Eddie Bane is a very recognizable name in the scouting community. Last season, big bad Tony Reagins dismissed Bane from his post as Scouting Director for issues that appeared to be personal. This came as a shock to the industry, as Bane is a very well-respected scout.
In a lame attempt at humor, Reagins cited unhappiness over Bane’s previous three drafts as the reason for his dismissal. Mr. Reagins now finds himself unemployed, but Bane works in the scouting department for the Detroit Tigers.
The Angels made splash after splash in December (insert obvious Mike Trout reference here), but things have cooled off significantly since the team inked Fat Albert and Straight Edge Racer. I thought it’d be a fun exercise to examine just how good of a scouting director Bane was during his tenure with the Halos, which lasted from 2004 until 2010.
A large portion of being a scouting director, or GM for that matter, is trusting your scouts. It’s unclear whether or not Bane saw Player X and said “yay” or “nay,” but it is clear that he signed off on the final decision to draft (or skip on) Player X. For the purposes of this article, we’re basically grading how the entire team did as an amateur scouting department.
Bane joined the club in 2004, after spending five seasons as a special assistant to GM Chuck LaMar of the (then) Devil Rays. The rest is history…
With his very first pick, Bane drafted an ace. Jered Weaver has developed into a perennial Cy Young candidate and accumulated a remarkable 26.8 WAR (baseball-reference) in six major league seasons. Young and under contract through 2016, Jered Weaver has a chance to go down in history as one of the best Angels’ pitchers of all-time.
As with any team’s draft picks, most of Bane’s picks never made it to the big leagues, but several did. This list includes Freddy Sandoval, Nick Adenhart, Mark Trumbo, Martin Maldonado, and Bobby Cassevah. Others are still trying: Alan Horne, Stephen Marek, Marquez Smith, Erik Davis, and Hainley Statia.
Most of the guys in the “still trying” group are either org guys or small-time prospects. Horne was at one time a highly-touted prospect before injuries and command issues derailed his career. The Angels turned Marek into half of two months of Mark Teixeira (Casey Kotchman was included to get Teixeira’s 3.3 WAR for the Angels in 2008) and Marek has spent parts of the past three seasons striking out batters in Triple-A. Marquez Smith played 78 games in the Pacific Coast League for the Cubs in 2011. Erik Davis spent 2011 starting for Washington’s Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg. Hainley Statia displayed solid on-base skills as a 25-year-old in Double-A for the Brewers.
Interestingly enough, when the Angels lost Teixeira to the Yankees, they received the 25th pick in the draft. They used that pick to take a kid named Mike Trout, who you may have heard of. So, they traded Marek and Kotchman for two of Teixeira’s best months and Mike Trout.
If not for his tragic death in April of 2009, Nick Adenhart may have developed into a top-of-the-rotation arm for the Halos, which would have catapulted this draft into the “wow” category. Still, the Angels ended up with an ace in Weaver and a 1B/3B with power in Trumbo. Not a bad deal.
In 2005, Bane drafted ten players that have since reached the major leagues and a few who may get the call at some point soon. Only one of these guys was a major contributor for the Halos in 2011 (Bourjos), but two unsigned players went on to be top draft picks after going to college (Matusz, Posey). Every team has failed to sign a player and seen that player become a star elsewhere, but it’s always fun to fantasize about what could have been.
Bourjos was Bane’s 10th round selection and he broke out as for the Angels in 2011, racking up 5.0 WAR, largely in part to his fantastic speed and defense. Bourjos will open 2012 as a 25-year-old plus centerfielder with a modest bat. Not too shabby for the 10th round. Some analysts are worried about regression in 2012 because of Bourjos’s .338 BABIP in 2011, but even if things go sour with the bat, his defense will allow him to stay in a major league outfield.
The ten guys who made it to the big show: Bourjos, Matusz, Posey, Trevor Bell, Sean O’Sullivan, Jeremy Moore, Robert Mosebach, Brian Schlitter, Chris Davis, and Anthony Vasquez. Others who are still trying: Ryan Mount, Brad Coon, Bradley Suttle, Deunte Heath, Rian Kiniry, and Seth Loman.
The still trying group has some guys that have a chance to make it; Ryan Mount has put up solid numbers at Double-A but cannot stay healthy; Deunte Heath was added to White Sox 40-man roster in November. The other guys are sort of a mixed bag; Brad Coon made it to Triple-A with the Dodgers in 2011; Bradley Suttle spent 2011 in Double-A, still trying to realize the tools that made the Yankees give him a $1.3 million signing bonus in 2007; Rian Kiniry hit well in a 41-game stint in Triple-A last season; Seth Loman hit for impressive power in Double-A with the White Sox.
All in all, 2005 was a good draft that could have been great if the Halos could have signed Matusz, Posey, and Chris Davis. Still, Bane added Bourjos and a couple guys who are still interesting prospects for the Angels in Trevor Bell and Jeremy Moore. Another solid draft.
Bane’s 2006 draft has produced four players who have reached the majors so far. That’s a key “so far” because there are plenty of guys still active in the low minors and a couple guys who could get the call very soon.
The players who made it to the show: Hank Conger, Jordan Walden, David Herndon, Chris Pettit. People expect big things from Conger, despite his lackluster campaign in the big leagues this past season. Jordan Walden became the Angels’ closer and had a brilliant rookie campaign in 2011. The Angels lost David Herndon to the Phillies in the 2009 Rule V draft and he’s become a decent middle reliever. Chris Pettit had a cup of coffee with the team in 2009, but suffered an awful shoulder injury playing winter ball and missed the entire 2010 season before failing to hit above the Mendoza line in the minors in 2011.
Robert Fish was taken by the Braves in this year’s Rule V draft, so he should get a look in the majors at some point even if he fails to make the Braves’ Opening Day Roster. Charles Brewer is an interesting prospect who decided not to sign with the Angels to go to UCLA. Brewer reached Double-A with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and has what it takes to get to the show, at the very least as a back-end starter.
Walden is a dominant closer and Conger is still a big time prospect at catcher. We don’t fully know what this draft is yet, but we know it isn’t a total failure.
Bane’s used his first pick on Jon Bachanov, who has still yet to give us any reason to know his name. Bachanov was the prototypical power arm out of high school, but had Tommy John surgery before throwing a professional inning. After finally getting on the field in 2009 and failing to impress in 2010, Bachanov was released. He had an okay season in the Sally League for the White Sox this year.
When looking at the entire bunch of players Bane drafted, three players have made it to the majors – Andrew Romine, Mason Tobin, and Efren Navarro, while others have turned into top prospects – Matt Harvey and Trevor Reckling. Ryan Brasier is another prospect to note, as he figures to get a chance in the Halos bullpen at some point.
Signing Matt Harvey would have made this draft look a lot better, as he ended up becoming the seventh overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft after three years at UNC. Now, Harvey is one of the Mets’ top prospects. Arm issues have kept Reckling from reaching his potential, but he still has plenty of upside as a 22-year-old southpaw ready for Triple-A in 2012.
Assuming the three prospects who have yet to reach the majors get there eventually, this draft will have included six major leaguers. It’s unclear just how good each of them will be, so the jury is still out on Bane’s 2007 draft.
This is the first of the three drafts that lead to Bane’s dismissal, according to Reagins’s brilliant excuse. So far, two of Bane’s picks have reached the majors – Tyler Chatwood and Michael Kohn. Kohn’s a fringy middle reliever for the Halos now, and the team just turned Chatwood into Chris Iannetta.
In addition to Chatwood and Kohn, Bane drafted plenty of guys whose futures are still uncertain, including two players that he failed to sign who became top picks in 2011. Taylor Jungmann was taken with by the Brewers the 12th overall pick and the Rangers nabbed Zach Cone with the 37th overall pick.
So far, this looks like a solid draft. There are plenty of guys who have successfully made the jump to Double-A and catapulted themselves onto the prospect scene, but it really is too soon to tell what’s going to happen with many of them.
We’ve basically come to the point where any draft is difficult to judge. In ten years, however, this will probably be remembered as a fantastic draft for Eddie Bane and the Halos. Thus far, three picks have reached the majors – unsigned reliever Josh Spence, prospect Garrett Richards, and uber prospect Mike Trout. Richards has some very nice big league upside and Mike Trout has the tools to be a superstar.
Other significant prospects from the 2009 draft include Randal Grichuk, Tyler Skaggs, and Patrick Corbin. Grichuk has not exploded like the Halos hoped he would, but he’s still a young toolsy kid with some upside. Skaggs is considered one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game and Corbin is looked at as a guy who can be a back-end starter or good relief arm. The Angels were able to turn Skaggs and Corbin (plus others) into three and a half seasons of Dan Haren. Haren has racked up 6.8 WAR in a Halos uniform and remains under team control as the team looks to go deep into the playoffs during the next two seasons.
A minor league system is successful if the talent contributes at the major league level or allows the front office to trade for major league production. Bane’s 2009 draft allowed the Angels to acquire a top flight starter and brought in a potential superstar in Mike Trout. If Garrett Richards ends up reaching the potential that many people see in him, 2009 will have been an excellent draft for Bane and the Angels.
Among Bane’s drafts, this one is easily the most difficult to judge because we have so little information about it. None of Bane’s picks have turned into major leaguers yet, nor have any established themselves as elite prospects. The Angels had five of the first 40 picks in the draft and took five high school players. Thus far, neither of those five players has played above Rookie ball.
Even one year from now we should have a better idea of how good of a draft this was, but with the cadre of very young players taken early, it could take some time for us to know enough to make a fair assessment of Bane’s final draft as the Angels’ scouting director.
International Free Agents
Throughout Bane’s tenure the Angels were never dominant in the international market, but they did bring in some talent and some promising prospects. Kendrys Morales is clearly the best product of their international efforts. Prior to his freak injury in 2010, Morales established himself as one of the better offensive first basemen in the game.
The team used Alex Torres to acquire Scott Kazmir from the Rays. In hindsight it wasn’t a good deal, but he was still the type of prospect they could use to acquire major league talent. Prominent international players who remain prospects with the Angels include: Ysmael Carmona, Fabio Martinez Mesa, Ariel Pena, Alexi Amarista, Luis Jimenez, and Jean Segura.
In comparison with other teams’ efforts in the international market the Angels have been above average. We can basically count this as another good draft for Bane.
In looking at the Angels current big league bunch, it’s pretty remarkable to see how much Bane’s drafts have contributed.
Bane’s system has seen all of the following players become contributors for the Halos: Jered Weaver, Mark Trumbo, Jordan Walden, Hank Conger, Tyler Chatwood, Michael Kohn, Mike Trout, and Kendrys Morales. In addition, Bane’s prospects have been used to acquire Dan Haren, Mark Teixeira, and Chris Iannetta.
All in all, it’s pretty clear that Tony Reagins made a big mistake by letting Eddie Bane go. Bane has a strong record of building strong farm systems and deserves another shot as a scouting director in the big leagues.
Hudson Belinsky can be followed on Twitter at @hudsonbelinsky.