The Angels have selected the contract of right-hander Luke Bard to the 40-man roster, per a team release. In a corresponding move, the team’s placed righty Keynan Middleton on the 60-day injured list.
Los Angeles signed the 28-year-old Bard, a former Rule 5 selection of the team ahead of the 2018 campaign, to a minors deal in mid-February.
A Trackman dandy, Bard was coveted in the Rule-5 for his super-high spin rates – his 2770 average RPM on the four-seam ranked first among MLB hurlers with at least 100 fastballs thrown last season – and newfound ability to miss bats. In five minor league seasons before 2016, the Georgia Tech-product didn’t post a K-rate north of 8.08 per nine; since, he’s hovered around twelve, though the transition from heavy sink to top-of-the-zone heat has left him susceptible to the occasional gopher ball.
Bard still has minor league options left, so he’s no sure bet to crack the 25-man roster by March 28’s Opening Day. He’ll continue to jostle with a bevy of recycled and/or unproven arms for the last couple slots in the team’s pen, including Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Noe Ramirez, Jake Jewell, and Taylor Cole.
Middleton, 25, is still recovering from a May 2018 Tommy John surgery and remains on track to return sometime in the middle of the season. The hard-throwing righty opened eyes in his 2017 big-league debut, striking out nearly 10 men per nine with solid command in 58 1/3 IP. He was shaky in 17 innings before the surgery last season, with the balky elbow perhaps in large part to blame.