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OC Register: Another Shohei Ohtani? Angels looking for more two-way players in minors

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ANAHEIM — The Angels are going to spend some time this fall seeing if they might have one or two more two-way players coming up in the minors.

Outfielders Jared Walsh and Bo Way have both been invited to the Angels’ fall instructional league as pitchers, a nod to their success in limited appearances on the mound already.

“We’re going to give them more tools in their tool belt,” General Manager Billy Eppler said. “It’s an opportunity to get some formal pitching instruction.”

Position players pitch regularly in the minors, to save the arms of relievers in lopsided or long extra-inning games, but Eppler conceded that it’s possible either of these players could carve out a more significant pitching role.

Neither is likely to become another Shohei Ohtani, starring at both roles, but if a position player could pitch in more than just a mop-up role, that could be a valuable asset to have.

“I’m open-minded to anything,” Eppler said. “Time will tell. We’re going to give them an opportunity to show us. They’ve shown us enough at this point to say ‘Let’s make a formal program and invite them and see what the next step is.’”

Both Walsh and Way are closer to being major league two-way players than William English, a high schooler the Angels drafted in the fifth round as a two-way player this summer.

Walsh is a 25-year-old former 39th-round pick who plays outfield and first base. A left-handed thrower, he pitched in college at Georgia. This season he rocketed through the system, from Class-A to Triple-A, by hitting .277 with 29 homers and an .895 OPS.

Walsh also pitched in eight games across the three levels, allowing one earned run in 5-2/3 innings, with seven strikeouts.

Catcher Joe Hudson, who was at Triple-A with Walsh before the Angels recalled him this month to be their third catcher, is a fan of his work on the mound.

“I think he’s got a legit chance of being a two-way guy in this league, to be honest,” Hudson said. “His curveball is really good. He could be a guy that comes in late in a game and faces a power-hitting lefty, or a lefty who doesn’t hit lefties too well, and throw some power curves in there. … I think he could definitely overpower some lefties.”

Hudson said Walsh could get up to 94 mph, and that was without any of the instruction he’s about to get. He said Walsh just threw about 10 pitches in a bullpen about once a week.

Way, 26, was the Angels’ seventh-round pick in 2014. He hit .312 between Double-A and Triple-A this season. Also a left-handed thrower, he pitched in six games this season, allowing two earned runs in 6-1/3 innings, with five strikeouts.

OHTANI’S FUTURE

While the Angels are still waiting for an official decision from Ohtani about undergoing Tommy John surgery, Manager Mike Scioscia gave an idea of how he envisions Ohtani resuming his two-way role in 2020.

“You’ll see a guy who can go out and start 20 to 24 games and get 350 plate appearances, or whatever it may be, and be a dominant force,” Scioscia said. “His first year, we got a taste of it.”

Scioscia said he imagines that the training staff will still have a large say in balancing Ohtani’s two roles, specifically in determining whether he still needs the days off before and after he pitches.

“That will be a discussion for another time,” Scioscia said. “I don’t know if we have enough data from this year (to determine that). I will tell you this; he wanted to hit even more when he was pitching. He felt he could, but the restrictions were from our medical staff and Billy to make sure he could rebound enough.”

ALSO

Tyler Skaggs (groin) threw 48 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday in Arizona and had no issues, Scioscia said. Skaggs is expected to return to Anaheim and be evaluated, to determine his next step. …

Second baseman Jahmai Jones, one of the Angels’ top prospects, is also on the Angels’ instructional league roster, even though he’s also playing in the Arizona Fall League. Jones will have a couple weeks to work out in instructional league before the AFL starts.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Matt Shoemaker, 2-0, 3.45) vs. Mariners (TBA), Friday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West, KLAA (830 AM)

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Scioscia said he imagines that the training staff will still have a large say in balancing Ohtani’s two roles, specifically in determining whether he still needs the days off before and after he pitches.

“That will be a discussion for another time,” Scioscia said. “I don’t know if we have enough data from this year (to determine that). I will tell you this; he wanted to hit even more when he was pitching. He felt he could, but the restrictions were from our medical staff and Billy to make sure he could rebound enough.”

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15 hours ago, Scotty@AW said:

Jared Walsh is legit. He looked comfortable on the mound. I'm interested to see where this goes. I didn' t see Bo Way pitch though. Shame we haven't seen Cowart give this a shot yet.

Cowart should probably learn to be a 1 way player first and actually hit the ball.

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22 minutes ago, Kevinb said:

Cowart should probably learn to be a 1 way player first and actually hit the ball.

cowart already hits as well as any pitcher in the NL. time for him to learn to throw a slider.

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1 hour ago, failos said:

Two-way players don’t grow on trees, do they?

Kaleb Cowart was born and raised in Georgia.  Bo Way was born and raised in Georgia, and attended college in Georgia as well.  Jared Walsh went to high school in Georgia, and attended the University of Georgia. 

So to answer your question, two way players are a naturally occurring phenomenon that is isolated to only two parts of the world. Georgia, and rural villages of Japan. 

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