ANAHEIM, Calif. — It goes without saying that the Angels roster has seen its fair share of movement and change over the course of the season, from pulling up their 2023 draft pick in a surprise move to giving opportunities to a slate of minor leaguers as the team rounds out another season without the playoffs.
“There’s guys going in and out of this dugout. We’ve had a lot of turnover,” said Angels manager, Phil Nevin.
This season, the Angels have used 66 different players, the most in Major League Baseball and tied with the team’s single-season record from 2022.
Amidst a revolving door of players this season, Nevin has talked consistently about the “core group” who the team hopes will be the key to future success in 2024. Before Saturday’s game against the Oakland A’s — the second to last game of the ‘23 season — Nevin talked again about that “core group,” mentioning such veteran players as Mike Moustakas, Mike Trout, Carlos Estévez and Taylor Ward as well as the young players that have made an immediate impact.
“I just mentioned the young players that are getting valuable experience up here. You know, the future’s bright for this group, I think,” said Nevin.
Here’s a look at a few of the young players who the Angels will potentially look to in ‘24 to turn things around:
The youngest Opening Day catcher in franchise history at 23 years old, Logan O’Hoppe started the season as a force behind and at the plate. The rookie catcher played 16 games at the start of 2023, slashing .280/.339/.560 at the plate with four home runs and 13 RBIs, before a torn labrum in his left shoulder took him off the field.
The first injury of his major league career, he underwent surgery, and after months of traveling with the team, learning in the dugout and sticking by his teammates through his rehabilitation, O’Hoppe returned to the Halos in August after missing 103 games.
After hitting back-to-back home runs for the first time in his career on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, O’Hoppe said he felt like he was at a place where he could play consistently and see positive results.
That has certainly proved true in September as the young backstop has hit .258/.290/.562 with nine home runs and 15 RBIs. He’s recorded a hit in 11 of the last 12 games and is currently tied for first in the American League for most home runs (9) hit in the last 30 days.
Nevin said he’s been adamant about giving O’Hoppe as many games as possible to prepare him for what it will be like to play a complete regular season next year.
“I wanted Logan to catch all these games, and I want him to feel what it’s like to be out there every single day of a major league season,” said Nevin. “I wanted him to catch these last seven. I just think he’s going to be a guy that can carry that kind of a load behind the plate which is rare these days.”
Despite the fact that his season was cut noticeably shorter by the injury, O’Hoppe has continued to make an impact both in the clubhouse and on the field, said Nevin.
“Logan, as I’ve said many times, kind of stands out in that room. We missed him this year, the four months that he was out,” said Nevin.
The Angels 2023 draft pick, Nolan Schanuel, had all eyes on him in August when the team called him up to the show just 40 days after he was selected, but even as the season winds down to a close, there’s no doubt that the 21-year-old has potential for next season.
The former Florida Atlantic University player has thrived at the plate this year. He has reached base safely in each of his first 29 major league games. This is the longest streak to start a career in Angels history and tied for the third-longest streak of all time.
“He plays the game hard, plays the game right,” said Nevin on Aug. 19 after seeing Schanual play his first two MLB games. “You can look outside the numbers, and you can tell when players are winning players, and for two days, I’ve seen a winning baseball player out there.”
The first overall pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2016 draft, Mickey Moniak made his Angels debut last year, playing 19 games with the Angels. He became a regular name in the outfield this season, “emerging” as a player for the future, noted Nevin.
The 25-year-old outfielder has hit .282/.308/.806 this season, including 14 home runs and 45 RBIs. Four of those home runs have been leadoff home runs, making him the first Angel with four leadoff home runs in a season since Shohei Ohtani hit four in 2021.
The 22-year-old infielder made his Angels debut in April of this year, making him the first player from the 2022 draft to debut.
Despite dealing with a couple injuries and missing 54 games this season, Neto has put together an impressive resume that will be useful as the Angels look to turn a corner in the coming seasons.
The round one draft pick has made quite an impression at shortstop this year. With his signature high leg kick in the batter’s box and his determination on the field, Neto was recognized with the 2023 Heart and Hustle Award presented by Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. According to MLBPAA, this award recognizes a team player who “demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.”
In addition to his heart and hustle, Neto has shown glimpses this season of his potential as a consistent offensive force. In June of this year, he finished the month hitting .355/.444/.710 with three home runs.
It’s also worth noting that the Angels starting rotation has young arms including Reid Detmers as well as potential in the bullpen with such players as Ben Joyce and Sam Bachman.
Going into the offseason, Nevin said, “I really like the core group, and any pieces you can add around that, obviously would make us a lot better.”