Angels agree to terms with first-round pick …

The Angels have agreed to terms on a professional contract with their first-round pick, Taylor Ward, four days after selecting the Fresno State catcher 26th overall in the 2015 Draft, according to a source.

The deal won’t be official until Ward completes a physical examination later on Friday. Slot value for the Angels’ first-round pick was $2,034,500.

Ward, 21, batted .304/.413/.486 with seven homers and 42 RBIs while throwing out 56.6 percent of would-be basestealers (13 of 23) and starting all 59 games in his junior year. For his three-year career at Fresno State, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed hitter batted .288 with 16 homers and 98 RBIs in 162 games, while throwing out 60 percent of would-be basestealers.

Ward was born in Dayton, Ohio, and resides in Oviedo, Fla. He led his high school team to a 20-5 record as a senior, was named the De Anza League’s Most Valuable Player as a junior and became the first athlete in Shadow Hills history to receive a Division I scholarship.

The Rays initially drafted Ward in the 31st round in 2012.

Ward is the seventh catcher the Angels have taken in the first round, joining Hank Conger (25th overall in 2006), Jeff Mathis (33rd, ’01), John Orton (25th, 1987), Erik Pappas (sixth, ’84), Danny Godwin (first, ’75) and Mike Nunn (ninth, ’67).

Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said Monday that he projects Ward to be ready by 2018 and believes he can be “a .250, .255 hitter, maybe 12- to 15-homer type.”

“He’s got good size to him, he’s durable, he’s a got a well-above-average arm,” Wilson said. “He can really, really throw. When it’s all said and done, he’s going to be a premium defender; he’s going to be able to shut down the running game. He controls the staff, and he’s got some strength in his swing and controls the strike zone.”


1 Comment

Wilson goes on and on about the arm, but Austin Rei, who would have been available to the Angels in the second round, had a 65-grade arm, more mature receiving skills, and a more developed bat with upside. Moreover, if the organization is confident in its ability to develop catchers, why pass up the catcher with the highest upside in the draft, Chris Betts? Local product with prodigious power, with an all-star ceiling. Both Ward and Betts have equal chance of fizzling out, but they don’t have equivalent ceilings.

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