Junk, 25, was acquired earlier this summer from the Yankees in the deadline deal that sent left-hander Andrew Heaney to New York. A 22nd-rounder out of Seattle University back in 2017, Junk has elevated his prospect status in 2021 with a strong showing in Double-A, where he’s pitched to a combined 2.81 ERA with a 25.9 percent strikeout rate, a 7.2 percent walk rate and a 43.3 percent ground-ball rate in 93 innings out of the rotation.
FanGraphs’ Kevin Goldstein noted at the time of the trade that Junk features a fastball he can work up into the mid-90s and a newly implemented slider that gives him a solid breaking ball to pair with his primary pitch. Junk currently ranks as the No. 22 prospect in the Angels’ system over at MLB.com, where their scouting report praises the spin rate on his fastball that tops out at 97 mph and also credits him with an average curveball in addition to that new-and-improved slider.
Junk needed to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyhow, so it’s not a major surprise to see the Angels add him to the roster for a big league look a bit sooner than that. Coincidentally, his call-up comes on a day when the Angels are scheduled to face off against his former Double-A teammate, Glenn Otto. New York traded Otto to the Rangers as part of the Joey Gallo/Joely Rodriguez trade.
It’s not yet clear whether Junk will pitch out of the rotation or join the Halos’ bullpen for the time being, but he adds another option to a growing stable of young arms who could get auditions in the rotation before too long. Young lefty Patrick Sandoval has likely already seized a spot next season with a strong showing, and the Angels have also taken looks at 2020 top pick Reid Detmers and another promising prospect, right-hander Chris Rodriguez. Pitching help still figures to be a priority for general manager Perry Minasian and his staff this offseason, especially with Heaney now traded, Jose Quintana going to the Giants on waivers and Alex Cobb set to reach free agency at season’s end.