Who is Nolan Schanuel? Get to know the Los Angeles Angels’ future first baseman
Minor league development is curtailed for the number one pick as an increasingly desperate Angels team call up Nolan Shanuel after only six weeks.
The Los Angeles Angels took a huge gamble. They opted not to trade their biggest-money asset just a few weeks ago, convincing Shohei Ohtani to stay and make a push for the playoffs. And so far, that gamble is not paying off, in danger of draining away their season, and with it the last chance that the organization had to rebuild.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Angels shocked the entire baseballing world when they decided to call up their first-round pick from Double A on Friday morning.
Six weeks ago, Nolan Schanuel was a standout from Florida Athletic taken with the 11th overall pick in the draft. In just 21 minor league games, he is hitting .370/.510/.493. Very few players go directly from college to MLB with no time in the minors, and even fewer are standouts once there. Bob Horner was the biggest immediate success, John Olerud the best long-term, becoming a Hall of Fame first baseman.
The Angels clearly see Schanuel as the future at first base, but this fast-tracking of their protégé is stunning nonetheless.
Scouting reports from college saw him as a plus hitter with plus power, although not the type of power that MLB teams are currently asking of their first basemen. He is doing what was expected of him in Double A, and the Angels, frankly speaking, do not have the luxury of waiting.
On Friday, Schanuel lead off for the Angels against the Rays, going 1 for 3 with a strikeout and a walk, scoring on Shohei Ohtani’s grand slam in the 9-6 loss.
Schanuel struggled with poor eyesight in the Cape Cod League, but after getting medical attention for his astigmatism, he became a head turner at Florida Athletic, hitting .447 with 18 doubles, 4 triples, 19 home runs and 64 RBIs.
Eric Beattie managed Schanuel with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod League, telling the Los Angeles Times, “He’s a professional hitter. He’s got a professional eye for balls and strikes. And he’s got great hand-eye coordination, he’s got the best speed to hit elite velocity. I think Nolan will be able to handle it with the best of them.”
Schanuel is an outstanding talent at first base, and may well become a player in the mould of John Olerud at the position. But his lack of time in the minor leagues are enough to give pause. The Angels’ desperation may uncover a gem, or it may harm his development. We hope it is the former.