First Round Lock or Late Round Gem?
The Recent History of Angel Draft Picks
The First Year Players Draft was held last week, and like the other 29 teams, the Angels were hoping to pick at least one player that would become the next Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately, the odds of picking a superstar are low and it’s much more likely that a team will choose a player that ends up bouncing around in the minors for a few years before calling it quits.
In recent years, the Angles have not been strangers to making quality picks early in the draft. We can all drop to our knees and give thanks that with the 25th pick in the 2009 draft the Angels called Mike Trout’s name. But did you know that he was the second Angles’ pick in the first round that year? The Angels also held the 24th overall pick and chose OF Randal Grichuk, one pick before Trout. Luckily, the Angels also held the next pick as compensation for the Mets signing K-Rod or else the number 27 we see roaming the Anaheim outfield might have been wearing the blue and orange of the NY Mets instead of Halo red and white.
Since 2001, the Angels have had their share of hits and misses drafting in the first round. Picking SoCal native Jered Weaver in 2004 is one of the Angels biggest draft successes of the last 20 years. He not only become the face of the franchise but has also been a damn good pitcher for the past 10+ years. The Angels were also on target in the first round when they drafted CJ Cron in 2011 and Garrett Richards in 2009. The success of other first round selections such as Tyler Skaggs (2009), Kaleb Cowart (2010), and Cam Bedrosian (2010) is still to be determined.
The Angels have also had their share of busts with high draft picks. Brandon Wood, who was suppose be a staple at third base for the next ten years, was taken 23rd overall by the Angels in 2003. But after 4+ disappointing seasons hitting just .168, he was released by the club.
Taking a player in the first round is always a risk and for every Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, and Mike Trout drafted, the Angels also have taken a Trevor Bell, Tyler Kehrer, and Jon Bachanov.
Surprisingly, when it comes to players contributing to the major league club, the Angels seem to have better luck with their later round selections.
Howie Kendrick, one of the most popular Angels player in recent history wasn’t drafted until the 10th round in 2002 but ended up hitting .292 and playing a solid second base in Anaheim for nine seasons.
Mark Trumbo wasn’t taken until the 18th round in 2004, the same year Nick Adenhart, whose promising career was tragically cut short after he was killed in a car accident, was picked in the 14th round.
Starting right fielder Kole Calhoun wasn’t taken until the eighth round by the Angels and Jett Bandy, who was called up to the big leagues this year to be the backup catcher, dropped all the way to the 31st round before being taken by the Angels.
Maybe the best story out of the draft for the Angels in recent years was the selection of Efren Navarro in the 50th round back in 2007. With the ability to play positions in both the infield and outfield, Navarro worked his way through the minors and earned a few call ups to the big leagues. He had a combined 242 at bats in the 2014 and 2015 seasons and hit .248. That’s a pretty good find that late in the draft for the Angels and great story of dedication for Navarro who did not give up on his dream after teams passed on him 1,449 times.
While first round picks like Weaver, Richards, and Cron have worked out well for the Angels, they also seem to have a knack for finding hidden talent in the middle and later picks in the draft. We’ll have to wait a while to see if recent number one picks like Tayler Ward and Matt Thaiss will live up to their expectations or will it be another gem hidden in the late rounds that turns out to be the next to wear the LA Angels uniform.