The Angels are going to select the contract of outfielder Aaron Whitefield, according to Darren Wolfson of Skor North. A corresponding move will be required to open up a spot for Whitefield on the roster.
Whitefield, 25, was signed out of Brisbane, Australia by the Twins in 2015. His best asset has long been his speed, which he has used to provide excellent outfield defense, primarily in center, as well as stealing bases. Baseball America put him in the back half of their lists of top 30 Minnesota prospects in both 2018 and 2019.
In 2020, he was called up to the big leagues and got a three-game cup of coffee, often as a pinch runner/defensive replacement, only getting a single plate appearance. (He grounded out.) He was outrighted in August and then spent 2021 in Double-A. He hit a modest .257/.327/.353, 84 wRC+, with a 24.8% strikeout rate, 9.3% walk rate and 36 stolen bases.
He reached free agency at the end of the year and signed a minors deal with the Angels. He’s started this year with the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas and is off to a great start. In 111 plate appearances over 24 games, he’s hitting .301/.400/.538, increasing his walk rate to 14.4%. That amounts to a wRC+ of 149, or 49% better than league average. He’s also still got the wheels, notching 13 stolen bases in those 24 games.
The Angels will now add a player to their roster that comes with a high floor. As the old saying goes, speed doesn’t slump. Whitefield should be able to provide excellent speed and defense in any scenario. With his bat seemingly taking a step forward so far this year, there’s also the potential for Whitefield to be even more valuable, should he able to carry any of that up to the majors with him. The club has a solid everyday group in the outfield, with Mike Trout, Brandon Marsh and Taylor Ward all playing very well so far this season. However, with the recent demotion of Jo Adell, there’s room for Whitefield to be a fourth outfielder, coming off the bench as a pinch runner or giving any of that trio the occasional day off.