Below is the questions and answers from Angels scouting director, Ric Wilson, which was live on our website on May 26th, 2015. Enjoy, Angels fans!
Chuck Richter: Ric, first question: Jerry Dipoto has done a lot to improve organizational pitching depth; will you now turn your focus on developing hitters? Any players currently in the organization that you feel have a chance to have a star-caliber bat at the major league level?
Ric Wilson: We have concentrated on pitching the past few years and we do feel we have some depth in that area. It would be nice to get some quality position players. But we will take what the draft gives.
Chuck Richter: So, will you take the best player available at your pick in the draft?
Ric Wilson: Yes. Early on you have to take what the draft gives you and as you start working your way down we could drift off into some need.
Chuck Richter: In the end, was Newcomb rated higher on the board than Bradley Zimmer? Pre-draft chat (or could've been pre-draft podcast?) you were quoted as saying you would absolutely select Zimmer if he fell into our lap. Who made the final decision for that pick?
Ric Wilson: The ultimate decision is mine and like I said you have to take what the draft gives and we had Newcomb fell to us.
Chuck Richter: Which prospect(s) in the organization do you feel have made the biggest strides since last year (pitcher and position player)?
Ric Wilson: A lot of our pitching prospects have strides. Chris Ellis, Jeremy Rhoades, Keynan Middleton, position player wise Alex Abbott and Caleb Adams.
Chuck Richter: If the Angels don't re-sign Aybar, then who can play shortstop from the organization?
Ric Wilson: We have some young guys coming, Roberto Baldoquin and Jake Yacinich.
Chuck Richter: Ric, what can you tell me about Sherman Johnson? We had him at our Spring Fanfest in Tempe this past March and Don Baylor and Jerry Dipoto spoke highly of him. Does the org see him as a future regular and leadoff hitter based on his on-base skills, speed and pop or?
Ric Wilson: Good question. Sherm is very versatile in a line-up, he can control the zone, get on base, grind out at-bats, make the pitcher work to get him out. So the answer would be he could hit anywhere but the middle.
Chuck Richter: How has Austin Wood looked this season in AA compared to a couple years ago in A Ball?
Ric Wilson: He is still working his way through some things. He is healthy and his velocity is back. He is working on commanding the ball and making some progress.
Ric Wilson: (Regarding Sherman Johnson vs. Yarbrough) Yarbrough is a quality hitter led the Cal league in hits and I believe the Texas league in average. That's tough to beat.
Chuck Richter: Ric: Any surprises in players you drafted from last year?
Ric Wilson: I believe a few of the pitchers have, not in their performance, but their velocity and overall stuff is ahead of where I thought it would be.
Chuck Richter: Ric: What can you tell us about Jeremy Rhoades, Tyler DeLoach and Chris Ellis?
Ric Wilson: Jeremy was our 4th round pick… 92 94 mph with sink, spins the breaking ball, a strike thrower that can find the plate with 3 pitches… very competitive. Tyler is a different guy. Very deceptive, 88-90 with good sink, can locate the ball and mix and match 3 pitches... Chris Ellis is a polished RHP with a quality arm 91 -95, good body, solid breaking pitch, durable, and very athletic.
Chuck Richter: How does the organization view Victor Alcantara long term? Starter or reliever?
Ric Wilson: I don't believe we really know at this point. We will keep sending him out and giving him innings.There is no reason he couldn't start. It may just be need-based in the end.
Chuck Richter: Given his early season struggles, do the Angels still view Roberto Baldoquin as a shortstop?
Ric Wilson: Yes, he had an early season injury that has held him back some. But we do ultimately view him in that capacity.
Chuck Richter: How often do you fly down to the Dominican Republic to watch prospects at our academy there? Anyone down there we should keep an eye on?
Ric Wilson: You know I used to go down there a lot and it looks like I will start up again this year sometime. That is more our international staff and I do not have a ton of information in that area. I will reach out to Carlos Gomez and the next time we chat I will have better information.
Chuck Richter: Ric, this draft seems to be pretty heavy in Middle Infield prospects, what do you and your team look for when selecting from a pool this deep? Bloodlines, approach, physicality, etc? As a part 2 to this, have you seen Nick Shumpert in person this past season?
Ric Wilson: You are correct that there is a deep pool of middle infielders more than I can remember in past years. All of the above… you have to peel back the layers to find the separators... I have seen Nick--a quality young man with tools and an upside to his game.
Chuck Richter: Hunter Green update? Is the organization still considering a potential move to the mound for Kaleb Cowart?
Ric Wilson: Hunter has run into some bad luck. Just when he gets going good something sidetracks him. He is just resting. Not sure what his Rehab schedule is... Kaleb is making progress at the plate. I believe time will tell.
Chuck Richter: OK Ric, we've done this before. Let's get your take on the following skill sets before we conclude today's live chat.
Best Fastball: Victor Alcantara
Best Curveball: Sean Newcomb
Best Slider: Austin Adams
Best Changeup: Sean Newcomb
Closest to Majors: Greg Mahle
Best Hitting Ability: Alex Yarbrough
Best Plate Discipline: Sherman Johnson
Best Speed: Bo Way
Best Defense: Jake Yacinich
Best Throwing Arm: Kaleb Cowart
Highest Offensive Upside: Roberto Baldoquin
Chuck Richter: Thanks, Ric. This will conclude our chat session for tonight. We will have a more robust, more extensive chat session after the amateur draft.
Ric Wilson: You bet! We can have a longer one in a few weeks. Thanks to everyone and go Halos!