fan - Patrick Smith
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.
13) Randal Grichuk, 20, OF - 2.6 WAR, +7 bat, + 4 glove. .298/.335/.488 with 18 HR and 16 SB
Grichuk stayed healthy over a full season for the first time since... well, since he entered pro ball. Back in 2009. He didn't exactly destroy the Cal League, but he put up respectable numbers as the eighth youngest player in the circuit. It's important to note that the production came in San Bernardino, one of the few non-launching-pad stadiums in the Cal League. He performed much better at the 66ers' home park than, say, C.J. Cron, posting a .469 slugging percentage there versus the latter's .384. While he predictably mashed lefties, he wasn't terrible against same-handed pitching, hitting .279/.319/.455 and keeping the ball in the air against righties. Best of all, his strikeout rate dropped from 20%+ in previous seasons down to a better-than-average 16%, which is a good place to be for a righty-swinging power hitter who couldn't buy his own beer until August.
All of that and a weak peer group mean that Grichuk has ranked as high as third in the system on prospect lists (Sickels' version is the better known). Off the cuff, I have trouble placing him that high because, well... I have trouble imagining how a righty hitting corner outfielder with non-elite pop and no patience fits on any likely iteration of the Angels in the next half-decade. That's not really fair to Grichuk, who looks like a safer bet to develop into an average big league right fielder than he did a year ago.
Ha! I made it through the write-up without a snarky mention of Grichuk being taken one pick ahead of Trout... Oh... Oh man. Dammit. My bad. It'll be tough to live that one down.
12) Andy Workman, 24, CF - 2.8 WAR, +6 bat, +4 glove. .278/.329/.423 w/ 11 HR and 9 SB
Workman was a 34th round pick out of Arizona State in 2011, where he served as a part-time outfielder with decent if unspectacular numbers. He ultimately proved to be the Kernels' best centerfield option in 2012, and garnered most of the playing time there in the second half. I don't have access to advanced defensive stats, but his 2.77 range factor makes him one of the busiest centerfielders that the Angels have had in the Midwest League in years. That high number means that he either had the range to get to more balls than most (including Mike Trout and Travis Witherspoon), or that he had more opportunities to get to the ball. I lean towards the latter since the Kernels' rotation was, uh, to put it kindly, "fly-ball oriented."
Workman's best attribute with the bat is some modest pop, so look for him to man an RBI spot somewhere in what should be a very college-heavy (and potentially boring) Inland Empire lineup in April.