Friday, June 10, 2011

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

There are three things you can’t teach an athlete: power, size, and velocity. If a player isn’t born with those fundamentals, he most likely will have a tough time making it into the Majors (with all due respect to David Eckstein).

On Day One of the draft, the Angels got their power. By many accounts, they took the best power bat available in the draft at the time, if not one of the best hitters in the draft overall. C. J. Cron was a good pick, one that will hopefully pay dividends in about 3 years.

On Days Two and Three, the Angels went for size and velocity. As new Scouting Director Ric Wilson put it before the draft, the Angels went after “physical” players. Unlike previous years, it seemed that hardly any of the players taken by the Angels in the draft were less than 6’ tall.

As I pointed out in the C.J. Cron article, the Angels are far better at finding diamonds in the rough with pitchers than they are with hitters. So, it wasn’t surprising on Day Two to see the Angels delve deeply into pitchers. But, in looking at their picks, they took players who have velocity and have some track records of success but also some flaws or inconsistencies that need to be ironed out. Let’s call it the “Garrett Richards phenomena”.

Looking at the Angels Third Round pick, lefthander Nick Maronde, that’s him to a “T”. Like Richards, Maronde had an ERA over 6 in college. But, in the Cape Cod League, he had a 2.29 ERA in 19.2 IP. With Maronde’s pitches, and with the Angels’ dearth of left-handed pitchers, I won’t be surprised if they convert him back into a starter. As a hard-throwing lefty (touching 96), Maronde could move up quickly in the Angels’ organization in either capacity.

The same was true for their Fifth and Eighth Round picks, righty Austin Wood and Logan Odom. They both posted mediocre numbers at USC, but posted much better numbers in the Cape Cod League. In fact, Austin Wood was the lone representative on the 2010 All-League team from the league champion Cotuitt Kettlers as he went 3-0 with a 0.58 ERA on the season.

Pitchers weren’t the only players with strong ties to the Cape Cod League. Tenth Round draftee Drew Martinez was selected to the All- League team as an outfielder after he hit .359 with 1 homerun and 22 stolen bases. Both 22nd Round draftee Brennan Gowens (SS) and 26th Round draftee John Giannis also saw limited action in the Cape Cod League in 2010.

In the later rounds, the Angels stayed true to their family. In the 45th Round, they drafted Matt Scioscia, Mike Scioscia’s son. Yes, like his father, Matt is a catcher. And, in the 47th Round, they drafted outfield Brandon Lodge, son of the radio show host Roger Lodge.

The best of the “feel-good stories” from the draft came out of Texas this year. While they are a divisional rival, what they did for one player was truly inspirational. If you haven’t read about the Ranger’s 37th Round selection of Johnathan Taylor, you really should. You can read all about it here.

When Ric Wilson was first promoted to be the new Scouting Director for the Angels, I asked him about his drafting philosophy. He said “we are definitely concentrating on the power bats, power arms, speed and defense.”

Looking at the draft, they got the power bats. They got the power arms. They got speed. And they got defense. They definitely got more physical players to fill out their system. They did what they set out to do and I’m excited to start seeing these players’ names appear on the Hot Prospect Lists.

My only reservation with the draft is that the Angels had some opportunities to draft some players in some rounds who had fallen due to signability issues. In the past, the Angels have gambled on some players and have won. Maybe this reflects a new form of conservatism in the draft process. Or, it could be that because the Angels have had so many first round picks in the last two drafts that they were better able to take that kind of gamble.

Overall, I would grade this draft as an A-. I like the new direction that they went. They dipped heavily into the college ranks which merge in well with their high school picks from the past two years. It will create a wave of talent that will rise together and push all of its members to succeed. The Angels future looks bright.
Love to hear what you think!

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