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Angels Draft Report Card

Best Pro Debut: LHP Joe Saunders (1) went 5-2, 2.80 overall and was even better after a promotion to low Class A, going 3-1, 1.88 in five outings. SS Javy Rodriguez (5) advanced even farther, hitting .254 with 19 steals in high Class A. C Alex Dvorsky (26) was a Rookie-level Pioneer League all-star after batting .321-9-52.

Best Athlete: 2B Howard Kendrick (10) has a live body, and the Angels are excited about his potential with the bat after he hit .318 in Rookie ball.

Best Pure Hitter: Kendrick is instinctive at the plate and is a switch-hitter. The Angels liked him enough to consider taking him in the first six rounds, but gambled successfully that he’d last a little later.

Best Raw Power: OF Jordan Renz (4) or 1B Chris Walston (6), neither of whom homered in their first pro summer. Renz has a higher ceiling, while Walston–who set a California high school record with 22 homers last spring–has more loft in his swing.

Fastest Runner: Kendrick and OF Aaron Peel (11) are solid average to plus runners.

Best Defensive Player: Rodriguez doesn’t have a classic shortstop body, but he’s effective there and could be a very good second baseman if he has to move. His arm will play at any position, as he threw 91-93 mph while pitching for the University of Miami in fall practice last year.

Best Fastball: RHP Kevin Jepsen (2) has little effort to his delivery yet touched 98 mph during the spring. He worked at 94-95 after signing.

Best Breaking Ball: Jepsen’s slider has been clocked as high as 91 mph. RHP James Holcomb (8), who has touched 94 mph, also has a plus curveball.

Most Intriguing Background: 3B Jake Mathis’ (28) younger brother Jeff was an Angels supplemental first-rounder in 2001 and is one of the game’s best catching prospects. OF Jason Sugden’s (35) great-great-grandfather Joe Sugden worked in baseball for 65 years, including 13 seasons as a big league catcher.

Closest To The Majors: Saunders was one of the most polished pitchers available, and he’s lefthanded to boot. He can already command his average fastball and plus changeup to both sides of the plate.

Best Late-Round Pick: LHP Nick Touchstone (18), who turned down a six-figure bonus from the Yankees as a draft-and-follow, has a low-90s fastball and, when it’s on, a tight power curveball. The Angels signed Touchstone and LHP Scott Hindman (22)–both touch 95 mph–from the Cape Cod League on the same day this summer.

The One Who Got Away: Compared to Shawn Green, OF Ryan Broderick (20) would have been a much higher pick had he not missed his senior season with a hip injury. He’s now at Southern California.

Assessment: After one of the game’s best drafts in 2001, the Angels had another solid effort this year. They added several quality lefthanders–Saunders; two highly coveted draft-and-follow lefthanders who re-entered the draft in Kyle Pawelczyk (3) and Touchstone; and Hindman, whose signability also was questionable.

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