PHOENIX – Angels fans visiting Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday were treated to a sneak preview of potential coming attractions at Angel Stadium.
Trevor Reckling and Tyler Chatwood, back to back, put on impressive displays, going two innings each against the Rockies. Reckling allowed a run while striking out three men, and Chatwood yielded two hits in two scoreless innings.
Reckling, a lefty from New Jersey, has star qualities and is mature beyond his years. He’ll be 21 on May 22, and it appears as if he’s on the fast track to the big time.
The Angels’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, Reckling has a delivery quirky enough to disrupt hitters’ timing, and he unleashes mid-90s fastballs along with a big bender and a quality changeup. As his command improves, he’ll move closer to The Show.
“It felt good being out there,” said Reckling, a steal in the eighth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. “I thought I had pretty good stuff and made some good pitches. It’s always a challenge facing big league hitters, and I’m trying to make the best of my opportunities.”
Chatwood, the club’s second-round choice in 2008, is entering his third professional season at 20. By 2012 or 2013, the kid from Redlands, due east from Angel Stadium, could be joining Reckling in the Angels’ rotation.
Chatwood grew up in Redlands, about an hour east of Angel Stadium. His tool kit, Like Reckling’s, is loaded with sharp instruments. Unimposing physically at 6-foot and 185 pounds, he has adopted as role models two pretty fair righties who make up for physical stature with talent and production: Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt.
“Those were the guys I was looking at when I started pitching my junior year [at Redlands High School] – mostly Lincecum,” Chatwood said. “I was a position player my whole life before I began pitching seriously as a senior.”
He’d undergone Tommy John surgery for a loose ligament in his right elbow at age 15, having pitched one inning while he was in the process of making a U.S. national team as a third baseman in a tryout in Phoenix.
His sophomore year was wiped out by the surgery, and he got a feel for pitching as a junior before putting it all together in his senior year, drawing the attention of Angels scouts.
Drafted in the second round in 2008, he has put together two solid Minor League seasons and needs only to develop his changeup and find consistent command to make a major jump.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he was impressed with the way Reckling and Chatwood attacked hitters with their live arms and attitudes against the Rockies.
“They weren’t scared,” Scioscia said.
Anxious, maybe, but not afraid to take a big step toward their eventual destination.