3:15PM: The Angels have officially announced Soto’s selection, Fletcher’s placement on the 10-day IL, and Velazquez’s move to the 60-day injured list.
11:45AM: The Angels are going to select the contract of infield prospect Livan Soto, reports Daniel Álvarez-Montes of El Extra Base. He will take the active roster spot of fellow infielder David Fletcher, who was already reported to be headed to the injured list. A corresponding move will be required to get Soto onto the 40-man roster, though it will likely be Andrew Velazquez getting transferred to the 60-day IL. Velazquez recently underwent knee surgery that is going to keep him out of action well beyond the end of the schedule.
Soto, 22, was originally signed as an amateur by Atlanta but was one of several prospects later released when an MLB investigation found that the club violated various international signing rules. Soto played for Atlanta’s rookie ball in 2017 team but signed on with the Angels prior to the 2018 season.
Soto was featured in Baseball America’s list of top 30 Angel farmhands in 2018 and has been there ever since, currently occupying the #19 slot. Their report on him notes that he is regarded as a strong defender who doesn’t provide much with the bat, though Soto seems to have taken a step forward in that department this season. In 119 Double-A games this year, he’s walked in 13.1% of his plate appearances while striking out in 18.8% of them. His batting line of .281/.379/.362 amounts to a wRC+ of 104, or 4% above league average. That’s not an eye-popping result, but getting above-average production from a glove-first prospect is an encouraging development. Soto’s also added value on the basepaths, swiping 18 bags on the season.
The Angels have used a motley crew of veteran role players up the middle this year, with the injury bug eating into that group recently by taking out both Fletcher and Velazquez. With the Halos well out of contention and just over two weeks remaining in the season, they can give a bit of playing time to Soto down the stretch and see how he fares. He’s mostly played shortstop this season in the minors, but with a bit of time at second base and third base mixed in. While Fletcher is out of action, Soto will join an infield mix that includes Luis Rengifo, Matt Duffy and Michael Stefanic.