Angels look to draft late-round gems

Angels look to draft late-round gems

The Angels won't be involved in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft until the second round, with pick No. 74 overall. They also own choices 105, 112 and 139 in the first four rounds. Despite the lack of early activity, management won't be complaining, and neither will fans.

The signing of free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter sent the club's first round pick (No. 27 overall) along with a compensation choice (No. 31 overall) to the Twins. Hunter has shown his value on the field in a wide range of ways, helping drive the Angels to the top of the American League West.

MLB.com will carry every pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET, with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.

Several of the top amateur prospects are expected in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League clubs will be represented by front office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.

Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.

Here's a glance at what the Angels have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:

The Draft entails 50 rounds, and the Angels have been known to uncover their share of mid-to-late-round gems. The estimated slot bonus for the 27th overall pick in 2007 was about $1.2 million. The slot bonus for the 74th overall pick in 2007 was about $425,000. The Angels could spend in excess of $1 million on their second-round pick, equivalent to the bonus that a late first-rounder would command.

In about 50 words
This draft class is rich in position players, notably first basemen, catchers and middle infielders, but there are also a number of quality pitchers available from both the college and high school ranks. Left-hander Brian Matusz, the top-rated pitcher in many evaluations, was a fourth-round 2005 pick by the Angels but wouldn't move off his demand for $1.425 million and opted to go to the University of San Diego. He's a projected top-five pick. So is Florida State catcher Buster Posey, who was the Angels' 50th-round pick in that '05 draft as a right-handed pitcher.

A few Scott Boras clients could slip and might be attractive to the Angels, according to Draft pundits. These include right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer (Greensburg, Ind. HS), left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde (Lexington Catholic, Ky., HS) and third baseman Zach Wilson (Long Beach, Calif., Wilson HS). Each has expressed interest in going to college -- Meyer to Kentucky, Maronde to Florida and Wilson to Arizona State.

The scoop
Eddie Bane, Angels scouting director, has been meeting for long hours with the staff. They've composed a list of players they like, knowing many will be gone when their turn comes up at 74. "I try to tell our guys every year, we're going to do a great job -- but the guy we get first might not be our best guy," Bane said. "We like high school kids, but if a Jered Weaver [the club's 2004 No. 1 pick] is there and you think you've got a shot at signing him, you'd be crazy not to do it. We're not afraid of taking high school pitchers. We've had some luck there with guys like Nick Adenhart, Sean O'Sullivan and Jordan Walden."

Shopping list
The Angels are well-stocked in infielders, catchers and pitchers. The one area that could use an infusion of young talent is the outfield. They like to draft versatile athletes, but a power hitter wouldn't be a bad idea given the makeup of the Major League roster. With left-handed pitching in such demand, this is also an area to explore. A lot of quality college relievers are available in this Draft.

Trend watch
High school talent always has had priority with the Angels, who like to get their players at a young age and teach them their approach to the game. This holds true of pitchers and position players. With Scioscia, the game is rooted in the pitcher-catcher relationship. Big, strong pitchers with heat are always high on the list, and no manager values catching more highly than Mike Scioscia.

Recent top picks
Trevor Bell, a right-handed pitcher taken in the 2005 compensation first round (37 overall) out of Crescenta Valley (Calif.) HS, is making steady progress at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Catcher Hank Conger, the club's 2006 first-rounder out of Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS, has been stalled by a shoulder injury but is expected to debut for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga soon. He's highly regarded for his power from both sides and is improving defensively. Jon Bachanov, the 2007 first-round pick out of Orlando (Fla.) University HS, is not expected to pitch this season after undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. He has a power arm and could be a starter or closer down the road.

Rising fast
Taken in the 15th round in 2005 out of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Bradley Coon -- a left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder with speed -- has shot through the organization. At Triple-A Salt Lake this season, Coon, 25, has hit .330 with a .426 on-base percentage. Good sign: Coon is batting .448 against lefties, an indication that he is hanging in against them. The Euclid, Ohio, native had a league-high 55 steals for Class A Cedar Rapids in 2006 and spent 2007 at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas, where he batted .301 in 58 games.

Cinderella story
Southpaw starter Michael Anton, a 12th-round choice in 2007, is among the most effective pitchers in the Class A Midwest League for Cedar Rapids (6-2, 1.98 ERA, 0.98 WHIP). Anton pitched two seasons for Virginia Military Institute before his involvement in an auto accident in December 2004 set him back two years. Scout John Gracio recommended and signed him after seeing him work out in Arizona.

In The Show
The club has not had a pick from the past three Drafts reach the Majors.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.