For every diamond in the rough, there is cubic zirconia that weeds his way into Major League Baseball’s amateur draft. It’s an area the Los Angeles Angels are all too familiar with.
Splurging on big-name free agents left the Angels without a first-round draft pick the last two years. Recently, names like Troy Glaus, Jered Weaver, and Mike Trout were among the first chosen; thanks in large part to former General Manager Bill Stoneman. And 2011 first rounder C.J. Cron isn’t doing badly either, hitting .295 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in this, his rookie campaign.
Not as memorable are top prospects who gassed out (and there were many). Let’s take a look at the Angels’ first-round picks who didn’t make the cut.
Brandon Wood (SS) – Selected 23rd in 2003 draft
Once ranked the No. 3 prospects in the game, Brandon Wood never lived up to lofty expectations. He received multiple accolades at the minor league level and even represented the United States on the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. Unfortunately, minor league success never translated into big league production.
In five years with the Angels, Wood hit .186 with 18 homers and 64 RBIs while carrying an on-base percentage of .197. When the Angels designated Wood for assignment, his .455 OPS was the second-worst over the past century. He was was abysmal, to say the least.
Wood’s last known whereabouts were with the Padres organization, who cut him after spring training last March. Not many major leaguers can say their careers are over at 29 years old.
Jeff Schmidt (RHP) – Selected 29th in 1992 draft
One positive about Jeff Schmidt’s MLB career is that he retired undefeated. In 1996, he went 2-0 with a 7.88 ERA in his sole season with the California Angels. That was it.
Schmidt never started a game, nor did he close one out. The wins were a byproduct of late-inning rallies.
Not much is known as to why Schmidt left baseball after one season, or why the Angels took him in the first round. What we do know is that maintains like Johnny Damon, Todd Helton, and Raul Ibanez were taken ahead of Schmidt.
John Orton (C) – Selected 25th in 1987 draft
The worst part of John Orton’s time with the Angels isn’t his .200 batting average in 156 games, or his .172/.226/.222 slash line at Anaheim Stadium. It’s that the Halos passed up on a slew of future All-Stars to get the underwhelming catcher.
Orton spent five seasons and 156 games in Anaheim-starting 131 behind the plate- getting playing time because of his defense. Much like Jeff Mathis received a majority of the playing time over Mike Napoli.
Joe Torres (LHP) – Selected 10th in 2000 draft
Over 12 after he was drafter, Joe Torres is still trying to make a major league ball club. Torres was 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA at the A- level before arm problems took a toll. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2004 and never regained his form.
Torres was ranked among MLB’s top 50 prospects prior to the 2001 season but never made it past the Double-A level, passing from team to team over the next decade. Last year, he pitched at the Independent level somewhere in the Atlantic League.