There was one very familiar name among the 30 picks the Angels made on the final day of the draft Wednesday: Jonah Dipoto, a right-handed pitcher from Newport Harbor High and the son of Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto, was selected in the 38th round.
“He’s probably going to be unsignable,” Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said in what sounded like a joke but really wasn’t.
While Jonah played for several scout teams this past year, including the Angels' elite club, Jerry Dipoto said his son intends to enroll in the fall at UC San Diego, where Jonah will play baseball.
“Willy and [scout] Rob Wilfong made the pick,” said Jerry Dipoto, a former big league reliever. “I was not aware until late today, when they told me what they intended to do. I was a bit uncomfortable at first, but will admit to having been thrilled to hear his name called.”
Wilson said he was thinking about drafting Jonah Dipoto for several weeks.
“I love the way the kid is progressing and just wanted to encourage him,” Wilson said. “It was well-deserved, a good moment. Jerry didn’t know what I was going to do, and when I ran it by him, it was great. It was emotional. A nice moment.”
The Angels also used their 19th-round pick on Gannon (Penn.) University right-hander Aaron Cox, who is the brother of center fielder Mike Trout’s long-time girlfriend, Jessica Tara Cox. Cox also played at Millville High in New Jersey, Trout’s alma mater.
After putting a heavy emphasis on pitchers in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, the Angels focused on position players this year, picking 25 position players and 15 pitchers.
Of their 40 picks, only five were high school players; the rest were from four-year colleges or community colleges. Twenty-two of the college players, including 15 of the college position players, were seniors.
“There was a strategy to it,” Wilson said. “People kind of looked cross-eyed at us, but there was definitely a plan to it. We thought we’d go after a ton of position players, which is what the draft was deepest in. For sure, we're getting very close to a balanced foundation” of pitchers and position players in the farm system.
One player Wilson was particularly excited about was Jimmy Barnes, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound outfielder from Deep Creek High in Chesapeake, Va., who was taken in the 11th round.
“The upside of this kid is amazing,” Wilson said. “His athleticism, raw strength and power, is very intriguing.”
The Angels’ first-round pick, Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward, was in Tropicana Field before Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and met several Angels players, including Trout and Albert Pujols, and Manager Mike Scioscia.
“It’s crazy,” said Ward, the 26th overall selection in the draft. “It’s probably crazier than the phone call” from the Angels after he was picked. “Seeing these guys on the field taking batting practice, it’s something you really want to work for.”