The Angels announced this afternoon that they had activated right-hander Ben Joyce from the 60-day injured list and shortstop Zach Neto from the 10-day injured list. In corresponding moves, first baseman Trey Cabbage and left-hander Kolton Ingram were optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. Anaheim’s 40-man roster stands at 39 after activating Joyce.
The club’s first- and third-round picks in the 2022 draft, Neto and Joyce were the first members of the 2022 draft class to reach the majors, with both doing so by the end of May this season. Each player has held his own at the highest level despite being fast-tracked to the big leagues, with Neto posting a 97 wRC+ in 252 trips to the plate alongside solid defense at shortstop, while Joyce has shown a fastball that sits at over 101 mph while posting a 4.50 ERA that’s 9% better than league average by ERA+.
While the respective debuts of each youngster have been impressive considering their lack of development time in the minor leagues, the 2023 seasons have been marred by injuries for both players. Joyce managed just four innings of work in five appearances before going on the injured list with ulnar neuritis in early June and missing the next three months. Neto, on the other hand, spent a month on the shelf earlier in the season due to an oblique strain before returning after the All Star break for a two-week stretch during which he batted an abysmal .180/.226/.340. He ultimately was placed back on the injured list in early August with lower back inflammation.
With three weeks left in the regular season, both rookies will be afforded the opportunity to finish their first big league campaign on a high note. Neto figures to take over as the club’s everyday shortstop, pushing Kyren Paris to the bench. Joyce, meanwhile, could get some looks in high-leverage situations down the stretch with key leverage relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez having been claimed off waivers by the Guardians at the end of August. That’s left the Anaheim bullpen with few clear high-leverage options beyond closer Carlos Estevez.
As for the players making room for the rookie duo, Cabbage is a left-handed power bat who first joined the big league club back in July, replacing Anthony Rendon as a member of the club’s infield mix. Cabbage has experience at first base, third base, and all three outfield spots, but ultimately struggled with the bat in 56 trips to the plate with the Angels, slashing just .208/.232/.321 with a massive 46.4% strikeout rate. Cabbage, 26, will need to cut down on the strikeouts significantly if he’s going to contribute in the majors as anything more than an injury replacement.
Ingram, meanwhile, posted phenomenal numbers in the minor leagues this season for the organization, including a 3.49 ERA in 28 1/3 Triple-A innings made all the more impressive thanks to the heightened offensive environment of the Pacific Coast League. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old southpaw, his first taste of big league action back in June did not go as he surely hoped it would, as he was lit up for three runs in his major league debut while recording only one out. In all, Ingram owns a brutal 10.38 ERA in 4 1/3 innings of work at the big league level, though as a southpaw with success in the upper minors, he still figures to be an intriguing potential bullpen piece for the Angels headed into 2024.