ANAHEIM Bobby Wilson wasn't sure whether the Angels drafted him as a favor to a friend.
Wilson went to elementary and middle school with Casey Kotchman. The two were teammates at Seminole High in Sanford, Fla. Casey's father Tom has been in the Angels organization since 1984, highly regarded as a scout and minor league manager.
So when the Angels called Wilson's name in the 48th round of the 2003 draft, he wondered whether he might have gone undrafted if not for Kotchman.
Wilson didn't wonder for long, though.
He took his modest signing bonus, got himself a car and put a down payment on a house. Then he went to work.
"Basically, the way I looked at it, it was a foot in the door," Wilson said.
He played for Kotchman that first year, as the catcher that led the Rookie-level Pioneer League with 62 RBIs. He proceeded steadily up the minor league ladder, gathering a .286/.342/.427 career minor league average in 2,045 at-bats before making his major league debut last season—he singled in his first at-bat—and establishing himself as the No. 3 catcher in an organization with two homegrown catchers at the major league level: Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis.
"He's got some good alley power," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a terrific receiver, with good hands and a good mind. He's got a strong, accurate arm. He's got the opportunity to control the running game.
"He's turned himself into a major league-level catcher."
Wilson, 26, hit .312/.386/.435 with 20 doubles in 260 at-bats at Triple-A Salt Lake last season, and he had started this season at .282/.337/.494 with the Bees.
He's already had three cups of coffee in Anaheim.
"Baseball was the thing I was good at," Wilson said. "I was good at school, but it didn't interest me as much as baseball.
"I was given the opportunity and made the most of it. I can call myself a big leaguer."
• Low Class A Cedar Rapids first baseman Gabe Jacobo hit for the cycle—over two days, in a game suspended by rain. He singled and doubled the first day and tripled, homered and singled again the next day. The Angels selected Jacobo, 22, from Sacramento State in the 10th round last year.
• Shortstop Brandon Wood set a Salt Lake franchise record with his 62nd career home run for the Triple-A club. "It's out of my control to be here, so I take it as an honor," he told the Desert News.