The Los Angeles Angels made a surprising move on Saturday, April 15, ahead of their matchup with the Boston Red Sox by selecting the contract of top prospect Zach Neto.
David Fletcher was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room on the active roster, and Chris Rodriguez was placed on the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.
Neto was the Angels’ first-round selection in the 2022 MLB Draft and quickly rose through their system. With Double-A Rocket City this season, he was batting .444/.559/.815 with three home runs, one double, six walks, eight strikeouts and a 255 wRC+ despite being nearly two years younger than the average hitter in the league.
It should be assumed Neto will take over as the everyday shortstop for the Angels and look to provide a spark to a bottom half of the lineup that has not produced much outside of Logan O’Hoppe. It is highly unlikely the Angels made this move to keep Neto on the bench.
Neto spent time with the Angels during Major League Camp in Spring Training, but he was demoted after posting a .546 on-base plus slugging in his 18 plate appearances. However, it proved to be a valuable experience for the 22-year-old.
Despite his struggles in limited Spring Training appearances, Neto excelled at Campbell University with a 1.251 on-base plus slugging in 100 career games at the NCAA level, and since joining the professional ranks he’s done nothing more than impress the Angels organization.
David Fletcher optioned to Triple-A for Zach Neto
Perhaps the most surprising part of the move was optioning Fletcher to Triple-A. He is currently in the middle of a five-year, $26 million contract he signed that runs through the 2025 season with two club options.
A once pesky, but steady presence in the Angels lineup, Fletcher appeared in just 101 games last season, underwhelming in the games he did play in. Posting a .255/.288/.333 slash in 2022 and mirrored his performance from 2021.
The 28-year-old lost out on playing time following the Angels’ aggressive offseason and only took 16 at-bats before being demoted, registering a .125 average and .250 OPS. He owns a career .277 average with a .681 OPS in 1,945 at-bats.
Fletcher entered the season with high expectations and improved health, but he was ultimately unable to string any momentum together. Still, he should be back with the club at some point and consistent at-bats could help him get back on track.
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