Angels Best 1st Round Draft Picks – The Pitchers
There is perhaps no bigger premium in baseball than pitching. The best teams have it in droves while the bottom teams struggle to put a competent staff together. While some of that success is driven by the almighty dollar, with teams paying heavily in free agency to add aces to their teams, other teams have been reliant on the MLB Draft to find and develop needed talent.
While recent drafts haven’t been especially pleasant to the Angels from a pitching perspective (outside of the 2009 draft), the team has managed to find some solid arms on draft day.
Jim Abbott – 1988 (8th Overall)
Originally selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 34th round of the 1985 MLB Draft, Jim Abbott instead opted to go to the University of Michigan. That proved to be a smart move for the lefty, as he spun three solid seasons in Ann Arbor into being a top-10 pick in 1988. In fact, he was so polished as a pitcher that he never threw a single pitch in the minor leagues before joining the Angels rotation in 1989.
Known mostly for being a Major League pitcher with only one hand, Abbott was much more than his physical ailment. As a rookie, he would go 12-12 with a 3.92 ERA, a 3.72 FIP, and a 5.7 K/9. He would be traded to the Yankees following the 1992 season in a trade that would net the Angels J.T. Snow. However, the Angels would reacquire Abbott at the 1995 trade deadline. He would spend five total seasons in California, going 54-74 with a 4.07 ERA, a 3.91 FIP, and a 5.1 K/9 for the Angels, and accrued 14.3 of his 19.7 bWAR with California.
Jered Weaver – 2004 (12th Overall)
Regardless of the fact that he pitched nine games with the Padres to end his career, Jered Weaver will essentially be considered an Angel for life. Selected with the 12th overall pick, Weaver (34.6 bWAR) trails only Justin Verlander (71.6) in terms of value out of the first round of the 2004 MLB Draft.
As for what he did for the Angels, Weaver put up a record of 150-98 with a 3.63 ERA, a 4.07 FIP, and a K/9 of 7.1. That includes three top-five finishes in the American League Cy Young voting and three All-Star appearances. In terms of franchise records, Weaver ranks second in wins, 3rd in strikeouts, and 11th among starters with 500 or more innings pitched.
Frank Tanana – 1971 (13th Overall)
Unlucky number thirteen certainly turned into a lucky pick for the Angels. Falling to the Angels with the 13th overall pick in 1971, Frank Tanana was easily the most valuable first-round pick of his draft class, being worth 57.2 bWAR over his career (Jim Rice is second, with a 47.7 bWAR). He also ranks behind only Mike Trout (72.8) in terms of value among those selected in the first round by the Angels.
Tanana spent the first eight seasons of his big league career with the California Angels, going 102-78 for the Halos between 1973 and 1980. He currently ranks 6th in wins for the Angels, 5th in strikeouts, 2nd in complete game, and 2nd in shutouts. He finished his Angels career with a 3.08 ERA, a 3.18 FIP, and a 6.9 K/9. The Angels would send him to Boston in a deal that brought back Fred Lynn, and Tanana would pitch for four other organizations, and won 240 games over his career.