With the 2013 MLB Draft only a few weeks away (June 6 to June 8), the pressure-filled charade of teams prodding, dissecting and questioning all the athletically talented individuals that could one day be building blocks for a winning season, a dynasty, a ticket-selling machine, has certainly intensified.
And the Los Angeles Angels may be under more pressure than any team to get their draft board correct, erasing portions of doubt surrounding the organization and ownership. If they're not, however, they had better step on the gas. Procrastination at this point could lead to a whole different kind of anger coming out of Anaheim, and to Angels fans beyond.
The organization has been labeled as having one of the worst minor league systems in the MLB by MinorLeagueBall.com. And with a current major league roster that clearly needs to be re-thought and rebuilt, a shoddy crop of hopefuls in the lower ranks only further shadows the situation.
But all that can change with a few lucky picks in the 2013 draft, though this year's crop of prospects might not be sure thing type of fix for the Angels' future. This draft class has not been highly regarded. It's weak, actually.
And the Angels, who surrendered their No. 22 pick this year when they inked Josh Hamilton, will miss out on what little top-25 talent there is, landing all the way down to No. 59 in the second round.
Will that hurt the team? Who knows? The MLB draft, like any major sports draft, isn't an exact science.
However, picks have to be made. Predictions have to be conjured. And arguments over faulty crystal balls, telling an inexact future, will certainly ensue.
With my hair quaffed, a la Mel Kiper Jr., I give you five of the best available options—in my opinion—for the Los Angeles Angels with their No. 59 pick...
5. Blake Taylor, LHP, Dana Hills HS, Dana Point, CA.
Taylor is the No. 54 best-available prospect according to BaseballAmerica.com (subscribers), and he could be a good fit for the Angels—assuming he is even around when they pick 59th.
A local Orange County boy, Taylor has gotten notice from scouts with a decent fastball (88-91) that has topped at 92 mph, and a plus lefty curve.
No question, the Angels need to focus on building pitching for the future—but not too far down the proverbial road—and there are not a ton of lefties in the minor league system that stand out. Taylor, though a young, work-in-progress kind of pitcher, could be a good start towards rebuilding. If he can further develop his command, while maturing in his 6'3" 210-pound frame without the benefit of college, I would say this pick could be a nice steal.
4. Michael Lorenzen, Of/RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Lorenzen is an absolute all-around baseball player, and his No. 52 ranking on BaseballAmerica.com's prospect list (subscribers) is one of the more misleading.
Again another local-area prospect, the 2011 freshman All-American has caught the attention of scouts, both on the mound and at the plate. He has the tools to man an outfield position in the big leagues and potential at the plate to back that up offensively as well.
However, it's the easy 92 to 98 mph Lorenzen generates from the mound that has MLB teams taking notice.
I have seen scenarios where Lorenzen is projected to go as high as No. 33 to the New York Yankees. And I have doubts—serious doubts—he will slip down to No. 59 for the Angels, but eh, stranger things have happened.
If teams stay away from him because of his unpolished skills, then he could be there at No. 59. No question, it would benefit the Angels' bullpen down the road, or perhaps the outfield.
3. Rowdy Tellez, 1b, Elk Grove HS, Elk Grove, CA.
This is the first complete non-pitcher I have on my list. And after learning about the power Rowdy Tellez can produce you'll understand why.
Sweet first name aside, Tellez is a beast of an athlete—6'5" 235 lbs—that would fit nicely in the Angels' future plans at first base. The California native (Elk Grove) has caught the attention of scouts with his impressive left-handed power at the plate according to BaseballAmerica.com, Tellez cranked two long balls over the scoreboard at Blair Field in Long Beach.
And, more impressively, he has been labeled as possessing excellent bat control—keeping his bat in the hitting zone longer to minimize misses, while maximizing contact.
The knock on this guy is that he is all power, nothing else. Though he has worked on his defense, according to coast2coastprospects.com, he doesn't have the makeup to be anything other than an average infielder.
The report, interestingly enough, has Tellez likened to ex-Angles slugger, Kendrys Morales. That could be bad and good, no question.
However, understanding this is a talented individual with his health—including his knees—not in question, I wouldn't see the Angles taking a chance on him as a bad thing.
Sure, C.J. Cron is the next option at first base for the Angels. I get that. But it doesn't hurt to have competition waiting in the wings.
2. Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt
The hope here for the Angels is that Ziomek, a good-sized left-hander ranked No. 51 on baseballamerica.com's prospect list, will be a similar situation to David Price—a power lefty coming out of Vanderbilt on the way to becoming a Cy Young-type presence.
And Ziomek could be that guy,
Though his velocity is not as strong as Price's, Ziomek has gotten his fastball up around the 94 mph range, while keeping it consistent in the low-90s.
He has a good changeup, but his breaking pitches—mostly a slider—have not been rated with such positive grades.
However, he has the confidence to pitch inside to right-handed batters. From the descriptions I have seen thus far on this guy—a lanky pitcher, with an across-the-body-throwing style—I would say forget David Price...and hello left-handed version of Jered Weaver.
How does that sound?
1. Andrew Thurman, RHP, UC Irvine
If I were sitting in the think-room with general manager Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno, Andrew Thurman would be my choice thrown into the ring for the No. 59 pick. (I also liked Michael Wagner, the tough right-hander from San Diego with the first choice, but Thurman has more potential.)
The UCI right-hander has impressed scouts with a well-above-average fastball, touching 95 mph while consistently staying in the 90-92 mph range. He has a good changeup, throwing it to both sides of the plate with confidence, and his work ethic, according to baseballamerica.com, has the No. 45 best prospect moving up the charts—he has been listed as high as the No. 28 pick.
However, his breaking pitches have been documented as less-than-stellar, and it may keep him out of the first round. If that happens, then the Angels should make their best efforts to get him.
Regardless of the work-in-progress aspects of his repertoire, Thurman's upside is too impressive, especially at the 59th pick; not to mention there is an Angels connection—Jeff Malinoff, a national crosschecker for the Angels, played and was drafted out of UCI
Coincidence? Not really.
But when it comes to predicting the MLB draft, after the first 15 to 20 picks, searching for something like coincidence may just be the best strategy.
Again, who knows?
(Special thanks to Baseball America for providing the scouting report on all the prospects.)
Follow me on Twitter @rick_suter
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