Lefthander Patrick Sandoval will try to change that. The 23-year-old rookie flashed potential during a 10-game big league debut last season. In his last six starts, he recorded a 3.68 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 12 walks in 22 innings.
If Sandoval doesn’t break camp with the Angels, he should not view a trip back to Triple-A Salt Lake as a demotion.
“I’d rather see him go to Triple-A and start, because we’re going to have plenty of bullpen guys,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “You never want to retard the development of a pitcher like (Sandoval) . . .
“You send somebody back, they feel like you don’t like them, but it’s not true. Sometimes you send them back because you like them so much.”
The Angels acquired Sandoval from the Astros for catcher Martin Maldonado in July 2018. Last season he showed he has the stuff and temperament to get major league hitters out.
Sandoval’s fastball averaged 93 mph and touched 96. He has good feel for a 79 mph curveball and an 88 mph slider, but his best pitch is an 84 mph swing-and-miss changeup that he throws with great deception in any count.
Sandoval’s changeup does not have exceptional vertical movement or much fading action, but it seems to pop a parachute as it approaches the plate. His high-effort, uptempo delivery makes the pitch more difficult to pick up.
“It’s like the Bugs Bunny changeup,” Maddon said. “It just stops between the mound and the plate. He’s got plenty of fastball, and he’s a really good athlete. I’m a big fan.”
Sandoval is an Orange County native who turned down a Southern California scholarship to sign with Houston as an 11th-round pick for a way over slot $900,000. He is a fierce competitor who had a few mound meltdowns when some innings got away from him at Salt Lake.
But he did a better job of controlling those emotions in Anaheim.
“There’s a fine line we deal with on a lot of guys, but it’s easier to pull the reins back than to have to kick a guy in the butt,” Angels bullpen coach Matt Wise said. “He can be a little animated, and he definitely understands that emotions are going to be there, but we’ve discussed how to handle them.”