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Angels acquire closer Street for prospects
By Matthew DeFranks
ANAHEIM -- The Angels acquired closer Huston Street and a prospect from the Padres for four Minor Leaguers on Friday night, potentially ending Los Angeles' search for relievers less than two weeks before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Prospects Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, Jose Rondon and Elliot Morris will head to San Diego, while the Angels will also get right-hander Trevor Gott. Lindsey, 22, Alvarez, 23, and Rondon, 20, were all ranked as top-10 Angels prospects by MLB.com, with Lindsey as the highest-rated of the group at No. 2.
Prospects acquired by Padres
R.J. Alvarez, rhp: The Angels drafted Alvarez in the third round in 2012 out of Florida Atlantic, where he had success pitching out of the bullpen. The Angels left him there and he has excelled in the Minor Leagues. Alvarez has been with Double-A Arkansas all season and allowed just two runs (one earned) in 21 appearances. He has a 0.33 ERA and has struck out 38 batters in 27 innings. Alvarez has always had a big arm and throws his fastball in the mid- to upper-90s. He has taken a step forward in part because he smoothed out his delivery and swapped his curveball for a slider.
Taylor Lindsey, 2b: The Angels selected Lindsey 37th overall in 2010 and he has done nothing but hit since then. After spending last year in Double-A Arkansas, where he was a Texas League All-Star, he went to the Arizona Fall League and played in the Rising Stars Game. This season, Lindsey advanced to Triple-A Salt Lake. His progress was slowed when he spent three weeks on the disabled list in June due to concussion-like symptoms. But he has played well since returning to action, hitting .292/.320/.500 in 20 games. Overall this season, he is hitting .247/.323/.400 with eight home runs and seven stolen bases in 75 games with the Bees.
Elliot Morris, rhp: Morris went undrafted out of high school and underwent Tommy John surgery while at Pierce (Wash.) JC and pitched sparingly before 2013 as a result. He threw well enough in his return to the mound for the Angels to grab him in the fourth round and he has impressed in his first full professional season. Morris opened the year with Class A Burlington and earned a promotion to Class A Advanced Inland Empire after posting a 2.25 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 40 innings. He pitches well off his fastball, but will need to improve his secondary offerings as he advances in the Minor Leagues.
Jose Rondon, ss: Rondon had an all-star season at rookie-level Orem in 2013 and built on his momentum this season. He had a breakout season with Class A Advanced Inland Empire and the Venezuelan native earned a spot on the World team in the All-Star Futures Game. In 72 games with the 66ers this season, he hit .327/.362/.418 and stole eight bases. He doesn't have much power yet, but, at 20 years old, is still physically maturing and should eventually develop more pop. While he's breaking out at the plate, Rondon still has work to do in the field. He isn't an exceptional shortstop, but generally does a good job at the position.
"Huston brings us a quality ninth-inning presence that really enhances our team," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "Huston Street, I don't want to [call] him a luxury, he is a quality Major league player that comes and makes our team better."
Street, 30, is a two-time All-Star who has the highest save percentage (92.5) since the start of the 2012 season. He represented the team in '12 and again on Tuesday in Minneapolis, though he didn't get in this year's game.
Street converted his first 23 saves before posting his first blown save July 5 at home against the Giants when he allowed a home run to Mike Morse. Heading into Friday's game against the Mets, Street had 24 saves with a 1.09 ERA.
Street is earning $7 million this season and can earn $7 million as part of a club option in 2015.
"Were it not for the fact that we had the ability to control Huston for a year and two months, it would have been far more difficult to justify the type of package we gave up to get him," Dipoto said.
He should slide right into the closer's role for the Angels, moving current closer Joe Smith (15 saves) into a setup job. Angels' manager Mike Scioscia said he "would imagine" Street takes over the ninth inning.
"Huston's going to add to that group of players in the back end of the 'pen that we need to hold leads," Scioscia said. "As that group keeps growing, we're going to have a chance to really hold leads on a daily basis and not to have to go to guys too much to where maybe they're stretched a bit further than you're comfortable with."
Since taking over the closer's role after Ernesto Frieri's trade to Pittsburgh on June 27, Smith has been dominant. In his last 10 appearances, he has not allowed a hit, and he's walked just one, while nailing down eight saves and picking up a win.
"It really deepens our bullpen," Dipoto said. "That back end gets deeper and deeper. It gives us the opportunity to make games shorter."
Prior to the Street deal, the Angels had made two trades to bolster their bullpen. They acquired Jason Grilli from the Pirates in exchange for Frieri and picked up left-hander Joe Thatcher from Arizona on July 5.
After the Thatcher acquisition, Dipoto said he did not know how much more tweaking they'd have to do to the bullpen.
The move is likely the last for the Angels, whose bullpen has improved dramatically of late. Halos relievers have posted a 2.37 ERA in the last 27 games -- including 10 scoreless frames in a 16-inning win over Seattle on Friday.
In those last 27 games, Angels relievers have cashed in on 10-of-12 save opportunities. During the first 66 outings, the bullpen was 16-for-26 on saves with a 4.36 ERA.
"The bullpen has come together," Dipoto said. "You can't say enough about how well they've thrown the ball. We've said it from the moment the June draft was done that this was going to be an area of focus for us, and it has been. A deal like this is now further addressing what we think are our needs. We've made ourselves eight to 10 deep down in that bullpen."
Dipoto said the franchise would continue to watch the market and keep its "ear to the street" in case it needs to make another move.
In addition to Street, the Angels received Gott, a sixth-round pick in 2013. Gott has a 4.63 ERA in 10 relief appearances at Double-A San Antionio. Dipoto said the Angels insisted on the inclusion of Gott to replace some of the value lost from the four Minor Leaguers they sent to San Diego.
"Clearly four guys we liked and liked them a heck of a lot," Dipoto said. "[It's] always painful giving up young players that you believe are going to play in the big leagues and hopefully have long careers."
Lindsey has spent most of 2014 with Triple-A Salt Lake and is hitting .248 with eight homers and 31 RBIs. In four seasons in the Minors, the 2010 No. 37 overall pick has 43 career homers and has never hit below .274.
"He's hit since the day we met him," Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said in June.
Lindsey missed nearly three weeks in June with a concussion but has hit .292 (21-for-72) in 20 games since returning.
Alvarez injured his elbow earlier this season, missing a month and a half but has allowed just one earned run in eight innings since returning in late June.
"He's a physical guy that has a big power arm," Wilson said in June. "Where we were at in the Draft, I thought he was the best player, so we took him. We liked his arm and we liked his upside. We knew he was going to be a bullpen piece, but at that particular stage, we thought that was the best play we could make. It turned out to be a good one."
Rondon was one of two Angels representatives at the Futures Game and is hitting .327 at Class A Advanced Inland Empire.
Morris, 22, has split this season between Class A Burlington and Class A Advanced Inland Empire, appearing in 17 games, with 16 starts, and going a combined 5-4 with a 3.27 ERA
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MDeFranks. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.