Luis Rengifo Could Be Angels' Keystone Solution
The list of players to man second base for the Angels since Howie Kendrick departed after 2014 is long and undistinguished and includes names such as Johnny Giavotella, Taylor Featherston, Grant Green and Kaleb Cowart. This season it is Ian Kinsler.
In an effort to cultivate a long-term solution to a vexing position, the Angels plan to give 21-year-old shortstop Luis Rengifo a lengthy look at second base this summer. He reached Triple-A Salt Lake on July 12 after beginning the season at high Class A Inland Empire.
The speedy Rengifo, who signed out of Venezuela in 2013, is a switch-hitter acquired from the Rays for C.J. Cron in March. He had started 80 percent of his games at shortstop this season, and the Angels believe he has the hands, range, instincts, actions and arm to stick at the position.
But with annual Gold Glover Andrelton Simmons signed through 2020, there is no imminent need for a shortstop in Anaheim.
"He’s an athletic, middle-of-the-diamond player with good bat-to-ball skills and a really good understanding of the strike zone,” general manager Billy Eppler said. "He’s strong with a good, compact swing. I had a scout from another club tell me that he thought his body reminded him of Jean Segura at that age.”
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Rengifo hit .321/.425/.488 with 37 stolen bases and 38 extra-base hits through 89 games this season at three levels. He had more walks (54) than strikeouts (46).
Rengifo, who originally signed with the Mariners and has been traded twice in the past year, has a line-drive approach and decent power from both sides of the plate. He also is an improving basestealer.
Though Rengifo needs to fine-tune all aspects of his game, he has no glaring holes.
"When you put him in the lineup, he’s going to do something,” said Ryan Barba, who managed Rengifo at Inland Empire. "That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to get a hit every day, but just watching him run the bases, steal bases, take that extra base and save runs on defense . . . he’s a fun player to watch.”
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** The Angels promoted Jahmai Jones, who moved from outfield to second base this spring, from Inland Empire to Double-A Mobile on July 10 after he hit .235/.338/.383 with eight homers in 75 California League games.
** The Angels promoted first baseman Jared Walsh to Salt Lake on July 11 after he hit .282/.373/.570 with 21 homers, 21 doubles and 62 RBIs in 81 games at Inland Empire and Mobile.