Nolan Fontana struggled mightily for Triple-A Fresno in 2016. He struck out 108 times in 407 plate appearances, a bad sign considering making contact had been his calling card earlier in his career. He hasn't had double-digit steals since 2013, and has never hit double-digit homers. At 25 and with the ability to play multiple infield positions, the hope is that Fontana can erase 2016 from memory and eventually become a contact-hitting utility infielder. Even in the rosiest of potential futures, it's hard to image Fontana ever having much fantasy impact even with a change of scenery after signing with the Angels.
Fontana was optioned to the minors Friday, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. The 25-year-old had a nice spring, batting .270 with a home run and eight RBI in 37 at-bats. The Angels already have their middle infield set with Andrelton Simmons, Danny Espinosa and Cliff Pennington all healthy, leaving no room for the rookie shortstop. Fontana will start the year with Triple-A Salt Lake and should be the first to get the call to the majors should any of the aforementioned players go down to injury.
Fontana was claimed off waivers by the Angels on Tuesday. Fontana struggled mightily at the Triple-A level, holding a batting average below the dreaded Mendoza Line and striking out in more than one-quarter of his at-bats, which led the Astros to expose him to waivers. That being said, the 25-year-old does possess some defensive utility across the infield and has a knack for drawing walks, but these positives likely limit his upside to that of a reserve at the major league level even if his batting average improves.
Fontana was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on Sunday, Brad McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Fontana entered the spring with slim odds of claiming a spot on the Opening Day roster, and only hurt his chances by going 2-for-19 (.105) at the dish in his 13 games. The 24-year-old should see regular at-bats with Fresno, but doesn't profile as much more than a utility infielder in the big leagues.
Fontana was added to the Astros' 40-man roster Friday, the Houston Chronicle reports. While Fontana slugged just .357 in the Pacific Coast League last season, he managed a .369 OBP on the strength of a 16.2 percent walk rate, and there is some hope that a bit of power will show up eventually. This move was made primarily for Rule 5 protection, but Fontana could be a utility option at some point in 2016.
Astros prospect Nolan Fontana was sent to minor-league camp Friday after batting just .111 (1 for 9) in nine spring games. While it doesn't appear Fontana made a lasting impression, stats don't tell the whole story. "He doesn't come with as much attention, but from a well-rounded baseball skill standpoint he made a good impression," manager A.J. Hinch said. Fontana, who was a second-round pick in 2012, is not among the Astros' top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America.