Inbox: Prospects readying for Majors

Maria Guardado answers fans' queries about callups, Trade Deadline

June 20th, 2018

Who are some of the top prospects, if any, that we can expect to get called up in September? Matt Thaiss? -- Doug, @troutsupreme1xd

Thaiss, the Angels' first-round Draft pick in 2016, seems like a solid bet, as he's currently batting .340 with a 1.003 OPS over 23 games with Triple-A Salt Lake. Taylor Ward, the club's top pick in 2015, is another strong candidate for a September callup. Originally drafted as a catcher, Ward transitioned to third base this year and is now hitting .340 with a .971 OPS over 57 games between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Salt Lake.
Left-hander Jose Suarez and right-hander Griffin Canning are two other intriguing possibilities. Suarez, 20, opened the season at Class A Advanced Inland Empire and has already climbed to Triple-A Salt Lake, posting a 3.06 ERA over 61 2/3 innings with a 12.8 K/9 across three Minor League levels. Canning, the Angels' second-round Draft pick out of UCLA last year, is currently pitching at Double-A Mobile, where he's logged a 1.97 ERA over 45 2/3 innings and started two combined no-hitters.
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Will the Angels try to pick up a bullpen piece, if anything, by the Deadline, or are they completely out at this point? -- Sean, @BodeineBrazy

The Angels are facing a pretty significant deficit -- 9 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West and 7 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot -- but I think it's still too early for them to throw in the towel. Six weeks remain until the non-waiver Trade Deadline, so I think the Angels still have time to try to close the gap and set themselves up to potentially make a run in the second half.
The bullpen, which is tied for the Major League lead with 15 blown saves this year, has been shaky, so I would expect the Angels to look for upgrades if they feel they still have a shot at contending. Two of the best available relievers -- Alex Colome and -- have already come off the board, but there should still be plenty of other options on the trade market for teams in search of relief help, including the Reds' , the Orioles' Zach Britton, the Tigers' , the Mets' and the Padres' Brad Hand.
What are the chances that @d22fletcher will get more opportunities at third base when Cozart gets back? -- John Challenger, @JohnSChallenger

David Fletcher has impressed so far, going 5-for-13 and playing strong defense over his first six games, but I think it would be tough for him to unseat a veteran like Zack Cozart, who signed a three-year, $38 million deal over the offseason. Fletcher could force his way into the lineup more often if he continues to hit, but I would expect Cozart to still play regularly once he returns from the disabled list.
Is there any possibility that Shoemaker will pitch this season and could hopefully help the team get a Wild Card spot? -- Frank Lujan, @Mean_lujan14

, who underwent right forearm surgery last month, is projected to begin a throwing program in two to three weeks, so he could return to pitch for the Angels in August if his rehab unfolds smoothly.
What is the likelihood of the Angels going after one of the free-agent third basemen next winter? -- Bill B., San Diego
The Angels haven't gotten as much production as they would have hoped out of third base this season -- their .649 OPS at the position is the third-lowest mark in the Majors -- so one possibility would be to shift Cozart to second base and pursue an upgrade this winter. There will certainly be several notable third basemen available on the free-agent market, including Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas. None of those players are likely to come cheap, however, so it remains to be seen if the Angels would be willing to meet their asking prices. If not, the Angels do have a few internal options they could deploy at third base, namely Fletcher, Ward, and .