The Los Angeles Angels have had a rough run of it lately in regards to the MLB Draft. Big spending in free agency has cost the Angels their first round pick in each year since 2011 and the farm system has bear the brunt of that, drying up in recent seasons.
However, the draft has not also been unkind to the Angels. In particular, the 2009 draft was perhaps one of the best draft classes of the decade, as tweeted by Peter Gammons.
Angels getting Grichuck, Trout, Skaggs, Richards, Corbin in 1st 2 round in 2009 best draft of the best decade
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) June 5, 2014
With that in mind, I decided to dig a bit deeper to remind fans why that class was so fruitful for the Angels. In fact, you could almost say the recent draft drought has been a karmic balance due to a shift in team philosophies.
You see, the Angels had five(!) first round picks in the 2009 draft, all via the compensation system that has cost them their own picks in recent seasons.
During the 2008/2009 offseason, the Angels lost three significant players to free agency, including first baseman Mark Texeira (New York Yankees), closer Francisco Rodriguez (New York Mets), and starter Jon Garland(Arizona Diamondbacks). They received two picks each for Texeira and Rodriguez, and a supplemental pick for Garland. What they parlayed those picks into was a tremendous draft haul.
See if you recognize a few of these names:
[table id=1 /]
Of course, both Mike Trout and Garrett Richards were born and bred in the Angels farm system and have become huge contributors to the current ballclub, with the former being perhaps the best all-around player in the game. However, the other members of this first round class also played significant roles for the team, both past and present.
Tyler Skaggs has returned to the Angels and has been a solid member of the starting staff during his first full season in the bigs with a 4-3 record, a 4.14 ERA, a 3.61 FIP, and a 6.8 K/9 ratio. However, before his 2014 return, he and 2009 second-rounder Patrick Corbin were part of a major trade for the Angels, being sent as part of a package to the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline in 2010. That trade netted the Angels starter Dan Haren, who two and a half solid seasons atop the Angels rotation, posting a 33-27 record, a 3.52 ERA, and a 7.2 K/9 ratio in 79 appearances for the Halos from 2010-2012.
The 22-year-old Grichuk never made it to the Major Leagues with the Angels but was making some solid headway in the Angels system prior to this winter. Unfortunately, he was included in what has become a very lopsided trade with the St. Louis Cardinals that also sent outfielder Peter Bourjos to St. Louis for third baseman David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas.
Salas has been exceptional out of the bullpen, posting a 3-0 record with a 3.13 ERA and a 9.8 K/9 ratio in 24 appearances, but Freese has continued his slide into mediocrity. The third baseman, missed a huge chunk of time with a fractured finger that cost him most of May, but has been ineffective when on the field, slashing just .222/.294/.294 with 2 home runs and 15 RBI through his first 153 plate appearances.
The final member of that first round class, Tyler Kehrer, wasn’t nearly as lucky as his predecessors in the round. The hard-throwing lefty spent four years in the Angels system, and could never exceeded High-A due to consistencies with the strike zone (career 5.8 BB/9 ratio). His 2011 conversion to a reliever didn’t correct any issues and he ultimately retired from the game after the 2012 season.
That all said, the Angels were able to parlay two very high priced, and perhaps over-rated, veterans in Rodriguez and Texeira into three solid contributors, a two-plus year rental on a veteran ace, and a big trade chip this past winter. All and all, it was a strategy that worked well for the team and set them up with some solid, cost-controlled talent for the future.