There was a minor trade on Tuesday night as the Angels acquired recently DFA’d righty John Curtiss from Minnesota for 18-year-old Dominican infielder Daniel Ozoria.
The Curtiss addition is the latest of many examples of relief pitcher diffusion happening on the fringe of the Angels 40-man roster. Since November, the Angels have been part of eleven transactions involving relief pitchers, either via trade, waiver claim, or DFA. The likes of Austin Brice, Parker Bridwell, Luke Farrell, and Dillon Peters have been on and off the roster, sometimes more than once (Bridwell, who was DFA’d for Curtiss, has now been DFA’d three times since this offseason), as the Angels try to patch holes in their bullpen for free.
Curtiss, who is 25, has thrown an unsatisfying handful of innings during each of the last two seasons, totaling 15 big league frames. He throws hard, 92-96 with the occasional 7 or 8, and can really spin a power, mid-80s slider (he averaged 2600 rpm in 2018). His command backpedaled last season and is the biggest thing standing between Curtiss and a steady middle relief gig. Perhaps the change of scenery will be good for him.
Ozoria spent his second professional season as a 17-year-old in the AZL, and at times he looked like he could have used a second pass at the DSL. Listed at 5-foot-9, 135 pounds, Ozoria struggled with the pace and comparably mature athletes of Arizona. He does have interesting tools, though, and played hard throughout a tough summer on a team that was really struggling. He’s an above-average runner and athlete. Though not a polished, instinctive defender, he has good range and hands, and enough arm for the left side of the infield.
Because Ozoria so lacks present strength, he needs to take max-effort, full-body hacks just to swing the bat hard, and sometimes things can get out of control. His swing also has some length, but I’m not sure it matters as much for hitters this size, because their levers aren’t. Much of Ozoria’s offensive potential just depends on how much growing he has left to do. He’s small enough that I believe that were he a high school prospect, scouts would rather he go to college to get a better idea of how his body might mature than sign him now. The realistic upside is probably a utility infielder, and even that depends on significant growth that may not materialize, but Ozoria is so uncommonly young for a pro prospect that it’s fair to like the things he can already do and project heavily on the stuff he can’t. He will likely spend all of 2019 in Fort Myers and is probably four or five years away from the big leagues.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.
Are the Angels going to get a lefty reliever at some point? I am still trying to figure out their bullpen plan.