The Los Angeles Angels have a solid option in their farm system who could be the eventual answer at shortstop, and with the World Baseball Classic currently underway, Zach Neto is the benefactor with expanded opportunities to showcase his talent.
After being selected in the first round of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, Neto spent the bulk of his time in Double-A. In 30 games with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, he posted a .320/.382/.492 slash with 13 extra-base hits including four homers and 23 runs batted in.
Neto slots in as the Angels’ No. 2 overall prospect behind catcher Logan O’Hoppe, and could also see himself in MLB at the beginning of the 2024 regular season. The Angels brought him into Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, and although his early results haven’t been great, the experience remains invaluable and he has caught the eye of manager Phil Nevin, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“He’s impressed me, for sure,” manager Phil Nevin said. “We’ve gotten to see a lot of him. I want to see even more. He’s gonna get some opportunities.”
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 MLB ranks he’s done nothing more than impress the Angels organization. So far in his short time with the Angels at big league camp, Neto has been enjoying the moment:
“I’ve always dreamed of being here,” Neto said. “I’ve been here with a bunch of big leaguers and a bunch of guys I played with coming up in pro ball. It’s been an awesome experience just getting knowledge from the older guys. Not many get to do this. It’s definitely an honor being here.”
The 22-year-old isn’t expected to push for any sort of playing time at a level he isn’t prepared for, which makes any exposure to the highest competitive tier in the sport all the better. His presence in camp has drawn the admiration of Nevin and those in the Angels’ front office who continue to rave about their young prospect:
“He carries himself very well,” Nevin said. “That’s hard to do as a first-round pick coming right into big-league camp. I know very well how that goes, and he’s handled himself very well. Very impressive.”
The Angels, who haven’t developed many Major League players in recent years, could use a player like Neto if his glove continues to show out and his ability to get on base maintains when receives another promotion to Triple-A with the Salt Lake Bees.
Former Angels top prospect Jo Adell earns praise from coaching staff
The Angels operated their winter spending and trade market with the intention of adding to an already talented roster, but more so to strengthen the spots which general manager Perry Minasian felt were glaring deficiencies.
Those moves could have an adverse effect on Jo Adell and his importance to the roster, but the 23-year-old put in a strong offseason to hopefully stave off relegation to Triple-A.
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