Three days, 40 rounds, over 1,200 names called. It's that time of the year. Organizations select the top amateur talents to load up their farm system, hoping those talents excel at the pro level and become future superstars in the Major Leagues.
For the Los Angeles Angels, the upcoming draft may be one of the most important in the 21st century. The farm system is barren with future star-potential talent, the future has giant question marks, and it's Billy Eppler's first draft as commander. Everyone is on full mission to select the right player for the future.
The Angels have the 16th pick in this draft, and have only seen selections this low five times since 2000, and once since 2005 when they took Sean Newcomb 15th overall. Simple analysis will tell you the better talents come from the higher draft selections.
With that, the Halos are looking at upside players, particularly prep bats with their first selection in the draft. With that, here are 10 names you need to know going into the draft - names who could soon be representing the Angels organization.
Alex Kiriloff, 1B/OF, Plum High School (PA)
No player has been as attached to the Angels as often as Kiriloff. They've worked him out, Billy Eppler has seen him in person and apparently liked what he saw. It's all about the bat when it comes to Kiriloff. He has a pro-ready swing from the left-side, with plenty of power packed in his swing - Enough power to win the Perfect Game All-American Classic home run derby. Along with the power is the threat of swing-and-misses, but thus far, he's been able to make consistent contact. Kiriloff is athletic enough to play in the corner outfield positions with plenty of arm to back it.
Nolan Jones, 3B, Holy Ghost Prep (PA)
Another prep player from Pennsylvania who swings from the left-side with power potential. The more promising mark when it comes to Jones is that he has a shot at playing in the middle infield. Injuries didn't allow scouts to see Jones early in the year, but what they've seen recently has been desirable tools. He has a shot at being an outstanding hitter with plus bat speed and the ability to get the barrel to the ball. Biggest question is if he's athletic enough to remain at shortstop. This is another player the Angels are linked to pretty heavily.
Joshua Lowe, 3B, Pope High School (GA)
Last year, most thought Lowe would be hearing his name as a pitcher, but now is being seen as one of the most desirable corner infielders in the draft. He won't stick at shortstop, but is plenty athletic. On the mound, he has plenty of arm, touching the mid 90's, which will translate in the field. At the plate, he's a little streaky due to how he uses timing mechanisms in his swing. This could be corrected to help him become more consistent, and draw from his plus power potential from the left-side - sound familiar?
Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
Hudson has been on the Angels' radar for some time, as Front Office members have been at nearly all of his starts, including Billy Eppler at the SEC Tournament. When sitting next to a member of the Front Office during one of the Hudson's starts, the interest seemed bland, but his name has obviously stuck around. A former reliever who couldn't throw strikes to save his live, transformed himself into one of the best starters at the collegiate level this past year. Hudson possesses a mid 90's fastball with sink, and maintains that velocity throughout his outings. The bread and butter though is his cutter, which is hard to compare to any starting pitcher in the league right now, with slider like qualities on a fastball line and high 80's velocity. This would be a large steal if the Angels could nab him at 16.
Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon High School (CA)
Manning checks every box the Angels could have desire on. He's athletic, incredibly athletic, and has the upside of a future front of the rotation like arm. Billy Eppler has seen him in person per reports, and saw his large arsenal of a mid to high 90's fastball with electricity, power curve that will create misses at the pro level and slight feel for his changeup. He's tall (six-foot-six) and opted for a route away from his blood lines - father is former NBA player, Rich Manning - and went from basketball in the winter to baseball in the fall. There's a bit of a smoke screen in Manning desiring $4-5 million signing bonus, but it shouldn't take that much to nab him from a commitment to Loyola Marymount.
Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep (CA)
This would be the ideal scenario for the Angels. Rutherford is a local product, and according to our very own Jeff Ellis, is the best talent in this draft. Billy Eppler has seen him in person, and has expressed they'd take the best talent available. That's where the smoke screen can cause mayhem. Rutherford is looking for $3 million according to reports, which isn't out of question for the top talent, but teams are seeing other options for cheaper. He's been linked to the Braves at #3, Brewers at #5, Marlins at #7, White Sox at #10, Mariners at #11, and Rays at #13. However, all these teams have expressed interest in different assets. The Angels could reap the blessings of other team's mistakes.
Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford
Quantrill would likely be the consensus first overall pick in this draft if he'd actually thrown a pitch this spring. After three starts his sophomore year, an elbow injury occurred and Tommy John surgery was required. He's recovered and has been throwing in private workouts, but no one seems to have knowledge of what teams are at those workouts. Quantrill could likely be a year or two from the Majors once drafted, mixing a four-pitch arsenal, all that average out at the Major League level, or better, such as his mid 90's fastball. Sources say there's already a deal in place for Quantrill, but no one knows the team or amount. Angels maybe?
William Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (GA)
If there's any five-tool potential in this draft, Benson fits the mold. A poor spring performance has put his stock down, but the tools are still very evident to keep him as a first-round pick. He has premier bat speed with a compact swing from the left-side that translates into serious pop. He also has a lot of flare to his game that just makes him very entertaining in whole, that teams will like to have to gain fans early. This may be one of the high-risk, high-reward picks in the draft, and it's something the Angels should kick the tires on to give the organization a desirable asset in the farm system.
Gavin Lux, SS, Indian Trail Academy (WI)
This is a name that came up lately in talks about connections to the Angels, which may just be smoke. The biggest asset and desirable mark when it comes to Lux is his ability to make adjustments. He's gone from a raw talent to a more polished prospect who has an outstanding knowledge of the game. He'll stick at shortstop and provide at least average pop to play up in with the pros. This would be an interesting take if the rumors are true.
Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (PR)
Prior to Friday, this would not have been an imaginable sentence, but... the Angels have a shot at the top talent in this draft. Sources close to Scout.com revealed on Friday that Perez had failed a drug test, but it was unconfirmed on the state of what was failed. If it's as simple as Adderral or marijuana, his stock won't be hit much. If it's steroids, he'll plummet. There's a chance that if it's as bad as possible, he doesn't hear his name called for the first few rounds, but whoever gets him will get a steal. It very easily could be the Angels at 16.