Angels first-round pick Nolan Schanuel is eager to mirror Zach Neto’s rapid rise

Florida Atlantic's Nolan Schanuel during a game.
Florida Atlantic’s Nolan Schanuel during a game in Boca Raton, Fla. The Angels selected Schanuel as the No. 11 pick in Sunday’s MLB draft.
(Doug Murray / Associated Press)

Nolan Schanuel was already happily crying before his name was announced during the MLB Draft broadcast on Sunday, his college advisor relaying the good news ahead of the selection. The Angels picked up the 21-year-old infielder out of Florida Atlantic University at No. 11 overall in the first round.

“This has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Schanuel said. “And to be able to be in the Angels organization now has just made that dream 10 times better. I mean, I’m so excited, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to fly out today.”

Not lost on Schanuel is the fact this Angels organization has been quite aggressive with the promotion of its draft picks the past few years.


Starting pitcher Reid Detmers, for example, was drafted by the organization in the first round of the June 2020 draft, getting called up to the big leagues the following summer. Shortstop Zach Neto, also an Angels first-round pick, and relief pitcher Ben Joyce, who the Angels selected in the third round, were drafted in 2022 and called up to the majors earlier this season, less than a year after they concluded their college careers.

“I want to be right there with Zach Neto, Ben Joyce, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani,” Schanuel said. “I want to be a teammate of theirs and get going.”

A swift promotion is no guarantee, though it isn’t out of the realm of possibility given the Angels’ recent history. How fast Schanuel moves through the minor leagues will depend on his progress. Angels scouting director Tim McIlvaine said Schanuel would be evaluated before starting his professional career, possibly at the A-ball level.

Angels manager Phil Nevin says this year’s team is better equipped to bounce back from a tailspin than last year’s squad that missed the playoffs.

July 9, 2023

“We’ll just kind of go from there and let him dictate when he’s ready to move [up] or if he needs a little more time,” McIlvaine said.

Schanuel, a junior at FAU, primarily played first base through his collegiate career, a position McIlvaine said Schanuel would be rolled out at to start, but he could be introduced to the outfield come the fall. Schanuel, who is from Boynton Beach, Fla., considers himself a utility guy, athletic enough to fill all eight positions on the field.

FAU coach John McCormack told The Times that Schanuel could also play left field and the Angels should also see what he can do at second and third base. McCormack planned on playing Schanuel at third base his sophomore year, but Schanuel declined McCormack’s offer so that a teammate could play the position and Schanuel remained at first.


“I said, ‘We made a commitment to you, I told you I’d give you an opportunity [to play third],’” McCormack recalled of the conversation. “He’s like, ‘No, I appreciate it, but we’re a better team if I play first and this other guy plays third.’ That says a lot.”

FAU's Nolan Schanuel bats during a game.
FAU’s Nolan Schanuel bats during a game in Boca Raton, Fla.
(Doug Murray / Associated Press)

As far as other baseball skills, Schanuel’s offense is what sticks out the most. McIlvaine highlighted the potential of his bat, while also describing him as a player who is knowledgeable of the strike zone, patient and rarely strikes out.

His offense, particularly his walk to strikeout ratio, has improved since his first two years in college.

As a freshman and sophomore, he batted .357, drawing slightly more walks than he was striking out. In the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2022, Schanuel struggled, drawing 28 walks and striking out 27 times, batting .211.

This past winter, Schanuel went to an eye doctor and learned he had astigmatism in his right eye, which was increasingly affecting his ability to see the ball. He was given a contact for his eye in January, and partially credited the better vision for his improvement.


It’s painful, but Bill Plaschke argues the Angels have no chance of retaining Shohei Ohtani and must trade him to get as much as possible in return.

July 8, 2023

In 2023, Schanuel batted .447 with 18 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs, 64 RBIs and a walk to strikeout ratio of 71:14.

“I knew I was struggling my sophomore spring with seeing at night and I didn’t know what it was,” Schanuel said. “And then throughout the Cape, I definitely noticed something, so I waited until I got home to go to the eye doctor.

“It was like the ball was, not even in 3D, 4D,” Schanuel said of his improved vision. “It was poking out that much more being able to see the spin of the ball directly out of hand helped me so much.”