When the Los Angeles Angels selected Sonny DiChiara in the fifth round of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, they knew they had a pure slugger on their hands. His stellar career at Auburn University was capped off by a senior campaign that saw him post a 1.326 on-base plus slugging with 22 home runs.
After he was drafted, DiChiara was assigned to the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas. His experience playing at a high level of college baseball was fantastic for his development, but the talent ceiling only goes so high.
The Angels selected him as one of eight prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League this year, with DiChiara joining the Scottsdale Scorpions. He noted that the caliber is something everyone has to account for, per Jesse Borek of MLB.com:
“In college, you got a couple ‘guys’ on each team and now you’re playing [pro ball], every person on the team is ‘a guy,'” DiChiara said after swatting his second Fall League homer. “So it’s just being able to handle that and just knowing the next guy that’s coming in is gonna be just as good. So the talent is definitely a difference.”
DiChiara has been on the unfortunate end of an injury-riddled ride to the Angels, and his first real long stretch of rough play came in 2022 after he was drafted. He’s designated a lot of his time to regaining the form that made him a top-150 draft pick by the club:
“It was just kind of another bump in the road, I’d say. But [those situations], they’re always learning experiences,” DiChiara said. “I guess having a setback like that as a pro and being in the Minor Leagues, I kind of had a different perspective on it.
The Angels currently have a first baseman at the big league level in Nolan Schanuel, who was just drafted in 2023 with their first round selection. The upside for DiChiara is his pure ability to just hit. Still just 24 years old, the big right-handed hitter just needs a run of positive steps while remaining healthy.
Because of his status as an older prospect, however, he’ll have to make the leap within the next year or two to really have a strong shot at contributing to a young Angels roster.
Angels prospect Davis Daniel has strong AFL debut alongside Sonny DiChiara
Among those joining the Angels in the AFL was right-hander Davis Daniel.
Daniel went 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA, 5.04 FIP and 1.30 WHIP in 12.1 innings pitched across three relief appearances for the Angels after missing most of the season due to a right shoulder strain.
But in his first career AFL start, Daniel allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings and collected five strikeouts.
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