Sappington, Green turning heads in Angels’ system
Sappington, 22 and ranked sixth in the Angels’ farm system by MLB.com, had a nice year in the California League, going 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 130 2/3 innings, and earned a promotion to Double-A for the final month of the season. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was with the Arkansas Travelers earlier this week to see Sappington’s first start for them (three runs in 5 1/3 innings) and came away impressed with his changeup.
“It was very exciting to see where his changeup has gone,” Dipoto said. “He threw a lot of them [on Wednesday in San Antonio]. He threw more changeups than breaking balls. Very good pitch. All the left-handed hitters — and it’ll be part of the developmental process to get him started introducing it to the righties. But he’s got fastball velocity, he’s got physical size, great makeup and a changeup that’s improved a grade and a half since Spring Training.”
Some believe Sappington may project long-term as a reliever, but the Angels — in desperate need of high-ceiling starting-pitching prospects in their 30th-ranked system — are going to give the young right-hander every chance to be a starter.
“We’re going to find out,” Dipoto said. “He’s going to start until he tells us he can’t.”
Green, the wiry 18-year-old lefty who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds, has already gained 10-12 pounds since being selected by the Angels in the second round this past June. The Angels are taking it easy on Green, who’s fresh out of high school and may already the best pitching prospect in their system. He’s thrown 12 1/3 innings in rookie ball — spanning six appearances — and has given up four earned runs on 12 hits.
Next year, he’ll probably be sent out to the full-season Midwest League.
“Hunter’s worked his tail off,” Dipoto said. “He, too, is focused on the changeup. It’s not a pitch he used a great deal when he was in high school. He’s pitching in short outings, mostly two-inning outings, through the Arizona Summer League. We’re going to methodically build his innings so he continues to throw through the instructional league.”