Reporting from New York — The Angels’ top pitching prospect, Garrett Richards, is set to make his major league debut Wednesday. That could make the Angels’ 2009 draft even more special, but the scouting director responsible for selecting those players is long gone.
The Angels had four of the first 42 picks that year. Mike Trout, the outfielder considered one of the two best prospects in baseball, was one. Tyler Skaggs, the pitcher who was the key to the Dan Haren trade, was another. So was Richards.
Eddie Bane, the scouting director at the time, was fired last winter by General Manager Tony Reagins. The Angels did not publicly explain the decision.
Bane said he does not accept the reason Reagins gave him — that the Angels’ recent drafts were poor.
“Tony and I don’t like each other,” Bane said Tuesday. “I don’t think that’s a reason to get fired. Personality clashes are never any fun. I don’t blame him for thinking I’m not the greatest guy in the world. He’s not a guy I would want to hang out with. I’m sure he feels the same way about me.
“He told me, ‘I’m not happy with the last three drafts.’ That’s ludicrous.”
Reagins did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The 2008 draft has produced Tyler Chatwood, the rookie who has effectively replaced Scott Kazmir in the starting rotation, but little else so far. The 2010 draft is barely a year old.
Baseball America last spring ranked the Angels’ farm system 15th among the 30 major league clubs. Under new scouting director Ric Wilson, the Angels changed focus from high-risk, high-reward prep athletes to more polished college players.
Bane now scouts for the Detroit Tigers.
Here to stay?
Richards will start in place of Jered Weaver, who is serving a suspension. However, with Joel Pineiro moved to the bullpen for now, a solid start could keep Richards in the majors.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be one start or 10 starts,” Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Richards, 23, will make his major league debut at Yankee Stadium, against a team that leads the major leagues in home runs.
“I think it’s great,” Scioscia said. “I think it’s a great challenge for a youngster. We think he’s going to pitch his game.
“If you can come into an atmosphere like Yankee Stadium and pitch a good game, you know how much confidence you take away from that?”
Richards, a right-hander, was 12-2 with a 3.06 earned-run average at Arkansas. He will jump from double A to the majors, just as Chatwood and Ervin Santana did before him.
“His stuff is just as electric as Chatwood’s or Santana’s when we brought them up,” Scioscia said.
Torii Hunter was kind enough to pick up a pair of what he said looked like “pretty expensive” glasses and return them to the fan who dropped them onto the field. “He offered me a dollar,” Hunter said. “I should have taken it.” … The Angels optioned pitcher Horacio Ramirez to triple-A Salt Lake.