Angels top prospects increasingly on fast track to MLB

April 17th, 2023

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.

BOSTON -- The Angels clearly aren’t afraid to be aggressive with their prospects.

After right-hander became the first player to reach the Majors from the 2021 Draft last season, shortstop became the first player to get to the big leagues from the ’22 Draft on Saturday.

Neto, the club’s No. 2 prospect, was called up despite having played just 44 games in the Minor Leagues and became the third-quickest player to reach the Majors after being drafted in Angels history. It took him just 267 days after being selected with the No. 13 overall selection in last year’s Draft to make it to the big leagues.

It’s part of an organizational plan spearheaded by general manager Perry Minasian, who is looking to build the best roster he can and isn’t leaning on things like experience or contract status. It’s a reason why the Angels surprisingly brought up Neto and optioned veteran infielder David Fletcher, who signed a five-year deal worth $26 million before the 2021 season.

“Last year, we were still in the hunt and we felt Silseth was the right guy and right now we feel like Zach is the best guy for us to play shortstop,” said manager Phil Nevin. “I feel like our player development department does a great job of developing these guys and getting them better. But this kid was pretty polished coming out of college. I’m glad he’s here. He’s ready and no moment is too big for him.”

The youth movement was certainly evident against the Red Sox on Sunday, as Neto, 22, started at shortstop, while 23-year-old lefty threw to 23-year-old catcher .

Detmers also had a quick ascent to the Majors and has made just 15 appearances in the Minors since being the No. 10 overall selection in the 2020 Draft. O'Hoppe, the club’s No. 1 prospect, also notably skipped Triple-A and the Angels only needed to see 29 games with him at Double-A Rocket City after acquiring him in a trade with the Phillies to decide he was ready for the Majors.

But the Angels don’t believe they are rushing their prospects, as they’re just trying to put their best roster on the field. O’Hoppe has been one of the club’s best players early this season, while Detmers is considered one of the game’s best young lefties and held the Red Sox to two runs over 6 2/3 innings in Sunday’s 2-1 loss.

Nevin said he expects the same out of Neto but noted that there will likely be a learning curve, as even highly regarded prospects have a lot to learn once they get to the Majors.

“He's not somebody who's kind of overexcited, he’s excited of course, but he feels like he belongs here,” Nevin said. “Like on Draft day, I called him to tell him welcome to the organization. And he made a comment like, ‘I’m going to go down and get some work done but I want to let you know I’m ready.’ So the confidence is there.”

Neto didn’t get a hit through his first two games against the Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday, but he singled for his first hit on Monday, and Nevin indicated that Neto will be the club’s regular shortstop going forward.

“He’s going to play and he’s going to play a lot,” Nevin said. “He’s going to get his days like anybody else but he’s here to play.”