Angels call up 2022 MLB Draft pick Zach Neto, insert shortstop into starting lineup

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Hoping to build on a 7-6 start in what could be Shohei Ohtani’s final season with the team, the Los Angeles Angels have made a bold move at a key position.

The team announced Saturday that it will call up shortstop Zach Neto, the No. 13 pick in last year’s MLB Draft, directly from Double-A to take over at shortstop after the early season struggles of veteran David Fletcher, who was demoted to Triple. -A to clear a place from the list.

Neto, 22, has been in the professional baseball ranks for just over nine months after a standout career at North Carolina’s Campbell University. He was hitting a .444 average and a 1.374 OPS this season for the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas, which the Angels apparently saw as enough justification to push him straight past Triple-A and into the bigs leagues

Not only that, Neto was thrust into the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against Boston, batting eighth and filling in at shortstop.

Fletcher, an Angels fan favorite and native of nearby Orange, Calif., has just two hits (both singles) in 16 at-bats so far this season. He played for Team Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where his squad was eliminated in the quarterfinals by MLB teammate Ohtani and eventual champion Japan.

MLB Pipeline ranks Neto as the second-best prospect in the Angels’ farm system and the No. 82 prospect overall. His promotion means the Angels’ top two prospects, Neto and catcher Logan O’Hoppe, are slated to fill major roles with the big league club for at least the near future.

Ohtani, the 2021 American League MVP and 2023 World Classic MVP, is set for free agency after the 2023 MLB season.

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