5:05pm: The Angels have now announced Cowart’s selection to the MLB roster. To clear space on the 40-man roster, fellow infielder Luis Rengifo has been placed on the 60-day injured list. Rengifo sustained a fractured hamate bone in his left hand, the team announced, thus bringing his rookie season to a close. In 406 plate appearances, Rengifo batted .238/.321/.364 with solid marks for his defense at second base (+2 Defensive Runs Saved, +1.8 Ultimate Zone Rating).
4:00pm: The Angels have added infielder/reliever Kaleb Cowart to their 40-man roster, as Maria Torres of the L.A. Times tweets that Cowart is in New York with the team for tonight’s game. Cowart is on the lineup card as a bench player but isn’t listed with the team’s pitchers, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya points out (also via Twitter). There’s been no formal announcement from the team about Cowart’s selection to the Major League roster. They’ll need to make a 40-man roster move, though that could simply be putting Mike Trout or Justin Upton on the 60-day IL, as both are on the active roster but out for the season.
Cowart, 27, was outrighted by the Halos back in March and split the season between their Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. The switch-hitter is a former top 100 prospect and first-round pick who at one point was considered to be a potential long-term building block in the infield for the Angels. However, his offensive performance began to diminish upon reaching Double-A, and Cowart was ultimately unable to establish himself with the Angels despite several auditions from 2015-18.
Cowart was a two-way star in high school when the Angels selected him with the 18th pick in the 2010 draft, but he focused solely on honing his craft as a position player until the end of the 2018 season. It was at that point that Cowart began to shift his focus to trying his hand as a reliever/utilityman — an idea that clearly intrigued more than just the Angels. Both the Mariners and Tigers claimed Cowart off waivers over the winter, but he found his way back to the Angels via a third waiver claim in late February.
The transition to the mound for Cowart wasn’t exactly a smooth one, though. He tossed 17 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A but was welcomed back to the mound with 20 earned runs in that short time. Opponents tallied 26 hits (three home runs) against Cowart, but the larger issue for him — as one might expect from a player who hasn’t pitched in close to a decade — was locating the ball. Cowart walked 15 of the 96 batters he faced on the mound and hit another four, although he did manage to collect 16 strikeouts as well.
At the plate, Cowart posted solid but unspectacular numbers in the Pacific Coast League’s supercharged offensive environment; in 317 plate appearances, he hit .289/.345/.453 with eight homers, 15 doubles and four triples. He’ll give the Angels an option at all four infield spots and in the outfield corners at the very least — and perhaps an option on the mound if they need someone to work a low-leverage spot in a lopsided game.