Only two guys in today's installment of best 2010 prospect performances, but they're two highly interesting position players. Who do you think has the best shot at establishing himself as a regular on a big league club? Neither is a sure thing, certainly, but which profile do you prefer?
15) Alexia Amarista, 4/6/89 - 2B, High A, AA, AAA
.309/.350/.421 with 5 HR and 25 SB. +2 bat, +4 glove, 2.86 WAR
Amarista had a streaky 2010 season: he absolutely pounded the ball in the Cal League over the first two months, hitting .358/.400/.512 and generating good power numbers to his pull side. He then slumped horribly in June despite hitting two HR's, which happens "when he's a little pull happy... he limits himself when he gets that pull conscious and opens himself up, gets exposed on the outer half of the plate," according to Abe Flores. The Halos nevertheless promoted him to AA , where he was a much more balanced hitter, improving his K/BB ratio to nearly 1/1 while boosting his line drive rate; but he managed only a .284/.329/.321 line, which is a fair projection of what might do in the MLB if his pop disappears at the upper levels (says the pessimist). He received another promotion in mid August to AAA, where it seems pitchers really did just try to knock the bat out of his hands by throwing him nothing but strikes (his walk rate dropped to 1.4%). Amarista punished them with a .400/.406/.585 line over 69 PA's. How much of that was the PCL hitting environment and good luck is anyone's guess.
TotalZone didn't love his defense this year, measuring his contributions with the glove as good but not elite (he was +20 last year). Maybe that's an indication of what we should expect in the future, or maybe playing at three different levels with three different infields bumped him a little off his game. His Venezuelan winter league stats aren't impressive so far (.200/.250/.244), but I'm sure he's both gassed and trying to find his footing with his fourth team of the year. I look forward to seeing where the Halos place him next year.
14) Jeremy Moore, 6/29/87 - OF, AA
.303/.358/.463 with 13 HR and 24 SB. +15 bat, +0 glove, 2.94 WAR
At first glance, Moore's .303/.358/.463 batting line doesn't look elite, but his park-adjusted 133 OPS+ is the fourth best full season mark among Angels' Double A prospects since 2000, putting him just behind Mike O'Keefe (age 24), Brandon Wood (age 21), and Mike Napoli (age 23). The key point to make here, however, is that Moore's .380 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was about 40 points higher than any of those guys. Because he strikes out a lot while not bashing 20+ HR's (yet), that high BABIP is absolutely critical to his offensive value, so the question for him is when and to what degree do the hits stop falling against baseball's best defenses. He's put up BABIP's in the .380's in each of past two seasons, and his current winter league BABIP is hovering around .500, so he is establishing a track record. However, guys who make it to the major leagues almost always see their BABIP's drop, sometimes precipitously - the MLB average is usually around .300 - so Moore will have to do at least one, and hopefully all three of the following to be a big league regular: (1) buck the odds and maintain much higher than average BABIP's; (2) reduce his strikeouts to under his current 24.1% rate; and (3) hit more HR's. One guy who has a similar skill set to Moore and accomplished all of those things in his mid to late 20's? Nelson Cruz, though he's a little bigger and a little stronger. I actually like Moore quite a bit - he's a tremendous athlete who has done a great job turning his tools into baseball skills - but expectations for him are rising rapidly despite the clear need for more polish in the minors. At any rate, we're going to hear what the national pundits have to say about him soon, because Moore's .381/.413/.571 performance in the Arizona Fall League demands attention.