For the Los Angeles Angels, and all of baseball, the Amateur Draft looms near on the horizon. The Angels have the number ten overall pick in the 2017 draft. That is the highest they have picked since the 2000 draft, when they took high school pitcher, Joe Torres. While the team has had some real good picks and some real busts since then, they will be looking to seize on the chance to improve a bottom-of-the-list minor league system with players who will help to elevate their status.
The Los Angeles Angels have previously picked in the top ten of the first round 20 times since 1965. In that time they have had the number one overall pick twice. First, in 1975 with catcher Danny Goodwin. Twenty years later, in 1995 they again had the first pick, taking outfielder Darin Erstad. In between and since then, the Angels have made picks that have panned out and picks that haven’t. For this article, we will look the best and worst of players who the Angels drafted in the top ten.
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The first time the Angels picked in the top ten was their second season, 1966. They took shortstop Jim DeNeff. DeNeff never made it to the majors, playing six years in the minors. The first Angels top ten pick to sign with the team and make it to the bigs was 1970, tenth overall pick Paul Dade. The third baseman had sparring play in two MLB seasons with the Angels before moving on as a journeyman. They say its always darkest before the dawn- to that end, we start at the bottom.
The Top 5 Worst
5. Bob Kipper (1982 – 8th overall.) Kipper pitched exactly 3.1 innings for the Angels in 1985. He was then traded in-season to the Pirates in a deal that included players you likely haven’t heard of and pitcher John Candelaria. Kipper went on to pitch 7 more seasons, mostly for the Pirates. He would have a few good seasons of relief pitching, sandwiched between some mediocre ones. Candelaria pitched parts of three seasons for the Los Angeles Angels.
4. McKay Christensen (1994 – 6th overall.) The Angels drafted the outfielder despite his commitment to fullfill a Mormon mission after high school. Christensen never played for the Angels. Christensen was traded to the White Sox for Tim Fortugno and a returning Jim Abbott. Christensen had a brief career in the major leagues. The outfielder retired at just 28 years old.
3. Erik Pappas (1984 – 6th overall.) Pappas was a catcher who just never really caught on. Pappas never rose above AA with the Angels. In 1988, the Cubs drafted Pappas from the Angels. Pappas did play parts of several seasons with a few teams, but the sixth overall pick did not even play in a full seasons worth of games for his career. He has stayed in baseball as a coach, recently with the Cardinals.
2. Pete Janicki (1992 – 8th overall.) In six seasons of minor league ball, Janicki managed a 19-36 W-L record and 6.25 ERA. The pitcher had just one stop in his careee where he turned in a winning record (at High A ball.) The rest of Janicki’s career was a wreck and he stopped pitching after the 1998 season.
1. Danny Goodwin (1975- 1st overall.) It’s hard to argue against a first overall pick that had a major league career line of .236 AVG, 13 HR, and 81 RBI in parts of 7 MLB seasons. Goodwin’s selection as a first overall player makes this an easy choice.
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While much of drafting players is attempting to predict the future based on past experiences and how the team anticipates a player will continue to develop once they join the team, they do strike gold at times.
The Top 5 Best
5. Ken Landreaux (1976 – 6th overall.) Landreaux was better known as a speedy outfielder with some pop while playing with the neighboring Los Angeles Dodgers. After just two years playing with the Angels, he was traded to the Twins, where he made the only All-Star appearance of his career. Landreaux does have the distinction of being one of the four players sent to Minnesota for future Hall of Famer, Rod Carew.
4. Richard Dotson (1977 – 7th overall.) Dotson never played in the bigs for the Angels. However, he was involved in another big Los Angeles Angels trade, going to the White Sox along with Bobby Bonds, for a future halo fan favorite, Brian Downing. In an interesting twist, Dotson made his major league debut at just 20 years old, pitching in Anaheim against the Angels. While his overall career numbers are middle/end of the rotation caliber, he did place in top ten for ROY and in 1983 CY (as well as a top 20 MVP finish.) His 1983 season would be his peak, going 22-7 with a 3.23 ERA. Dotson’s career, like Landreaux’s, ended at a rather young age (32 and 31, respectively.)
3. Jim Abbott (1988 – 8th overall.) The Angels drafted Abbott in 1988. At the time he was already a decorated amateur player. Where many outside of Angels fandom might remember the left handed pitcher for being born without a right hand, he was quite a capable pitcher by any measure. Abbott never played in an all-star game, however, he did have a top 5 ROY finish to go along with a top 3 CY finish in 1991. Abbott followed up his 18-11 season with one of the unluckiest in Angels baseball. For the 1992 season, Abbott went 7-15 with a 2.77 ERA (and 5.8 WAR.) While the remainder of his career was not as exciting as his 1991-92 seasons, he did throw a no-hitter in 1993 while playing for the Yankees.
2. Darin Erstad (1995 – 1st overall.) The second (and so far last) time that the Los Angeles Angels had the first overall pick in the draft went much better for the team. A career .282 hitter and owner of nearly 1,700 hits, most of those came with the Angels. Erstad is also one of two Angels on this list to feature prominently on their 2002 Championship team. The two-time all-star also had one of the better hitting seasons in Angels history in 2000, hitting .355 while leading the league in hits, plate appearances, and at-bats. Along with 39 doubles, 6 triples, 25 home runs, 100 runs batted in, 28 stolen bases, and 121 runs scored, Erstad helped etch his name in Angels lore by catching the final out in the 2002 Wold Series. Additionaly, Erstad was a three time gold glove winner in his Angels career.
1. Troy Glaus (1997 – 3rd overall.) Glaus was a huge part of the Angels early 00’s performance, launching moon shots into the rocks behind center while manning the hot corner. Taken two years after Erstad, he too would have his best offensive season in 2000. Glaus led the league with 47 HR while also managing a .284 AVG and 112 R. Glaus even had double digit speed early in his career, before back problems began to sideline him. Also a member of the 2002 Championship, Glaus would make three All-Star teams and earn two Silver Slugger awards with the team. Glaus was yet another high Los Angeles Angels draft pick who headed to early retirement, leaving the game after his age 33 season.
The Los Angeles Angels have some recent history on their side as they head into the 2017 draft. Glaus and Erstad were very strong players in their careers. However, their most recent selection (2000) failed to reach the major leagues. Currently, the Angels are in need of front of the rotation type starting pitchers. The Angels have some very good options that will hopefully be available to them on draft day.