Hoping to capitalize on a 7-6 start in what may be Shohei Ohtani’s final season with the team, the Los Angeles Angels have made a bold move at a key position.
The team announced Saturday that it is calling up shortstop Zach Neto, the No. 13 overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft, directly from Double-A to take over at shortstop after early-season struggles from veteran David Fletcher, who was demoted to Triple-A to clear a roster spot.
The 22-year-old Neto has been in the professional baseball ranks for just over nine months after a standout career at Campbell University in North Carolina. He was hitting for a .444 average and a 1.374 OPS this season for the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas, which the Angels apparently saw as enough justification to vault him directly past Triple-A and into the big leagues.
Neto was placed in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game at Boston, batting eighth and manning the shortstop position.
Fletcher, an Angels fan-favorite and native of nearby Orange, Calif., has just two hits (both singles) in 16 at-bats so far this season. He played for Team Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where his squad was eliminated in the quarterfinals by his MLB teammate Ohtani and eventual champion Japan.
MLB Pipeline ranks Neto as the second-best prospect in the Angels’ farm system and the No. 82 prospect overall. His promotion means that both of the Angels’ top two prospects, Neto and catcher Logan O’Hoppe, are both now slated for major roles with the big-league club for at least the near future.
Ohtani, the 2021 American League MVP and 2023 World Baseball Classic MVP, is set for free agency after the 2023 MLB season.
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