Image credit: Will Wilson (Zach Lucy/Four Seam Images)
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams’ most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization’s 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: The Angels grabbed one of the most polished college hitters in the class with the 15th overall pick, taking SS Will Wilson (1) out of North Carolina State. Wilson has an extensive track record of high-level hitting over three years in the ACC and managed a .275/.328/.439 line in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in his pro debut. He has all the tools to become a plus hitter.
Best Power Hitter: While Wilson’s hit tool is more advanced than his in-game power at the moment, he hit double-digit homers as a sophomore and junior at NC State despite a 6-foot, 184-pound frame. Scouts thought he had plus raw power as an amateur, and Angels evaluators believe he’s the type of hitter who knows the barrel well enough to tap into at least average game power down the line.
Fastest Runner: The Angels took a shot on West Virginia OF Brandon White (17) on Day 3 of the draft after consistently receiving 60- and 70-grade run times on him throughout his college career. White went 61-for-85 (71.8 percent) in stolen base attempts in college, and he went 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) in 61 games with Rookie-level Orem.
Best Defensive Player: White’s speed could allow him to become a plus defensive center fielder at the next level, and he’s athletic enough to make plenty of highlight-reel catches. SS Kyren Paris (2) has all the tools to become a standout defender as well, as a plus runner with quick-twitch athleticism, impressive hand-eye coordination and reliable hands. The Angels also liked Samford C Anthony Mulrine’s (25) arm and defensive work behind the plate.
Best Athlete: Paris’ athleticism is easy to spot when you watch him glide around the baseball field. He’s a smooth runner and shows impressive body control at shortstop, where he’ll use active footwork and standout body control to consistently put himself into good throwing positions.
Best Fastball: Tennessee RHP Zach Linginfelter (9) has been up to 97 mph, and he’s joined by a group of Day 3 college arms who have gotten into the mid- to high 90s, including RHPs Zac Kristofak (14), Greg Veliz (15), Andrew Blake (21), and Shane Kelso (24) and LHP Ryan Smith (18).
Best Secondary Pitch: The first pitcher the Angels selected was 6-foot-6 prep RHP Jack Kochanowicz (3), who showed a lot of potential with a mid-70s, 11-to-5 breaking ball that has impressive spin and depth. He also showed good feel for a changeup, as did Winthrop RHP Zach Peek (6). It would be foolish to ignore RHP Kyle Brnovich’s (8) breaking ball, which has tremendous depth and consistency.
Best Pro Debut: After posting a 2.55 ERA over 42.1 innings with Miami, Veliz threw 29.1 innings in the Pioneer and Midwest leagues and didn’t miss a beat. He posted a 3.68 ERA across both levels, with 36 strikeouts and nine walks in 29.1 innings.
Most Intriguing Background: OF/LHP Erik Rivera (4) was the second prospect drafted out of Puerto Rico and has legitimate upside at both positions, with a muscular frame that gives him huge arm strength and above-average raw power from the left side. The Angels were also excited to get two college righthanders with the prospect pedigree and talent that RHPs Davis Daniel (7) and Kyle Molnar (26) have.
Closest To The Majors: RHP Garrett Stallings (5) didn’t throw as a professional after handling 102.2 innings with Tennessee this spring, but scouts laud him for his makeup and competitive history in the SEC, where he walked just 1.3 batters per nine innings over his collegiate career.
Best Late-Round Pick: The Angels signed Kelso for just $10,000 in the 24th round, and he’s been into the upper 90s as a professional while posting a 2.18 ERA across 20.2 innings in the Pioneer and Midwest leagues. Kelso will need to lower his walk rate (6.5 per nine innings) moving forward, but he’s shown bat-missing stuff (14.8 strikeouts per nine) in his brief time in the Angels’ system.
The One Who Got Away: The Angels took a shot on RHP Kenyon Yovan (26) late in the draft, but he elected to return to school after an injury wiped out his junior season. Yovan was thought of as potentially a Day 1 talent prior to the 2018 season, and he’ll look to get healthy and reclaim his draft stock next year.