ANAHEIM -- After being selected in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of UCLA, right-hander Griffin Canning advanced quickly through the Minor Leagues in his first year of pro ball in '18, reaching Triple-A by season's end.Canning, the club's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, could get
ANAHEIM -- After being selected in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of UCLA, right-hander Griffin Canning advanced quickly through the Minor Leagues in his first year of pro ball in '18, reaching Triple-A by season's end.
Canning, the club's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, could get to the Majors as early as this season, so the Angels sent him to the MLB Rookie Career Development Program in Miami last week. Canning, 22, enjoyed the experience and said he learned a lot about future media interactions and how to handle himself in a clubhouse after attending several workshops and talking with fellow prospects.
"It's cool to be around a lot of these guys," Canning said. "A lot of them have made it up already. [I] just kind of pick and choose talking to certain guys about their experiences so far as rookies and how they interacted with guys in the clubhouse, things like that."
Canning pitched across three levels in 2018, posting a combined 3.65 ERA with 125 strikeouts, 44 walks and eight homers allowed in 113 1/3 innings between Class A Advanced Inland Empire, Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Salt Lake. He did scuffle a bit in his first taste of Triple-A, however, as he had a 5.49 ERA with 64 strikeouts, 22 walks, and six homers allowed in 59 innings.
But it was still an impressive first season to get all the way to Salt Lake for Canning, who is ranked as the No. 72 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline.
"I don't know exactly how rare that it is, but it was a reason I went to school so I could come into the Draft and a system prepared and ready to move as quickly as I could," he said. "Obviously, I just had to pitch well, and luckily, the Angels had confidence in me and were willing to move me up."
Canning will need to continue to work on his command, as he walked 3.5 batters per nine innings last season (the Major League average was 3.2). He has a four-pitch mix with a fastball that sits in the low 90s to complement a changeup, slider and curveball. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, and scouts believe he has an athletic, repeatable delivery.
He said he hopes to wear No. 55 in the Majors, as his nickname at UCLA was the "Bulldog," after former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser, who wore the number during his illustrious career. But Canning also knows he has plenty of work to do to live up to the expectations of being the club's top pitching prospect.
"In college I prided myself on being a big strike-thrower, but for whatever reason, this year I took a step back with that," Canning said. "I was falling behind in counts, and guys were a lot more patient and know what they are looking for. They have better plans and better scouting reports. The biggest thing is probably two-strike pitches. I was able to get away with bigger misses on two-strike counts but once I got there, they were more disciplined. So it's about refining that skill."
Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.