American League Rookie of the Year Odds: Zach Neto Worth Long Shot Bet

American League Rookie of the Year Odds: Zach Neto Worth Long Shot Bet article feature image

Photo by Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Neto.

Nineteen games into the 2023 MLB season, the Angels are where they usually are in the standings — hovering around .500.

They entered Friday at 9-10. However, that could easily be something like 15-9 if they fielded a little better, had some semblance of situational hitting, didn’t make Jake Lamb a lineup fixture and maybe avoided Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup in high-leverage spots (among other things), but these are the Angels. It’s a third-rate club and these are just a few of the ways those types of teams tend to lose games.

Another major issue that hasn’t helped in the make-or-break Shohei Ohtani year is the lack of a true shortstop.

The Halos entered the season with, on paper, a bevy of options at shortstop: David Fletcher, Luis Rengifo and Gio Urshela. Not great options, but seemingly OK options nonetheless.

How has that gone?

Well, Fletcher finds himself with Triple-A Salt Lake, where he gets to watch Jo Adell hit titanic dingers and strike out a lot. Only in the third year of a five-year, $26 million contract, Fletcher was sent down and lost his spot on the 40-man roster.

The must-have app for MLB bettors

The best MLB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Quite frankly, his demotion was long overdue.

Fletcher hasn’t been decent since the shortened 2020 season. Popular for being defensively versatile, Fletcher slashed .258/.292/.323 with an OPS+ of 69 since 2021. He’s only had one truly solid full season (154 games in 2019; 3.1 fWAR) and his best defensive home is second base. He was a Gold Glove finalist in 2021 after posting a DRS of 11 (2nd) and OAA of 8 (3rd).

Meanwhile, Rengifo has been a dumpster fire through 15 games. After a somewhat promising 2022 season, he’s slashing .178/.315/.244 with a wRC+ of 69. He’s mainly logged innings at second base and shortstop, but hasn’t been remotely passable at either spot.

If being a negative on offense and defense isn’t bad enough, he’s also prone to mental lapses. In the series against the Red Sox, Rengifo managed to bunt in a situation when he was supposed to swing, and also failed to break for home on what was supposed to be a double-steal attempt with a runner at first.

Again, it’s early and Rengifo showed flashes last season, but the returns thus far haven't been great.

Urshela … has been fine. Professional plate appearances can be hard to come by on this alleged $212 million team, but Urshela has done his part with a .297 average. The power has yet to show, but beggars can’t be choosers. He's provided solid innings at shortstop and has also filled in for Anthony Rendon (suspension; varying ailments) at third base and for Jared Walsh (headaches; insomnia) at first base.

This very avoidable — and entirely predictable — sequence of developments led the Angels to call up 2022 draftee Zach Neto, who became the fastest player in Angels history to make the bigs after being drafted (267 days).

Neto tore up Campbell State to the tune of a .403/.500/.751 slash with 27 homers and 31 steals over 100 games (three seasons).

Los Angeles was aggressive with Neto after drafting him 13th overall. He played seven games for High-A Tri-City, then got a bump to Double-A Rocket City. The aggressive promotion after such a small sample initially came off as a red flag given this organization's recent history of developing talent.

But Neto responded.

He slashed .320/.382/.492 over 30 games with Double-A Rocket City last season, then showed well in his first Spring Training and proceeded to again tear up Double-A. Neto cracked three home runs, stole three bases and posted a healthy 1.374 OPS in seven games. That hot start, in conjunction with the Angels' aforementioned issues at shortstop, helped elevate Neto to claiming a full-time role.

From the standpoint of trying to win games so the best player of all-time doesn’t desert the team in free agency (or get traded at the deadline), it’s not great. But when looking at the odds for American League Rookie of the Year … color me intrigued with the 22-year-old Neto, who is +1600 on FanDuel to win the award.

Despite it coming off as a panic move somewhat reminiscent of Adell’s callup in 2020, Neto is going to get every opportunity to succeed with the Angels. That fact alone is probably worth a sprinkle at his price.

The good news is he’s already shown flashes of being a capable defender at short and has provided a plus bat at every stop of his career.

nice having a shortstop with range:

— Beyond The Halo (@BeyondTheHalo) April 19, 2023

He’s making a massive jump from Double-A to MLB with very little minor league seasoning (44 games), so there are probably going to be growing pains. It'll be interesting to watch whether Neto's rather absurd leg kick — something he tinkers with quite a bit in two-strike situations — will hinder him.

But he tones it down with two strikes…

— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) April 15, 2023

Neto, who posted a scintillating .322/.408/.529 line in the minors, hasn’t looked overmatched at the plate early on. He’s worked quality at-bats and logged a two-double game against the Yankees on Wednesday.

Perhaps most importantly, Neto is well aware of the pressure to not burn another year of Ohtani and Mike Trout (via

“Coming into this year with Shohei Ohtani set to be a free agent and Trout [not being in the postseason since 2014], being on this team has motivated me to get those guys to the playoffs.”

The American League Rookie of the Year Award is an individual achievement, but helping squash the narrative of Ohtani and Trout wasting away on the Angels would be a strong point in Neto’s favor. Also working for Neto is the fact that there are no real frontrunners for the award at the moment.

Gunnar Henderson, the overwhelming preseason AL ROY favorite, is off to a frigid start. Anthony Volpe is a menace on the bases, but hasn’t really hit much. Grayson Rodriguez is racking up strikeouts, but has a 6.91 ERA through three outings. Neto’s teammate, Logan O’Hoppe, leads AL rookies in home runs (four) and has been a competent catcher, but he suffered a left shoulder injury and was placed on the Injured List Friday. Hunter Brown and Taj Bradley have probably been the most impressive, but they carry the risky proposition of being pitchers who have innings caps, even if all goes well.

Unlike the National League Rookie of the Year race, where Corbin Carroll, Jordan Walker, James Outman and Kodai Senga lead the way, it’s very much an open field in the AL, and the fast-tracked Neto is a fascinating addition to the race.

The ultimate MLB betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Profitable data-driven system picks

Tail the sharpest bettors in the world

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.