Monday, June 7, 2010
Mike Trout has been the prize of the 2009 draft by the Angels thus far

By David Saltzer - Senior Writer

With the start of the 2010 Amateur Draft hours away, it’s time to look at what the Angels could do with this year’s crop of talent. In our last chat with Eddie Bane prior to the draft Eddie told us that “I also told our guys [his staff] the other day all I want is another Trout, Skaggs, Richards, Grichuk and throw in a Reckling and Conger and I will be happy.”

So, with that as a lofty goal, let’s look at what the Angels could do.

First off, in looking at the draft, most scouts agree that overall this is a weaker pool of top-end talent. Outside of the first few picks, there is a significant drop off in premium talent, especially in the college ranks. A lot of that has to do with the trend started by the Angels to focus on the high school talent and develop it internally, so that a lot of premium talent is off the board.

Second, in analyzing draft strategy, it’s worth noting again that a team should never draft for need. A player drafted in this year’s draft may or may not pan out for three to five years. So, it’s nearly impossible to draft for need. It is far better to take the best player available (BPA) than to try and fill a perceived need. Players can change positions as they approach the majors. It’s better to draft based on talent and fill in the holes in the Major League team through free agency or trades. Only in the late rounds are players selected for need. Those players taken are mostly organizational players who are taken to fill out a roster for Rookie level teams.

However, the Angels are of the philosophy that given the choice between two equally ranked talents, one a pitcher and the other a hitter, it is better to draft a pitcher than a hitter. That’s because it is cheaper and easier to draft and develop premium pitching than it is to draft and develop premium hitting. Furthermore, it is less risky to sign a hitter to a five year mega-deal than it is to sign a pitcher to the same deal because by the time a pitcher is a free agent, the chance of him having a serious injury over the course of the next five years is much greater than it is for a fielder. Since a pitcher only plays in 20% of the team’s games, tying up that much payroll in one spot is more of a gamble than committing the same percentage to a hitter.

Finally, in looking at the organization as a whole, the Angels are loaded with talent at the lower levels. If the Angels draft a college player at this point, he will run smack into the depth of the Angels’ talent pool. It would be far better for the Angels to continue to draft high school talent to create several waves of talent that will emerge three to five years from now because the current crop of premium talent should start to push its way up to the Major Leagues within two to three years. Since the Angels won’t be able to draft one of the premium college talents this year, they would be best served continuing to pluck from the high school ranks.

With five picks out of the first forty overall, the Angels can afford to take some risks this year. They can continue their high risk/high reward strategy and can go after some hard-to-sign talents. Eddie Bane told us that the real strengths in this draft lie in the right-handed high school pitching and some hitting. We hope that the Angels do pursue those types of players with their top picks.

With their first pick (18th overall), I’m hoping that Stetson Allie is still available and that they take him. He is an epitome of a high risk/high reward high school player. He throws a two and four seam fastball that can light up the radar gun into the upper 90s. He throws a slider and changeup with an easy delivery and good mechanics. He’s not a max effort player and is projectable. He has the potential to be a true ace or a closer depending upon how well he can develop a third pitch.

With their second pick (29th overall), I’m hoping that outfielder Auston Wilson is still available and that they take him. He is a premium power bat who is committed to attending Stanford. There is a big risk in drafting him in that he might not sign, but I’m hoping that the Angels go over slot for him and get him to sign. He has a big potential offensively, and is one of the best high school bats available. Getting him would make for a future potential outfield of Wilson, Trout and Grichuk—a home grown outfield of the likes of Salmon, Erstad and Anderson.

With their third pick (30th overall), I’m hoping that they draft high school right-hander Dylan Covey. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s and has a power curve, slider and changeup. Scouts talk about him as more polished as a pitcher than his peers and even more so than many of the college pitchers available in the draft. He may slip to the Angels at this point in the draft because of a recent poor outing. But, that shouldn’t scare Eddie Bane away from him. He more than has the stuff to be a top of the rotation pitcher and is someone we’d be lucky to get at this point in the draft.

With the fourth pick (37th overall), I’m hoping that the Angels are able to draft local pitcher Peter Tago out of Dana Hills. Tago, another right-hander, throws in the mid 90s and maintains his velocity deep into games. He throws a curve, slider and changeup, and has a very good and fluid delivery. Command is a bit of an issue for him, which often leads to him having one long inning per game. But, he self corrects and can adjust during the game to overcome the problem. Tago has been compared to Ramon Ortiz and Ervin Santana—two former Angels. Eddie Bane has said that he likes to draft local players because he believes that it is often easier to sign and retain them. This one may be the one for the Angels to get.

With their fifth pick (40th overall), I’m hoping that the Angels go back for one more bat. If he’s still available, which I doubt, I’d like to see them draft Bryce Bentz. But, I don’t think he will last that long. So, it’s more likely that the Angels will draft a safe pick here, a college pitcher such as Sammy Solis or Seth Blair. With so many picks in the first round and supplemental round, the Angels will need to be somewhat conservative with one pick so as to be able to spend the money to sign their previous talents.

Trying to predict a draft is nearly impossible. There are so many variables involved so as to make it a near exercise in futility. But, it is always fun to watch and get excited about the future of Angels baseball. With many intriguing names and talents out there, there’s always the chance that someone could fall down to the Angels for a myriad of reasons. In a few hours we will know who the Angels got, and can start to dissect the job that Eddie Bane and Co. did in this year’s draft. Click here to join in the conversation as we follow along with as we monitor the 2010 draft.

Love to hear what you think!

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