The Angels' 2015 draft is coming up on it's one-year anniversary, and looking back on it, it's one of my favorite moments that I've been a part of on this site, albeit for dubious reasons. We all knew the Angels needed to add to the already-struggling farm system, we knew what positions could use some prospects in the pipeline, and we had a good idea of which guys the Angels might be targeting to fill those positions. We were all wrong, though.
Last year's draft was one of my favorite moments because the Angels took college catcher Taylor Ward with their first round pick, a guy who most pundits saw as a third rounder at best, and in the wake of that pic, Halos Heaven had a hilarious meltdown. I was definitely a part of that meltdown, as were most of you. They say tragedy+time=comedy and considering how, a year down the road, I can now look at that disastrous pick and laugh my head off, that formula is probably right on the money.
Let's get this straight from the get-go: I don't think any of us has a real problem with drafting Taylor Ward. Many people were taking the kinder road, saying we should be easy on the kid and see what he can do. That's perfectly reasonable advice. The problem is that not many people were bagging on Ward's talents, which are mostly on the defensive side of things. They were bagging on WHERE the Angels took the kid...not that they took the kid to begin with.
So far, Ward's playing is making the "hate the round taken, not the player" thought process look like the correct one. The positives: Ward did well at the plate and behind the plate in the Pioneer League, and quickly rose through the Low-A Burlington Bees ranks, finally landing on the High-A Inland Empire affiliate for this 2016 season. He hit a ton in all of those bottom rungs, and also showed legit defensive skills. The negatives: he's stalled out so far with the 66ers, hitting in the .230 range and he's beginning to look every bit the Jeff Mathis clone that we were all afraid of.
So sure, they drafted a guy who will probably be a serviceable big league catcher, but they used a first round pick on this guy when they should have waited. Remember when the Angels celebrated like this, after finding out a dude that, by all known accounts wasn't on any team's radars for the first couple rounds, was going to be available to them at #26 pick overall?
Yeah, that was cringeworthy. Let's move on, and when we look back at that first pick debacle, we can just laugh and laugh and laugh.
The Ward pick aside, the rest of the draft could end up being quite OK, but on some of these guys it's far too early to tell. They took an athletic, prep OF named Jahmai Jones as their second round pick, and he's already popping up on various rankings for the Halos' top prospects. He's still a teenager, though, and has only played Arizona rookie league ball so far. Hopefully the hype is real, i'll be keeping an eye on this dude.
They also got guys like David Fletcher and Grayson Long, who like Ward and Jones, find themselves among the org's top prospects only a year after getting drafted. That is a feather in their caps, no doubt, but at this point it's more of an indictment on the sad state of the Angels' farm than it is a heralding of future stars to come.
Here's last year's draft thread...seriously, I love looking back on this. It makes me love all of you guys and this community so, so much.
And here's the full draft rundown: