Tyler Skaggs is heading for Orange County, but a decision must be made if the Santa Monica High pitcher will sign with the Angels or join Cal State Fullerton’s highly successful baseball program.
Because of a late season ankle injury, Skaggs slipped from a projected top 10 pick to number 40 Tuesday in the annual major league draft.
The Angels, who had five picks in the first 48, selected Skaggs with a supplemental choice obtained as compensation when relief ace Francisco Rodriguez signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.
The Angels liked Skaggs a lot and hope to sign and develop him. But instead of being in a position for a $4 million bonus, which is common for top 10 picks. Skaggs will be offered considerably less, making college an option.
“Whatever decision he makes he’ll do fine,” said Rob Duron, Skaggs’ Samohi coach the last two years. “He’s a hard worker and a good student.”
Teams have until August 15 to sign the players they draft this week.
In summer showcase events Skaggs had been slotted high in competition with other top prospects. But he had the misfortune of being unable to pitch in the final month of evaluation except for one playoff game against Los Altos High. He showed then the ankle was all right but gave up a 400-foot home run and absorbed a 3-1 loss.
He was passed up by a bevy of high school pitchers who had been ranked lower. Skaggs is still an outstanding prospect but wasn’t one of 16 pitchers who were chosen in the 32 picks that made up the first round.
The Angels have a history of drafting high school pitchers.
“We have done well in drafting, signing and developing high school teens,” said Angels Scouting Director Eddie Bane.
Skaggs fits the profile. He won’t turn 18 until next month.
However, at Cal State Fullerton he would play against quality college opposition. He could stay the required three years and then would probably be a first round choice. Cal State Fullerton is a high profile college program and the 2009 team has qualified for the College World Series which starts this weekend in Omaha.
A scouting report on Skaggs posted on mlb.com evaluates his fastball and curve as being of big league quality but his changeup as merely a work in progress.
The most recent Samohi graduate now playing in the minor leagues is centerfielder James Cooper, who went on to Loyola Marymount before being a 10th round choice of the Yankees in 2006.
Cooper was the quarterback on Samohi’s 2001 CIF championship football team and developed his baseball skills in college.
Now Skaggs and his family must choose between several years in the minors and college. Angel farm teams are located in Rancho Cucamonga, Cedar Rapids, Arkansas, and Salt Lake City.