Chicago Cubs “rebuild”:
Pick #9 in 2011 – Javier Baez
Pick #6 in 2012 – Albert Almora
Pick #2 in 2013 – Kris Byrant
Pick #4 in 2014 – Kyle Schwarber
Houston Astros rebuild:
Pick #11 in 2011 - George Springer
Pick #1 in 2012 - Carlos Correa
Pick #41 in 2012 (Comp round) - Lance McCullers Jr
Pick #2 in 2015 - Alex Bregman
Those are just a few examples of the effect of picking top 10 players. Sure, no one is a guarantee - even a #1 overall pick, but selecting guys in the first 10 picks several years in a row sure is a good way to build some strong talent from within.
Let’s take a look at the Angels early picks dating back to 2009 - the Michael Nelson Trout year. These are all 1st round picks or competitive balance picks that take place before round #2.
The Angels are still paying the price for the lack of early picks in 2012 an 2013 since those players would likely be in the majors right now, but things are getting better and if you look at this list, the picks have all panned out pretty good.
2009 pick #24 - Randal Grichuk
Grichuk ended up on the Cardinals along with Peter Bourjos in exchange for David Freese and Fernaddo Salas. Since he debuted in 2014, he has a career .249/.298/.476 slashline with 48 homeruns in 1046 AB. The Angels really aren’t missing him much.
2009 pick #25 - Mike Trout
Duh. What more needs to be said about the greatest end of 1st round pick in baseball history??
2009 pick #40 - Tyler Skaggs
Skaggs took a trip to the Diamondbacks before coming back to the Angels. He has yet to pitch a full season but had a promising 18 games in 2014 before going down for TJ surgery. His healthy return in 2018 could be a key to the Angels being competative in 2018 and 2019.
2009 pick #42 - Garrett Richards
Richards, who seems to have avoided TJ surgery for now, has a questionable return date. He’s had some injury bad luck that has limited his potential but was a big part of the successful 2014 season and being healthy in 2018 could be a huge boost to the Angels.
2010 pick #18 - Kaleb Cowart
Cowart was only 18 when he was drafted with high hopes. He’s yet to show he can really hit big league pitching and is hitting just .176 in 131 AB at the big league level. He has limited power but is a great defensive player. His future at the major league level is still unknown.
2010 pick #29 - Cam Bedrosian
Bedrock has turned into a key bullpen piece for the Angels - if he can stay healthy. He finally shined bright in 2016 before going out with a blood clot. He’s one of the young bullpen keys along guys like Keynan Middleton who will be around for a few years.
2010 pick #30 - Chevy Clarke
The Angels released him in 2014 and he never made it to the big leagues before disappearing after the 2015 season
2011 pick #17 - CJ Cron
Cron had the best season of his career in 2017 and is looking to prove that last year was no fluke. He’s not a free agent until 2021 so production out of him could be key moving forward - at least until Matt Thaiss is ready.
2012 - NONE (lost pick due to Albert Pujols signing)
2013 - NONE (lost pick due to Josh Hamilton signing)
2014 pick #15 - Sean Newcomb
2015 pick #26 - Taylor Ward
Ward is presumably the catcher of the future for the Angels. Perhaps beyond the Maldanado years since his debut is a few years away.
2016 pick #16 - Matt Thaiss
Thaiss will most likely push CJ Cron out of a job by 2019 if Cron is still around. Thaiss has a good bat and glove, and can also hit for power. Going into this 2017 draft, Thaiss currently has the best hit and power tools in the system.