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Halos add arms, more two-way talent in Draft

@RhettBollinger
June 5, 2019

ANAHEIM -- After selecting shortstops with their first two picks of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Angels put an emphasis on pitching the rest of the way, drafting 14 straight pitchers from the third to 16th rounds, and 26 pitchers out of their 40 selections overall. The three-day Draft concluded

ANAHEIM -- After selecting shortstops with their first two picks of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Angels put an emphasis on pitching the rest of the way, drafting 14 straight pitchers from the third to 16th rounds, and 26 pitchers out of their 40 selections overall.

The three-day Draft concluded on Wednesday, and it's clear the Angels also value up-the-middle position players, as they took five shortstops, four center fielders and two catchers. They also went with versatility, drafting three that they're designating as two-way players.

Angels draft shortstops Wilson, Paris on Day 1

The crown jewel of the class is shortstop Will Wilson, who was taken with the No. 15 overall pick from North Carolina State. Wilson has an advanced bat and has a high floor, but the Angels went with upside in the second round, taking 17-year-old shortstop Kyren Paris from Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif. Wilson is more of a power hitter who some scouts believe will move to second base, while Paris is a speedster with a more contact-oriented approach and is expected to stick at short.

“I think it was really balanced," Angels scouting director Matt Swanson said. "Just injecting that many pitchers into our system is a good thing. But even with the position players, obviously Will and Kyren are completely different. But we also took catchers, corner guys and up-the-middle players. We didn’t look at the 40 picks and say we needed 25 pitchers or anything like that. It’s just trying to be aware of each pick and make the best decision you can.”

The Angels went heavy on college pitchers on Day 2, as six of their eight selections came from the collegiate ranks. But the Angels are high on prep right-hander Jack Kochanowicz, who was taken in the third round with the No. 75 overall pick. Kochanowicz, from Harriton High School (Pa.), is likely to sign for over his slot value of $637,600. The Angels can save money on seventh-rounder Davis Daniel, who is coming off Tommy John surgery he had in April, and 10th rounder Chad Sykes, a fifth-year senior who had the best ERA in NCAA Division I this year.

"He's a very exciting, high-upside, high school right-hander," Swanson said [of Kochanowicz]. "He’s really big, he throws really hard, he’s athletic, he’s gonna grow into his body, and again, it’s just one of those you have to sit back and be patient with."

Halos go on pitching run on Day 2 of Draft

The Angels, who already have a slew of two-way players in their organization such as Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, Kaleb Cowart, Bo Way and William English, also selected a two-way player in the fourth round in Erik Rivera out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Additionally, they took third baseman/right-handed starting pitcher Andrew Bash from Cal Baptist University in the 30th round and two-way prep star Spencer Jones in the 31st round, but he doesn't appear likely to sign.

Rivera has power from the left side as a hitter and profiles as a right fielder, but he also has a power fastball to go with a developing curveball as a pitcher. He’s more raw as a pitcher but the Angels want to give him the chance to do both.

“Erik was on two of the national teams this summer as a hitter, and he’s been up to 95 mph on the mound as well,” Swanson said. “In some senses, it’s really valuable to get a guy who actually has a chance to do both.”

Jones is from La Costa Canyon High School near San Diego and is committed to Vanderbilt. Like Rivera, he's a left-handed pitcher and a potential outfielder with power, but he's five inches taller at 6-foot-7. He’s coming off surgery to repair a small fracture in his throwing elbow.

"Just wait and see how it all plays out," Swanson said. "He’s a very special kid with a special family and a special opportunity to go to Vanderbilt. We’ll see. You never know how things shape up. But whether it’s with us or with Vanderbilt, he’s a special kid and a special talent. He is about as legit of a two-way guy as there is."

Other intriguing picks from Day 3 included University of Miami closer Greg Veliz in the 15th round, West Virginia University center fielder Brandon White in the 17th round, Rouse High School (Texas) right-hander Jared Southard in the 20th round, Oklahoma Baptist University right-hander Shane Kelso in the 24th round, Oregon right-hander Kenyon Yovan in the 27th round and Kirkwood Community College (Iowa) center fielder Levi Usher in the 37th round. Southard, though, is the least likely to sign of that group as a University of Texas commit.

The Angels plan to be conservative with their pitchers who sign, much like last year, when only 12 of the 21 pitchers they selected saw action in the Minor Leagues last season. But Swanson said it’s not unusual, especially with college pitchers, and that it generally doesn’t set them back in terms of the speed of their development. A prominent example is right-hander Griffin Canning, who was selected by the Halos in the second round of the 2017 Draft and didn’t pitch that year in the Minors, but is already a part of the Angels’ rotation.

"It’s about being aware of each individual," Swanson said. "The group last year, I think almost all of them started at High A [this year], so it’s not necessarily that they lost time. They can take 8-to-9 months and get their base beneath them. Some of them had really big workloads in college. So I think it’s just understanding their history and where they’re at physically.”

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.