The draft is a few hours away and for the first time in a long time, there is actually a real sense of anticipation for the draft amongst the Angels fanbase. Part of that is just that the draft has become an event, really starting with the Trout draft year, but also because the Angels actually have a high(ish) draft pick and a dire need for that draft pick. I don’t profess to be a draft expert, but that doesn’t mean we can’t monkey around with some thoughts on what might transpire later today:
- The main thing I’ve been fixating on with this draft is that this is the best pick the Angels have had in several years and it probably will be the best pick they will have for several years into the future. To top it off, this is an exceptionally deep draft as well, making this high pick even more valuable. What that means to me is that they CAN’T fuck this up. What I don’t know is what that means to their strategy. Will they use the opportunity to roll the dice on a guy with superstar potential but a fair amount of risk or will they play it relatively safe with their first pick and go with someone who maybe lacks star potential but seems like a fairly safe bet to big league regular in the near future. I tend to think it will be the latter.
- The flip side of that is that there should still be high quality talent with their second pick in the draft. If they decide to go high risk with their first pick, they can hedge with a safe second pick and vice versa. Of course, they could go risky with both or safe with both. It all depends on how much they feel like they need to nail this draft in general.
- What makes it so hard to project is that the Halos have had two drafts under Dipoto and they have been drastically different. In 2012, they went almost entirely with college players, which made sense because they had to re-stock the upper levels of the farm system in a hurry. In 2013, they went riskier and drafter a few high school arms as well as some small school college guys. The unifying thread in both is that drafts were heavy on pitching. That doesn’t figure to change this year, but the Dipoto regime has surprised before.
- If we want to read the tea leaves, the Halos seem to be leaning towards going with a safer draft, at least early. Their first round focus is said to be on college arms and college bats like Kyle Schwarber and Bradley Zimmer. The pitching need makes one think that they should just go with the best pitcher they can get, but with the draft shallow on college bats, the Angels may not be able to resist grabbing one of the quality ones while they still have a chance.
- That player would likely be Kyle Scwarber if all the mock drafts are to be believed. He sounds like a fine player and all, but I can’t get over the fact that his name is “Kyle.” There just isn’t a great history of guys named “Kyle” having MLB success. Kyle Lohse, Kyle Kendrick and Kyle Seager are the high watermarks in MLB history, to the best of my recollection. Then again, there isn’t much success for guys named “Touki” or “Trea” either, so maybe I should just shut up.
- Jerry Dipoto recently said that the Angels would be going with the “best player available” draft strategy. But that’s what all GMs say and Dipoto, in particular, is given to GM doublespeak. What I will be curious to see is just how much the Halos focus on addressing thin areas of the system. For example, the Angels have nothing even approaching a legitimate catching prospect. They’ve got a few guys with solid defensive skills, but none that look like they are even sure bets to outhit Jeff Mathis (though I still have some hopes for Zach Wright). They are loaded, by their standards anyway, in the middle infield and OK at the corner infield spots (especially if Kaleb Cowart can be fixed). Outfield is a bit spottier though, especially in terms of guys who can man center field, not that they need a new one of those for several years. Pitching, of course, is a huge issue. They’ve obviously finally got some up and coming relievers, but they desperately need starting pitching in the upper levels. Mark Sappington completely crapped the bed this year, so they really have just Kyle McGowin and Michael Roth as their best starting prospects at Double-A or higher. That’s not good, and I am someone who really likes McGowin. Suddenly drafting someone like Tyler Beede over Schwarber has a lot more appeal.