Kelly who pitched 200 innings for the first time to be one of the stabilizing factors on a young team.
Projection: 11-11, 4.27, 7.69 K/9, 2.64 BB/9
Prediction 13-6, 3.85, 7.52 K/9, 2.44 BB/9
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8. SP Jose Quintana (34) R/R
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Jose Quintana was a strike throwing pitcher who may have gotten a bit too much of the plate in the pre-pandemic landscape. Last year, Quintana had an amazing run of not giving up the long ball. He surrendered 5.3% of his flyballs for home runs. This was a drastic improvement brought on by some better pitch selection and a bit of luck. He likely had his career year last year, but the Angels are primed to give him a shot to settle into the mid rotation and take the mound every five days to prove whether he had a career year or he is settling into a mid-30's prime that sees him keep his ballclub in the game each and every start. Quintana pitched his best down the stretch when the playoffs were on the line.
Projection: 7-7, 4.04, 8.28 K/9, 3.1 BB/9
Prediction: 12-7, 4.24 ERA, 7.67 K/9, 2.82 BB/9
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9. SP Paul Blackburn (29) R/R
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The final member of the rotation finally settled into the major leagues by leaning on an improved slider which he threw 35% of the time. His first half earned him an MLB all star appearance as he helped Oakland by taking the mound each day and working a strong start. His biggest weakness was getting through the lineup a third time, so he again will need to work on his pitch selection and focus to pitch deeper in games. The Angels will be looking for him to keep the bullpen rested and the ball on the ground to let their defense do the work for him. He might not be flashy, but bad streaks are ended when a solid guy takes the hill on the 5th day and doesn't give up.
Projection: 9-10, 4.09 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 2.64 BB/9
Prediction: 8-12, 4.15 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 2.45 BB/9
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10. RP Victor Arano (28) R/R
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Victor Arano is going to lead an Angels bullpen that is looking to make a name for itself this year. Arano is a sinker/slider guy who gets guys to chase, but sometimes gets a bit too much of the plate. He started hot last year only to have some injury problems that led to pitching hurt and finally the IL. Arano is going to look to bounce back and take the opportunity to earn high leverage innings for a young Angels bullpen. If he can continue to get 52% of the balls hit on the ground he should have great success.
Projection: 4.00 ERA, 9.48 K/9, 3.16 BB/9
Prediction: 3.12 ERA, 9.75 K.9, 2.58 BB/9
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11. IF Donovan Solano (35) R/R
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Solano doesn't do anything great, but he brings a bat and the ability to play reasonably all over the infield. The Angels currently don't have a third baseman so they plan to slot Solano in at the hot corner. If things take a turn for the worse this year, Solano may be one of the players that heads off to a contender that needs a solid bat on their bench. A man of many teams, Solano hopes to provide quality at bats to the Angels lineup for as long as he is in Los Angeles.
Projection: .287/.340/.406
Prediction: .284/.338/.435
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12. OF Ben Gamel (31) L/L
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Ben Gamel is another veteran who is hoping to provide leadership and good at bats for the Angels until the young outfielders are ready to take over. Gamel is a fairly strong option against RHP and should sit against all lefties. If nothing else, the days that Gamel and Marsh play together will be in contention for all time OF beard combinations. Gamel has worked hard to improve his outfield defense and should bring a good OBP to the bottom of L.A.'s lineup.
Projection: .246/.340/.391
Prediction: .235/.331/.399
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13. 1B/DH "LONG BALL" Darick Hall (27) L/R
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Darick Hall does two things in baseball and neither of them result in him standing on base after he comes to the plate. Chicks dig him because he hits the long ball, but the rest of the time he sits down after the ump calls strike three. He may not make a lot of teams, but the power starved Angels are looking forward to creating a fan legend in "Long Ball." If he gets the AB's, he will hit 25 bombs and strike out 200+ times. Come along for the ride with the man with the giant bat.
Projection: .225/.299/.434 9 HR
Prediction: .232/.304/.485 22 HR
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14. OF Garrett Mitchell (24) L/R
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The spring training battle that is closest in L.A. is in the outfield. Garrett Mitchell, Brandon Marsh, and Akil Baddoo will all be battling for not only the CF job, but also playing time across the outfield. If all three players are able to hit to their potential, then they may very well be the full outfield of the future as Josh Naylor is built to play DH and Ben Gamel is holding down the fort until someone breaks out. Marsh may be the best defender, but Mitchell's speed gives him a shot to become a better OF. Mitchell debuted better that expected and his ceiling will be defined by how much power he can tap into.
Projection: .250/.320/.378
Prediction: .281/.338/.457
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Love these…
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