Angels mix it up, add two-way ability with MLB draft haul

The Angels diversified the type of players they selected for this year’s amateur draft.

Last year, the team used all of their 20 picks on pitchers. This year, they’ve inducted more position players, as well as two two-way players – although only one was specifically drafted as a two-way player.

However, according to Tim McIlvaine, the team’s scouting director, who raised the issue on day one of the draft, selecting more positional players was not a deliberate shift away from selecting only pitchers.

“Every draft is different,” McIlvaine said on Sunday. “I think if the design kind of happens organically, you end up taking different paths. Maybe we’ll take 10 more clubs, maybe we’ll take all the pitchers the rest of the way. I do not know yet.

“It’s just going to be the guy who we think is the best player available on our board.”

On Day 1, the Angels selected Zach Neto, a shortstop from Campbell University, with the No. 13 pick. Neto, who has Cuban roots and is from Miami, has two-way experience and was even compared to Shohei Ohtani in college.

Neto doesn’t plan to be a two-way player at a professional level – and McIlvaine confirmed the Angels intend to use him as a shortstop – but said he would start pitching again if the need ever came up.

Neto described himself as a “swaggy player” with a lot of confidence. He used the chip on his shoulder, which he developed after not being drafted out of high school in 2019, to help him become a stronger, more mature athlete in college.

McIlvaine said the Angels had been tracking Neto for a number of years and they knew he was someone they really wanted when they got into this draft, praising his athleticism, particularly his body control. He also said the Angels like it despite his size, Neto swings the racquet and hits hard and has a good feel for the hitting zone.

“There’s a lot to like about him,” McIlvaine said.

Neto, who was one of eight prospects attending Day 1 of the draft at Xbox Plaza at LA Live, said he knew he was on the Angels’ radar for their first pick. He didn’t know they had chosen him when he was told – by his advisor Gavin Kahn – that he had been chosen.

“It was a surprise for me too,” said Neto. “I knew I was going to be drafted. I didn’t know where, but I’m glad it was the angels.”

The Angels picked up two pitchers, Ben Joyce and Jake Madden, in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, and a first baseman, Sonny DiChiara, in the fifth.

They chose two other pitchers in the sixth and seventh (Victor Mederos and Roman Phansalkar), a two-wayer in the eighth (Dylan Phillips), an outfielder in the ninth (Joe Stewart), and another first baseman in the tenth (Matt Coutney). .

https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-07-18/angels-mlb-draft-selections-zach-neto Angels mix it up, add two-way ability with MLB draft haul

Emma Bowman

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