The biggest surprise came in the form of a prospect who has yet to see time on a Major League mound. Greg Mahle took the Cactus League by storm, as the southpaw with multiple arm angles allowed two runs in 12.1 innings of work. Mahle, 22, will return to the minors where he holds a 3.02 ERA at four different affiliates.
Mahle's reassignment to Triple-A Salt Lake left the door open for young reliever, Cam Bedrosian, to fill the final bullpen spot. Bedrosian, 24, has not lived up to expectations in his short career at the Major League level, holding a 5.81 ERA, but shined in Spring Training, striking out 17 batters in 11 innings.
With Mahle heading back to the minors, and Bedrosian taking the final relief roll, it leaves long-time Angels' ace, Jered Weaver, off the 15-Day Disabled List, and into the rotation. Weaver will likely have one more workout before taking the mound in a regular season game, with the first weekend series against the Texas Rangers being his first appearance for the 2016 campaign.
Weaver, 33, is coming off his worst statistical season, while seeing a large decrease in his fastball velocity. In early Spring Training, Weaver had tightness in his neck that required a trip to a spine specialist. The results came back negative for any leering injury, but the former Cy Young Award runner-up got to a point of near "retirement" when allowing a three-run home run early in an outing against A's minor leaguers. He then went on to find new ways to pitch without velocity and worked his way into another Opening Day spot.
The Angels opted to send infielders Jefry Marte and Rey Navarro, along with outfielders Rafael Ortega and Todd Cunningham to the minors, giving the following bench positions to a pair of veterans and Rule-5 Draftee.
Ji-Man Choi will man the first base and left field position over the course of the year, and must remain on the active roster through the season or be returned to the Orioles under Rule-5 Draft rulings. The 24-year-old Korean prospect held just a .628 OPS over Cactus League play, but the tools were something General Manager, Billy Eppler and manager, Mike Scioscia, desired, keeping him on the active roster early in the year.
Veterans, Cliff Pennington and Craig Gentry will man the other bench positions. Pennington, 31, is an eight-year Major League veteran who provides depth at second base, shortstop and third base, while possessing a contact friendly bat as well. Gentry, 32, will provide defensive relief in the outfield for the Angels, as he's done so through his seven-year career at the Major League level. There's also desire to platoon him at times with fellow off-season pickup, Daniel Nava.
Here's a full look at the Angels Opening Day roster:
- C.J. Wilson, LHP
The Angels will open the season on Monday at Angel Stadium, facing the Chicago Cubs and defending Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta. Garrett Richards will take the mound for the Angels with the expectation of Escobar (3B), Simmons (SS), and Nava (LF) making their Angels' debut.