Angels Notes: Maitan, Soto Getting Comfortable In New Organization
When Kevin Maitan was playing for the Rookie-level Danville Braves last summer, he left scouts less than impressed.
There were understandable caveats that Maitan was very young for the league. But scouts were concerned about his body, as they were almost universally adamant that he wouldn’t be able to stay at shortstop over the long term. And there were concerns with the switch-hitter’s swing, especially from the left side of the plate.
Since then, Maitan has been declared a free agent because of the Braves violations of MLB’s rules. The teenager signed a $2.2 million contract with the Angels and is spending his first spring with a new team.
So far this spring, Maitan, the Angels No. 4 prospect, has not quieted any of the concerns scouts had last year when they saw him. The same caveats about his youth continue to apply—he’ll play this entire season as an 18-year-old. But scouts are just as adamant that he will not be a shortstop—as several scouts note, there is no shortstop in Major League Baseball whose body looks like Maitan’s.
Some evaluators wonder whether he’ll end up being too big for third base. With good hands, below-average speed and a strong arm, he looks more like a catcher than anything else at this point.
Maitan has plenty of time to still determine his ultimate path as a baseball player. He’s younger than many of the high school players who will be drafted in June. But when Maitan was the top international amateur prospect in baseball a few years ago, there was hope that he could be a middle of the order hitter while playing up the middle. Nowadays, he’s much less likely to stay at a premium defensive position.
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Filling Out: Maitan isn’t the only ex-Braves' prospect getting comfortable in Angels camp. Livan Soto was also declared a free agent last offseason before signing with the Angels for $850,000. Soto, the Angels No. 16 prospect, has plenty of room to mature and fill out, as he still has the skinny frame of a 17-year-old who has plenty of work in the weight room ahead of him.
Soto played second base in a Saturday intrasquad game so Maitan could play shortstop, but Soto’s calling card is his excellent defense. He has a solid swing, but struggled last season largely because he doesn’t have the strength to really drive the ball.