Every draft comes with some awesome stories. That’s part of what makes this event so exciting, the fact that with it, comes a thousand plus stories and even more that we never heard of. Let’s check out part one the last 15 years of the Angels draft.
Major Leaguers: 1B Casey Kotchman, C Jeff Mathis, 3B Dallas McPherson, LHP Rich Hill, 3B Matthew Brown, C Ryan Budde, OF Nick Gorneault
The Story: Casey Kotchman was lauded as one the best first base prospects in years and was drawing comparisons to Wally Joyner and Don Mattingly. He torched his way through the minor leagues and had a couple fine seasons in the majors before injuries derailed his career. He’s currently playing in AAA and still loves the game. Kotch is best known for being traded for Mark Teixeira, who eventually signed with the Yankees and with that compensation pick, the Angels selected Mike Trout. Mathis made it to the majors and was a personal favorite of Miek Sciascia before being traded by mortal enemy GM Jerry Dipoto. Mathis is best known for his post season heroics against the Yankees. Dallas McPherson was labeled the next “Troy Glaus” which is pretty important because Glaus was a former MVP third baseman for the Angels. It would never come to be as McPherson suffered a back injury that he never fully recovered from. Rich Hill took the long route toward becoming a very productive major leaguer, but this all happened with other organizations. The Angels failed to sign him. Matt Brown logged one major league hit, but was more known for the numbers he put up in the minors. Ryan Budde was a backup catcher and Nick Gorneault has a very brief cup of coffee.
Fun Facts – Jeff Mathis was once a top prospect, being compared continually with Joe Mauer. Some scouts even preferred Jeff to Joe. Mathis was also heavily recruited to play QB for Florida State.
Best Player – LHP Rich Hill, who was a mid-rotation starter in his heyday.
Major Leaguers: LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Kevin Jepsen, 2B Howie Kendrick.
The Story: A pretty standard draft, getting one pick per round. This just happened to be one of the worst drafts the Angels ever had (at least in recent history). Saunders was lauded as perhaps the top collegiate pitcher in America. When he came to the Angels, it was discovered Joe’s fastball for whatever reason wasn’t touching the low to mid-90’s is hovered around at Virginia, but more high 80’s low-90’s. he still got by on command, eventually became an all-star and carved out a nice career as a backend starter for many years and many teams. Jensen, there’s still nothing on exactly what the Angels saw in him in the second round. There was nothing about his mechanics that made anyone remotely believe he could be a starting pitcher. He eventually salvaged his career as a reliever and have been consistently inconsistent for years now. Finally, Howie Kendrick. He only fell this far in the draft because he chose to go the Junior College route instead of accepting a scholarship to four year university and entering the draft two years later. The JuCo route got him signed, but there’s a very good chance Kendrick you;ld’ve been a top of the first round talent had he waited two more years.
Fun Facts – Howie Kendrick was once labeled “future batting champ”. This hurt him in the long run as it set up unnecessarily high expectations, but it was understandable why people believed this. Kendrick’s numbers in the minor leagues were so ridiculous, you couldn’t even call them video game numbers because even video games aren’t that ridiculous. Kendrick performed better in the minor leagues than even Mike Trout.
Best Player – Howie Kendrick. He’s been one of the better major league second baseman for a decade now.
Major Leaguers: SS Brandon Wood, SS Sean Rodriguez, OF Reggie Willits, RHP Fernando Rodriguez, RHP Brandon Morrow LHP David Huff
The Story: Brandon Wood, the prospect to end all prospects. Big and tall, but defensively gifted, like the iron man Cal Ripkin Jr., but strong, strong enough to set HR records in the minor leagues. He was going to come up to the major leagues and his 30-40 HR’s a year from age 21 on. Except it didn’t happen. The Angels yoyo’d Wood between Salt Lake and Anaheim, never allowing his to get in any sort of rhythm. His confidence was shot. By the time he was actually given a chance to succeed in the majors, he had nothing left but emotional anguish. But on the bright side, he is now a coach for one the minor league affiliates for the San Diego Padres. Sean Rodriguez on the other hand has carved a nice career in the major leagues for himself. Though he’s never lived up to the hype he had when he was hitting 30 HR’s a year as a shortstop, Rodriguez has been a top clubhouse player and utility man on some very successful teams. Reggie Willits was a slap hitter who had a decent couple years in the majors. He called it quits early, and with his earnings has purchased tons of land in Oklahoma and is a rancher. Fernando Rodriguez pops up every now and then as a reliever. Brandon Morrow has always had the stuff to be at the front of a rotation or back of a bullpen, but still can’t manage to stay healthy. David Huff just had a couple starts for the Angels, the team that originally drafted him. They didn’t go well, but it’s still cool that things came full circle.
Fun Fact – I already gave them to you, Reggie Willits is a rancher, and David huff got to play for the team that originally drafted him after all.