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Converted Shortstop John Swanda Shows Mound Moxie



Righthander John Swanda played mostly shortstop at his Des Moines high school and didn’t pitch much until about a month before the 2017 draft. But his strong arm and extremely clean delivery with a good, loose arm action was attractive enough to the Angels to draft him in the fourth round as a pitcher and sign him for a well above-slot $625,000.

"He’s a pretty raw kid who hasn’t pitched a lot in his life, but he does a lot of things really well that, with time and age, make you think he can be a good one,” pitching programs coordinator Matt Wise said.

"He already throws a lot of strikes with little experience. He should improve with work in the weight room and as he learns how to pitch.”

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Swanda’s numbers were not impressive in a brief seven-game stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he ran up a 9.31 ERA in 9.2 innings, but he throws a fastball between 89-91 mph and shows an advanced feel for a low-80s changeup.

The primary focus for Swanda in instructional league last fall was the development of his breaking ball, which is slurvy right now and could wind up being more of a slider.

But Swanda, who turns 19 this season, spins his breaking ball well, and the Angels see it being a solid-average pitch. As a former infielder, Swanda also fields his position well.

He should add more velocity as he fills out and matures physically, and he should improve as he gains more pitching experience. Swanda is expected to begin 2018 in extended spring training but should move up to Rookie-level Orem at some point.

"Like most younger guys, his breaking ball lacks consistency, but his ability to spin it without a lot of pitching experience is really encouraging,” Wise said. "With some seasoning and strength, he has the makings of a good pitcher.”

ANGEL FOOD

• Shortstop Keith Grieshaber, who hit .285/.370/.409 with four home runs and 25 stolen bases in 81 games at two Class A levels in 2017, has been suspended for 100 games without pay following a third positive test for a drug of abuse.

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Zach Linginfelter Improves Pitch Arsenal

The 2019 ninth-rounder made progress with two offspeed pitches and impressed in the first month of the season.

• Veteran minor league outfielder Jared Hoying, who signed a minor league deal with the Angels in November, was released to sign with the Hanwha Eagles in Korea for a $1 million salary.

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