The MLB draft is coming up in less than a week and the Angels have the highest pick they’ve had in years at #15. The Halos are typically accustomed to operating without a 1st round pick because of their activity in the free agent market, so Angels fans should enjoy this luxury. It may not come around again for a very long time. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the success stories from last year’s rather unheralded draft.
36th round pick OF Brandon Bayardi – A mountain of muscle out of UNLV, he showed power, but too much swing & miss to his game in 2013. After 9 games in A Ball as a 23 year old, this still holds true.
34th round pick LF Eric Aguilera – Aguilera’s coach in college made the bold statement last year that Eric was the best hitter in all the Midwest. We here at MWAH were eager to see if this were true or not. Aguilera has since moved away from the OF and to 1B. So far, Eric hasn’t disappointed in the least, batting .309 in A Ball with 12 XBH and 4 SB in 36 games.
28th round pick OF Miguel Hermosillo – Hermosillo was seen as perhaps the top athlete in the draft. The Angels signed him away from a full athletic scholarship to play runningback at Illinois. Last season, the 18-year old batted .275 across 11 games in Rookie Ball. We’re really hoping to see him in Orem this year.
24th round pick OF Mark Shannon – All out gamer who gained fame through a highlight reel catch he made that went viral. The Angels scooped him up out of UNLV and Shannon hasn’t stopped hitting since. He’s bating .307 this year between A Ball and Advanced A Ball with 22 XBH and 8 SB. A very intriguing blend of speed and power from this 23 year old.
20th round pick RHP Brian Loconsole – Brian was a closer for Western Illinois before the draft last year. So far this year, he’s been extremely effective in A Ball as a setup man and could move quickly if he encounters continued success.
15th round pick OF Chad Hinshaw – So far, possibly the steal of the draft for the Angels. The scouting report coming into this year is that he had 70 grade speed on the 80-scale, which is rare to find so far down in the draft. Hinshaw’s also impressed the organization with his willingness to take direction and make adjustments. Down in A ball so far this season, he’s batting .292/.398 with 16 SB in 38 games. At this rate, he may top 50 SB this year. There’s still too much swing & miss to his game, but Hinshaw’s career is off to a promising start.
11th round pick LHP Jonah Wesely – Wesely made it onto the MWAH Top 30 prospect countdown and looked like an absolute steal for the Angels in the 11th round. In a conversation with Angels Director of Scouting Ric Wilson (props to Angelswin for helping set that up), Wilson described Weseley as someone that pitches with their hair on fire, fit for late-inning relief. While we were hoping to see Wesely in a starting role, his aggressive nature could help him climb the minor league ladder quickly.
6th round pick RHP Nate Smith – Smith was drafted out of little know Furman University last year and offers a low-90’s fastball with movement. He prefers to attack hitters and work quickly. After a highly successful campaign in Orem last year, Smith skipped over A Ball as a 22 year old and was fantastic in Adavnced A Ball to the tune of a 3.07 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9. Angels fans should be pleased to know he’s since been promoted to AA and tossed 7 innings of 1-run ball in his debut with 8 strikeouts and a win. No prospect’s stock has risen higher than Smith’s so far this year.
7th round pick RHP Garrett Nuss – Nuss is a 21 year old that the Angels felt was ready for A Ball. Armed with a low-90’s fastball, good change up and workable breaking all, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA across his first 8 starts. Nuss has given up a lot of hits and isn’t striking out very many batters, but as evidenced by his ERA, he’s working his way out of trouble which suggests maturity on his part.
6th round pick RHP Harrison Cooney – Mid-90’s fastball and “plus” slider is usually scouting report talk for “reliever”. Cooney however has worked as a starter (and piggyback) in A ball so far and the results are sparkling. 2.47 ERA. Hitters are making contact on him, but so far haven’t been able to square anything up his throws, as evidenced by his low WHIP despite mediocre K/BB ratio.
5th round pick RHP Kyle McGowin – Another draftee that crept up onto the Top 30 prospect countdown last year, McGowin skip over A Ball as a 22 year old, laid waste to the Cal League and is now pitching in AA Arkansas as a starter all in his first year of pro ball. Not bad at all I’d say.
4th round pick Elliot Morris – Morris just sneaked into the MWAH Top 30 countdown this past offseason. We described him as having clean mechanics, impeccable command and an advanced approach on the mound. So far, that tells the story. He just finished dominating Midwest League hitters with 40 IP, 44 K’s and a miniscule 2.25 ERA before being promoted to the Cal League. You should expect Morris to remain a fixture of the MWAH Top 30 countdown for a couple more years at least.
Undoubtedly, the summary of this story so far is that the Angels decided to draft a TON on college players with higher floors but lower ceilings in an effort to restock the farm system in the short-term. They took their shot on a couple of high ceiling-low floor pitchers to start with in Hunter Green and Key Middleton, but look to have unearthed a few future major leaguers in Elliot Morris, Kyle McGowin, Harrison Cooney and Nate Smith so far. What should be noted is the utter absence of high upside offensive prospects they brought in from the draft. So far, the best we’ve seen is Chad Hinshaw.
Look for the Angels to draft higher upside position players in next week’s draft.
*Top draft picks Keynan Middleton and Hunter Green are currently working in extended spring training and should both make a return trip to Rookie Ball this summer. High upside, but a lot to work on for both of them.