Power Keeps Jared Walsh Relevant At First Base
The first thing one notices about Jared Walsh’s season at high Class A Inland Empire is his power. The first baseman hit 11 home runs in his first 37 games, including six during a seven-game stretch from May 8-14.
"When he gets hot,” said minor league field coordinator Chad Tracy, who managed Walsh at Inland Empire last season, "he can carry a club for a while.”
The next thing you notice is the two pitching appearances by the 24-year-old Walsh. The lefthander allowed three hits, struck out four and walked none in two relief innings.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Walsh was a 39th-round pick out of Georgia in 2015. He served as a standout pitcher in high school and college, with a low-90s fastball that drew plenty of interest from teams looking to draft him as a pitcher.
With Shohei Ohtani dominating on the mound and providing middle-of-the-order power in Anaheim, could the Angels be grooming another two-way player in Walsh?
"Honestly, to this point, the outings are more happenstance,” Tracy said. "In the minor leagues, you have to do a lot of things to take care of the young arms you have, and every once in a while you run into a shortage in the bullpen.
"Jared has pitched before, and he throws with some velocity, so if they need a pitcher for extra innings, they have one. But it’s not anything that’s planned or in the works.”
Tracy wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Walsh exploring a two-way role or moving to the mound, "but he’s got 11 homers on May 18,” he said. "Right now, Jared is a first baseman.”
Walsh hit seven homers in 109 games at low Class A Burlington in 2016 and then 11 in 90 games in 2017, but the Angels believe this year’s power is more the norm, not an exception.
Walsh homered in each of his first two games last season before suffering a lower-back injury in the fourth game that sidelined him for six weeks. He returned in late May, was promoted to Double-A Mobile on June 12 but sent back to Inland Empire after batting .232 with three homers in 20 Southern League games.
"There were flashes that would suggest he could hit some homers if he was healthy and playing every day," Tracy said, "and I’m sure he’s starting to master the level a bit.
"He’s also drawing walks, getting on base—and he can drive the ball out the other way. When you start seeing guys leave the park in the opposite direction, that’s a unique characteristic.”
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>> The organization had a pair of combined no-hitters in a span of five days, with righthander Griffin Canning throwing the first five no-hit innings for Mobile against Montgomery on April 28 and righty Jason Alexander throwing the first seven no-hit innings for Inland Empire against Lake Elsinore on May 2.
>> Outfielder Michael Hermosillo hit for the cycle with six RBIs and two runs in Triple-A Salt Lake’s 13-9 victory against Fresno on May 1. He made his major league debut on May 18.