Angels’ right-handed pitching prospect Sam Bachman makes his debut

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ANAHEIM — It was 1 a.m. in Alabama when Sam Bachman, the leading pitcher, got the call that he would be going to the Majors for the first time to join the Angels’ bullpen after making six starts with Double-A Rocket City. But it didn’t stop him from calling his friends and family to shake them up with the news.

Bachman, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 Draft and the club’s No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, learned about his promotion a few hours after Wednesday’s game and got his contract officially selected for Friday’s game against the Marlins. He was exclusively a starter in the Minors, but will give the Angels a much-needed power arm.

“Oh yes, I called them all and they all answered,” Bachman said with a smile. “They were worried at first, but then they were excited when they heard I got the call. Not many people slept that night, including myself. But it was amazing and it still feels surreal.”

Bachman made his debut in the Angels’ 6–2 loss to the Marlins at Angel Stadium, striking out four batters, allowing one run on four hits and walking two. The Fishers, Ind. native had 11 family members and his girlfriend on his debut.

“I was just super excited,” Bachman said. “It was a dream come true and I just tried not to fall down on the way to the hill. But it was a great experience.”

Bachman, 23, came to the Majors after posting a 4.48 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 49 walks in 84 1/3 innings pitched in the Minors over the last three seasons. He was used as a starter in the Minors, also this season, in which he posted a 5.81 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 20 walks in 26 1/3 innings.

Bachman’s total walk count is a concern, explained in part by his difficulty adjusting to the experimental pre-attached balls used at Double-A this year. However, the Angels allowed him and the club’s other pitchers to have their bullpen sessions and major league baseball side sessions to prepare in case they were called up.

Bachman’s fastball averaged 96.3 mph in his debut, mixing his slider and cutter. Manager Phil Nevin liked what he saw of Bachman, but noted that he needs more scrutiny in the future.

“He was good, but he’s going to have to throw the fastball for strikes,” Nevin said. “I like the stuff. I know there was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of nerves, a lot of relatives here tonight. So the first day in the big leagues I put the results aside a little bit.

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The decision to call up Bachman was another aggressive one for the Angels as they also have rookie Zach Neto at shortstop and Chase Silseth in the bullpen. Neto, 22, was the club’s first-round pick last year and Silseth, 23, was an 11th-rounder in 2022.

“I just think we’re going to be aggressive to get our best team, our best product on the field to compete and win,” Nevin said. “And we have set ourselves up after about 50 games where everything we want is in front of us to achieve. We are always looking for ways to make the best possible selection.”

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Nevin added that both Silseth and Bachman could start again in the future and that it had more to do with a need in the bullpen. The Angels have been looking for ways to bridge the gap with setup man Matt Moore and closer Carlos Estévez, and they believe Silseth and Bachman can help.

“There are plenty of guys who have made it to the big leagues and learn how to pitch here and eventually become a starter,” said Nevin. “That cannot be ruled out. We’re just doing what’s best for us to win games now. And this is what we feel is.”

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Bachman said the biggest change will be his routine, as he has never pitched in relief this season outside of a few Spring Training appearances. But he said he learned from that experience and will lean on veterans and Silseth for advice.

“I’ve already talked to a lot of people here about the routine and changing it,” Bachman said. “I think there will definitely be a smooth process. And when I talk to Chase as well, he’s kind of come into this role and he’s really helped me. I’m going to follow him, see what he does. I think it will really help.”

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