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LA Angels: 5 crazy ‘what-if’ first-round picks that could have been

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Five of the American League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 09, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Five of the American League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 09, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Angels simply have not drafted well in recent seasons.

The Angels may be good at identifying major league talent, but in recent seasons, with the exception of Mike Trout, they have been near the bottom of the league in farm system graduations. The Angels simply have not historically been good at drafting, international free agency, or anything involving deals where they acquire minor league pieces.

Mike Trout is the crown jewel of the Angels draft history and while it was truly an amazing selection, there has not been anyone worth noting. Anthony Rendon was signed. Shohei Ohtani was signed from Japan — which doesn’t count as international free agency. Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh appear to be future impact players at the big league level. However, that’s truly all the Angels can really pride themselves on in recent seasons. It’s been years since Trout was drafted, so they cannot keep harping on that as their big accomplishment. That was 12 years ago.

The Angels have certainly passed on many players who went on to become superstars. Many other teams around the league have done exactly the same thing, but it is fair to wonder what could have been if the Angels had a good department for drafting in place.

The Angels only true superstar that they drafted is Mike Trout. That’s not great. When you look at teams who have won the World Series recently, they are kings of homegrown talent. The Dodgers had Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and more get in on the action. The Nationals had Stephen Strasburg and Juan Soto. The Astros had Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. The Red Sox even had Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts! There is a pattern to it all.

Let’s take a look at five crazy ‘what-if’ first-round draft picks the Angels could have had that turned into legitimate stars.

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