Major League Baseball is the only American professional sports league to have their draft in the middle of the season. Because of that, this draft doesn’t get discussed quite as much as other sports. However, the Los Angeles Angels have a very good opportunity come July 11, when they make the No. 9 overall selection, to bolster one of several position groups.
Fans — as they have for years — will clamor for pitching. With the Angels facing uncertainty and significant turnover with their starting rotation and bullpen almost every year, it’s not a bad choice. Even after the Angels selected starter Reid Detmers in 2020 and the emergence of Chris Rodriguez as a legitimate rotation option, the 2021 draft class provides plenty of pitching options.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best pitching and positional prospects who could be available to the Angels at No. 9 on July 11. Names like RHP Kumar Rocker, 3B/SS Brady House, and SS Kahlil Watson are not listed due to the likelihood that they will not be available to the Angels, despite all three being excellent selections.
Potential Positional Options
Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
Matt McLain is an extremely versatile defensive player — he has experience playing nearly every position — and can hit the ball extraordinarily well. He slashed .333/.434/.579 for UCLA this season and had an even strikeout to walk ratio of 1.0.
He can simply get on base, and while pitching is probably where the Angels lean, this is one of those players they likely wouldn’t regret taking.
Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
It’s unclear whether or not slugging outfielder Colton Cowser would be available at No. 9, but it’s very possible. If he is, the Angels absolutely should consider him despite their current situation at the position. The Angels have the best player in the world currently in the outfield in Mike Trout, but it remains to be seen how the development of Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell will progress.
If the Angels also aren’t sure about those two, then they could do worse than a college sophomore who slashed .374/.490/.680 over 55 games in 2021.
Potential Pitching Options
Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
In 17 starts for Texas this season, right-hander Ty Madden pitching 6.1 innings on average, signaling a heavy workload at a young age. He is also a fascinating prospect, as he doesn’t have as many pitches in his arsenal as a major league starter would want.
However, his fastball-slider combination figures to be lethal, with a heater that tops out at around 99 mph. In 2021, he had an ERA of 2.42 over 107.2 innings pitched. A 3.15 strikeout to walk ratio is nothing special, but is certainly workable. He would be an excellent choice at No. 9 for the Halos.
Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio)
Sam Bachman is a high-risk, high-reward prospect for the Angels to consider at No. 9. The risk is that he lacks command of almost any of his offspeed pitches and has just two consistent pitches. He could range anywhere from a high-leverage reliever to a solid starter depending on his improvement in that area.
The reward is that in 12 starts at Miami Ohio in 2021, he sported a 1.81 ERA, a 0.771 WHIP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.47. He absolutely can force swings and misses, making him a dangerous prospect. However, it will be up to whether or not the Angels want a riskier prospect or a safer one.
Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall High School
The final prospect being discussed is also the most intriguing. There is simply no gauging exactly where he’ll go in this draft. Various mocks have him falling anywhere between No. 3 and mid-teens. There’s also plenty of buzz that the Angels will stick to college players only, looking for someone who is closer to contributing at the big league level.
However, if they do go high school and Jackson Jobe is still available, there is absolutely no reason the Angels shouldn’t pounce. Despite having limited mileage on his arm, everything he’s shown at the high school level is elite. His fastball, slider, and changeup all grade extremely well for someone so young, and his spin rates are unheard of for most major leaguers.
A 3100-plus spin rate on his slider not only makes it perhaps the best individual pitch in the entire draft class, it also makes it one of the best sliders in Major League Baseball by that one metric. Jobe is unpolished, but worth taking a shot on if the Angels are okay with drafting a high school arm.