MLB Draft 2024: College Infielders the Angels Might Target

We’ve looked at college pitchers and college outfielders the Angels might target so now let’s take a look around the diamond. This is an area in which the Angels could really use some help and it would not surprise me at all of the Angels first pick is a college infielder.

While there should be some good options available at #8, there’s essentially zero chance any of Travis Bazzana, Charlie Condon, or Jac Caglionone will be there so I’m not linking them in this peice.

JJ Wetherholt – SS/2B West Virginia

JJ (love the initials) was considered a possible first overall pick heading into this season. An early season hamstring injury opened the door for other players to jump above him on the boards but he is still a very high quality player capable of manning shortstop or second base at the MLB level. The 21 year old West Virginia product bats lefty, throws righty, has great range and tremendous power.

On the year Wetherholt is putting up a .352/.500/.657 slash line across 141 plate appearances. He’ll likely go before 8 but if he’s available the Angels should take him without hesitation.

Nick Kurtz – 1B Wake Forest

Yes, the Angels have Nolan Schanuel but Nick Kurtz is still a tantalizing prospect. The kid has power, a keen eye, and projects as a middle of the order thumper. The Demon Deacon is a left handed hitter and semifinalist for the highest award in college baseball, the Golden Spikes award.

Kurtz would supplant Nolan Schanuel at first base or start taking DH at bats in quick order. Turning Schanny into a trade piece wouldn’t be bad, either. I doubt the Angels go this direction but if they did, the heart of the order would be in good shape in quick order.

Cam Smith – 3B Florida State

Cam likely would have been a first round pick out of high school but he chose to go to Florida State and gotten even better. Blessed with great bat speed and an MLB ready physique, Smith posted a .397/.487/.671 slash line as a sophomore in the tough ACC.

He won’t remind anyone of Brooks Robinson at third but still has time to improve on that side of the ball. His play is passable, not elite, with the glove. But when looking at organizational need, prospect talent, and likely signing bonus a lot of things align for Smith to be the pick if the Angels can sign him a little below slot value. In that case, the days of depending on Anthony Rendon are likely over sometime next season.

Seaver King – CF/3B/SS Wake Forest

King made the outfielders list because most evaluators see him playing center field at the MLB level. But King has spent more time on the dirt than grass this season so he could be an option here as well. Versatility has its own value and considering the Angels system is pretty barren in all departments, King could slide in about anywhere. After two years in Division II, King transferred to Wake Forest this season and has up up a .316/.385/.594 slash line.

Looking deeper into his numbers, King has nearly as many walks (25) as K’s (32) and is 11 for 12 when it comes to stealing bases. His 16 HR in 275 PA isn’t bad either, but a lot of that power has come in the second half of the season. It looks like he adjusted to the higher level of competition and was able to up his own game as well.

As always, the prospects are listed in order of how they appear across various rankings and mock drafts. I think the odds of Wetherholt dropping all the way to #8 are pretty low but many mocks have him going in the 5-9 range so we could get lucky. If he is available, that likely means an extra arm or two is off the board. Kurtz probably isn’t the pick due to Schanuel’s presence on the roster although he’d likely be a solid upgrade.

In looking at the confluence of organizational need, player profile, and possible ability to sign below slot value Cam Smith really does stand out here. The Angels are more like an NFL team in the sense they are drafting for immediate need not best overall talent. While Smith’s talent is obviously upper echelon, he’s the one true third baseman expected to go early in the draft.

As we cruise through the college postseason, keep an eye on the guys mentioned above and find others I’ve missed. I’m exclusively focusing on the first round here. Cookmeister is looking at talent for rounds 2 through 5 and I’m planning on getting with him to create the first ever CtPG big board as the draft gets nearer.

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ihearhowie3.0
Super Member
13 days ago

ESPN mock had us linked to 2 different catchers at #8

Roy Hobbs
Super Member
14 days ago

Between the IFs and OFs the Halos should be able to snag a really good bat a #8. After Nolan last year though, I have my doubts.

Roy Hobbs
Super Member
14 days ago

I would love JJ but I don’t understand the dislike of Kurtz. 1B or not, how can you pass up a hitter like that. I would be happy with either one. I am definitely not sold on Nolan. The Angels need Bats as well as pitching. They need corner IFs and OFs, at least this year.

grichmanpoorman
Trusted Member
14 days ago

Drafting a first baseman one year after drafting another first baseman who 1) made it to the show after only a month in the minors and 2) came within shouting distance of setting an MLB on-base record would demonstrate a tremendous lack of nerve and organizational rigor. Time to ditch this help-us-now nonsense. Ohtani is gone. Trout is forever hurt. Nothing is happening “now.”

Turk's Teeth
Editor
Super Member
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Schanuel was never known for power though – so his drafting really wasn’t symptomatic of a search for power. Like Matt Thaiss before him, Schanuel was tagged with 45 or 50 grade power depending on the analyst. He’s all hit tool, with many strongly skeptical that he’d get to more than 15-20 HRs in the MLB. So far, that relative consensus has not been wrong.

Roy Hobbs
Super Member
14 days ago

I disagree. Just because you drafted a 1B last year doesn’t mean you pass up a hitter of that quality. He could be your DH. They need bats.

Turk's Teeth
Editor
Super Member
13 days ago

Schanuel is far more indicative of a “help-us-now” orientation than drafting Kurtz would be. Schanuel fits the tendency of drafting high-floor low-ceiling role players who are incomplete, but might reach the big leagues in short order. See also: Thaiss, Wilson, Ward.

Kurtz is a far superior prospect – a top 5 prospect through most of the past year, currently #3 in Keith Law’s talent rankings, and #4 in the MLB rankings. (Schanuel was an overdraft who sat at #26-30 on many of last year’s lists.)

Drafting Kurtz would be drafting the best player available, irregardless of positional need, because many view him as the best hit-patience-power combination in the draft. He has 65 grade power (Schanuel was 45 or 50), and was the D1 walks leader (outside of ’23, Schanuel was known more for high-contact than walks).

If you want to move away from a “rush to the big leagues” strategy, drafting Kurtz would represent that. It’s a high-ceiling, high-value play that just happens to also address an organizational deficit: infield power.

cookmeister
Trusted Member
14 days ago

Pretty much lines up with my thoughts (shameless plug)
https://crashingthepearlygates.com/2024/05/22/2024-draft-preview-who-could-the-halos-take/

JJ is so sweet. Cam and Seaver I can only see if it’s under slot value.

I don’t hate Kurtz, but using a 1st round pick on a 1st basemen two years in a row is bleh

Charles Sutton
Editor
Super Member
14 days ago
Reply to  cookmeister

Your next draft article is currently scheduled for tomorrow at 10 AM.

cookmeister
Trusted Member
14 days ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Appreciate the kind words. I like baseball, I’m a decent writer, and I have time to kill right now lol

Turk's Teeth
Editor
Super Member
13 days ago
Reply to  cookmeister

I do hope folks (and the Angels draft room) abandon these “under slot” fantasies. This is really not the draft class to pursue them.

This is one of the weakest draft classes in a couple decades. Unless the Angels are eager to play in the lotto ticket prep pool (essentially repeating the 2010 strategy that busted so badly), shifting around their budget makes little sense. They should get the best college player available to them with their first round selection, because only the top 10-15 ranked players look anything like typical first rounders this year, and the top 100 is thin, volatile and fringey.

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