This Angel is proving all his doubters wrong

July 6th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger’s Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

’s rise to the Majors is as improbable and incredible as it gets.

After going undrafted out of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2018, Stefanic sent a prospect video to more than 200 people from all 30 clubs but only heard back from the Angels and then-director of player development Mike Gallego, who is now the club’s third-base coach.

Stefanic was given a bus ticket to Arizona -- and no signing bonus -- but impressed in nine games in Arizona with the Rookie-level Angels, batting .393 with a triple and four RBIs. It led to him remaining in the organization and he continued to prove his doubters wrong at every level the rest of the way.

After batting .314/.391/.427 in 291 games in the Minors, including .320/.410/.399 in 46 games with Triple-A Salt Lake this year, Stefanic was called up for the first time on Sunday. He’s now slated to be the club’s everyday second baseman and couldn’t be any more excited for his chance to prove he belongs in the Majors.

“This was the ultimate goal from the very beginning,” Stefanic said. “But I think my dad said it best. He sent me a text and said this is just another peak I have to climb. It's very difficult to get here. But it's even harder to stay here. So that's the goal. I want to be in this league and help this team win for a long time."

Interim manager Phil Nevin, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 Draft, said he recalled meeting Stefanic in Spring Training and asked him in what round he was drafted, only to be surprised to hear that Stefanic was undrafted and received no signing bonus.

Nevin said he was impressed by the way Stefanic carried himself in Spring Training and that he could’ve been called up earlier if he didn’t suffer a quad injury in early June that kept him out of action for nearly three weeks.

"The bottom of our lineup needed a shakeup and Stefanic had been swinging the bat really well at Triple-A,” Nevin said. “He maybe could've been up earlier, but he was hurt for a little while. So we'll plug him at second base and see how it goes."

But with Stefanic’s uplifting story, the Angels also designated utilityman Tyler Wade for assignment on Sunday to make room on the roster.

Wade, a native of Murrieta, Calif., hit .218/.272/.272 in 67 games with the Angels and is likely to be claimed by another team because of his speed and versatility.

"It's unfortunate,” Wade said. “I felt like there was a lot of work to be done left here. I like the group. I've said it from Day 1, this group is special. I still believe that. That's what kind of kills me the most."