As a big-bodied, hard-throwing righthander with a demeanor that Angels minor league pitching coordinator Buddy Carlyle describes as “400 miles per hour at all times,” Zach Linginfelter seemed more suited for a bullpen role.
But with his solid start at High-A Tri-City this season and the expansion of his arsenal to three impressive pitches and a potential fourth offering, Linginfelter was emerging as a potential rotation candidate.
“When I first saw him, he was more fastball-slider, big velo, bulldog on the mound—he definitely had reliever written all over him,” Carlyle said. “But as he’s started to throw, his pitchability is coming out.”
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Linginfelter, a 2019 ninth-rounder from Tennessee, recorded an 0.75 ERA in his first three professional starts for Tri-City, striking out 18, walking seven and giving up nine hits in 12 innings.
His two-seam fastball sits in the 95 mph range and has touched 98. He throws his slider, which has the late-breaking action of a cut fastball, at around 88 mph.
Linginfelter had shown the most improvement with his 81 mph curveball and shown progress with an 88 mph changeup with split-finger action.
“The metrics, the movement profile, the command of it, have been pretty solid so far, so it’s pretty exciting,” Carlyle said of Linginfelter’s curve. “I think it gives him another look, having something a little slower.”
Linginfelter, 24, will remain in the rotation for now, with the expectation that he’ll jump to Double-A this summer.
If he continues to throw strikes and dominate, he could impact the big league club next season.
“I think as a reliever, he could be on a fast track, because he would only need two pitches,” Carlyle said. “As a starter, he’d need three pitches, and he might take a little more time.
“But I think he’s going to put himself on the radar to be a potential guy like that, more because of his mentality. I think he could handle it. He’s not scared of anything.”
— Angels top prospect Jo Adell showed good power in his first 16 games for Triple-A Salt Lake, batting .261 (18-for-69) with a 1.039 OPS, nine home runs, four doubles and 17 RBIs, but his 26 strikeouts likely prevented him from being called up when Mike Trout went on the injured list because of a calf strain on May 18.
— Brent Killam, a 23-year-old lefthander who was an 11th-round pick from Georgetown in 2019, struck out 27 of 49 batters in his first three starts for Low-A Inland Empire, going 1-1, 2.08 and giving up six hits and walking six in 13 innings.