Kaleb Cowart will be the Angels’ regular second baseman. They made the decision official Saturday when they designated for assignment Nick Franklin, who had been their other option to man the spot against right-handed pitching.
“He’ll get most of the looks,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Cowart.
Cowart, a 25-year-old who speaks with a heavy Georgia twang, was once one of baseball’s best prospects as a smooth, switch-hitting third baseman, only to fall out of favor when he struggled in double-A in 2013 and 2014. He’s experienced a steady revival since, and the Angels auditioned him at second base this year in triple-A.
Scioscia noted after Cowart was promoted Tuesday that he still has work to do to improve in the field. But after he hit well for four games and demonstrated general defensive competence, the Angels cut Franklin loose.
With left-hander Francisco Liriano pitching for Toronto, Cowart did not start Saturday for the first time this week. Cliff Pennington, also a switch-hitter, will still garner some starts against left-handers.
In 2015 and 2016, Cowart hit well in triple-A, then struggled upon reaching the major leagues. He believes his changed perspective can create a difference in 2017.
“It’s still baseball,” Cowart said. “If you swing at the right pitches, the results will take care of themselves. I felt good all year in triple-A. That’s the thing I wanted to do coming into this season: be the most consistent player I could be.
“I feel like I’ve done that throughout the year, and I’m just trying to translate it here.”
He should have a chance to do so over the next two months. Though one report linked the Angels to Miami second baseman Dee Gordon, it’s unlikely that they will acquire him or another veteran position player by Monday’s trade deadline.
Franklin, a 26-year-old former first rounder bought from Milwaukee a month ago, logged only 30 plate appearances as an Angel. He walked five times and struck out three times, but landed only two singles and a double.
“In fairness to Nick, it’s not like he got an extended look,“ Scioscia said. “The direction we’re moving wasn’t going to give him a lot of at-bats or playing time right now.”
Right-handed reliever Cam Bedrosian’s struggles are connected to the two months he missed with a groin strain, Scioscia said. “He’s healthy, but he’s searching for his leverage, his drive on the mound, from a physical standpoint,” the manager said. Bedrosian’s fastball velocity is down more than 2 mph from April, according to data captured by BrooksBaseball.net. …Left fielder Cameron Maybin (sprained right knee) is swinging and throwing. The Angels hope he’ll begin aggressive activities early in the week. Tuesday will mark two weeks since he suffered the injury, which the team said generally sidelines players between two and four weeks.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura