One game down, 30 to go. You can't take a lot away from just one game, and especially the first one from Spring Training, but there were a few things that caught our eye in the first nine innings of baseball for the Los Angeles Angels.
Hector Santiago began the game off, taking the mound for the Angels, and showing standard Santiago work. His fastball command was shakey, and off-speed was much better. His final line read two innings pitched, one hit, one walk, one strikeout. His second inning was a lot stronger, but there's still shades of trouble with his fastball.
Cory Rasmus was living on his changeup and curveball, which is unique for him. His fastball is his best pitch, and the pitch you'll see him attack with during the season. However, if he wants to become a starter, he'll have to make his changeup slighly better and throw it more often, so it was a positive sign forward to see him using his changeup effectively against left-handed and right-handed bats.
We won't talk about Chris Iannetta's bat, as it's just fine after two at bats. However, his ability to control the running game was present in the first game of the year. In the first, he helped finish an inning after Brewers, Scooter Gennett, was caught getting greedy on the paths. Iannetta back doored him and earned a 2-6-5-6-1 play, giving him a nice assist. Also, Iannetta threw out a runner after a ball got away in the dirt. For a guy who isn't listed as "defensive minded," he really showed strong play behind the plate early this Spring.
C.J. Cron looked like a man ready for a June game. He was patient, looking to find his pitch, and found both in hitter's counts, taking two balls opposite way for a single and double. He was noticeably "better," and more advanced at the plate. Look for him to continue this and earn a spot as the every-day designated hitter for the Angels come Opening Day.
Mike Trout began the game with three plays that turned heads. He hit the first pitch he saw deep to center, and the wind caught it slightly. Though it wouldn't have left the park, it had warning track potential, and it also showed his new aggression. He told the media later that he's looking to become more aggressive and take hacks at the first pitch of near every at bat, if he feels it's a strike. The second play was a ball hit above his head that he lost in the wind and sun. Something odd for a guy who's a usual Gold Glove nominee, but it also is the first day of Spring Training. Trout also flashed his speed on an infield single, that brought home the Angels first run, so he's still fast, and to add a little, very, very fast.
After a gold glove nomination, Kole Calhoun picked up right where he left off. He tracked down balls that were hit hard in, tailing in the wind. Calhoun also made a nice play when a Matt Clark hit ball went off the wall, read it well, hurled it into the infield, and picked up an assist on a 9-4-3 putout.
He won't make the team, but D'Arby Myers showed why the Angels picked him up. With the departure of Tony Campana, Myers showed speed, stealing second after coming in as a pinch runner, and scored from second on a weak single through the infield on the next pitch. Though he won't make the team, he could be an asset come September/October as a pinch runner, and be the speedster the Angels need in a short series. Another note on Myers, he's Shaquille O'Neal's cousin.
Speaking of the running game, the Angels showed their "Scioscia style" aggression in their first game. There were a lot of first-to-third plays, despite limited opportunities. This is just a sign that the Angels are looking to be aggressive on the base paths, and should once again, be one of the top base running teams beyond stolen bases in the Majors.
Jose Alvarez was effective in his two innings of work. He kept it very simple, and limited all damage in different situations. He's fighting for a potential fifth starter spot as a deep dark horse, but could fit in with a bullpen role, helping Cesar Ramos with time against lefties in the 'pen.
Taylor Featherston and Johnny Giavotella didn't get many looks at the plate or in the field, but they did do something that caught our eye. In the top of the seventh, they ended the inning with a clean, 6-4-3 double play. Things like that earn you spots on the Opening Day roster, and both are looking to do just that. Featherston and Giavotella also made nice individual plays, ranging to their left side and making tough throws to get outs. Giavotella also made a nice play on a ball that fired away on a pickoff, and threw hard across the infield to get the runner trying to third.
Kyle Kubitza had a pair of strikeouts, one looking, and one swinging on three pitches. He also had a ball get past his backhanded glove, as he didn't set his feet. It shows a little more and more that he'll need some development before becoming a Major Leaguer.
Jeremy McBryde came in to finish off the ninth. He worked fast and efficient going 1-2-3. He's a dark horse to see the Majors in 2015, but he showed some good signs in the Cactus League opener.
The Milwaukee Brewers sent five former Angels farm hands to the field today, including; Matt Long, Luis "Lucho" Jimenez, Jean Segura, Will Smith, and Ariel Pena. One other Angels former farmhand that didn't see time on the mound today was Dontrelle Willis.