The Los Angeles Angels have been successful in recent amateur drafts, particularly in 2009 when they selected Mike Trout, Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs, all in the first round. For a team whose farm system is often considered to be the weakest in the major leagues, it is important for the Angels to draft players with high ceilings and keep those players in the system rather than trading them away for veterans. Much like last year, the Angels made their goals for this draft very clear. They were looking for the arms their team so desperately needed. In the first ten rounds, they drafted six pitchers and only four position players. The first selected was lefty Sean Newcomb out of the University of Hartford, number fifteen in the draft overall.
Newcomb, a six-foot-five lefty, fits the definition of a power pitcher. His fastball touches ninety-seven miles per hour, while his other pitches are still developing. He posted an 8-2 record as a junior, earning American East Pitcher of the Year. In his final game of the season, he struck out a career-high fourteen batters, and his 243 career strikeouts set a Hartford record. He has the stuff to make it through the minor leagues fairly quickly and make an impact at the major league level.
In the second round, the Angels went with Joseph Gatto, a right-handed pitcher. Gatto, who attended St. Augustine Prep in Richland, New Jersey, signed with the University of North Carolina. Despite this, the hurler is purportedly taking his ninety-five mile per hour fastball to the minor leagues. In his final high school season, Gatto went 7-1 with a 0.93 ERA. Although his pitches are unpolished, the Angels believe that his athleticism and build prove that he has a high ceiling. Without experience at the collegiate level, Gatto’s climb through the minor leagues will likely be a bit slower than that of Newcomb, but the Angels are excited to watch him develop.
The Angels continued the trend in the third round when they selected Chris Ellis out of Ole Miss. The six-foot-five righty is currently fighting for a place in the College World Series after a phenomenal season. It was his first year as a starter for the Rebels, but Ellis looked anything but inexperienced. With a 10-1 record and a 2.16 ERA, Ellis was lights out in the Southeastern Conference.
Jeremy Rhoades from Illinois State was taken in the fourth round. The righty bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen this season, but the Angels are planning on letting him start. Unlike the previous pitchers, Rhoades relies on a mid-80s slider. During his junior season, he struck out ninety-five batters walked twenty-five in seventy-six and two-thirds innings.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s Jake Jewell was the final pitcher of the streak. The Junior College righty was a reliever for his team this season. He posted a 1.25 ERA in his nineteen appearances, and much of his success is thanks to his fastball, which can hit ninety-seven miles per hour. It appears as though his future is in the bullpen, but the Angels are willing to try him out as a starter.
With any luck, these arms will develop quickly and effectively, bolstering an Angel bullpen that has been weak for the past few years.