Angels shift focus to bats after taking righty Long
Outfielders Sanger (FAU), Foster (LSU) taken in fourth, fifth rounds
ANAHEIM -- The Angels drafted a couple of position players on Day 1 of the 2015 Draft on Monday night, taking Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward and high-school outfielder Jahmai Jones, then continued their search for bats in Day 2.
By the time they were done on Tuesday, the Angels had taken a position player with eight of their first 10 picks, a drastic, necessary change in philosophy from the pitcher-heavy Drafts of the last two years.
"It's exciting to be in position to do something like this," Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said. "This is the second year that we've had all our picks, and we took some pitching over the last four years, but we needed to stabilize the organization. Once we got it stabilized with the pitching, we started to add in some position players, and now you just start creating balance, which is where we need to be."
The Draft concludes Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 9 a.m. PT.
Below is a look at the Angels' picks from Rounds 3-5:
Round 3 (104): Texas A&M RHP Grayson Long
Long finished his junior year 9-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 17 starts for the Aggies, striking out 106 batters and walking 39 in 95 2/3 innings. He's a big-body right-hander, at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, and has easy velocity with a fastball that ranges from 89-93 mph. Long also has good deception with his changeup, but needs to improve on a slider that he throws mostly in the low 80s.
A Houston product, Long was drafted in the 39th round by the Mariners in 2012 but chose to attend Texas A&M, where he went 4-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) as a freshman and 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 15 starts as a sophomore. Long's Aggies were eliminated by TCU in the Super Regional on Monday night, after dropping the decisive game in 16 innings.
Wilson compared Long to Christopher Ellis, who's ranked ninth in the Angels' system by MLBPipeline.com and was just promoted to Double-A. "The polish, the strike-throwing ability, the repertoire -- there's really a lot to like," Wilson said.
Round 4 (135): Florida Atlantic University RF Brendon Sanger
Sanger, listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, was the Conference USA Player of the Year as a junior, batting .370/.492/.583 with seven homers and 48 RBIs in 61 games. He's a left-handed hitter with a funky setup but high on-base ability, as evidenced by his 112 walks and 83 strikeouts in his three-year college career.
Sanger, a product of South Florida, doesn't have any plus tools aside from his on-base ability, but he's the kind of safe bet the Angels need in a system devoid of outfield talent. The 21-year-old will probably eventually have to move to left field and is projected mostly as a fourth outfielder in the Major Leagues.
Round 5 (165): Louisiana State University RF Jared Foster
Foster also played quarterback at LSU and is considered a very good athlete, with the versatility to potentially play all three outfield spots and perhaps even second base. Listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds, Foster finished his senior year with the Tigers batting .284/.339/.498, with nine homers, 34 RBIs and nine stolen bases.
The 22-year-old right-handed hitter is a Lake Charles, La., product who turned down scholarship offers at other Southeastern Conference schools to walk on to the football and baseball programs at LSU. Foster was the backup quarterback on the 2011 SEC champion football team, then decided to devote his full attention to baseball the following spring.
Sanger and Foster are basically complete opposites.
"In the Draft, you look for balance," Wilson said. "You take a guy who's a little more polished and does things a little bit easier, then you take a guy right behind him who has a bigger tool set but his skill set isn't quite as much. But if [Foster] hits on all cylinders, his ceiling is really high."