1st impression strong for Detmers, Rodriguez

Top pitching prospects combine for 3 K's in Cactus League debuts

March 3rd, 2021

The Angels got a potential glimpse of the future Tuesday, as top pitching prospects Chris Rodriguez and Reid Detmers both fared well in their Spring Training debuts against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

Rodriguez dazzled in the third inning, reaching as high as 98 mph on the radar gun, striking out both batters that he faced, including Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Detmers threw a scoreless sixth, flashing a fastball that touched 94 mph from the left side, bouncing back from a four-pitch walk to open the frame.

It was an encouraging outing from Rodriguez, who is ranked as the club’s No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and has dealt with back issues in recent years. The 22-year-old right-hander has thrown just 9 1/3 professional innings since 2017, but he was healthy last year pitching at the club’s alternate site and could make his debut as early as this season.

Detmers, 21, is the club’s No. 2 prospect and could also see himself in the rotation at some point this season after being selected with the No. 10 pick in the 2020 Draft. Detmers also pitched at the club’s alternate site last year and was considered close to Major League-ready when drafted.

"Pretty good, right?" Angels manager Joe Maddon said of the duo's performances. "Chris got out there and was pretty much on top of his game from the first pitch. Great movement, great stuff, great poise. That's pretty legit. Reid, I thought he had to get into the flow of things, but after that, he was outstanding. They both showed why they're gonna be very successful Major League pitchers."

Heaney switches spots on the rubber

Left-hander Andrew Heaney has experimented with pitching from different sides of the rubber in recent years, and after throwing from the first-base side in 2020, he threw from the third-base side against the Reds in his spring debut.

Heaney made the switch to the first-base side late in the 2019 season and saw some success with it and decided to keep it last year. But this season, Heaney believes his stuff plays better from the third-base side of the rubber. He gave up one run on two hits and a walk over 2 1/3 innings Tuesday, throwing 36 pitches.

“I think some of the directional stuff I've been working on works better on that side,” Heaney said. “The approach I have toward the plate is more efficient from that side.”

Ohtani to start Friday

The Angels were deciding between Shohei Ohtani making his first start Thursday or Friday, but have decided to have him make his spring debut on the mound against the A’s on Friday at Hohokam Stadium. Right-hander Griffin Canning will start Thursday against the D-backs at Salt River Fields. Ohtani is scheduled to throw one or two innings.

Ohtani recently hit 100 mph while throwing to hitters Saturday and also went 2-for-3 with two singles and two runs scored as the designated hitter Monday. Ohtani is fully healthy and is focusing more on his pitching early in camp as he builds up his arm strength.

Angels tidbits

• Right-handed reliever Gerardo Reyes was diagnosed with a right ulnar collateral sprain after getting injured in Sunday’s game. Reyes, acquired in the trade that sent Jason Castro to the Padres last season, was competing for a spot in the bullpen. Reyes could be a candidate for Tommy John surgery, but the club is exploring its options.

• Third baseman Anthony Rendon hasn’t been in the lineup due to general soreness, but he is expected to make his spring debut Wednesday or Thursday.

• Shortstop José Iglesias hit the first homer of the spring for the Angels and it came off Reds prospect Hunter Greene. Greene threw as hard as 103 mph per the radar gun at Goodyear Ballpark, but he served up a three-run homer to Iglesias on a slider. Iglesias also helped turn a double play in the bottom of the inning with second baseman David Fletcher. Fletcher led off the game with a single on a 103-mph fastball.

• Interim pitching coach Matt Wise could rejoin the club as early as Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 20, Maddon said. Wise had minor symptoms and has been able to participate in Zoom meetings with the other coaches, per Maddon.