Cowart gets long-awaited call to Angels

Cowart gets long-awaited call to Angels

ANAHEIM -- Kaleb Cowart is getting his shot at the big leagues. The Angels called up the 23-year-old switch-hitting third baseman, their No. 12 prospect, to make his Major League debut on Tuesday night in the Angels' 5-3 win over the White Sox at Angel Stadium.

"I just can't put it into words," Cowart said. "Coming from what I've struggled through the past two years and coming here, there were times when I never thought this day would come. To be here, it's an incredible feeling and an emotional day."

Cowart said several Angels told him to just slow down, that it was just another game, to help keep his emotions in check. Jered Weaver, who's been with the Angels his entire 10-year career, told him the only difference between Triple-A and the Majors is an extra level of stands.

Cowart didn't record a hit in his debut, but he provided exactly what the Angels called him up to provide -- infield defense. Cowart made several sharp plays at third.

"Kaleb Cowart looked just like a veteran out there on the field defensively," manager Mike Scioscia said, describing Cowart as a "premier" defensive third baseman. "It's gonna lift the whole left side of the infield."

With David Freese recovering slowly from a fractured right index finger, his return timetable still undetermined, the Angels wanted to upgrade their defense at third. Conor Gillaspie, the potential stopgap for Freese the Angels acquired from the White Sox on July 24, has limited range and very poor defensive metrics, posting a -10.2 Ultimate Zone Rating at third base in 2015.

Gillaspie was designated for assignment on Tuesday to make room for Cowart on the 40-man roster, although Scioscia said the Angels hope Gillaspie clears waivers and remains in the organization.

"I think that right now, where our team is, where our crunch is, we definitely want to upgrade defensively, and Kaleb is a premium defender at third base," Scioscia said.

Scioscia said Cowart would play regularly at third base. He can also play shortstop and left field, but Scioscia said the Angels would prefer to let Cowart get comfortable at his natural position.

Drafted 18th overall in 2010, Cowart was once the team's top prospect, rising to Double-A by 2013 before his swing fell apart. For two years, Cowart couldn't hit. He was demoted to Class A Advanced Inland Empire at the beginning of this season. Thoughts crossed his mind of trying to reinvent himself as a pitcher.

"I wasn't there yet," Cowart said. "That's something that always crept in your mind when you have struggles like that for two years. But I wasn't ready to pitch yet."

But meetings with 66ers hitting coach Brenton Del Chiaro in May changed everything. Cowart showed Del Chiaro video of his swing from Spring Training 2013, before Cowart's mechanics and timing got out of whack. With Del Chiaro, Cowart began to put everything back together.

Cowart brought his hands back and incorporated a small leg kick to help him get his front foot down at the right time -- he had been putting it down far too early, which he said made him "stagnant" -- and once he implemented his adjustments, he started hitting again. By June, he was at Triple-A Salt Lake, where he hit .323 with six home runs and 46 RBIs in 62 games. And now, Scioscia said he deserves his chance to prove himself in the Majors.

"We think he's ready for the challenge," Scioscia said, "or he wouldn't be here."

David Adler is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.