Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
Over the next month, we'll take a look at the best prospect performances of 2012. Keep in mind that this is not a traditional top prospect list because it focuses entirely on 2012 contributions. I rank guys according to advanced metrics which, for position players, include batting runs above average, positional adjustment, defense, and a replacement level calculation that scales the total to "Wins Above Replacement" (though the concept of replacement level doesn't really apply to minor leaguers). I use a standard "runs allowed based" WAR formula for pitchers. I also incorporate the "bullpen chaining" adjustment derived by the Halosphere's own rallymonkey5.
26) Hank Conger, 24, C - 2.0 WAR, +4 bat, + 0 glove. .295/.347/.473 with 10 HR and 2 SB.
Hammer'n Hank made the 2 WAR cut off for this list, but just barely (as in, I had to round up). Still, he did his damage in just half a season worth of PA's, so was an above average contributor when on the field. Aside from failing to get a meaningful big league look, the key feature of his 2012 campaign is the deterioration of previously sterling K/BB ratios. I don't have batted ball data for 2012, so can't prove a thing, but I suspect that that the 3% decline in Hank's BB rate in Salt Lake resulted from him swinging at more pitches on the outer half of the plate in an effort to drive the ball to the opposite field. Over the previous two seasons, Hank had evolved into a patient (even picky), exclusively pull hitter from the left side, which worked in AA and AAA, but is likely something that the Angels want him to remedy in the wake of mediocre big league trials.
25) Garrett Richards - 2.0 WAR, +10 runs saved. 77 IP, 4.21 ERA. 87 hits, 65K /35 BB
Richards has fantastic stuff. He has good control, even if the command is evolving. He has also shown fringe "pitchability," by which I mean some combination of poor pitch sequencing, lack of execution in the strike zone, and/or pitch tipping. Sometimes young pitchers with that profile smooth things out and evolve into rotation anchors (John Lackey was highly erratic over his first seasons with the Angels). Other times, they remain inconsistent over their careers (see: Santana, Ervin). Either way, Richards should provide a lot of surplus value in aggregate over his salary in the next five years, even if pitching to his potential infrequently. That makes him an essential component to the Angels and their top-heavy payroll structure (and I drafted this before they signed Hamilton!).
24) Zach Wright , 22, C - 2.0 WAR, +10 bat, +0 glove. .274/.390/.430 w/ 6 HR and 1 SB
The Angels made Wright a twelfth round senior signing out of East Carolina University. He was good - but not great - in college, where he put up a .298/.383/.422 line in his final amateur season. Then he turned pro, jumped to a pitching friendly A-Ball league, and posted an OPS 15 points better than his senior numbers. That is absolutely bonkers, considering the dramatic uptick in competition. The plate discipline and occasional pop made him a threat at the plate (+137 wRC according to Fangraphs), though I did see him flail against some of the league's better offspeed stuff. His 30% caught stealing total hints at average catch and throw skills, but it's hard to read much more into his receiving, as he was regularly teaming up with ineffective pitching. While he likely played over his head last year, he's a guy to track in the coming season. His ceiling is likely back-up at the big league level.