© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

05/31/07 10:00 AM ET

Angels target high school talent in Draft

Team prefers to mold prospects at a young age

ANAHEIM -- The Angels' draft philosophy is no mystery. They prefer drafting high school talent over collegians, and that's not about to change any time soon.

If a Jered Weaver falls in their lap from Long Beach State, as in 2004, they'll welcome him with open arms. But the blueprint is to draft teens and mold and shape them into the Angels' way of playing the game.

"We go after high school kids more than anybody else," Eddie Bane, director of scouting, said. "The trend, unfortunately, is coming around to us. The Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals are drafting high school kids."

The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 2 p.m. ET, and MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round Draft, start to finish.

Having surrendered their first-round pick to Texas as compensation for signing free agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., the Angels have their first choice this year at No. 58, a sandwich pick. Their second selection will arrive with the 119th pick in the draft.

The team prefers to target high school players over college players for the simple fact the organization has longer to work with them than collegians before they reach the Major Leagues.

Sizing up the 2007 field of prospects, Bane sees a draft rich in pitching.

"There's more left-handed pitching than usual at both the high school and college levels," Bane said. "It's a good draft for arms. If we're ever going to get a left-handed pitcher, it looks like this could be the year."

About the only guarantee he'll make is that the Angels won't be taking a catcher with their top pick after selecting Hyun Choi "Hank" Conger, a receiver from nearby Huntington Beach High School, with their No. 1 choice last year.

A look at the past three top selections by the Angels:

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
Complete Draft list >

Hank Conger, C, 25th overall pick:
Named after Hank Aaron by a grandfather from Georgia who couldn't pronounce his given Korean name, Conger, 19, has impressed the organization with his skills and his attitude at Class A Cedar Rapids this year after hitting .313 in 19 games of rookie ball last summer.

A switch-hitter with soft hands, a strong arm and quickness behind the plate, Conger is hitting .263 with a .441 slugging percentage in the first stop on what promises to be a steady climb through the system.

"We really like what he brings to the table," Angels manager Mike Scioscia, an authority on catchers, said of the 6-foot, 205-pound Conger. "Hank has a chance to be a special player for us."

Trevor Bell, RHP, 37th overall pick:
Still maturing physically and athletically, Bell was highly touted as a prepster, going 8-3 with a 1.13 ERA in his senior year of high school in high-level competition.

In his first four starts this season at Cedar Rapids, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander was 0-2 with a 4.24 ERA, walking three while striking out 12 in 17 innings.

At Orem in rookie ball last year, he was 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA. His command was a plus, reflected by only 15 walks to go with 53 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings.

Bell played outfield in high school and hit a school-record 26 home runs from the left side.

Jered Weaver, RHP, 12th overall pick:
Weaver, 24, is back on track after a spring setback caused by biceps tendinitis. He was 4-3 with a 3.68 ERA entering his start against the Mariners on Wednesday night, having gone 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his previous six outings, covering 36 1/3 innings.

"Jered's been pitching great," Scioscia said. "He's right where he needs to be. We expect big things from him."

Weaver made a dramatic impact as a rookie last year, winning his first nine Major League starts -- the first pitcher since Whitey Ford to do that. Called up on May 26, he tossed seven shutout innings in his Major League debut a day later, finishing 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 19 games.

Weaver sat out for nearly a year before signing in 2005, but regrouped quickly and went a combined 7-4 at Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas. He was 6-1 at Triple-A Salt Lake with a 1.99 ERA in 12 appearances, 11 as a starter.

"There is something about his delivery," Bane said. "He hides the ball so well. His 92 (mph) is like another guy's 95."

Rising fast: 3B Matt Sweeney
An eighth-round pick from Magruder High School in Rockville, Md., Sweeney has made an impression at Cedar Rapids, hitting .279 with a .408 slugging percentage.

Sweeney, who turned 19 on April 4, is a left-handed hitter with developing power, and he's filling out his 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame. He's looking to smooth over some rough edges defensively, having committed 12 errors in 40 games at third.

Cinderella story: OF Chris Pettit
Taken in the 19th round from Loyola Marymount University last summer, Pettit has been a standout for Cedar Rapids in every respect.

"He's been terrific not only as a player, but as a leader," Bane said. "He's really come on." Right-handed all the way at six-foot and 190 pounds, Pettit's batting .361 (.596 slugging, .427 on-base) with power and speed. He hit .336 in 68 games of rookie ball for Orem after signing last year.

In the show: Weaver has become a fixture in the rotation in his second Major League season. No other member of the past three draft classes has reached the big time.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.