|The Angels acted aggressively to patch an porous bullpen by trading a pair of mid-level prospects to the Padres for hard-throwing righthanded reliever Ernesto Frieri. Los Angeles parted with Triple-A second baseman Alexi Amarista, a future utility hopeful, and righthander Donn Roach, whom the Angels moved back into the rotation at high Class A this season.
Frieri steps into an Angels bullpen that has the highest WHIP (1.53), lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.58) and most losses (six) in the American League. Sophomore closer Jordan Walden ceded his job to veteran Scott Downs after just six appearances in which he allowed four runs and nine baserunners over 4 1/3 innings.
For his part, Frieri works through the occasional control lapse (career 4.7 walks per nine innings), but opponents either tend not to hit him hard (.198 average) or hit him at all (11.4 strikeouts per nine). The 26-year-old Colombian’s game is all about power and deception, as he sits 92-94 mph with a high-70s curveball, and he hides the ball well with a long, funky takeaway. Frieri is an extreme flyball pitcher, however, with a 23.7 percent groundball percentage that ranks lowest among all big league relievers since 2009 (min. 100 innings). He has no minor league options remaining.
|Alexi Amarista, 2b/3b
Age: 23. Position: 2B (8 G), 3B (6 G), SS (3 G), LF (1 G).
Born: April 6, 1989 in Barcelano, Venezuela.
Ht.: 5-7. Wt.: 150. Bats: L. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Angels, Jan. 25, 2007.
Amarista went 0-for-1 for the Angels during their first game of 2012, but he didn’t get into a game during the subsequent week of play, so Los Angeles optioned him to the Pacific Coast League when they called up reliever David Carpenter. (He still has one option remaining after this season.) Amarista doesn’t have the tools to profile as a regular on a good team, though he could carve out a career as a reserve because he bats lefty, makes plenty of contact and plays multiple positions. His hands work well on the middle infield, though second base is his best position because his arm is short for regular play on the left side of the infield. He runs OK, but not well enough to hold down center field, making left field his best bet. Amarista hits for decent averages, but he’s a free swinger who has bottom-of-the-scale power. In 549 Triple-A plate appearances (in a hitter’s paradise in Salt Lake, no less) he’s batted .303/.339/.438 with 36 doubles, four homers, 26 walks and 20 steals.
|Donn Roach, rhp
Born: Dec. 14, 1989 in Las Vegas.
Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: JC of Southern Nevada.
Career Transactions: Selected by Angels in supplemental third round of 2010 draft; signed June 20, 2010.
A junior-college teammate of Bryce Harper, Roach improved his odds of one day facing the Nationals’ superstar-in-waiting with a move to National League. He spent all of last season working out of the low Class A Cedar Rapids bullpen, where he showed impressive command of the strike zone (68-20 K-BB) and a 3.6 groundout-to-airout ratio that ranked second in the minors among qualified relievers. Roach has been equally effective in a starting role early this season in high Class A, where he leads the California League in walk rate (0.7 per nine innings) and ground-to-airout ratio (6.23) and ranks fourth in ERA (2.16). He’s completed six innings in each of his six starts, and he’s gone at least seven in five of those starts. Roach lives at the bottom of the strike zone with a low-90s sinker, a fringy-but-getting-better breaking ball and a splitter. He has steadily improved the consistency of his delivery during his three seasons in pro ball and could have the stuff and pitch efficiency to one day pitch at the back of a big league rotation. Failing that, he could make for a nifty groundball-oriented reliever.
|Ernesto Frieri, rhp
Age: 26. Remaining Commitment: Under club control for four more seasons, 2013-16, with $489,000 salary in 2012.
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.