Dipoto strikes deal with Indians for former Canyon High star
ANAHEIM -- The Angels acquired veteran right-handed reliever Vinnie Pestano from the Indians in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Michael Clevinger on Thursday. Pestano was assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake and shortstop Tommy Field was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Pestano, an Orange County native who was born in Newport Beach, Calif., ascended to the setup role in Cleveland from 2011-12, while posting a 2.45 ERA in 137 games. But the 29-year-old dealt with elbow inflammation the following May, struggled through a 4.08 ERA and 1.64 WHIP during that 2013 season and had a 5.00 ERA in 13 Major League appearances this year.
Now, though, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto believes Pestano has "got his strikeout pitch back." And his numbers in Triple-A this year -- 1.78 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 37 strikeouts and 12 walks in 30 1/3 innings -- may support that notion.
Pestano -- acquired after the Angels submitted a waiver claim -- sits mostly 92-93 mph with his fastball, which Dipoto said has "extra hop through the zone," and also features a slurve and slider.
"His stuff was overwhelming when he first came up," said Angels reliever Joe Smith, Pestano's teammate in Cleveland. "I don't know if it's that the league caught up to him maybe, but he's not that far removed. I heard his velo's coming back; I'm hearing very good signs from him, so it wouldn't surprise me if he gets back to form."
In Pestano, the Angels get a sidearmer who's very effective against righties (he's held them to a .528 OPS in his career) and has struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings in his career. Just as important, Pestano also has options left next year.
"For a lot of reasons, he's a good fit for us," Dipoto said.
"If he throws well, there's always a spot for a guy with his stuff in a Major League bullpen in the short-term," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Most likely, he'll have big-picture ramifications, too."
Clevinger, taken in the fourth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, missed most of the 2012 and '13 seasons because of Tommy John surgery and had a 4.31 ERA in 18 starts at both of the Angels' Class A affiliates this year. The 23-year-old has shown the potential for four average-to-better pitches -- a low-90s fastball, a sharp slider, a curveball and a deceptive changeup.
Pestano admitted that he "saw the writing on the wall a little bit" in Cleveland, adding that "there are some other guys that [the Indians] are more fond of." Now, Pestano -- who attended Canyon High School in Anaheim, like Grant Green, and then went to Cal State Fullerton -- is looking forward to a return home.
"I grew up 10 minutes away from the stadium and I played in college 10 minutes away, too," he said in a phone interview. "I've been in the shadow of that halo for a while, so it'll nice to get back out there."