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Angels Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: 3B Robb Quinlan (10) hit .322-9-77 for short-season Boise and was named MVP of the Northwest League. At .326-9-70, OF Mike O’Keefe (12) posted near-identical numbers for the same team.

Best Athlete: RHP John Lackey (2), the team’s top pick, was a power-hitting first baseman as a freshman at Texas-Arlington before switching to the mound at Grayson County CC. He led that school to the Junior College World Series title last spring.

Best Hitter: The Angels drafted a solid group of college hitters. 1B Jon Palmieri (14) has a smooth stroke, excellent plate discipline and hit .325-2-31 for Boise.

Best Power: Quinlan and C Chris Barski (11) each have above-average raw power. Quinlan hit nine homers at Boise, Barski six.

Fastest Runner: SS/2B Alfredo Amezaga (13) and SS Brian Specht (9) are both above-average runners. Specht signed for $600,000 shortly before he would have enrolled at Baylor.

Best Defensive Player: Amezaga is only 5-foot-9 but has good strength, balance and quickness. He played second base this summer but has all the tools to be a big league shortstop. Specht has the same sort of defensive potential.

Best Fastball: RHP Stan Bukowski (4) has little pitching experience, but he threw up to 94 mph this summer and could gain velocity as he matures. Lackey and RHP Phil Wilson (3) are projectable pitchers who throw in the low 90s.

Most Intriguing Background: RHP Vince LaCorte (5) and SS Garry Templeton Jr. (49) both have big league dads. OF Bill Curtis (45) is the younger brother of Yankees outfielder Chad Curtis. SS Josh Schafer, a draft-and-follow from the 26th round in ’98, is the son of White Sox scouting director (and former Angels scout) Duane Schafer.

Closest to the Majors: Middle infield is a fast-track position in the Angels organization. Amezaga showed the maturity and tools to play either short or second.

The One That Got Away: The Angels took a shot at landing SS Pat Osborn (22), who was heavily committed to Florida. He could be a first-rounder in three years.

Best Non-Draft Sign: Venezuelan RHP Francisco Rodriguez signed for an $895,000 bonus, easily the largest the Angels have ever given a foreign player, and looked worth it as he was named the top prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. 3B Del Lindsey, a free-agent signee from Texas A&M, finished at .341-10-58 for Rookie-level Butte.

Summary: The Angels, historically one of the most conservative and college-oriented teams in the draft, spent $1.125 million in August to buy Specht and Wilson away from college at Baylor and Texas, respectively. If the two youngsters develop, it could make this the best Angels draft in many years.

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