Angels target high school talent in Draft
Team prefers to mold prospects at a young age
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' draft philosophy is no mystery. They prefer drafting high school talent over collegians, and that's not about to change any time soon.If a Jered Weaver falls in their lap from Long Beach State, as in 2004, they'll welcome him with open arms. But the blueprint is to draft teens and mold and shape them into the Angels' way of playing the game. "We go after high school kids more than anybody else," Eddie Bane, director of scouting, said. "The trend, unfortunately, is coming around to us. The Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals are drafting high school kids." The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 2 p.m. ET, and MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round Draft, start to finish. Having surrendered their first-round pick to Texas as compensation for signing free agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., the Angels have their first choice this year at No. 58, a sandwich pick. Their second selection will arrive with the 119th pick in the draft. The team prefers to target high school players over college players for the simple fact the organization has longer to work with them than collegians before they reach the Major Leagues. Sizing up the 2007 field of prospects, Bane sees a draft rich in pitching. "There's more left-handed pitching than usual at both the high school and college levels," Bane said. "It's a good draft for arms. If we're ever going to get a left-handed pitcher, it looks like this could be the year." About the only guarantee he'll make is that the Angels won't be taking a catcher with their top pick after selecting Hyun Choi "Hank" Conger, a receiver from nearby Huntington Beach High School, with their No. 1 choice last year. A look at the past three top selections by the Angels:
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Hank Conger, C, 25th overall pick: Named after Hank Aaron by a grandfather from Georgia who couldn't pronounce his given Korean name, Conger, 19, has impressed the organization with his skills and his attitude at Class A Cedar Rapids this year after hitting .313 in 19 games of rookie ball last summer.
Trevor Bell, RHP, 37th overall pick: Still maturing physically and athletically, Bell was highly touted as a prepster, going 8-3 with a 1.13 ERA in his senior year of high school in high-level competition. In his first four starts this season at Cedar Rapids, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander was 0-2 with a 4.24 ERA, walking three while striking out 12 in 17 innings. At Orem in rookie ball last year, he was 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA. His command was a plus, reflected by only 15 walks to go with 53 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. Bell played outfield in high school and hit a school-record 26 home runs from the left side.
Jered Weaver, RHP, 12th overall pick: Weaver, 24, is back on track after a spring setback caused by biceps tendinitis. He was 4-3 with a 3.68 ERA entering his start against the Mariners on Wednesday night, having gone 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his previous six outings, covering 36 1/3 innings.
An eighth-round pick from Magruder High School in Rockville, Md., Sweeney has made an impression at Cedar Rapids, hitting .279 with a .408 slugging percentage. Sweeney, who turned 19 on April 4, is a left-handed hitter with developing power, and he's filling out his 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame. He's looking to smooth over some rough edges defensively, having committed 12 errors in 40 games at third. Cinderella story: OF Chris Pettit
Taken in the 19th round from Loyola Marymount University last summer, Pettit has been a standout for Cedar Rapids in every respect. "He's been terrific not only as a player, but as a leader," Bane said. "He's really come on." Right-handed all the way at six-foot and 190 pounds, Pettit's batting .361 (.596 slugging, .427 on-base) with power and speed. He hit .336 in 68 games of rookie ball for Orem after signing last year. In the show: Weaver has become a fixture in the rotation in his second Major League season. No other member of the past three draft classes has reached the big time.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.