Paris' first career HR a no-doubter: 'Kid has that in him'

May 22nd, 2024

HOUSTON -- With his wiry 6-foot frame suited for the middle infield, it doesn’t look like rookie would have much power.

But he has some sneaky pop, and he showed it with his first career home run against the Astros on Wednesday afternoon. His two-run drive off right-hander Hunter Brown in the fifth inning lifted the Angels to a 2-1 victory at Minute Maid Park.

Paris, ranked as the club’s No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was greeted by his teammates with a beer shower as a celebration after the game. He was excited about his role in helping his club to a win.

“It was amazing,” said Paris, who was given the ball as a keepsake. “It was a special moment for me to put the team on top and ultimately lead to a win and a series victory.”

It was the fifth win in seven games for the Angels, who won consecutive series against the Rangers and Astros on the road trip, with both losses coming in extra innings. The Angels previously had only two series victories this season.

The Angels have been playing better baseball, and they’ve been helped by several youngsters coming through. On Monday, Nolan Schanuel, Logan O’Hoppe, Jo Adell and Zach Neto all went deep. Neto, however, left Wednesday’s game with right elbow soreness after a throw in the fifth, which could open the door for a bigger role for Paris if Neto misses time. Neto was hopeful it’s a minor injury but will undergo testing.

It was Paris’ turn in the spotlight on Wednesday, as he got the Angels on the board. He jumped all over a 3-2 sinker over the middle of the plate, and it wasn’t a cheap ballpark-aided home run. It left the bat at 106.9 mph, went a projected 408 feet and would've been a homer in all 30 parks, per Statcast.

“Wow, what a home run,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “The kid has that in him. He’s young; he’s still learning. But when he realizes what he can do, he’s going to be a good baseball player. And right now, he's in the right place to learn how to play the game.”

Paris, a second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif., was called up on May 9 despite hitting .091 with no homers in 23 games at Double-A Rocket City. The Angels have had issues with their depth because of injuries, and Paris has been trying to make the most of his opportunity.

He has a slash line of .138/.265/.276 with a double and five RBIs in 11 games. He also has shown plate discipline, with five walks and eight strikeouts. It's his second stint in the Majors after he batted .100 (4-for-40) with 17 strikeouts and four walks in 15 games last year.

“I think things have been going really good,” Paris said. “I've been learning a lot and just continue to work and improve on my game. We have an incredible coaching staff and an incredible group of guys around me. So it's been special to just be in this environment and keep getting better.”

Paris is coming off a solid season at Double-A Rocket City. He slashed .255/.393/.417 with 14 homers, 23 doubles and 45 RBIs in 113 games. It was his second straight year in the Minors with at least 10 homers, as he also went deep 12 times in '22. Power isn’t expected to be a big part of his game, but he has enough of it, as evidenced by his go-ahead homer on Wednesday.

“I definitely think it’s there,” Paris said. “For me, it's just being consistent and being able to tap into it. And that's one thing as a young player, I'm learning about myself and just continuing to improve and work with the coaches.”

Paris’ homer backed lefty Tyler Anderson, who has been the club’s best starter this year and turned in another gem. Anderson went eight innings, allowing one run on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He improved to 5-4 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 starts.

Anderson was proud of Paris for hitting his first homer.

“That was awesome,” Anderson said. “That was huge. I love that kid. He works so hard. He’s going to be a really good player. That was a big spot right there, and I know he’s been working on some stuff offensively. And he came through with a big two-run homer to win the game for us.”