Matt Long's Sneaky Good Season: Top Angels' Prospect Performances of 2012

PROSPECTS! - Mark J. Rebilas-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.

20) Matt Long, 25, OF, 2B and SS - 2.2 WAR, +7.1 bat, -4 glove. .282/.350/.462 with 12 HR and 23 SB

Long had a weird season, jumping through AA and AAA while playing infield for the first time in his pro career. He consequently got a little lost in the shuffle, which worked out ok: the Angels left Long off of the roster for the Rule 5 draft, but teams passed him over despite some good reasons to believe he'd make a serviceable utility guy. As organizational depth, Long could provide sneaky value.

Long began the year in the Texas League, and was easily the Travs' best hitter in April while rotating through the outfield spots. That club lacked a true masher, but Long did a good impression of one by rapping out three quick HR's and posting a career high 13% walk rate over a few weeks before leaving Arkansas. Poor Travs' fans.

The organization jumped Long to AAA and handed him an infielders' glove. I'm pretty sure that at some point - probably when he was 16 - Long was a stud shortstop for a high school or tournament team, but prior to 2012 he had never played infield in pro ball (although calfan7 did give us a heads up that he spent time there in the fall 2011 instructs). At the second highest level of American professional baseball (I guess third if you count the National League), Long held his own when asked to learn a new position on the fly. I'm sure he had his struggles over the course of the year, but he looked alright whenever I saw him and his .968 fielding percentage points to adequacy if not excellence. He did just fine given the circumstances, and even played one game at shortstop.

Long understandably struggled at the plate while undergoing trial by fire with the glove. He stumbled through May and June with a .244/.301/.376 batting line, giving away a lot of the value that he had accumulated in AA, and consequently dropped below the radar a bit midseason.

Over the second half, Long hit .338/.404/.585 with a 17 BB/19 K ratio. That's a .247 isolated power mark. Yeah, I know it was Salt Lake, but some of those HR's left no doubt that he has some pull power that could play in any park. The batting line translates to a .283/.346/.470 line in the big leagues, which is more than enticing for a utility guy with a good arm and decent speed who is capable of handling 2B and all three outfield spots. Last year's profile of him, which you can check out here, provides video and a breakdown of his hitting mechanics. See if you're a believer.

He's not a huge guy, and his pull tendencies may not translate to the next level. He turns 26 pretty soon. Still, as roster depth, you could do a whole lot worse, and Long could put up a very solid season or two in the bigs if given the opportunity.

21) Gabriel Perez, 21, RHSP - 2.1 WAR, +12 runs saved. 80 IP, 5.06 ERA, 80 hits, 78 K/ 25 BB

In the absence of scouting reports or a televised appearance, I have only the numbers for Perez, and one number in particular stands out: he plunked 14 batters, which is more than notorious bean-baller Johnny Hellweg hit in 20 additional innings. That's just weird, given his otherwise decent control, and also a likely factor behind why he gave up so many runs compared to his otherwise good peripherals (well, that and he stranded a below average 65% of base runners... And was pitching in the Orem launching pad. So there were a few other factors). Those peripherals indicate some polish, so Perez should move quickly in the pitching-starved Halos' organization. Without a scouting report it's unfair to project him, but I suspect he'll wind up a solid organizational innings eater.

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