Angels went with a college bat in the first round as many suggested they were likely to do. No, it wasn’t the future LF fans were pining for, nor the shortstop depth seen up and down the draft. They drafted a catcher, Taylor Ward, from Fresno State.
Ward is seen as a drastic “over-pick” by the experts, many who pegged the collegiate catcher to go in the second or even third round of the draft. The initial reaction of course is that Ward was more of a signability pick for the Angels, someone they intended to sign for a below slot bonus so that they can spend more on lower, less heralded prospects later in the draft.
As for the scouting report, Ward is seen as the best defensive catcher in the draft, which will likely please Mike Scioscia. He has a strong arm, which some believed would work better on the mound. He’s very athletic, has a tall, strong frame and lots of natural strength. However, his bat is graded by all as considerably below average with the chance for power. He hit .304 for Fresno State this last year with 7 homeruns.
It seems that the Angels are betting on Ward’s ability to develop offensively at the big league level. It seems unlikely they would willingly draft a player to be a light-hitting backup with young catchers Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy ready to handle the catching duties for the near future.
For those fans that believe this is a Scioscia-pick, you’re probably right. Ward’s scouting report is eerily similar to one of Scioscia’s favorite players Jeff Mathis