Following an aggressive trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels are all-in on making a playoff run in 2023, possibly the final season they employ Shohei Ohtani. At 60-62, sitting seven games out of the final Wild Card spot, the Angels have called up their 2023 first-rounder Nolan Schanuel, according to Jeff Passan.
Schanuel was dominant at Florida Atlantic this season, hitting .447 with 71 walks and just 14 strikeouts, bashing 18 doubles and 19 home runs. That production led to the Los Angeles Angels grabbing Schanuel at 11th overall in July, signing for over $5 million. Optimistic scouts did point to a quick rise for Schanuel, given his advanced hit tool, but this exceeds even the loftiest of expectations. In his 21 minor league games, Schanuel struck out just 10 times, while drawing 21 walks. Prior to the draft, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen compared Schanuel to Kyle Manzardo, who is in Triple-A Durham after Tampa Bay drafted him in the second round in 2021.
Why the Los Angeles Angels are promoting Nolan Schanuel
While this says a ton about Schanuel as a prospect, the Angels are clearly in a desperate spot given the impending free agency of Shohei Ohtani. After going all in for the trading deadline, the team’s playoff picture actually got worse, falling to below .500. First baseman C.J. Cron, who was picked up at the deadline, has managed a measly .217 batting average with one home run in his 14 games since joining the club, necessitating the move.
In recent years, the Angels have proved their willingness to rush prospects to the big leagues, with players from each draft since 2020 appearing for the club. Notably, famous relievers Sam Bachmann and Ben Joyce debuted this season, but are currently on the 60-day injured list. The most successful of the group has been 2021 11th-rounder Chase Silseth, who has pitched to a 3.27 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 41.1 innings.
Even with a strong offense that ranks in the top half of most categories, bringing up an exciting prospect like Schanuel can provide a much-needed boost. Now whether Schanuel will bring Los Angeles to a playoff spot is yet to be seen. What cannot be questioned is the team’s commitment to maximizing the time of Ohtani and Mike Trout, but is it too late?