Four Angels rookies essential for run at AL West title
The Angels' success this season isn't solely because of their stars. Although players like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar are playing major roles, so are the rookies. The Angels have had 14 rookies on their major-league roster this season, but these four (like C.J. Cron) are considered essential members of the team's drive in the American League West.
Getty ImagesHarry How
Mike Morin: Solid relief
Morin, 23, is just two years removed from North Carolina, but he's given the Angels solid relief work since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake on April 27. The right-hander has appeared in 40 games, the most for a first-year Angels player since Pat Clements in 1984, and has justified his workload. He has three wins, a 2.43 ERA and is holding right-handed hitters to a .151 average.
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C.J. Cron: Power source
Cron had to endure a trip to the minors this month, but he has otherwise been a pleasant contributor as a designated hitter and backup first baseman. He's had his slumps -- he was 2 for 23 before collecting two hits Saturday against the Tigers -- but his ability to hit for power makes him valuable off the bench. He currently ranks third among AL rookies in homers (9), RBI (29) and slugging (.473).
Gary A. Vasquez
Efren Navarro: Versatile performer
Until this season, Navarro was strictly a first baseman -- not an ideal position on a team that features Albert Pujols. But Navarro worked in the outfield last winter and in spring training and it helped his cause. He's in the lineup regularly now because his offense is so valuable to the Angels. He's hitting .333 in his past 42 at-bats with eight doubles, one homer and eight RBIs. He also has two game-winning hits -- not bad for a 50th-round draft pick in 2007.
Cory Rasmus: Steady worker
Rasmus hit a bump in the road Tuesday in Baltimore after holding opponents scoreless in his previous eight appearances. He left a pitch up in the zone to the Orioles' Manny Machado, which resulted in a 12th-inning homer and a 7-6 Angels loss. But Rasmus has been reliable in the middle innings with a 2.28 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. Until Machado's hit, the right-hander had not permitted a run in 10 innings since June 26.