Defense Comes First For Angels' Bandy

TEMPE, Ariz.—He has a cool name and an in with the boss, but neither will factor into whether Jett Bandy catches a big league game for the Angels.

Like any aspiring catcher in an organization that emphasizes the position, Bandy, a 31st-round pick from Arizona in 2011, must be proficient behind the plate before he ever dons a chest protector in Anaheim.

"In this organization, the big thing is defense," Bandy said. "They made that point clear to me last year. It's all about getting the pitchers on line, and half of that is your job. If you go 0-for-4 but catch a shutout, you should not be upset."

Bandy, 23, considered himself more of an offensive-minded catcher at Arizona, and he hit well in his first pro season, with a .307/.394/.477 line in 176 at-bats in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2011.

Though his offense sagged in 2012, when he hit .247/.318/.386 in 324 at-bats at high Class A Inland Empire, Bandy improved his stock with his development behind the plate.

"From receiving to the mental aspect of the game to gaining the trust of the pitchers, my defense has improved tremendously," said Bandy, who's attending big league spring training for the second straight year.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Bandy has a good throwing arm, but his mechanics can get out of whack. Tall catchers tend to pop straight up and throw as opposed to moving from the crouch toward the mound, the preferred method of delivery. Bandy's swing can get long, too.

"He had some mechanical things at plate in the first half last season, and he really struggled, but defensively he played well," big league manager Mike Scioscia said. "He got back to his old swing and did better toward the end of the season. No doubt, he's a prospect."

Scioscia actually coached Bandy as a 10-year-old Little Leaguer in the Conejo Valley region of Ventura County, Calif., in 1999, the year before becoming the Angels manager. Bandy and Matt Scioscia, Mike's son, were teammates and have remained good friends, working out together every winter.

"He wasn't as hard on us back then as he is now," Bandy said of Mike Scioscia. "But he taught us some good stuff."

As for his odd first name, it comes from his grandfather, Chett, and his father, John.

"They put the two together and got Jett," Bandy said. "It's pretty cool, but I have to explain it to people. They'll say, 'Jeff? Jed?' No, Jett, as in the airplane."

Angel Food

• The Angels hired Bill Richardson, who spent five seasons in the Rangers organization, to manage at Rookie-level Orem. Richardson, 52, replaces Tom Kotchman, who resigned in October after 29 years in the organization.

• Reliever Robert Coello, 28, joined the Angels on a minor league deal with an invite to big league spring training. The righthander previously pitched in the organization in 2007.