The Angels kicked off the '09 draft by addressing their longstanding, system-wide shortage of outfielders with power potential. After taking prep mashers Randal Grichuk and Mike Trout with the 24th and 25th overall picks, Eddie Bane and Co returned to their bread and butter by selecting pitchers with each of their next five picks.
Grichuk put himself on the map as a little leaguer, hitting four home runs in the junior-junior circuit's world series. He also projects to hit for average from the right side, despite some pull tendencies, so his game's not just about going deep. Defense has not been his strong point, so he'll likely be limited to left field. The front office has clearly listened to fans' demands for more power.
The Halos next pick, Mike Trout, is a potential five tool player who should stick in centerfield. According to Baseball America, he began to switch-hit recently, meaning the Halos will likely let him work out those skills in Arizona. Together, he and Grichuk form the better part of a rookie league outfield.
In the supplemental round, the Halos took prep lhsp Tyler Skaggs with the 40th overall pick, college righty Garrett Richards with the 42nd pick, and college lefty Tyler Kehrer with the 48th pick. Skaggs is a highly projectable 6'4" lefty who already throws in the low nineties. I love the pick, but it could take a lot of cash to sign him away from his commitment to Cal State Fullerton.
Minutes later the Halos nabbed Richards, a big guy who grew up in Riverside and attended the University of Oklahoma. Not only was he successful as a starter this spring, but he frequently came out of the pen in '08, and a few more times in '09, so he could move quickly as a setup man. Moreover, he's known as raw, so maybe the Angels believe there's more upside to be had as he matures.
Kehrer's another big lefty, though unlike Skaggs, he's a college guy, coming out of University of Eastern Illinois. He's had mixed results, but his stuff is solid: a low nineties fastball and an improving slider. Like Richards, he's a little rough around the edges, so the Halos must envision him taking another step forward as he refines his skills.
In the second round, the Angels selected Patrick Corbin out of Chipola JC, a left handed pitcher who features a decent fastball and a plus slider. Corbin's committed to Southern Mississippi, but the Halos have a tradition of harvesting significant talent out of Chipola, most recently in Ryan Chaffee. Tom Kotchman is likely behind what most folks will consider an overdraft, so there's every reason to be confident.
The Halos ended their evening by grabbing Joshua Spence, a high-performing college lefty out of Arizona State. He's another aussie, not overpowering, but he can put the ball where he wants it. BA had him going in the fifth or sixth round, so I didn't see that one coming.
The common threads for our last four picks are (1) they're college pitchers with some upside left; (2) they're all difficult to hit, despite three of the four's shaky command; (3) they'll likely sign at slot, or at least for reasonable amounts; and (4) they could all move very quickly as relievers. I sense a bullpen makeover on the distant horizon.