Los Angeles Angels draft: Their best late round picks
By Jon Huskey
For the Los Angeles Angels and the rest of Major League Baseball, the Amateur (Rule 4) Draft is fast approaching. Part prognostication, part statistical analyzation, and all hope- it is the annual marker of renewed hope for many.
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While much has been made of the current collection of Los Angeles Angels draft picks, there have been some great ones over the years. Troy Glaus, Mike Trout, Chuck Finley, Darin Erstad, and Howie Kendrick just to name a few. However, the Angels have made a few scores in the later rounds too. In this piece I will look at the three best picks from the 30 years of 1980 – 2010. For the list below the player had to have signed with the Angels (so, no Bo Jackson or Buster Posey) and played in the majors with thr Angels. Each player’s ranking is based on the WAR accumulated during their time playing with the Angels.
Honorable Mention: Efren Navarro. The Angels drafted Navarro in the 50th round. He managed to find substantial playing time in two seasoms. Navarro played in parts of four seasons with the Angels, mostly at first base. However, he did manage to produce above replacement level utility work for the majority of his time with the team.
The top three Angels late round picks from 1980 – 2010, from third place to first place.
No. 3 – Damion Easely – 30th rd in 1988, 1.4 WAR. Easely was a solid infielder in his time with the Angels. However, it wasn’t until he joined the Detroit Tigers that he had his best seasons. In his second season, Easely posted a 1.6 WAR while hitting .313, along with a .392 OBP. Unfortunately, the following two full seasons and part of a third did not result in similar numbers.
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No. 2 – Mark Trumbo – 18th rd in 2004, 7.4 WAR. More of a middle of the pack pick, Trumbo destroyed baseballs in Anaheim. Unfortunately, Trumbo was often a player without a consistent position. While a first baseman at best, he saw time trying to make left field and third base work. However, in the end, he was shipped off to the Arizona Diamondbacks to re-acquire a previous Angels prospect, Tyler Skaggs. Trumbo was an all-star in 2012, a season where he hit 32 HR and drove in 95 RBI. Trumbo followed it up with 34 HR and 100 RBI in 2013. It would be his last in Anaheim, departing after a 2.1 WAR season.
No. 1 – Scot Shields – 38th rd in 1997, 12.2 WAR. Shields was a reliever for most of his 12 year career. He spent all of it as an Angel, including the 2002 World Series season. Shields was a nearly automatic hold machine as the Angels primary set-up man from 2004 – 2008. However, his career was unfortunately cut short. A leg injury that required surgery in 2009 greatly affected Shields. Noted as a rubber armed pitcher, Shields did a bit of it all in his career. In 2003 he even made 13 starts to go along with 31 relief appearances. In 2005, Shields was such a critical part of the pitching staff that he went 10-11, despite not making a start in any of his 71 appearances that year.
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In conclusion, everyone knows about Mike Piazza being taken in the 62nd round. Piazza ended up a Hall of Famer. However, Shields 3.1 WAR in 2003 and his string of six straight seasons of 1.0 or better WAR (inc. four straight of 2.0 or better) is nothing to scoff at either.