Another mock draft is upon us, and it provides an opportunity to discuss team philosophies when picking players.
The Angels not only employ the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, in the outfield, and have him under contract through 2030. Their current top prospect, Jo Adell, is a consensus top-10 prospect throughout baseball and is expected in the majors very soon. The other three Angels to appear in national top-100 prospect lists are also all outfielders, too — Brandon Marsh, Jordyn Adams, and D’Shawn Knowles.
It’s natural to wonder why a team with an outfield-heavy prospect list would add yet another outfielder to the mix. But it’s also important to remember baseball isn’t like football and basketball. Drafted players, especially first-round picks in those sports, can help a team immediately, while baseball has a much longer development process. Especially for a high school player, who probably needs at least three years before being major league ready.
A lot can change, organizationally, in three years, so the usual best practice is to simply take the best player available with each pick. If Hassell or another outfielder works out to the point where the Angels would have a surplus of major league outfielders in 2023, that’s a good problem to have, especially when one of them can be traded to fill another need.
It’s worth wondering if Hassell is in fact the best player available at 10th overall. He’s not the first outfielder linked to the Angels’ first-round pick. Garrett Mitchell out of UCLA is among them, and Callis mentions Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad and Pennsylvania high schooler Austin Hendrick as possible Angels picks, too.
Both Baseball America and MLB.com call Hassell the best high school hitter in the draft. MLB.com rates Hassell 16th overall, noting, “Hassell has a pretty left-handed stroke and the hand-eye coordination to barrel balls with ease.”
“As a hitter, he’s the best I’ve seen (in high school),” opposing high school coach Chad Kirby told Tom Kreager at The Tennessean in November. “He’s a freak. He can run, hit, hit for power. He’s got the best strike zone recognition that I’ve ever seen.”
Hassell was a star for Team USA in the Under-18 World Cup in 2019, hitting .514/.548/.886 with eight extra-base hits, 14 runs, and 14 RBI in ... games. He was 2-for-4 in the championship game against Taipei and scored the winning run.
He has a college commitment to Vanderbilt.
Baseball America also rates Hassell the 16th-best draft prospect: “He brings a sound approach to the table and understands the strike zone, rarely swinging and missing no matter the stuff, using the entire field and showing an advanced ability to make adjustments.”
The Angels have four picks in the 2020 draft. The bonus slot value for their first-round pick, 10th overall, is $4,739,900.