Schanuel, who has logged fewer than 100 minor league plate appearances across 21 games and was at Double-A before his call-up, started and hit leadoff against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. He is the latest player summoned by the Angels to salvage a season with dimming playoff hopes on the verge of Shohei Ohtani's free agency.
"I have dreamed about playing in the major leagues since I was 4 years old," said Schanuel, who got the call after C.J. Cron was put on the injured list Friday with a back injury. "It's been a goal of mine, but I didn't think it would be in 40 days. It's very unexpected, but I'm ready to take on the opportunity."
Schanuel was considered perhaps the most advanced bat in a renowned 2023 draft after hitting .447/.615/.868 with 19 home runs, 71 walks and just 14 strikeouts in 289 plate appearances at Florida Atlantic University this season. Still, the 21-year-old was not expected to be the first player since the 20th century to debut so soon, after just 40 days in the minor leagues.
Outside of Ariel Prieto -- a 25-year-old Cuban who arrived within a month of being drafted in 1995 -- Schanuel's debut is the fastest since 1979, when Texas promoted left-hander Jerry Don Gleaton, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The last position players to come to the big leagues this quickly were Atlanta third baseman Bob Horner (10 days) and Toronto catcher Brian Milner (17 days) in 1978.
The last player to debut this early in his drafted season was Chris Sale, who came up Aug. 6, 2010 -- about two months after the draft, which was moved to July in recent years. Schanuel's ascent is even more rapid, although it does align with Los Angeles' philosophy of aggressive promotions.
The Angels called up their 2022 first-round pick, shortstop Zach Neto, in mid-April after 201 minor league plate appearances. They had the quickest debut from a 2021 draft pick, too, in right-hander Chase Silseth, who went from an 11th-round pick in 2021 to a big leaguer in May 2022.
"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 C.J. going down. We felt like Nolan could fill it."
Schanuel might be the most polished and prepared of all. With his hands held high in the air, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound player uses an unconventional left-handed swing to showcase exceptional bat-to-ball skills. In 96 plate appearances across three minor league levels, he hit .370/.510/.493 with 21 walks and just 10 strikeouts.
"I didn't change anything from what I was doing six months ago in college," Schanuel said. "The speed of the game is a little faster than it was in college so I had to make little adjustments. Once I got to experience it, that slowed everything down."
He will join an Angels lineup that needs all the thump it can get. While Ohtani is locking up another MVP season, Los Angeles is exhausting all options to win now, however futile it might seem. The team activated catcher Logan O'Hoppe on Friday and the return of outfielder Mike Trout is expected to solidify the lineup.
Neto remains out with a back injury, and trade deadline acquisitions Randal Grichuk and Cron both have sub-.600 OPS since joining the Angels.
In another move, the Angels moved third baseman Anthony Rendon to the 60-day injured list. He hasn't played since July 4 due to a bruised left shin.