Walden eager to begin Angels career

Jordan Walden wanted to begin his professional career but even he wasn't sure the Angels would come up to meet his asking price. The Angels eventually did and Walden is eager to begin the trek through the minor leagues.

The Angels have successfully procured the services of Stephen Marek, Sean O'Sullivan, and Jordan Walden over the last three years under the now defunct draft-and-follow rules. It was, therefore, important for the team to snare Walden – especially since the 2006 draft had its pitfalls in the top ten rounds, failing to sign third-round pick Russ Moldenhauer while seventh-round pick Jarrad Page opted to play professional football.

The sticking point between signing and heading back to school was a $200K difference between what the Angels were offering and what Walden saw his worth to be.

Two days before the deadline for the draft-and-follow to sign, Eddie Bane called the right-hander personally.

"Two days before the thing was over, Eddie Bane called me and told me they were going to match my offer," said Walden.

That asking price was a cool $1 million for a pitcher that has been clocked as high as 100 MPH with his fastball.

Walden was originally committed to the University of Texas for the 2006 season but opted to go the junior college route, attending Grayson County College in Texas. By going to Grayson, Walden kept his options to sign with the Angels open until the clock struck midnight on May 31.

Taken in the 12th-round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Walden was viewed as one of the top high school arms in the country but there were concerns over how much it would take to sign him and a groin injury that led to a drop in velocity during several of his high school starts. And he turned down the Angels original offer of $375K prior to attending Grayson.

Now that he has been signed, Walden's goal is simple:

"Pitching in the big leagues and with Anaheim," he said. "That is what I want to do. Your main goal is to get to Anaheim so you try and do your best to move up."

The 6-foot-5 righty went 9-2 with a 1.85 ERA and one save in 12 games for Grayson. Over 58.1 innings, he struck out 83 and walked only 18.

Walden views his time playing JuCo a success, as he was able to mature as a person and a pitcher.

"I just developed more as a pitcher and learned more about pitching, not overpowering people, and learning how to handle better batters because in high school the talent was nearly as good as it was in junior college so I really had to learn how to pitch," Walden admitted.

He will report to rookie ball in Arizona on Sunday with an eye on making the short-season club in Orem, Utah when the season begins in mid-June.


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