The LA Angels and general manager Billy Eppler took part in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. They selected three players, two of which were selected in the minor league portion of the draft.
The LA Angels also lost a player during the draft. Right-handed pitcher Damien Magnifico was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, the three players they got in return will more than make up for the loss of Magnifico.
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The first two were minor league selections. Matt Ball is a right-handed pitcher out of San Diego. He was apart of the Texas Rangers’ organization prior to the Halos’ selection. He has spent five years in the minors, with 2017 being his first full year with the Rangers. In only 11 games (five starts) this season, Ball held a 5.67 ERA in Single-A. He is still just 22-years old, so there is hope for improvement. However, the former 11th round pick is a long shot to make a big league impact.
The Halos also selected shortstop Riley Unroe from the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Unroe is a switch-hitter who possesses good speed, solid fielding, and versatility the Angels like. His range and arm strength could allow them to play his at shortstop, second base, or even center field.
Unroe, also 22-years old, was drafted in the second round in 2013. He took a step back in 2017, but we have seen Eppler find gems before, and Unroe has all the abilities of a player who Eppler loves to give an opportunity.
The final Halo selection was Luke Bard. A right-handed pitcher from the Minnesota Twins organization. The former first round pick could make a big-time impact for the Angels in 2018. Bard owned a 2.76 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A while also flaunting a 13.6 strikeouts-per-nine innings. He is a little older at 27-years old, but he will be competing for a bullpen spot next year. Eppler loves guys who can strike people out, and that is exactly what Bard does.
Last year, we saw the Angels bring in Yusmeiro Petit. Then, we saw him become the Halos’ best pitcher that season. While Bard is yet to make his major league debut, he could have that kind of impact in 2018 for the Halos.