Halos hook pair of power hitters early
Outfielders Grichuk, Trout taken with 24th and 25th picks
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With consecutive first-round picks in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, the Angels went fishing for their missing ingredient -- power -- and hooked a couple of big ones, including a Trout.
Taken No. 24 overall, as compensation for the New York Mets' signing of Type A free agent Francisco Rodriguez, was outfielder Randal Grichuk of Lamar Consolidated High School, Rosenberg, Texas.
One pick later, with a compensatory selection via the New York Yankees' signing of Mark Teixeira, the Angels went for another prep outfielder: Mike Trout, from Millville (N.J.) Senior High School.
"Power is one of the last tools that shows up at the Major League level," Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said in reference to the club's two first-rounders leading off a Draft bonanza. "We were looking for some corner power, and both these guys have power."
With compensation picks, the Angels landed left-handed pitcher Tyler Skaggs from Santa Monica (Calif.) High School (No. 40, for Teixeira), right-handed pitcher Garrett Richards of Oklahoma (No. 42, for Rodriguez) and another southpaw, Tyler Kehrer of Eastern Illinois University, at No. 48 (for Arizona's signing of Jon Garland).
With their second-round pick, No. 80 overall, the Angels tabbed yet another lefty in Patrick Corbin, a Clay, N.Y., resident attending Chipola (Fla.) Junior College.
With their third-round choice at No. 110, they nabbed a fourth left-hander, Joshua Spence, from Arizona State University. Spence is a native of Geelong, Australia.
Grichuk, a 6-foot, 185-pound athlete with a commitment to Arizona, projects as a corner outfielder but said the Wildcats had him ticketed for center. His 38 homers over the past two seasons -- 21 as a senior -- led the nation. Batting .613 as a senior, he had 23 walks against just 11 strikeouts in 75 at-bats.
With impressive bat speed and strong hands, he's been driving the ball since the 2004 Little League World Series when he homered four times. He went deep three times to help power Team USA to the gold medal in the 2007 World Youth Championship in Venezuela.
Trout, 6-1 and 205 pounds, is an all-around athlete who excelled at shortstop and as a pitcher in high school. Committed to East Carolina University, he batted .520 as a senior with 17 home runs and has plus speed. He also was 12-4 with a 1.77 ERA, striking out 124 batters in 76 innings.
"Randal's an athlete," Bane said. "He's a left fielder, a right fielder. He throws fine. Trout is a center fielder. Randal's not the terrific athlete I'd say Mike Trout is, but he's a very good athlete.
"We really targeted [Grichuk]. Our area scout [Kevin Ham] loved him. We were looking for corner power. I don't think we worked any harder than before, but it is exciting. Now we have to do the non-fun part -- signing them. We've talked to the advisors, the families. We had dinner with the Trouts."
Both Grichuk and Trout expressed excitement about the prospect of joining the Angels organization.
"I'm overwhelmed with excitement now," said Grichuk, who grew up about 20 minutes from Houston and was a Jeff Bagwell fan. "Being able to go in the first round of the MLB Draft is unbelievable."
A Chase Utley admirer who lives within an hour of Philadelphia, Angels manager Mike Scioscia's home turf, Trout identified quickly with an environment the Angels hope to find nurturing.
"I love the Angels and their winning history," said Trout, who played football as a freshman and basketball all four years in high school. "I played center field all season, and it's a good fit. I love to track some balls down."
He'll have one of the best ever -- Torii Hunter -- to study in Angels camp next spring if he signs. Neither Trout nor Grichuk said a deal was imminent, leaving that to their advisors.
Bane made no secret of his desire to fortify the organization with power. The Angels are last in the American League in homers with only a few legitimate power sources -- Mark Trumbo, Hank Conger, Matt Sweeney -- in the farm system, excluding players with Major League experience such as Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, Terry Evans and Matt Brown.
"We're starting to see some power developed down there," Scioscia said. "But certainly you'd always like more. You can't teach power. It either develops or it doesn't."
The Angels hadn't had a first-round pick since 2006 when they selected Conger, from Huntington Beach (Calif.) High School, No. 25 overall.
The Angels have had two first-round position players -- first baseman Casey Kotchman and catcher Jeff Mathis -- reach the Major Leagues since 2001.
Of the seven homegrown position players on the 25-man roster, only Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli have hit more than four home runs.
The Angels' own first-round choice went to Colorado for their signing of closer Brian Fuentes, like K-Rod and Teixeira a Type A free agent.
The deadline for signing first-round picks is Aug. 17.
LHP Tyler Skaggs, Santa Monica High School (No. 40 overall) Skaggs, who turns 18 on July 13, has an ideal frame (6-5, 180), a fastball in the 90s and a quality curve -- a package that made him among the top six lefties available in the Draft. Hampered by an ankle injury, he was 2-3 with a 1.60 ERA as a senior, striking out 12 three times in nine appearances. He was the Ocean League MVP as a junior. With Cal State Fullerton his college option, he took flight among scouts in last October's World Wood Bat Championship with his old-school, full windup.
RHP Garrett Richards, University of Oklahoma (No. 42 overall) Richards, 21, is big (6-3, 217 pounds) and throws heat. An effective reliever as a sophomore, he was 9-4 with a 5.00 ERA in 16 outings as a junior for the Sooners. His 85 strikeouts in 75 innings attest to his stuff, but he needs to find consistent command to be successful.
LHP Tyler Kehrer, Eastern Illinois University (No. 48 overall) Kehrer, 6-3 and 210 pounds, throws in the 90-93 mph range with a developing slider. He was 5-3 with a 4.42 ERA in 65 2/3 innings, striking out 90 while walking 41. His .213 average against led the Ohio Valley Conference.
LHP Patrick Corbin, Chipola (Fla.) Junior College (No. 80 overall) Corbin, 6-3 and 170 pounds, will be 20 on July 19. He has high-octane stuff and is durable. He was 5-2 this season with a 4.31 ERA in 11 starts, delivering three complete games. He had 68 strikeouts against 20 walks in 54 1/3 innings, holding hitters to a .240 batting average. Chipola, a powerhouse in catcher Jeff Mathis' hometown of Marianna, Fla., turned out the Angels' highly-regarded 2008 third-round pick, right-hander Ryan Chaffee.
LHP Joshua Spence, Arizona State University (No. 110 overall) A native of Geelong, Australia, Spence pitched the Sun Devils into the College World Series with a complete-game gem against Clemson. He allowed just four hits and two runs while striking out 10 for his second complete game of the season. At 6-1 and 170 pounds, he's 9-1 with a 2.33 ERA. He has 109 strikeouts vs. just 25 walks in 88 2/3 innings, and opponents are batting .234 against him. Spence was the third Sun Devil taken on the first day of the Draft, joining first rounder Mike Leake (No. 8 overall, Cincinnati) and second-rounder Jason Kipnis (No. 63 overall, Cleveland).
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.