ANAHEIM -- Roughly 25 Angels amateur scouts have looked closely at nearly 1,000 of the players who are eligible for Monday's First-Year Player Draft. That evaluation process began with follow lists a couple of years ago, grew more intense over this past summer, fall and spring, and finished over the weekend, just before pre-Draft meetings were held near Angel Stadium earlier this week. Now, at last, the Angels are ready to draft.
But first, they'll have to wait.
Due to the compensation picks surrendered via the Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson signings over the winter, the Angels won't have a selection in either of the first two rounds of the 2012 Draft. Their first pick won't come until No. 114, in the third round.
"We've had to approach it a lot differently," said Angels scouting director Ric Wilson, who's conducting his second Draft with the Angels. "That's a lot of picks; that's a lot of players. We didn't really go out and see those higher guys that we weren't going to get, so what I tried to do was just get everybody to spread out and just sit down and see as many guys as they can see, and really concentrate on the guys that we had a chance to get rather than going out and seeing the guys we have no chance to get."
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 3 p.m. PT on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players.
You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following@MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
The Angels head into this Draft with a brand-new front office under first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto, who brought Scott Servais over from the Rangers to be his assistant GM in charge of scouting and player development.
This team has a lot of money tied up in very few players -- mostly Pujols, Wilson, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter -- which only makes finding cheap young talent even more important. It's on teams like this when the 0-to-3 service-time guys -- like Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo and Jordan Walden -- are especially valuable.
Though the Angels have the fourth-highest payroll in baseball, nine of their 13 active position players were groomed in their own farm system.
That's something they take great pride in.
"It's always a good feeling when they can come from your own system, for a number of reasons," Wilson said. "And not only guys in the big leagues; guys that you've been able to trade for and get quality impact players at the Major League level. I think that's what it's all about, is just creating some options for Jerry and letting him do whatever he needs to do. But you have to have the bullets to do it."
Here's a glance at what the Angels have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
Due to the compensation picks surrendered with the December signings of Pujols and Wilson, the Angels don't draft until the third round (pick No. 114). That will make it difficult to add premium young talent to a system that came into the season ranked 19th in the Majors by Baseball America.
Not having a pick until so late in the Draft "isn't more work," Ric Wilson says. "It's just a different kind of work."
"When you start getting down to where we're picking, that is a huge pool of players, and that's a lot of where the players are coming from," he said. "But they're so similar, and there's so many of them, sometimes it's hard to even know where to go."
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Wilson, like most scouting directors, will say you don't draft based on need.
Well, not always.
"It depends on where you are in the Draft," Wilson said. "Obviously you want to get the best player available, and we try to stick to that as much as we can. ... But the drafting for need comes a little bit later on in the Draft."
With Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar locked up long term, and top prospect Jean Segura seemingly without a role in the organization, the Angels aren't really in need of middle infielders. With Pujols signed for the next 10 years, and C.J. Cron their first selection last year, they're probably good on first base. And with Bourjos, Trumbo and Mike Trout looking like their outfield of the future, there may not be a desperate need there, either.
But the Angels, like most organizations in baseball, need to improve at catcher -- "You're always looking for catchers, just because they're so hard to find," Wilson said -- and, of course, want to accrue as many pitchers as possible.
But Wilson won't force it.
"We're not looking for anything specifically," he said. "We're just looking for the best player we can get. The philosophy is we're going to take guys that create depth in our system, and hopefully a couple of them will become impact players in a couple years."
In Wilson's first Draft, seven of the first 12 picks were pitchers, which is common for most clubs.
As for this year's crop, Wilson notices less quality left-handed pitching, but other than that, pretty good balance.
"There's always a ton of pitching, just because there's just a ton of right-handed pitching," Wilson said. "It's a pretty good blend. There's a few catchers, there's a few shortstops that are Major League-caliber shortstops, there's some center fielders that can really run. So there's some premium positions. There's some nice power guys out there, as well."
Recent Draft History Rising fast
Right-hander Garrett Richards, the Angels' No. 2-ranked prospect going into the season, has jumped a level every year since being a sandwich pick in 2009. He went 12-2 with a 3.15 ERA in his only season of Double-A last year, which also saw him register 14 innings in the big leagues. This year, the 24-year-old went 5-2 with a 4.31 ERA in his first 10 Triple-A starts before being called up to the Majors to take the rotation spot of Weaver (lower back) on Tuesday.
Angels' recent top picks
Class A+ Inland Empire
Class A Cedar Rapids
Class A+ Inland Empire
White Sox (Class A)
Triple-A Salt Lake
Outfielder Kole Calhoun spent four years of college before getting drafted, in the eighth round in 2010, but has gone from Class A to the Major Leagues in one year. The 24-year-old, generously listed at 5-foot-10, was the Angels' Minor League Player of the Year after lighting it up at Class A Advanced Inland Empire last season. Then, after impressing in Spring Training, and 43 games in Triple-A, the lefty-hitting Calhoun was called up on May 21 to help an Angels team that desperately needed outfielders.
In The Show
Trout, the No. 25 overall selection in 2009, is doing things a 20-year-old really shouldn't in the Majors. Since being called up for a second straight year on April 28, Trout has provided a badly needed spark at the top of the Angels' lineup, showing the blend of power, speed, defense and plate discipline that made him baseball's third-ranked prospect heading into the season. With a .303/.366/.521 slash line, to go along with five homers and eight steals in his first 30 games, he's making a strong case for the American League Rookie of the Year Award.