The LA Angels joined the rest of the MLB on Tuesday in finalizing their 40-man roster prior to the annual Rule 5 Draft. The Halos added three prospects to the roster, while designating a couple of interesting names.
While the LA Angels do hope to contend in 2019, they chose to protect prospects who will be able to help down the road rather than choosing to keep proven commodities on their 40-man roster. Billy Eppler did admit to having a hard time choosing who and who not to protect, but had a positive spin to the situation.
““It’s a sign that things (with the depth of the farm system) are going in an upward direction,” Eppler told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “It might even be more difficult in future years.”
The three players added to the 40-man roster were infielder Luis Rengifo, pitcher Jose Suarez, and pitcher Luis Modero. Rengifo and Suarez both finished last season as highly ranked prospects, while Modero was a surprising addition to the roster given his ranking within the system.
Rengifo was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for C.J Cron last season, and was very successful in his first season with the Angels. He played across three minor league levels in 2018, and finished the season with a .299/.399/.452 slashline for the season, and could very easily find himself on the roster early in the 2019 season. Rengifo plays third base, second base, and shortstop. He could very easily fill the utility role the Angels seem to want for next season.
Jose Suarez is a left-handed pitcher is another Angels’ prospect who rose throughout the system last season, finished right next to Rengifo in Triple-A Salt Lake. While he did struggle with the Bees, there is no reason to doubt Suarez has the capabilities to be a solid starting pitcher for the Angels, maybe even in 2019. Suarez has the maturity needed to pitch in the MLB, which will allow him to debut sooner rather than later.
The surprise of the group was Luis Modero, a right-handed pitcher out of Venezuela. While Modero himself is an exceptional prospect, and performed well in the minors last season, it was still surprising to see him protected for a couple of reasons. For one, the highest level he has pitched in is Single-A. On top of that, the Angels have a handful of other prospects ranked higher than Modero who are now eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
The Angels had to make room for these three, and they did so by designating Parker Bridwell and Jose Fernandez for assignment in a corresponding move. Bridwell flashed excellence in 2017, but was a flop in 2018. Fernandez was a solid utility player defensively, but left much to be desired at the plate. Bridwell may be picked up by a rebuilding team hoping to regain that 2017 form, while Fernandez will likely survive the draft.
While the Angels did prioritize upside prospects over two players who have shown they can play at the major league level, the trio of Rengifo, Suarez, and Modero could all be contributing at The Big A in 2019 and beyond.