Angels' all-pitchers Draft (20!) sets record

July 13th, 2021

The Angels did something unprecedented over the past three days, as they went 20-for-20 in selecting pitchers in this year’s 20-round MLB Draft, going with 19 college arms and one prep hurler. No other club has selected only pitchers in an MLB Draft, outside of the Marlins picking five in the shortened 2020 Draft. The previous record for the most pitchers taken in the first 20 rounds of a Draft was 18 by the Braves in '15. Additionally, Cleveland took 19 pitchers this year with its 21 picks.

The Draft -- the Angels’ first under general manager Perry Minasian -- wrapped up on Tuesday with Rounds 11-20 after Los Angeles selected Miami of Ohio right-hander Sam Bachman with the No. 9 overall pick on Sunday and southpaw Ky Bush among its nine picks on Monday. And while it was certainly a surprise to see the Halos not select any position players this year, the organization has a huge need for pitching and the club had been trending toward drafting pitchers in the early rounds in recent years.

In the first 20 rounds of the 2018 and '19 Drafts, the Angels took 16 pitchers each time. And last year, two of the club's four selections were hurlers. Add it all up, and the club has gone with a pitcher in 54 of its past 64 selections in the Top 20 rounds over the past four seasons.

"We aren't excluding other subsets of players,” Angels scouting director Matt Swanson said. “I was a pitcher myself and understand the wear and tear and how difficult it is to find pitching. It's a commodity that you can't have enough of, so take as many as you can and take the ones that you believe in and the profiles you believe in and go from there and give them to player development.”

The Angels are hopeful that the influx of pitching will help transform the organization, as a lack of pitching depth has hampered the club for years. But Swanson has made it a priority to add as much pitching as possible since taking over as scouting director before the 2017 season.

In 2015 and '16, the Angels went with 15 pitchers each time across their 40 selections, but in '17, it went up to 23 pitchers and then 29 in '18 and 28 in '19.

"I think they can play off themselves and push themselves,” Swanson said. “They're going to challenge themselves all the way up [to] the Major Leagues. That's the fun thing, believing in the infrastructure we have and in the coaches and the technology and the staff that we have in place. We believe this group of pitchers is going to be in an awesome situation to thrive and hopefully be here in Anaheim sooner rather than later."

But bringing in all these pitchers has some logistical concerns, including at what level they’re all going to pitch. Swanson, though, said that some pitchers who had heavy workloads might not pitch this summer, and that they’ll find a way to get their pitchers the innings they need.

“You can never have enough pitching,” Swanson said. “It's a good problem to have. We'll find innings for all of them moving forward. And you have to be aware where they are in their season in terms of workload after the workload in 2020 was shortened."

Swanson also estimated that about half of the 20 pitchers profile as starters going forward. The club went in many directions with the type of pitchers it sought out, as there wasn’t one mold the Halos were aiming for. They took 14 right-handers and six lefties; 10 pitchers who weighed at least 200 pounds, including Bachman at 235 pounds and right-handers Bush (second round) and Glenn Albanese Jr. (15th round) at 240 pounds; 13 pitchers at least 6-foot-1 or taller, including Bush and Albanese at 6-foot-6; and seven pitchers at 6-foot-0 or shorter, including third-rounder Landon Marceaux at 6-foot-0. The variety extends to different types of arm angles as well.

The Angels aren’t expected to have signability concerns with any of their picks, although their lone prep selection -- left-hander Mason Albright from IMG Academy in Florida -- is committed to Virginia Tech and was ranked as MLB Pipeline's No. 122 Draft prospect despite being taken as pick No. 351. But the Angels took eight seniors, including six on Wednesday, which should help them save money to sign others.

“The hope right now is we're able to sign them all,” Swanson said. “And I don't have any impression we're going to have any issues at this time.”