The Los Angeles Angels have called up their top pitching prospect Sam Bachman, who was drafted in the first round of the 2021 draft. Bachman came to Los Angeles with a ton of hype following his viral 100-plus mph fastballs at Miami (Ohio).
What does the Sam Bachman call-up mean for the Los Angeles Angels?
While the bullpen ranks seventh in ERA, there have been some hiccups in bridging to Matt Moore and Carlos Estevez at the end of games. To alleviate those issues, Bachman will transition to a bullpen role after starting all 23 of his minor league appearances.
Bachman was drafted mainly on the strength of his high-octane fastball, which has helped limit opponents to just 15 hits in 26.1 innings pitched this season. Bachman flashed an inconsistent slider as an amatuer, but the offspeed pitch is enhanced by his low arm slot. While he has “only” touched 98 mph this season, Bachman is throwing harder than he was in an injury-plagued 2022.
The Los Angeles Angels took a unique approach to their 2021 draft, using all 20 picks on pitchers, beginning with Bachman. One 2021 pick, Chase Silseth, has already spent parts of the last two seasons in the big leagues, with mixed results. Silseth has once again shifted to the bullpen, where he can also air out his mid-upper 90s fastball.
So what went wrong for Bachman in the minors? The answer is likely two-fold. The 2022 season was clouded by a back injury that limited Bachman to just 12 starts, skewing his mechanics when he returned. Bachman struck out just 6.0 batters per nine innings, something that seems impossible given the quality of his fastball. In reality, the back issues probably affected Bachman more than he or the team were willing to let on.
This season, Double-A has experimented with a pre-tacked baseball, aimed at enhancing grip without the need for sticky substances. Instead, the enhanced grip baseballs have caused a ton of headaches. Still, Bachman is back to throwing hard, sitting in the mid 90s. Bachman’s command has wavered, but he has allowed less than a hit per inning while striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings. Given the command struggles, it is likely that Bachman would eventually be pushed to the bullpen. With the team’s competitive window with Shohei Ohtani shrinking, prospects will likely be pushed quickly. This is a big risk with eventual huge rewards for the Angels.