Nolan Schanuel, the Angels’ 2023 first-round draft pick, called up to the majors

The Angels called up first baseman Nolan Schanuel, their first-round pick in this year’s MLB draft, on Friday after only playing 21 games in the minor leagues.

Schanuel, who was selected 11th overall on July 9, will bat leadoff for the Angels in Friday night’s game against the Rays at Angel Stadium.

“I have a little added nerves today, but it’s baseball,” Schanuel said before the game while sitting in the dugout. “I’ll just slow myself down once that first pitch is thrown. I think it’ll start going into slow motion. I might black out a little bit, but I’m ready to play.”

He received the fastest promotion to the major leagues in decades. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last U.S.-born player to debut within 40 days of being drafted was Texas pitcher Jerry Don Gleaton in 1979.

Sixteen of Schanuel’s 21 games were with Double A Rocket City, where he hit .339 with an OPS of .955. Overall, including three games in Class A and two games in Rookie League, the 21-year-old Schanuel hit .370 with one home run and 15 RBIs and a 1.003 OPS.

Shortstop Zach Neto, the Angels’ first-round pick last year, also had a quick rise — but he played in 44 minor league games before being called up in April.

“If anybody can handle that situation, Nolan can handle it,” said Eric Beattie, who managed Schanuel in 2022 with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod League. “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. So if anybody can adjust well to that, I think Nolan will be able to handle it with the best of them.”

Schanuel struggled in 2022 with the Harbor Hawks while unknowingly playing with an astigmatism in his right eye. But, his professional response to failure is what told Beattie he had the potential to be a good player in the long term.

“I saw him stay with the process and his routines and stay in a good mindset, even as he was struggling as a player,” said Beattie. “And I think that, to me, stuck out most about his professionalism, that he didn’t panic when he struggled. He just stuck to what he does and knows that makes him know he’s a good hitter. And, seeing him handle that response to failure was what made me really feel like he was going to be a great professional hitter.”

After receiving medical attention and a contact for his right eye, Schanuel turned heads in his 2023 season at Florida Atlantic, batting .447 with 18 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs, and 64 RBIs. He made his Double-A debut on July 29 and after playing with Rocket City on Thursday, scoring one run and getting two hits, it was time for the big leagues.

The six-foot-four rookie said he got the call Thursday night, had to convince his mom and his friends it was real before they booked their tickets to California, and he did most of his sleeping on the plane Friday morning.

Schanuel acknowledged the added pressure of being the first player called up so quickly in more than 40 years, but remained grounded in his routine. “Every time I go out in the field, there’s pressure and whether it was college games, summer games, it’s just like I’m nervous every time I step on the field,” he said.