ANAHEIM—”There’s a lot to like,” director of minor league operations Mike LaCassa said of righthander Joe Gatto, a second-round pick out of high school in Richland, N.J., in 2014.
“He’s really athletic, he has a great head on his shoulders, and he has good makeup on and off the field.”
The 20-year-old Gatto also possesses a strong and sturdy 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, a smooth delivery, a clean arm action and a lively fastball that ranges from 92-96 mph.
Gatto, who signed for $1.2 million, has made great strides in his first year and a half of pro ball. He always has had an electric four-seam fastball, which he can throw with some cutting action or armside run, but he’s turned his sinking two-seam fastball into a weapon that is inducing more groundballs.
Gatto throws his curve with more consistency, and his changeup is developing “quicker than we could have hoped,” LaCassa said, raising optimism that it will be a legitimate fourth pitch. In short, Gatto is transitioning from a high school kid with a big arm into a more polished pitcher.
“You see it with his adjustments,” LaCassa said. “He’s making strides every time he goes out there. For every player, especially a developing one, it’s about doing things more consistently. That’s what he’s shown us for the last year and a half.”
Gatto, a three-sport star in high school, made 12 starts at Rookie-level Orem in 2015, going 2-3, 4.31 and collecting 38 strikeouts and 17 walks in 54 innings.
Slated for low Class A Burlington in 2016, Gatto will top out near 100 innings as he pitches for the first time from April through early September, which can be trying for young pitchers.
“No doubt, it’s a big hurdle,” LaCassa said. “He may have some scheduled down time or he’ll skip a few starts. There are different ways to do it, but we’ll have a plan in place.”
• The Angels invited center fielder Chad Hinshaw to big league camp for the first time. He hit .349 in the Arizona Fall League after batting .289/.391/.365 with 27 stolen bases in 71 games at Double-A Arkansas.
• Lefthander Tyler DeLoach, who split last season between Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake, recorded a 2.38 ERA in 23 innings over five starts in the Venezuelan League.