In need of pitching, the Angels selected Sam Bachman from the University of Miami (Ohio) in the first round of the 2021 draft. Armed with the best fastball in this year’s class and a plus slider, Bachman’s fate will be decided by the development of his change up. He gets one and he’s a front line starter. If not, he’s a high leverage reliever.
He’s already working on the change piece.
With the #9 pick of the draft, the Angels selected the #17 guy in my Consensus Rankings, Sam Bachman. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline both ranked him at #14, and Keith Law of the Athletic placed him at #10 in his Top 100 talent rankings.
So first answer: no, Angels fans, this isn’t particularly a reach.
In fact, Bachman likely has the equivalent ceiling of Kumar Rocker, who the Angels passed over with Ty Madden at #9, but he has a different sort of risk: injury and reliever risk. And maybe that downside makes sense for the Angels, whose bullpen craters night after night in perfectly winnable games.
I buy those who say that Sam Bachman has the best fastball-slider combo in the 2021 draft.
I buy those who say that, with advancement on his changeup and increased usage, he could be a three-pitch stud and frontline weapon.
I also buy those that suggest his delivery has effort, and as an undersized righty there’s both the possibility for command struggles and injury. I think it’s hard not to see TJ somewhere in the future. But with conditioning and care, perhaps it’s far off.
I said in my opening draft analysis that I would be at peace with any of the college arms in that article, and Bachman was there. I put him right alongside Ty Madden as a FB-centric target, and here he is. He might be really, really good.
It’s tough to see the top name on my board (Rocker) passed over, but the Angels didn’t pick a toolsy prep outfielder, and they resisted the remaining highly-rated shortstops like Watson and House. That’s a small victory. They also probably saved some money for their second and third round picks, so let’s see where this goes.
I think this assessment from Bleacher Report (of all places) is fair:
FWIW, Keith Law was extremely bullish on Sam Bachman, and while he had Kumar Rocker at #5, he had Sam Bachman at #9 in his Top 100 talent rankings:
So, on pure talent, if you’re with Law, the Angels were right on time with a slot-appropriate pick.
Bachman has one of the hardest fastballs in the class and sits in the 95-97 mph range with the pitch, regularly getting to triple-digits with impressive arm-side running action and sink. On top of that, Bachman’s slider has an argument for being the best breaking ball in the class. It’s a hard, biting pitch that is routinely in the upper 80s and has eclipsed 90 mph plenty of times, with tremendous late life that generates whiffs inside the zone and out of it—mostly down and to his glove side. Both pitches grade out as at least 70s and there are scouts in the industry who have put 80 grades on both as well.
After working at 91-94 mph for much of his first two college seasons, Bachman now sits at 94-97 and hits 101 with plenty of armside run and sink. His slider also has gained more power, operating in the mid-80s with nastier bite and destroys left-handers and right-handers alike. His deceptive, heavy changeup in the mid-80s gives him at least a solid third offering.
Bachman averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings during his first two college seasons but is providing more consistent strikes after improving his conditioning and athleticism during his layoff. He does come with some reliever risk because he’s 6-foot-1 with a short arm action and a low three-quarters arm slot, and he did miss two early-season starts with a tired arm. He’s strong and competitive, however, and should remain a starter if his upgraded control and command are for real.