Wondering What Could Have Been
Since 1965, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of players have been selected in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft. Sometimes, a team hits a home run (Mike Trout, anyone), and selects a future stud who makes an impact at the Major League level almost immediately. Sometimes, a first round pick turns out to be worth less than the paper his contract was printed on (I’m looking at you, Brandon Wood). Sometimes, a future Hall-Of-Famer is selected in a ludicrously late round (Albert Pujols, Mike Piazza). But there are numerous occasions where a team will draft a player and, for what ever reason (be it signability, said player prefers to go to school, issue with physical examination), the player selected, doesn’t sign with the team that selects him. I would look up how often this has actually happened, but I don’t have that much caffeine at my disposal.
Most players who get drafted, are drafted solely because they are not terrible at baseball. They spend their entire professional careers on buses in Minor League cities milking cows before the game for the local charity supporting the neighborhood Fire Department. Another use for these young players, is to treat them as if they were currency. Only two things matter when teams deal among themselves, money, and talent. If you have one or the other, you’re in business, and rarely is a player deemed “untouchable” by the club that drafts him.
So as I was dragging myself through this incredibly humid east coast day, I thought to myself; “Self. This season has been pretty uninspiring, hasn’t it?” To which I replied: “Yeah. It certainly has been.” (Most of my conversations are with a five year old child who thinks that both the Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles actually exist. Some of my best conversations are, in fact, the ones that I have with myself. Don’t judge me) But as I pondered what I had asked myself, I started to think about players that have gotten away from the Angels in recent years, and what might have been had the Angels been able to hold onto these players. So, here are four players that the Angels either failed to sign after drafting, or have traded away in recent years. You be the judge as to whether or not this team could have used them.
Skaggs would be nice to have down on the farm, mostly for depth reasons. But I would have him above Garrett Richards on the depth chart. He didn’t set the world on fire in his call up in 2012, but his only big league start this season showed off the kind of talent that made him the 40th overall pick in 2009.
Before being the fifth overall pick in 2008, he was the Angels 50th round selection in 2005. Which is kind of like saying “Hey, Buster. We see you.” With a Rookie of the Year award and an MVP award under his belt, he’s living up to his billing as being the “Best catcher available” before the 2008 draft. I love Chris Iannetta and his plate discipline, but, yeah, I wouldn’t put him above Posey on my dream team. I guess the Angels will have to live with taking Trevor Bell with the 37th overall pick that year.
Late last season, I had posed the question on Twitter to some friends asking them what pitcher I should take a flyer on in the closing weeks of the 2012 season. Matt Harvey was the unanimous answer. The seventh overall pick by the Mets in 2010 was the Angels third round pick in 2007. Harvey opted to go to college. His comps so far amongst former Met pitchers? Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver.
Not only does this one hurt, because he is dominating everyone right now, but he was a part of the same trade that sent Tyler Skaggs to Arizona. He never got a chance in the Angels system to get above High-A, but he wasn’t this dominant at the lower levels either. But his presence along with Skaggs’ would have made players like Joe Blanton unnecessary.
It’s hard to imagine what this team would look like with Harvey and Posey in the fold. They never had a chance with Buster by selecting him in the 50th round. They had a decent shot at Harvey, but I can understand going to school instead. But you can absolutely picture how this pitching rotation shapes up if the trade for Dan Haren never happens. And all of this can only mean one thing. And that is, that once again, everything is Tony Reagins’ fault. Everything.