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Angels go after power in the draft

ANGELS FYI

They gamble with their first pick and select Texas high schooler Randal Grichuk, a slugging outfielder.

June 10, 2009|Kevin Baxter

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Angels scouting director Eddie Bane isn't much for convention.

"I'm a little bit of a maverick, I guess," he confessed.

So he wasn't about to play it safe Tuesday, gambling the team's first first-round draft pick in three years on Texas high schooler Randal Grichuk, a slugging outfielder many draft-watchers considered a second-round selection at best.

"Everybody has a good opinion. But we can't worry about [that]," said Bane said, who took Grichuk with the 24th overall selection. "I wasn't worried about other teams ranking him."

Bane played it safer with the Angels' other first-round pick, taking New Jersey high schooler Mike Trout, a speedy and athletic outfielder who hit 15 homers in 71 at-bats and stole 21 bases this spring.

"We love the way he plays the game," Bane said of the 17-year-old Trout. "[He] can make things happen on the basepaths."

What the Angels love about Grichuk, meanwhile, is his power -- a tool Bane said the organization needed to add in this draft but one that is difficult to project in a high school player. Bane compared Grichuk to Travis Snider, Toronto's first-round pick in 2006, who hit .301 with eight extra-base hits in 24 big-league games last season.

"We think this guy is that kind of hitter," Bane said of the 17-year-old Grichuk, who hit .597 with 19 home runs in 72 at-bats for Rosenberg, Texas' Lamar Consolidated High, making him one of the nation's top prep power hitters.

He also hit a tournament-high four homers in the 2004 Little League World Series.

"We really targeted him," Bane said. "Our area scout there just loved him."

The Angels also had three "supplemental" first-round picks, giving them five of the first 48 selections in this year's draft.

That's not only the most picks the Angels have ever had that early, but it's more top 50 selections than the team has had in the last five drafts combined.

With the rest of those choices the Angels took left-hander Tyler Skaggs of Santa Monica High, right-hander Garrett Richards of the University of Oklahoma and left-hander Tyler Kehrer of Eastern Illinois University.

The Angels also had one selection in the second round, taking Florida junior college left-hander Pat Corbin, and another in the third round, where they selected Arizona State left-hander Joshua Spence.

Hunter, good and bad

Outfielder Torii Hunter was in the starting lineup Tuesday but Manager Mike Scioscia said he would sit out tonight to rest a sore groin.

Hunter hurt himself two weeks ago at Dodger Stadium and said the pain worsened during last week's series on the rock-hard artificial turf in Toronto.

Tampa Bay plays on an artificial field as well, although its turf is much more forgiving than Toronto's.

Hunter was also on the move in fan voting for next month's All-Star Game in St. Louis, moving up one spot to fifth among American League outfielders.

Hunter, who has just more than 660,000 votes, trails Boston's Jason Bay, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford. No other Angel ranks among the top five at his position in the balloting, which ends June 26 in major and minor league ballparks and July 2 online at mlb.com.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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