Angels’ 10 Greatest Draft Classes in Franchise History (Part II)by B.J. Martin June 10, 2020 0 comments
The Angels sit on the cusp of their first top-10 MLB draft selection since the club successfully drafted top prospect Jo Adell with the 10th overall selection in 2017. Here’s our review of the top 10 Angels drafts in franchise history.
We already shared the sixth-best through 10th-best drafts, so without further ado, here are the five best Angels draft classes all-time.
Chuck Finley was selected in the 15th round out of the University of Louisiana Monroe and would quickly ascend to make his MLB debut for the Angels in 1986. Finley would go on to be the winningest pitcher in franchise history, earning 200 victories and 2,610 strikeouts during his 17-year career. Finley would be a five-time All-Star (four with the Angels) and win 15 or more games in seven different MLB seasons.
Two rounds later, the Angels selected outfielder Dante Bichette from Palm Beach Community College in Florida. Bichette would debut with the Angels and appear in his first 187 games with the club before they unwisely dealt him to Milwaukee for veteran slugger Dave Parker. Bichette would go on to be a four-time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies, slugging 274 home runs and 1,141 runs batted in during his 14-year career.
It may be surprising that this draft class is ahead of some of the others but it produced a total of four eventual All-Stars, including a perennial slugger they let get away and one of the Angels’ most dominant pitchers of the 1980s.
West Covina’s Tom Brunansky was a logical pick with the 14th overall pick in the first round of the draft and seemed destined to be the right fielder of the future until the Angels signed Reggie Jackson in 1982. The crowded outfield of Jackson, Lynn, Downing, and Baylor made Brunansky expendable when they sent him to Minnesota in May that season for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong. Brunansky would go to hit 20 or more home runs the next eight seasons, finishing his career with 271 dingers.
USC third baseman Dave Engle was the team’s second-round selection and a key piece of the trade that landed the Angels Rod Carew. Engle would end up an All-Star for Twins in 1984 and have a decent nine-year MLB career.
The third straight SoCal pick would be Servite High School’s Mike Witt in the third round. Witt would end up the Angels’ winningest pitcher of the 1980s after finishing his 10-year stint with the club with 117 victories in 299 starts. The two-time All-Star would be the ace for the Angels through the majority of the decade, pitching a perfect game and combining to throw a no-hitter with Mark Langston before being dealt to the Yankees.
Tim Wallach was the one they let get away when the eighth-round high school selection opted to attend Cal State Fullerton rather than sign with the Angels. Wallach would win the College World Series at CSUF before being a first-round selection by Montreal the next season. Wallach would be a five-time All-Star for the Expos, winning three Gold Gloves and slugging 260 home runs in his 17 MLB seasons. Wallach would eventually join the Angels toward the end of his career, playing 57 games for the club in 1996.
Future MLB catcher Dan Whitmer (14th) and outfielder John Christiansen (16th) were also part of this outstanding Angels draft class.
Phil Leftwich was the Angels’ first pick in the second round but it’s two other picks that earn this draft the No. 3 ranking. Leftwich showed promise as he rose through the minors and had an impressive rookie season in 1993 but his numbers tailed off and he eventually ended up playing in Japan.
Garret Anderson was the Angels’ fourth-round selection and ended up gathering over 2,500 hits and 287 home runs during his 17-year MLB career. The three-time All-Star has played more games, had more hits, scored more runs and hit more singles or doubles than any other Angels player ever.
Troy Percival was drafted as a catcher in the sixth round but was quickly converted to a pitcher and the rest is history. Percival pitched his way onto four All-Star teams and finished his career with 358 saves, which is the 11th-most in MLB history. Percival was on the hill to record the final out of the Angels’ lone World Series championship and his 316 saves for the Angels is over 100 more than the next best Angels closer.
The Angels also selected future big leaguers Doug Creek (fifth), Ryan Hancock (12th), Jermaine Allensworth (15th), Mark Dalesandro (18th), P.J. Forbes (20th), Ken Edenfield (21st), Dave Berg (32nd) and Marty Malloy (48th).
The Angels made a bold decision by drafting the left-handed Jim Abbott out of Michigan with the eighth overall selection in the 1988 draft. After leading the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal during the 1988 Summer Games, Abbott made his MLB debut without playing a single minor league game during his career. Abbott would pitch six seasons with the Angels, winning 18 games for the team in 1991. He would pitch a no-hitter for the Yankees before his playing career ended in 1999.
Gary Disarcina was the Angels’ sixth-round selection (143rd overall) and went on to be the club’s starting shortstop throughout the 1990s. Disarcina would be named an All-Star in 1995 and play over 1,000 games at the position during his career spent entirely with the Halos.
The Angels drafted Diamond Bar High School outfielder Jim Edmonds in the seventh round; Edmonds would end up winning eight Gold Glove awards as the best defensive centerfielder of his era. Edmonds would finish his 17-year MLB career with 393 home runs and many consider him an eventual Eras Committee candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame one day.
Damion Easley was selected in the 30th round by the Angels and became one of their most highly-touted prospects as he emerged at the big-league level in 1992. While shin splits and other injuries prevented his Angels career from blooming, he would eventually breakout after being dealt to the Detroit Tigers. Easley would be named an All-Star in 1988 and had three straight 20-plus home run seasons in Detroit while playing a total of 17 seasons in the majors.
Mike Trout was selected with the second selection of their back-to-back 24th and 25th overall picks in the first round of the 2009 draft right after fellow high school outfielder Randal Grichuk. Trout has won three American League MVPs so far and been a finalist for the award every full season he’s played in during his nine MLB campaigns. Trout is viewed as the best player in the game by all legitimate baseball professionals and has already solidified his place in Cooperstown one day.
Grichuk would be traded to the Cardinals as a minor leaguer for David Freese and has legitimate power. In fact, he completed his first 30-home run showing with Toronto in 2019.
The Angels would pick high school pitcher Tyler Skaggs in the compensation round with the 40th overall pick. Skaggs struggled with injuries but showed glimpses of greatness before his life was cut short at the age of 27 last July.
Two picks after the Skaggs selection, the club drafted Oklahoma pitcher Garrett Richards with the 42nd overall pick. Richards would win 13 and 15 games for the Angels during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, respectively, and looked to be one of the aces of the game before injuries have sidetracked his career. Richards is now healthy and hoping to get back on the mound for San Diego in 2020.
The Angels’ second-round selection (80th overall) was collegiate left-hander Patrick Corbin, who would be traded with fellow draft selection Tyler Skaggs and Joe Saunders to Arizona for pitcher Dan Haren. Corbin would become a two-time All-Star starter for the Diamondbacks, striking out 246 hitters in 2018 before leaving Arizona for a big contract in Washington. Corbin would win 14 games on his first year in D.C., helping the Nationals win their first World Series championship.