Bachman, Angels' top RHP prospect, 'super excited' in debut

May 27th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- It was 1 a.m. in Alabama when top pitching prospect received the call that he was going to the Majors for the first time to join the Angels’ bullpen after making six starts with Double-A Rocket City. But it didn’t stop him from calling his friends and family to wake them up with the news.

Bachman, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 Draft and the club’s No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, found out about his promotion a few hours after Wednesday’s game and had his contract officially selected before Friday’s game against the Marlins. He was exclusively a starter in the Minors but will give the Angels a much-needed power arm in relief.

“Oh yeah, I called every one of them and they all answered,” Bachman said with a smile. “At first, they were worried, but then were excited to hear I got the call. Not a lot of people slept that night, including myself. But it was great and still feels surreal.”

Bachman made his debut in the Angels' 6-2 loss to the Marlins at Angel Stadium, striking out four batters while allowing one run on four hits and two walks. The native of Fishers, Ind., had had 11 family members and his girlfriend in attendance for his debut.

“I was just super excited,” Bachman said. “It was a dream come true and I just tried not to fall down out there on the way to the mound. But it was a great experience.”

Bachman, 23, came to the Majors after posting a 4.48 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 49 walks in 84 1/3 innings in the Minors over the last three seasons. He was used as a starter in the Minors, including this season, in which he has posted a 5.81 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 20 walks in 26 1/3 innings.

Bachman’s walk total is a concern, explained in part by his trouble adjusting to the experimental pre-tacked balls used at Double-A this year. The Angels, however, had him and the club’s other pitchers throw their bullpen sessions and side sessions with Major League baseballs to get ready in case they were called up.

Bachman’s fastball averaged 96.3 mph in his debut, while he mixed in his slider and cutter. Manager Phil Nevin liked what he saw from Bachman but noted he needs to have better command going forward.

“He was good, but he’s going to have to throw the fastball for strikes,” Nevin said. “I like the stuff. I know there was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of nerves, a lot of family members here tonight. So first day in the big leagues, I kind of push the results to the side.”

The decision to call up Bachman was another aggressive one for the Angels, as they also have rookie Zach Neto at shortstop and Chase Silseth in the bullpen. Neto, 22, was the club’s first-round pick last year and Silseth, 23, was an 11th-rounder in 2022.

“I just think we're gonna be aggressive as far as getting our best team, our best product on the field to compete and win,” Nevin said. “And we’ve set ourselves up after 50-odd games where everything we want is right in front of us to accomplish. We’re always searching for ways to make the best roster possible.”

Nevin added that both Silseth and Bachman could move back to starting in the future and that this was more about a need in the bullpen. The Angels have been searching for ways to bridge the gap to setup man Matt Moore and closer Carlos Estévez, and they believe Silseth and Bachman can help with that.

“There's been plenty of guys that have gotten to the big leagues and learn how to pitch here and then eventually become a starter,” Nevin said. “That's not being ruled out. We're just doing what's best for us to win games right now. And this is what we feel is.”

Bachman said the biggest change will be his routine, as he’s never pitched in relief outside of a few Spring Training appearances this season. But he said he learned from that experience and is going to lean on veterans and Silseth for advice.

“I've talked to a lot of people here already about the routine and changing it up,” Bachman said. “I think there'll be a smooth process for sure. And talking to Chase as well, he's kind of come into this role and he’s really helped me. I’m going to follow him around, see what he does. I think it’ll really help.”