Angels set sights on high schoolers
Reigning AL West champs draw just once in first 100 picks
ANAHEIM -- The Angels will head into Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft with a mind-set similar to past years but with fewer options.
The club picks low in the first round at the 25th position but will not have another selection until the third round with the 102nd pick overall.
Their first-round pick this season is compensation from the Indians for signing Type B free agent Paul Byrd but they lose their own first-round position to the Dodgers for signing Jeff Weaver.
In effect it works in the Angels' favor, though. The team prefers to target high school players over college players for the simple fact they have longer to work with them before promotion to the big leagues.
"This means we don't have to worry about Andrew Miller or Evan Longoria because they won't be left," said director of scouting Eddie Bane. "But it does mean that we have to keep our national cross-checkers active because one of the players we might rank as a top five could fall all the way down the board to us."
The left-handed Miller out of North Carolina is considered by some to be the top pick. He was drafted by the Devil Rays out of high school in 2003 but did not sign. Longoria, the third baseman from Long Beach, has been rated by some scouts as having the best bat in the draft.
Which projects for the Angels a high school pitcher or position player with the top pick, and that is fine with Bane.
"I've never understood why a college player is considered superior to a high school player," Bane said. "If Jered Weaver falls in your lap, you take it. But my thing with college players is they're older. By time you sign him, they're 23 and the clock is ticking. With a player like Nick Adenhart, by the time he's 23, if he's healthy, he's in the Major Leagues."
The Angels drafted Adenhart in the 14th round in 2004 out of Williamsport (Md.) High School. Though the right-hander had been rated as the top high school pitcher through most of that season, Major League teams shied away from him because of a torn rotator cuff.
Not the Angels, though, who drafted him despite Tommy John surgery and immediately put him on a post-surgical rehab program. Their gamble has paid off so far. The 19-year-old Adenhart is 7-1 with a 1.49 ERA in 11 starts this season at low-A Cedar Rapids.
A concern for Bane is a talent gap at Double-A Arkansas, specifically at the center fielder position. Bane said that Peter Bourjos, who was drafted in the 10th round last year, is currently the organization's best center-field prospect but he will only be at Rookie-level Orem this season.
Providing a lift as the final days approach for the 2006 draft was the signing of Sean O'Sullivan, a right-handed pitcher last year at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, Calif., whomthe Angels drafted in the third round. O'Sullivan entered Grossmont Community College this year but signed with the Angels before the deadline and will head to Orem after a mini-camp in Arizona.
A look at the Angels' last three top draft picks:
Trevor Bell, 2005 (compensation round, 37th overall pick, Crescenta Valley High School):
Bell has yet to show much of what he did in his senior year, when he compiled an 8-3 record and a 1.13 ERA. Bell, who also played outfield in high school and hit a school-record 26 home runs, made four two-inning starts for the Rookie League Angels, allowing four runs and 10 hits with seven strikeouts. Bell stayed in Arizona for extended Spring Training and will move on to the Orem Owlz when their season opens in late June.
"I don't think he is throwing as hard as he can or as hard as we'd like but too many people get caught up in radar-gun readings," Bane said. "It's been hot in Arizona and I think you'll see a spike when he gets to Orem."
Weaver, 2004 (first round, 12th overall, Long Beach State):
Weaver was called up on May 26 and tossed seven shutout innings in his Major League debut a day later. Weaver sat out for nearly a year before signing but regrouped quickly and went 4-1 record with a 1.89 in nine games at Triple-A Salt Lake this season with 66 strikeouts and eight walks.
"I think it took him awhile to get back in the form that he showed at Long Beach State, but he's back," Bane said. "There is something about his delivery; he hides the ball so well. His 92 (mph) is like another guy's 95."
Brandon Wood, 2003 (first round, 23rd overall, Scottsdale Horizon High School):
Wood had a breakout year at Class A Rancho Cucamonga last year when he led the California League with 43 homers, 51 doubles and 115 RBIs. Wood has moved up to Double-A this season and has yet to put on a similar power display with nine homers, 35 RBIs and a .272 batting average in 50 games but the organization is pleased with his progress.
"This is what you're supposed to do at 21. If you think about it, this would have been his draft year (had he gone to college)," Bane said. "I'm very happy with Brandon Wood."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. Greg Wagner also contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.