Day one of the First-Year Player Draft, from a casual fan’s point of view, couldn’t have gone much better for the Angels.
In the first round, they landed a couple of high school kids who can mash. Randal Grichuk, from deep in the heart of Texas, and Mike Trout, a Jersey kid, could be the Tim Salmon (that would be Trout, naturally) and Garret Anderson of the next generation.
In conference calls, these fresh-faced youngsters sounded optimistic and upbeat and thrilled on one of the biggest days of their lives. Ah, to be a teen with a whole world of possibilities.
Nobody knows where their destinies will take them. That’s the thing about the MLB Draft — it takes years to get the final word. But it certainly will be a lot of fun following the paths of these kids.
Trout is a center fielder and an athlete, a basketball and football player. Grichuk — pronounced Gri-chick — is a born hitter. Here’s to good health and long, productive careers for both.
As a proud Santa Monica High School alum, I was thrilled with the Angels’ first compensation pick, southpaw Tyler Skaggs. A fellow Viking, he’s tall and gifted and I will chart his progress closely.
After right-hander Garrett Richards from Oklahoma — he’ll be buddies with Reggie Willits in no time — the Angels went on a run of southpaws, loading up in an area of need. Of course, I have to be a little partial to third-round pick Joshua Spence, an native of the wonderful land of Australia. You never can have too many Spences on the scene.
Eddie Bane, the Angels’ scouting director, is immensely respected in the game for his ability to not only identify talent but to believe in the judgments of his area scouts.
Nobody can look into the future, but something tells me this someday will be remembered as one of the greatest drafts in franchise history. If I’m wrong, you’ll have to look me up in four or five years to find me and tell me how dead wrong I was..
The Angels welcomed two of their best and most popular pitchers in franchise history — Jim Abbott and Mark Langston — to camp on Monday, to interact with the younger athletes and enrich them with the club’s rich tradition.
“These guys were terrific pitchers,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Even more, they’re terrific people. We’re excited to have them interact with our pitchers, especially the young pitchers. Sometimes a pitcher thinks he’s on an island; that’s not the case. It’s great to have those guys here.”
Scioscia said another great Angels lefty, Chuck Finley, will make an appearance along with Tim Salmon and Bobby Grich. Don Baylor, who spent time with the team last spring, is busy in his new role as a coach for the Rockies.
Scioscia, who spent his Dodgers youth getting to know legends such as Roy Campanella, John Roseboro and Sandy Koufax at Dodgertown, has been trying to connect his players with those who preceded them in the Angels’ colorful tradition.
Joe Saunders, who emerged as an All-Star last season after battling Ervin Santana for a spot in the rotation in the spring, is the latest in a long line of superb — and occasionally eccentric — Angels southpaw starters. It all began with the inimitable Bo Belinski of no-hit and extracurricular fame, followed by the superb Clyde Wright and remarkably gifted Frank Tanana.
Few teams in history have had a better trio of lefties in the same rotation than Abbott, Finley and Langston from 1990-92. They were a combined 55-28 in ’91 — Langston winning 19, Finley and Abbott 18 apiece — for a club that finished 81-81.