ANAHEIM—Michael Hermosillo will be in big league camp this spring. While he has no shot of making the team, the fact that he’ll be shagging fly balls next to Mike Trout and taking batting-practice swings with Albert Pujols is a testament to the 22-year-old outfielder’s steady progress.
“A lot of organizations wouldn’t bring him to big league camp at this stage of his career,” farm director Mike LaCassa said. “But given the strides he’s made on and off the field—with his baseball fundamentals, strength, conditioning and development—we felt he earned it.”
The Angels made the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Hermosillo a 28th-round pick in 2013 out of Ottawa (Ill.) High, where he may have been a better football than baseball player.
After so-so seasons at Rookie-level Orem in 2014 and low Class A Burlington in 2015, Hermosillo made a quantum leap in 2016.
In a combined 77 games at Burlington and high Class A Inland Empire he hit .317/.402/.467 with six homers, 15 doubles, five triples and 10 stolen bases in 20 tries.
Hermosillo appeared most often in center field but also plays the corners. He doesn’t project to have big power, but he has shown plate discipline by striking out 111 times and walking 85 times the past two seasons.
“He has a very solid approach offensively,” LaCassa said. “He controls the strike zone well and he does not chase, which leads to an above-average walk rate and better-than-average strikeout rate.”
Hermosillo’s basestealing technique and outfield play were raw when he signed, but LaCassa said he has improved in both areas.
He played nine games in the Arizona Fall League and will likely begin 2017 at Inland Empire before finishing at Double-A Mobile.
“When you take a high school player in (the late rounds), you hope that in three and a half years they’re on the map,” LaCassa said. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but he’s gotten better each year, and last year was his biggest step forward.”
• The Angels lost 25-year-old first baseman Ji-Man Choi when he elected free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Sale Lake.
• The Angels re-signed lefthander Cody Ege to a minor league deal after non-tendering him in December.
— Mike DiGiovanna covers the Angels for the Los Angeles Times