Eyeing the future, Angels feature SS Livan Soto vs. A’s

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels will get another look at their potential future shortstop when they host the Oakland A’s on Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif.

Livan Soto, 22, was called up from Double-A Rocket City (Ala.) on Sept.17, a reward for a solid season with the Trash Pandas, for whom he hit .281 with six homers, 57 RBIs, 17 doubles, 18 stolen bases and a .741 OPS.

Soto, though, is considered a glove-first shortstop, so any offense would be a pleasant surprise in the majors.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to see him play much, except on video,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said upon Soto’s arrival with the big league club. “But when I get in my office and a kid is that excited to be here, it’s pretty special for the whole room. He’s glowing, he’s on Cloud 9 as most guys are when they get called up to the big leagues. Those are special things to see.”

Since making his major league debut on Sept. 17, Soto has started eight of the Angels’ last nine games, including going 2-for-3 with a triple in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the A’s.

He had a single and home run in his first major league start on Sept. 18, and overall he’s hitting .379 (11-for-29) with four extra-base hits, five multi-hit games and a 1.027 OPS.

Soto is getting a chance now because David Fletcher (hand) and Andrew Velazquez (knee) are out with injuries. And the fact that he’s in the Angels’ organization at all is a bit of a fluke.

The Atlanta Braves signed Soto as an international free agent in 2017, but he and 12 other players were granted free agency when it was determined the Braves violated rules regarding the international bonus pool. A month later, the Angels signed Soto.

“I just want to do the simple things and help the team win,” he said. “I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself. I just want to do the best I can.”

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen (7-6, 4.78 ERA) will start Wednesday for the Angels (68-86), his 17th start of the season. He is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in three career games (two starts) against Oakland, both starts coming this season.

Right-hander Adrian Martinez (4-5, 6.10) will make his 11th start of the season for Oakland (56-98), coming off a loss in his last start when he gave up five runs in five innings against the Mariners last Thursday.

Martinez, a 25-year-old from Mexico, doesn’t light up the radar gun but throws a unique pitch that is a cross between a changeup and a screwball that helped him reach the big leagues.

“I would always watch (former Dodgers star) Fernando Valenzuela and say, ‘I want to have that pitch,'” Martinez said. “My grip is the same as a changeup. It’s just the release point when I throw it that’s a little different from the normal changeup to give it that spin, kind of like a screwball. It’s something I always had. I just needed to polish it.”

Martinez has not faced the Angels.

–Field Level Media

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