COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Angels are now well into spring training, having played several Cactus League games and making determinations as to how to best assemble a 25-man roster.
Inevitably, disappointments will occur as players valiantly attempt to impress their employers and gain a coveted roster spot. In the case of the Angels, bullpen and utility slots are up for grabs. Dozens of players are vying for precious few available positions.
Here are the top three disappointments thus far for the Angels in the early stages of spring training:
1. Nick Maronde, LHP
Left-handed pitching prospect Nick Maronde made his major-league debut for the Angels last September. After posting a 6-4 record and 2.26 ERA as a starter across three minor-league levels, Maronde was summoned by the Angels. In 12 relief appearances, Maronde clearly impressed, posting a sparkling 1.50 ERA and 10.9 K/9 rate.
Maronde was invited to big-league camp by the Angels. While he was drafted as a starter, elbow issues and the lack of a strong changeup likely meant that Maronde's best chance to make the big leagues would be as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
Thus far, Maronde hasn't done anything to suggest he'll be pitching in the majors in April. Maronde has struggled mightily early in spring training, posting a 17.18 ERA and allowing seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. Maronde has also walked four batters and has allowed hitters to bat .421 against him.
Given the effort Maronde displayed last September, his performance early in Cactus League games will likely have him sent down to the minors for additional seasoning.
2. Barry Enright, RHP
If there is one flaw with the Los Angeles Angels, it's a lack of depth in their starting rotation. General manager Jerry Dipoto went out and acquired Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton for the backend of the rotation, and Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards are in camp as well.
Last July, Dipoto acquired starter Barry Enright from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Enright made three appearances for the Angels in September, all in relief. This spring, Enright was invited to camp but was considered a longshot at best to crack the 25-man roster.
Enright's performance early on has not given the Angels much hope that he can be a capable replacement should any of the Angels' five established starters falter or get hurt. Enright has a 13.50 ERA after his first two outings, allowing four runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
It's likely that Enright will start the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. The Angels are hoping that Enright can recapture the form that led him to post a 3.91 ERA in 17 starts for the Diamondbacks three years ago in his rookie season.
3. Kole Calhoun, OF
Outfield prospect Kole Calhoun has proved he's capable of hitting minor-league pitching, posting a .309 career average in his three years since being drafted out of Arizona State University in 2010.
Calhoun is competing with Scott Cousins, J.B. Shuck, Matt Young and Trent Oeltjen for the 25th and final roster spot. Thus far, however, Calhoun seems to be losing the battle.
Calhoun is hitting only .143 through his first 10 spring training games with just one extra-base hit. By comparison, Young is hitting .538, Oeltjen .375 and Shuck .235.
Calhoun is going to start running out of at-bats as Angels manager Mike Scioscia starts using his regulars more and more in order to develop chemistry before the start of the regular season. Calhoun will absolutely need to seize the moment with every at-bat he receives from now until the moment Scioscia decides on his final roster.
Doug Mead is a freelance sportswriter living in the Los Angeles area. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.