Angels' system gets more athletic through Draft

Angels' system gets more athletic through Draft

ANAHEIM -- The Angels' 2016 Draft began with four high school players in their first six picks and ended with collegiate seniors in each of their last nine. They took 25 position players and 15 pitchers. And as a whole, the Angels believe their farm system -- the consensus worst in the industry -- got a little bit more athletic.

"What we were trying to do is get athletes in the system, get guys that have good plate discipline, guys that could miss bats," Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said after wrapping up the three-day event on Saturday. "That's what our goal was. We got an abundance of guys who can run. We got a lot of speed, got a lot of athleticism. That's kind of the direction we're heading. We'd like to fill the system up with a whole bunch of them."

The Angels began the Draft by using their first-round pick on a dynamic offensive player in Matt Thaiss, the University of Virginia catcher who will probably play elsewhere, then selected athletic high school outfielder Brandon Marsh in Round 2.

16th overall: Matt Thaiss
60th overall: Brandon Marsh
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Day 2 included another high school athlete (Nolan Williams), two prep right-handers (Chris Rodriguez and Cole Duensing), two defensive-minded collegiate players (shortstop Connor Justus and catcher Michael Barash), a speedy center fielder (Troy Montgomery), an offensive-minded second baseman (Jordan Zimmerman) and a strike-throwing reliever (Andrew Vinson).

Day 3 was highlighted by the selection of Torii Hunter Jr., son of beloved former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, in Round 23. Ten rounds earlier, the Angels took another high-upside chance with high school pitcher Anthony Molina, an 18-year-old with a live arm and something of a checkered past.

Angels draft CF Hunter Jr.

Molina, profiled in Jeff Passan's book "The Arm," was throwing 95-96 mph as a 16-year-old. But he has since been kicked out of school for possession of marijuana and then, in a separate incident, charged with aggravated battery, though charges for the latter were eventually dropped.

He graduated from West Broward High School in South Florida and now throws 89-94 mph, but Wilson said Molina has "a lot of indicators that he's going to throw harder, and that's kind of what we're banking on."

As for his makeup?

"We did a lot of background," Wilson said. "I know there were some questions on some things, but we vet these guys pretty good. Sometimes, when you're a 17- or 18-year-old kid, you don't always do the right thing. But we felt comfortable once we got to know him a little bit."

Angels on Day 1 Draft picks

The Angels began Day 3 by drafting center fielder Brennon Lund, a three-year starter at Brigham Young University who hits well and runs hard. They followed with Georgia pitcher Bo Tucker, a 6-foot-3 left-hander who had a 3.71 ERA as a sophomore, in Round 12.

Along the way, they also picked up an 18-year-old outfielder from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Francisco Del Valle), an offensive-minded Junior College shortstop (Keith Grieshaber), two University of Arizona seniors (outfielder Zach Gibbons and shortstop Cody Ramer) and a Hawaiian-born right fielder (LJ Kalawaia). In the 30th round, they found high school right-hander Robbie Peto, who stands at 6-foot-4 and may eventually grow into some velocity.

The goal was to consistently find players who have at least one tool that can translate to the big leagues.

"This was a good start this year," Wilson said. "We'll keep building on it."

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.