06/04/2002 9:46 pm ET
Angels do an about-face
Team says it wants bats, then takes three pitchers
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Anaheim Angels round-by-round picks
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Angels gave a hint of what they would do on Tuesday's first day of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft when they said Monday that they were looking for quality position players.
On Tuesday, however, they changed their minds pretty quickly, nabbing pitchers with their first three picks and selecting 10 hurlers in all out of 20 picks on the day.
Virginia Tech left-hander Joe Saunders was the club's first selection, with the 12th overall selection.
"We were very excited that a pitcher of Joe's talent and experience was available for the Angels," Anaheim director of scouting Donny Rowland said. "And overall, certain pitchers lined up for us early and bats we had significant interest in were there later."
In the second round, Anaheim took right-hander Kevin Jepsen of Bishop Manogue High School in Sparks, Nevada, with the 53rd overall pick.
Jepsen, who was ranked as his state's No. 1 player in Baseball America magazine's Top Prospects by Region list, is described by scouts as having a strong, wiry build, similar to former Major League star Bret Saberhagen.
Extra-large frame. Durable build, large hands, strong. Build similar to Barry Zito. Smooth delivery. Fields position well. Aggressive with riding fastball. Effectively mixes in two-seamer. Slider is more of a slurve with late bite. Changeup is strikeout pitch. Improving every year. Good feel for mound.
Jepsen turns 18 in July and is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. According to scouts, he is not afraid to come at hitters with an aggressive style and has a fluid delivery with solid mechanics. Jepsen's best pitches are a late-moving fastball and a quick-breaking slider.
In the third round, with the 84th overall pick, the Angels selected another tall and lean pitcher in left-hander Kyle Pawelczyk, who was drafted in the 25th round of the 2000 draft by the Seattle Mariners but never signed.
Pawelczyk, a native of Elkins, W.V., is 6-5 and 185 pounds and comes from Chipola Junior College in Florida.
After the top three picks, Anaheim went for position players and grabbed right fielder Jordan Renz from Union Senior High in Broken Arrow, Okla., with the 114th overall pick in the fourth round.
Renz, who is 6-3 and 200 pounds and turns 19 in July, is an all-around athlete, as evidenced by the fact that he was an all-state quarterback.
Rowland said the Angels felt Renz had the "best pure bat speed in the draft."
In the fifth round, the Angels went for finesse and got 5-foot-11 second baseman/shortstop Javy Rodriguez from the University of Miami.
Rodriguez, 23, who is still participating in the NCAA Division I playoffs, led the nation with 66 stolen bases last year and was part of the team that won the 2001 College World Series.
He is a two-time Hurricane team MVP is described as having a balanced approach, good bat control, soft hands and solid range. He also has above-average speed and is a smart baserunner and all-around player.
"Javy has fantastic instincts," Rowland said. "We saw him battle (Cubs' first-round pick, pitcher Robert) Brownlie (of Rutgers) at the Big East tournament."
The Angels' sixth-round selection was spent on 6-foot-6, 240-pound first baseman Chris Walston from El Capitan High School in Lakeside, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. It marked the team's first home-state pick.
Walston is described as having a big, very strong and mature body that produces raw power. One scout says Walston has strength that "makes the ball explode off the bat" and that he "can hit the ball 500 feet when he makes contact."
The Angels' seventh pick, University of Nebraska center fielder Jeffrey Leise, had to have made the Angels' current center fielder, Darin Erstad, smile.
Erstad starred for the Cornhuskers in baseball and in football.
Leise, 21, is diminutive at 5-9 and 165 pounds, but he was an all-Big 12 honoree as a junior this past season.
The rest of Anaheim's selections on the first day of the draft came from all over the field.
Of the remaining 15 picks, the Angels took seven pitchers (righty James Holcomb in the eighth round; righty Osvaldo Lugo in the 13th; righty Ronnie Ray in the 14th; righty Tony Mandel in the 17th; lefty Nick Touchstone in the 18th; lefty Matt McCarthy in the 21st; lefty Scott Hindman in the 22nd), five outfielders (LF Caleb Maher in the ninth; CF Aaron Peel in the 11th; LF Ryan Kenning in the 12th; LF Michael Perdomo in the 19th; LF Ryan Broderick in the 20th), two infielders (2B Howard Kendrick in the 10th; 3B Justin Hancock in the 15th) and a catcher (Thomas Duenas in the 16th).
Rowland said the team was pleased with its draft day once again.
"We were able to get quality arms and then go get bats," he said.
Doug Miller covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.