Fast track to Majors? Bachman keeps eyes forward

March 6th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was the first day of Minor League camp for the Angels on Sunday, and for pitching prospect Sam Bachman, it was the start of what should be a promising season for the No. 9 selection in the 2021 MLB Draft.

Bachman, whose fastball has reached 102 mph, is the headliner among the pitching prospects in Minor League camp for the Angels. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Angels’ No. 2 prospect, the right-hander is considered the organization’s best pitcher who hasn’t reached the Majors yet. There’s a chance he could get to the big leagues this year.

Bachman said he’s trying not to put any extra pressure on himself to reach the Majors quickly. He knows he has plenty of work to do to get there.

“The way I've always been,” Bachman said, “is just putting the blinders on, keeping my head down and working as hard as I can and see where the chips fall.

"I'd love to make an impact early on. That's one of my goals, obviously. But if I just keep my head down and work hard every day, I think I'll have a good opportunity sooner or later."

Bachman, 22, made his professional debut with High-A Tri-City, posting a 3.77 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four walks in 14 1/3 innings. But the Angels were cautious, and he never went more than four innings in any of his five starts.

Bachman, however, was pleased to get his first taste of pro ball last year and kept it going with an offseason program that saw him throwing again as early as late September and working to maintain his weight. Bachman changed his diet and lost 15 pounds after his sophomore year at Miami University (Ohio) and the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder believes he’s in a good place physically.

“I pretty much threw all offseason after shutting it down maybe two or three weeks,” Bachman said. “Just trying to keep my arm moving. Not doing anything intense.”

Bachman’s work ethic has certainly impressed Angels director of player development Joey Prebynski, who noted that Bachman spent a lot of the offseason training in Arizona.

“He’s been great,” Prebynski said. “He’s been out here since after the new year and put in a tremendous amount of work this winter. His bullpens have looked really good the last few weeks. We’re excited with where Sam’s at and where he’ll continue to go.”

One of Bachman’s biggest challenges is proving he can remain a starter and add a quality third pitch to his formidable fastball-slider combination. But Bachman has been working hard on his changeup and believes it can be that third offering. He even has tried throwing it against right-handers to keep them off-balance, although it’s more of a pitch he’ll use against lefties. 

"It's light years away from what it was in college,” Bachman said. “It was very inconsistent. I threw it sometimes. I didn't feel the need to throw it as much. But in pro ball, these guys are different. So it's really improved a lot." 

Fellow Angels prospect Ky Bush has seen the difference firsthand, as he’s Bachman’s regular throwing partner. Bush has watched the pitch evolve from their time together at Tri-City and has noticed how much better it’s becoming for Bachman, which bodes well for his chances to remain a starter. 

“It’s a very good pitch that pairs well with his fastball,” Bush said. “He’ll throw a couple that’ll dive super late and I’m just like, ‘Dude, throw it like that every time.’ But, yeah, it’s been fun watching him develop a pitch he’s been working on for a long time. It’s pretty cool to see.”