From '23 Draft to Majors: Angels' Schanuel has wild debut

First baseman scores on Ohtani's slam, turns unassisted DP, finishes rare triple play

August 19th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- ’s rapid ascent through the Minor Leagues is complete after just 21 games.

Less than six weeks after selecting Schanuel with the No. 11 pick in the 2023 Draft, the Angels called up the left-handed first baseman. The 21-year-old was slotted into Friday night's lineup against the Rays at the leadoff position, batting ahead of Shohei Ohtani, and went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and one walk.

“I found out [Thursday night],” Schanuel said from the Angels dugout. “Wasn’t expecting it. I moved pretty quickly to Double-A. Just played the game I love and played it how I was taught to play. I didn’t change anything from what I was doing six months ago in college [at Florida Atlantic University].”

The rookie had an eventful first game, converting an unassisted double play in the second before walking in his second plate appearance and scoring on Ohtani's grand slam. Schanuel also alertly finished off a rare 6-4-3-2 triple play in the ninth inning of the Angels' 9-6 loss in 10 innings.

“I wouldn’t even say I remember my first at-bat,” Schanuel said with a laugh. “I kind of blacked out. After the double play, the line drive, I snapped out of it and came down to earth. After that it felt normal.”

Schanuel said he didn’t sleep at all Thursday night but did sleep on the flight to Southern California. That was after he made some calls.

“I called my mom, woke her up and she was like, ‘All right, stop messing with me,’" Schanuel said. “My friends were like, ‘Come on, dude, you just got drafted six weeks ago. What are you talking about?’ Took them a little convincing.”

But there he was, rounding the bases with Ohtani behind him after Ohtani’s grand slam in the second inning.

“That was amazing. Just to be able to see a ball hit like that from Shohei,” Schaunel said. “That was insane. Watching it go over my head into the stands was even better.”

Schanuel is the first player from the '23 Draft to make his MLB debut. His 21 Minor League games are the fewest by any player before a merit-based promotion to the big leagues since 2003, when the Brewers’ Rickie Weeks played in the same number of games prior to his callup.

The second spot on that list was formerly held by another Angel, infielder Zach Neto, a 2022 draftee who arrived in the Majors earlier this year following only 44 games in the Minors.

Schanuel is the 11th player in the past 20 years to be called up the same year he was drafted. The list includes All-Stars Ryan Zimmerman (debuted in 2005), Andrew Miller (2006) and Chris Sale (2010).

“It’s amazing. It’s my first time I’ve been to Angel [Stadium],” Schanuel said. “I’m from Florida, so this is a total different side of the country. This is huge. I saw Mike Trout in the locker room. I grew up looking up to him. It’s awesome to see everybody.”

His debut, which coincided with C.J. Cron going on the injured list with lower back inflammation, marked Schanuel’s first time playing in a Major League stadium.

“The first thing is I don’t want this to be he’s coming here as our savior,” manager Phil Nevin said. “This is our best option with Crony going down for a bit, [with] what he’s done in a short time and what he’s done his entire career. And it doesn’t matter where you’re hitting -- the numbers he’s put up as far as getting on base and making contact, we feel this is our best option to play first base.”

Schanuel played at three levels in the Angels’ system, advancing from Rookie-level ball to Single-A to Double-A before the end of July. He posted a .339/.480/.475 slash line with 16 walks in 16 games for the Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas. He registered one home run and 12 RBIs while striking out just nine times.

The Angels’ No. 2 prospect, Schanuel entered the Draft as one of the most polished hitters in the class. He turned in a dominant junior season at FAU, where he recorded an eye-popping .447/.615/.868 slash line. Those numbers were achieved across 197 at-bats and ranked second, first and second, respectively, in NCAA Division I.

The lefty also had more homers (19) than strikeouts (14) last season for the Owls, and his 71 walks were tied with No. 2 overall Draft pick Dylan Crews for the most in the nation.

“Nolan is playing really well and he’s been very productive since he’s been drafted,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “He’s done it in Double-A against good competition. Hit righties. Hit lefties. Hit velocity. One, we feel like he can handle it. Two, the experience will be great for him, similar to what we’ve done with some of our other young players.”