Taylor Ward comes to terms with Angels
He might not have an imposing catcher's build just yet, but make no mistake about it, Taylor Ward is intent on becoming the Los Angeles Angels franchise backstop.
So intent, in fact, that he's already come to terms with the team. It took him less than five days from to contract.
The Angels' first round pick out of Fresno State was introduced at Angel Stadium prior to Friday night's game against the Oakland A's and it was clear that he was happy to be a Halo.
"It was a big relief," he said. "I was drafted out of high school late and those entire three days were very stressful and it was rough, it really was. To finally get picked by a great team in a great spot, it was a great relief for me."
A catcher with a high offensive upside, Ward was someone the Angels had their eye on throughout the process. Angels' scouting director Ric Wilson had already had talks with his family in the days leading up to the draft, but with his projections putting him anywhere from the first to third rounds, he was as relieved as Ward was.
"As you're going through the draft, it's hard to do things because you don't know who is going to be there," Wilson said. "As many of these as I've sat in, I can watch it now and still now know where guys are going to end up. So it's hard to actually sit down and do something. But he was definitely a guy that we wanted and we're very proud to have him in our organization."
Ward was a first-team All-Mountain West catcher as a junior this season, hitting .304 with a team-leading seven home runs and 42 RBIs. The Bulldogs allowed 25 steals in 40 attempts with Ward making 59 starts behind the plate.
He'll have another catching mentor in the organization in Angels manager Mike Scioscia. The two have only had a few brief conversations with the topic of catching yet to come.
"We talked briefly, but it was just kind of feeling each other out," Ward said. "He's a very comfortable person to talk to. I felt at home."
"I think he's what you would expect," Scioscia said. "All of us have gone through that whole process of getting drafted and signing your first professional contract. It's exciting and he's excited."
Ward will report to Low-A Orem, along with the rest of the position players the Angels took in this year's draft.
"A lot of it depends on him, what pace he feels comfortable with and his success wherever he may be," Wilson said. "A lot of it has to do with him and we're certainly not going to rush him. We're going to let him get very comfortable first. He's caught a lot of innings this year."
The Angels have also come to terms with seven other draft picks, including Pepperdine infielder Hutton Moyer, the son of former MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer. Wilson plans to keep this core group together through their early part of their respective minor league careers, much the same way the Angels have done with their last few draft classes.