The draft that doomed the Angels

There is no better fit between a team and a remaining free agent than the Angels and power-hitting left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. However, with owner Arte Moreno reluctant to pay a luxury tax and to sign Cespedes for at least five years, the Angels are expected to let the opportunity pass.

The Angels are projected to start the season with below-average offense at every position except center field, right field, designated hitter and -- if Albert Pujols has recovered from foot surgery -- first base.

Money is not the only way to solve a baseball problem. The Angels are in poor shape because the minor league system might be the worst in baseball, most significantly because they blew the draft that should have revitalized the organization.

In 2010, the Angels had five of the first 40 picks in the draft. They appear to have missed on all five picks.

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The first two picks, third baseman Kaleb Cowart and pitcher Cam Bedrosian, have made brief and generally unsuccessful appearances in Anaheim. The two outfielders, Chevy Clarke and Ryan Bolden, were released after failing to advance past Class A. The fifth pick, second baseman Taylor Lindsey, has not made the majors, although he was included in the 2014 trade in which the Angels acquired closer Huston Street.

That is not to say the 2010 draft was a total failure for the Angels. Their eighth-round pick, outfielder Kole Calhoun, has produced more wins above replacement value than all but five of the first-round picks that year.

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And that might have been the Angels' biggest problem that year: The top picks were not all that great. Of the top 50 picks six years ago, only 10 have produced 2 WAR in their careers, which is what infielder Cory Spangenberg alone gave the San Diego Padres last year.

Eddie Bane was the Angels' scouting director in 2010; he was fired by General Manager Tony Reagins that September.

Bane also was the Angels' scouting director in 2009, when he delivered one of the best drafts in recent history, hitting on superstar Mike Trout and major leaguers Randal Grichuk, Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards and Patrick Corbin within the first 80 picks.

In an era when teams shy away from proven free agents because of the potential loss of a draft pick, it's a cautionary tale: stocking up on draft picks betters the odds, but it guarantees nothing.


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