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AMATEUR BASEBALL DRAFT : Abbott, Angels’ Top Pick, Has a Tough Finale

Times Staff Writer

Kyle Abbott was banking on a better farewell performance than the rocky 2 1/3 innings he pitched Monday during an 8-5 loss to Louisiana State that eliminated Cal State Long Beach from the College World Series.

But Abbott can seek some solace, knowing the first time he starts on the mound for an affiliate of the Angels, he’ll be doing it with a satisfactory sum of money in the bank.

Monday morning, Abbott was selected by the Angels in the first round of the baseball amateur draft, the ninth player chosen overall.

“I was anxious this morning,” said Abbott, a 6-foot-4 junior left-hander from Mission Viejo. “It’s kind of like a Christmas Day-type thing. You know you’re going to get the presents, it’s just a matter of where it’s going to come from.”

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Abbott was in his hotel room when the call informing him of his selection came from Angel scout Rick Ingalls.

“As soon as I heard his voice, I knew it was him and I knew what had happened,” said Abbott, who finished the season 15-3 with 140 strikeouts in 135 innings. “Any team would have been great, but I’m glad it was the Angels so I can stay at home in Southern California.”

Ingalls was first informed about Abbott by Long Beach Coach Dave Snow.

“Dave Snow told me he was the best kid he’d been around in terms of work ethic,” Ingalls said. “He throws in the low 90s and we think he will get as fast as 93 down the road. He has a fastball with good life, a hard-breaking slider, an overhead curveball and a good changeup.”

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Bob Fontaine, the Angels’ director of scouting, said, “In the last two years, we feel there have been five quality left-handed pitchers in the draft--and we got two of them.”

Abbott said his family has not discussed the bonus he will seek from the Angels.

He does not, however, intend to compare himself to Jim Abbott, the Angels’ No. 1 pick out of Michigan last year who opened this season in the club’s starting rotation.

“I’ve heard rumors (about Jim Abbott’s bonus), but I didn’t get the Sullivan Award,” Abbott said. “I don’t have the drawing power he does.”

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Said Fontaine: “The thing everybody saw with Jimmy (Abbott), the thing Jimmy had that no other kid has is the makeup. We’re feeling this kid (Kyle) has the type of makeup to pitch in the big leagues, too.’

How about a pair of Abbotts in the Angels’ rotation?

“I think it’s great. I hope I get a chance to meet him,” Kyle Abbott said. “I followed him at Michigan, him being a hard-throwing lefty. I tried to pattern myself after him.”

Times staff writer Mike Penner contributed to this story.

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