Angels leaning heavily on young players

Angels leaning heavily on young players

Angels leaning heavily on young players
ANAHEIM -- Asked if these 2011 Angels are the youngest team he's managed, Mike Scioscia didn't hesistate.

"No," he replied, tongue firmly in cheek. "The '97 Peoria Javelinas [of the Arizona Fall League] were younger than these guys."

Turning serious and nodding in affirmation, Scioscia acknowledged that his current club, with five rookies and seven players 25 or younger, is the most youthful of his 12 Angels outfits. Today's joy and exuberance can be tomorrow's frustration and disappointment. With veterans' roles to fill, notably in the season-long absence of Kendrys Morales and with Vernon Wells on the disabled list, the Angels are younger than intended in the original blueprints.

"The part that's by design doesn't surprise me," Scioscia said, referring to Peter Bourjos in center field, Jordan Walden at the back of the bullpen and Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger on the roster. "The part that's by circumstance does surprise me.

"We've had to dig deep in our system. We're pleasantly surprised by some of the developments, such as a pitcher like Tyler Chatwood coming in and doing the job. There are growing pains that go along with having a lot of young players. It's something we'll smooth out as we go along. When you have two, three, four young guys in the lineup, there's a learning curve that makes it a little difficult to evaluate and project."

Eleven of the team's 25 players have fewer than two years of Major League service time. The 25-and-under set includes Bourjos, Trumbo, Conger, Walden, Chatwood, Alexi Amarista and Trevor Bell.

Chatwood has performed beyond his years (21) and experience (62 Minor League games) to take the sting out of losing Scott Kazmir at the back of the rotation. Bourjos, Conger and Trumbo have contributed handsomely in a variety of ways, while Walden appears to have locked down the closer's role perhaps for years to come with his Texas heat. Amarista also has had some impressive moments at second base and in left field and shown surprising power for such a small package. Rich Thompson (26), Kevin Jepsen (26) and Bell (24) are power arms out of the bullpen.

Wells, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Joel Pineiro, Dan Haren, Scott Downs, Hisanori Takahasi and Fernando Rodney are the only Angels on the other side of 30.