By Chuck Richter - Angelswin.com Executive Editor
Nick Adenhart will take the mound for the Angels tonight against the A's. The 22-year-old right-hander made three starts last season for the Angels (1-1), going 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA, but he hopes to put all that behind him and attack hitters from the get go with his above average stuff.
Adenhart made his major league debut on May 1, 2008 in a 15-8 loss to Oakland, and lasted only two-plus innings. He was tagged for five runs and three hits, but didn’t receive a decision.
Nick learned a lot from his experience last season in the big leagues and gets another shot to prove he can have success much like he did in his first four starts in Salt Lake last year, before the 2008 minor league season and most recently in spring training last month - showing everyone why scouts touted Nick as a "frontline pitcher" going into the 2008 minor league season.
Eddie Bane recently had this to say about Nick in our last Eddie Bane Connection feature. "Nick Adenhart is as good a pitching prospect as the game has. He is about the same age as the college guys I am chasing right now. And he has already touched the big leagues. So far in the spring, from what I hear his stuff has been dynamite as always. When Nick gets ahead of the count with a pitch low and in the middle of the plate, he will win consistently in the major leagues. His stuff is top drawer and, specifically, his fastball gets on the hitters".
Several reports out of spring training were positive surrounding Nick Adenhart. He didn't nibble as much, he challenged hitters with his 93-96 MPH fastball and he pitched effectively backwards in the count, throwing changeups and curveballs in the strike zone generating whiffs, weak ground balls and pop ups. Nick has all the potential in the world to be a top tier pitcher in the big leagues going forward, most scouts believe his strikeout totals will improve as he challenges hitters more. Adenhart despite his poor season last year is still as poised as they come on the mound. He showed that in a few innings in Arizona, getting out of jams with the strikeout.
A simple change to his approach on the hill in attacking the strike zone rather than getting opposing hitters to chase his pitches should result in success for Adenhart in 2009.
With injuries to John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar at the start of the season, the Angels are counting on innings from Adenhart until they're back. Since Dustin Moseley and Shane Loux are out of options, if Nick performs well he'll shoot to the top of the depth chart as the first to be called upon after the big three get back if there is an unexpected injury in the rotation. If Adenhart progresses he could claim a rotation spot in 2010 should Lackey and/or Escobar leave via free agency after the 2009 season.
Adenhart's opponent tonight will be Dana Eveland. The left-hander faced the Angels three times last season and failed to pitch past the sixth inning each time, going 0-2 with a 6.06 ERA.
Go get em tonight, Nick.