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Angels Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: LHP Joe Torres (1) didn’t turn 18 until the final week of the short-season Northwest League schedule, but he wasn’t overmatched by hitters with college experience. Torres went 5-1, 2.54 with 52 strikeouts in 46 innings and was the top pitching prospect in the league.

Best Athlete: OF Jason Coulie (9) was an all-conference performer in baseball, football and track at Division III Bates (Maine) College.

Best Hitter: OF Josh Gray (13) didn’t get much exposure because of shoulder problems as a senior. He hit .327 with eight homers as a DH at Rookie-level Butte, then had arthroscopic surgery to fix his shoulder.

Best Raw Power: Gray hit 24 homers to spark Rock Creek (Okla.) High to a national record 113 homers last spring. He has well-above-average power. C Jared Abruzzo (2) and Coulie also can drive the ball.

Fastest Runner: SS Tommy Murphy (3) was one of the speediest players in the draft. He runs the 60-yard dash in 6.51 seconds.

Best Defensive Player: Murphy was one of the premier defenders available, especially considering the lack of pure college shortstops. Besides his quickness, he also offers a strong arm. His bat is a question, and he did little to dispel that by hitting .225 at Boise.

Best Fastball: Torres will touch 94-95 mph, but RHP Bobby Jenks (5) can reach 96. The Angels also are delighted with RHP Rich Fischer (21), a converted shortstop whom area scout Tim Corcoran found at San Bernardino Valley (Calif.) JC who can reach 94 mph.

Most Intriguing Background: Jenks left his Idaho high school last spring after failing to qualify academically to play baseball for the third time in four years. He was showcased to scouts in Seattle by his personal trainer. RHP Brett Cimorelli (20) doubles as a backup kicker at Florida State.

Closest To The Majors: RHP Chris Bootcheck (1) or Charlie Thames (4). Bootcheck was in line to be the first college player drafted, but he slid to 20th and held out all summer before signing for $1.8 million. He already throws 90-92 mph and is projectable. Thames doesn’t throw as hard, but his low three-quarters delivery is rough on righthanders. The sleeper is RHP Matt Hensley (10), who like Thames reached high Class A Lake Elsinore. Hensley throws 89-93 mph with plenty of sink.

Best Late-Round Pick: Gray.

The One Who Got Away: SS Aaron Hill (7), whom the Angels projected as an offensive second baseman. Hill will have a tough time cracking the infield at Louisiana State, which returns Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot from a national championship club.

Assessment: Anaheim needs pitching, and took a step in that direction with Torres and Bootcheck in the first round. The Angels signed just three hitters in the first 12 rounds, so arms will determine the success of this draft.

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