Angels mix it up and add some two-way ability with their MLB draft haul
The Angels have added variety in the kinds of players they’ve selected in this year’s amateur draft.
Last year, the team used all of its 20 picks on pitchers. This year, they’ve picked up more position players, as well as two two-way players — though only one was drafted specifically as a two-way player.
Picking more position players, however, hasn’t been an intentional pivot away from selecting only pitchers, according to the team’s scouting director Tim McIlvaine, who touched on the topic on Day 1 of the draft.
“Every draft is different,” McIlvaine said Sunday. “I think as the draft kind of organically happens, you end up kind of going different ways. Maybe we take 10 more bats, maybe we take all pitchers the rest of the way. I don’t know yet.
“It’ll just be the guy that we think is the best player on our board that’s available.”
Mike Trout, who has missed the last four games with what was previously described as a back issue, was put on the 10-day injured list by the Angels.
On Day 1, the Angels chose 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 that respect in college.
Neto does not plan to be a two-way player at the professional level — and McIlvaine confirmed the Angels intend to use him as a shortstop — but did say that he would pick up pitching again if it was ever needed.
Neto described himself as a “swaggy player” with a lot of confidence. He used the chip on his shoulder he developed after not getting drafted out of high school in 2019 to become a stronger, more mature athlete in college.
McIlvaine said the Angels had been scouting Neto for a few years and they knew coming into this draft he was someone they really wanted, commending his athleticism, particularly his body control. He also said the Angels like that despite his size, Neto swings the bat and hits hard and has a good sense of the strike zone.
“There’s a lot to like with him,” McIlvaine said.
Neto, who was one of eight prospects to attend Day 1 of the draft at Xbox Plaza at L.A. Live, said he knew he was on the Angels’ radar for their first pick. He didn’t know they were the ones picking him when he was told — by his advisor Gavin Kahn — that he was getting picked.
By holding its annual draft outdoors for the first time at L.A. Live, MLB adopts a festival-like atmosphere that could be a model for drafts to come.
“It was kind of a surprise for me too,” Neto said. “I knew I was getting 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 picked two more pitchers in the sixth and seventh (Victor Mederos and Roman Phansalkar), a two-way player in the eighth (Dylan Phillips) an outfielder in the ninth (Joe Stewart) and another first baseman in the 10th (Matt Coutney).
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.