Angels Prospects: GM Billy Eppler prefers “toolsy” player in 2020 draft

What do the Angels look for when deciding who they will draft? Is it best player available, or something else?

Angels general manager Billy Eppler took some time on Friday morning to answer questions fans sent to him via Twitter, Facebook, and email. In one of his responses, he provided a hint at the type of player the organization prefers in the draft.

“With the draft we take a best-player approach, but generally we do gravitate to ‘toolsy’ players,” Eppler said, as transcribed by the Los Angeles Daily News. “We do put a premium on size, speed, strength and athleticism. You can rank in a range, but then once you get them in a range, you use separators, like the interview, the makeup, the statistics, was he in a very strong conference. All of those little elements become separators. Yes, it’s the best player available, but we have some nuance available based off things like makeup, character and injury history and so on and so forth.”

The Angels have the 10th pick in the upcoming draft, originally scheduled to be held in June, but will be pushed back until possibly July, depending on how the situation evolves around the coronavirus pandemic.

As businesses around the country have shuttered in response to the virus, amateur baseball leagues were forced to shutdown, too. The typical scouting season leading up to the draft has been completely frozen. Angels scouts unable to make their typical rounds to gain as much information as possible ahead of deciding on who is the best pick.

Last season, the Angels selected shortstop Will Wilson in the first round with the 15h overall pick. As Eppler talks about the importance of character in his recent response to a fan, Wilson impressed the Angels scouting department with intangible characteristics.

“I think sometimes what is lost in the shuffle is the makeup and character,” Angels scouting director Matt Swanson said after the Angels signed Wilson. “And this is just an awesome, awesome young man who is going to blend right in. He has a chance to move quick, but [he will] work on his own pace and just get acclimated to being an Angel and see how quickly he can move.”

Of course, Wilson was later traded to the San Francisco Giants so the team could clear Zack Cozart‘s salary off the books before the 2019 offseason. Wilson had been underwhelming in his short time in Rookie ball.

In a recent mock draft released by Baseball America, right-handed pitcher, Max Meyer, is slated to be the best player available at the tenth slot in the 2020 draft. He might not last that long, however, as scouts believe he has the “best pure stuff” in this draft class. Keith Law recently mocked him to be picked with the 6th overall pick.

The Halos are hoping the 10th pick carries some added luck, as it was the same position they used to select Jo Adell, currently one of the top prospects in baseball. After finding Mike Trout with the 25th pick they received from the Yankees for their signing of Mark Teixeira in 2009, the Angels haven’t seen one of their first round selections make a significant impact in the major leagues. They are hoping their recent crop of talent changes that.