2021 MLB Draft: Angels can build towards future with these pitchers
By Brad Senecal
While Rocker and Leiter will likely be selected within the top-5 once the draft begins, it does not mean that there are not solid options to look at once the pick arrives. Last year the team added Detmers with the No.10 overall selection, potentially giving them a reliable lefty as a mid-top rotation starter for the future. Seeing as he was a 2020 pick and already knocking on the door to join the team as soon as this season, it is important to hit on this Top-10 pick as well.
The likely candidates the Angels can select withat No.9 in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Jaden Hill-LSU (No.5 MLB.com, No.14 Prospects Live)
- 2019: (2 appearances) 10.0 IP, 1.80 ERA 0.900 WHIP, 9.9 K/9
- 2020: (4 appearances) 11.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.514 WHIP, 13.1 K/9
- 2021: (4 appearances) 17.0 IP, 4.24 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
I will admit that I have been on the Jaden Hill hype train since the season has ended, and after Prospects Live dropped their latest Mock Draft that has the Angels picking the 21-year out of LSU, I am fully hoping that this lines up for the team.
While he has had a tough start in 2021 and suffered an elbow injury that cost him all but two starts in 2019, Hill is still arguably the most electric arm after Rocker in this draft. At 6’4” and over 230 pounds, Hill tosses a 65 graded fastball in the high 90s, making him an intimidating presence on the mound. Mixing up a 60 graded changeup and 55 slider, Hill has a great amount of talent but will have to show he has the durability to be a long-time big league starter.
Ryan Cusick-Wake Forest (No.33 MLB.com, No.11 Prospects Live)
- 2019: (19 appearances) 65.2 IP, 6.44 ERA 1.736 WHIP, 7.5 K/9
- 2020: (4 appearances) 22.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.836 WHIP, 17.3 K/9
- 2021: (2 appearances) 11.1 IP, 5.56 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 16.7 K/9
Another big-bodied presence on the mound, Cusick has seen mixed results since joining Wake Forest back in 2019. A hard thrower with a mid-high 90s fastball, the 21-year old has a nice mix with a slider, changeup, and curveball with 12-6 movement. The biggest area of improvement for Cusick will be improving his control, as he has struggled to keep batters off base.
"There isn’t much effort in Cusick’s delivery and his arm works well, but he has yet to provide consistent strikes. He averaged 4.8 walks per nine innings in his first two college seasons and will have to be more efficient to succeed as a starter at higher levels."
Cusick may be a guy who could fall in the draft. While he would be a solid option for the Angels to look at with the No.9 pick, his development may be longer than others on this list.
Ty Madden-University of Texas (No.10 MLB.com, No.35 Prospects Live)
- 2019: (15 appearances) 42.1 IP, 3.40 ERA 1.465 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
- 2020: (4 appearances) 25.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.880 WHIP, 9.4 K/9
- 2021: (4 appearances) 20.0 IP, 1.33 ERA, 0.704 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
Another guy with a solid fastball-slider mix (both graded out at 60), Madden is an intriguing pick at No.9 for the Angels. Improvement has been important for the Texas right-hander as he improved in his small 2020 sample from his freshman season. So far this season leading to the draft, Madden has pitched well and shown the ability to keep guys off base.
Velocity and control are two of the most important pitching areas, and Madden has made this a focus throughout his collegiate career.
"Madden has added 35 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame in college and the extra strength has helped him not only to improve his pitches but also to repeat his sound delivery more consistently. He walked just four batters in four starts last spring and scouts love the way he attacks hitters. If he can maintain the stuff he showed during the summer and fall, he can become a frontline starter."
Out of this group of players, the Angels and GM Perry Minasian should be over the moon if they can select either Hill or Madden in the first round. While the collegiate season is still early on and 2020 was a small sample size, both players have flashed their ace-potential repertoires and could help the Angels as soon as late 2022, early 2023.