By JOE REEDY (AP Sports Writer)
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Nolan Schanuel reached the majors less than six weeks after being picked 11th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in this year’s amateur draft.
On Friday night, Schanuel showed the poise of a veteran in his big-league debut.
The 21-year-old infielder was part of the Angels’ first triple play in 26 years, and also had an unassisted double play earlier. Batting leadoff, he went 1 for 4 and scored two runs.
Despite the great debut, it still wasn’t enough as the Angels lost 9-6 to the Tampa Bay Rays in 10 innings.
“I wouldn’t even say I remember my first at-bat. I kind of blacked out,” Schanuel said. “After the double-play line drive, I kind of snapped back into it and came down to Earth. After that, it just felt normal.”
Schanuel’s call up from Double-A Rocket City comes 40 days after he was drafted. It’s the fastest big-league promotion for a draft pick since Chris Sale in 2010 with the Chicago White Sox.
Schanuel batted .370 in 21 minor league games across three levels. He got the call after first baseman CJ Cron was placed on the injured list due to low back inflammation.
Even though it is Schanuel’s offense that made him a first-round pick, it was his glove work that provided some momentum for the Angels.
In the second inning, he snagged Josh Lowe’s line drive and then tagged the bag at first when Tampa Bay’s Osleivis Basabe couldn’t get back in time.
In the ninth, Schanuel was then part of the Angels’ first triple play since 1997. After Schanuel got the throw from second baseman Brandon Drury to get Harold Ramirez out at first, he made a great throw to catcher Logan O’Hoppe, who tagged out Yandy Diaz on his left shoulder before he could touch home
“Drury made a good throw to first and right when he threw it to me, Diaz took off. I just saw it out of peripheral, turned over and made a good throw. O’Hoppe saved me on that one by putting on a good tag as well,” Schanuel said.
The fielding ability and throw also impressed Diaz, who is in his seventh season in the majors.
“When you see a rookie like that you hope that he gets a little bit nervous. But that play it seemed like he had been playing in the big leagues for 10 years,” Diaz said of Schanuel.
Schanuel got his first hit in the seventh inning when he lined a base hit to left. He also drew a walk in the second inning before Shohei Ohtani’s grand slam gave the Angels a short-lived 5-1 advantage.
“I thought he was really good. I thought he put together some good at-bats,” manager Phil Nevin said. “The base hit was a big at-bat. Finishing off the triple play was great field awareness and instincts. He made a nice play on the line drive as well. Nice first day for him.”
Before the game, Nevin said Schanuel’s track record in college and his short stint in the minors, as well as the organization’s recent history with draft picks making an early impact, made him the best option at first base with Cron out.
“If we feel somebody’s ready to play and that’s the best team for us, we’re going to do it,” Nevin said.
Schanuel is the first Angels position player to debut in his draft year and third overall. The others were left-handed pitchers Brian Anderson (1993) and Danny Goodwin (1975).
Schanuel was an All-American selection and the 2023 Conference USA Player of the Year at Florida Atlantic University. He was second in the nation in batting average (.447), and finished with 19 homers and 64 RBIs.
It is the third straight year that the Angels have been the first organization to promote a player from a draft class to the majors. Right-hander Chase Silseth, an 11th-round selection in 2021, was called up in May 2022, and 2022 first-round pick Zach Neto was promoted less than a month into this season.
“There’s no philosophical thing here. It’s the individual player, where they’re at, how they’re performing and where the team is and what the needs are,” general manager Perry Minasian said. “Obviously, we have a need at first base with CJ going down. We felt like Nolan could fill it.”
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