For much of spring, there was little consensus on who the Angels were targeting with their first round pick. Across numerous mocks, over ten names were floated.
Draft prognosticators are acutely aware of the Angels’ needs – this is an organization with no impact starting pitching talent close to the Show beyond Patrick Sandoval and not a single catching prospect among its top 30. They are also aware of the team’s front office proclivities – a tendency to draft young, athletic position players up the middle (Adell, Adams, Marsh, Jackson) regardless of surplus at these positions. So many drafthounds have simply followed trails based on exhibited tendencies, with some agreement that the Angels final selection might come down simply to opportunity and who falls to them as the board clears.
Over the past week, however, a consensus has been developing around three names – each of which has appeared in 3+ industry mocks – and which are conveniently expressed in the #9-11 slots of our consensus rankings board (see below). These are Louisville’s polished pitchability lefty Reid Detmers, North Carolina State’s Patrick Bailey (the consensus best catcher in the draft), and Tennessean Robert Hassell III, the best prep hitter available, second only to Zac Veen, and the kid with probably the best hit tool in the draft. Hassell has been rumored to the Angels for awhile, while the other two are best-fit types that are more based on availability and educated speculation. They do make sense.
More troubling, however, are rumors that have emerged in the past 24 hours that, at ownership direction, the Angels might punt on this year’s draft altogether. (While some of the speculation originated with Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, Taylor Blake Ward says the front office claims the rumors are “bogus”. YMMV.)
What would this mean exactly? Well, after laying off most of its scouting department for marginal savings, some are hearing that Moreno may be instructing Eppler and company to simply take a player in the first round that is viewed as difficult to sign, offer him a nominal sum, knowing he’ll refuse. Unlocked achievement? Save money this year and recoup the pick (now #11) for next year’s draft.
It would also mean forgoing a selection from this crop of players:
|1||Spencer Torkelson||1B||Arizona State||1.08|
|3||Asa Lacy||LHP||Texas A&M||2.92|
|4||Zac Veen||OF||Spruce Creek HS, (FL)||5.00|
|6||Nick Gonzales||SS||New Mexico State||5.62|
|10||Robert Hassell||OF||Independence HS (TN)||10.46|
|11||Patrick Bailey||C||North Carolina State||12.38|
|12||Austin Hendrick||OF||West Allegheny HS (PA)||13.62|
|14||Mick Abel||RHP||Jesuit HS (OR)||14.38|
|17||Tyler Soderstrom||C||Turlock (CA) HS||16.92|
|18||Pete Crow-Armstrong||OF||Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)||17.38|
|19||Nick Bitsko||RHP||Central Bucks East HS (PA)||18.46|
|20||Ed Howard||SS||Mount Carmel (IL) HS||20.30|
|22||Jared Kelley||RHP||Refugio (TX) HS||22.83|
|23||Justin Foscue||2B/3B||Mississippi State||24.20|
|24||JT Ginn||RHP||Mississippi State||24.25|
|25||Dillon Dingler||C||Ohio State||24.36|
|33||Carmen Mlodzinski||RHP||South Carolina||28.57|
|34||Aaron Sabato||1B||North Carolina||28.83|
|35||Jordan Westburg||SS||Mississippi State||30.17|
|36||Alika Williams||SS||Arizona State||31.50|
|37||Jordan Walker||3B||Decatur (GA) HS||32.00|
The table above represents the first 37 selections in the draft (the first and first supplemental rounds), and builds a consensus estimate from the weighted average of 14 different talent rankings and draft mocks across prospect media. It is not a mock or prediction in any way, but rather an aid to visualize the ‘zone of opportunity’ available to the Angels as they approach pick #10 on Wednesday, based on crowdsourced expectations of a group of experts (eg, Law, Callis, Mayo, Longenhagen, et al).
I have little doubt that, in the crop above, the Angels would love to see a highly polished SP like Max Meyer or Emerson Hancock fall to them like manna from heaven, and become a workable rotation piece that might move quickly and contribute to the club as earlier as next year. But it’s an unlikely hope – both arms will probably be off the board by #8.
It could be that there’s a bit of Rashomon-like truth in both Longenhagen’s and TBW’s view of the rumor mill, and the Angels front office has been instructed to either get its desired targets (Meyer? Hassell?) or otherwise go with a prep talent they can offer an under-slot deal to, even considering the signability risk of that strategy. In that case, I could see the Angels going with the familiar athletic prepster model – consider shortstop Ed Howard or Jordan Walker. Or do something utterly atypical and pull from the top prep pitcher ranks. Jared Kelley has been slipping down the board a bit, but he was the consensus best high school arm just last year (and remains my personal favorite among that class of players in this draft class).
This is the point in the article where I had planned to break down the 10-15 players across four player types (college pitching, prep pitching, outfield talent, infield/catching talent) that are in the Angels first-round window tomorrow, but given the many swirling rumors, I’ve opted to present the consensus rankings table a day early, and start conversation with the board.
I’ll follow up with more substantive analysis tomorrow morning (along with a ten-man “Turk’s Big Board” that represents my own stack-ranked preferences). In advance, here’s a rough schematic of realistic selections in each player category.
Assumption: Asa Lacy, Emerson Hancock are off the board
First tier: Max Meyer, Reid Detmers
Second tier: Cade Cavalli, Garrett Crochet, Carmen Mlodzinksi, Cole Wilcox
Top tier: Mick Abel, Jared Kelley, Nick Bitsko
Assumption: Zac Veen is off the board
College bats: Heston Kjerstad, Garrett Mitchell
Prep bats: Robert Hassell, Austin Hendrick, Pete Crow-Armstrong
Infield / catching talent
Assumption: Nick Gonzalez is off the board
Catcher: Patrick Bailey (Outside possibilities: Tyler Soderstrom, Dillon Dingler, Austin Wells)
Infield: Ed Howard (Outside possibility: Jordan Walker)
Tune in tomorrow morning as we countdown to the draft (it starts at 4pm Pacific), and add some more color to the names above. Hopefully by that time we will also have more confirmation (or denial) of the Angels’ approach to selection and signing in this no-good awful mixed-up and witchy season of organized sport.