Rookie Ball Athletes: Top Angels Prospect Performances of 2012

Catch IT!!!! - Stephen Dunn

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.

10) Wendell Soto, 20, ss - 3.0 WAR, +3 bat, + 6 glove. .282/.339/.436 with 9 HR and 12 SB

Soto had a good season, even if he didn't draw much attention. Hitting .214/.277/.345 in the Midwest League through June tends to lower a player's profile. When I saw him play in April and May he was noisy at the plate - lots of extraneous motion - and didn't show much in the way of bat control. He just looked raw in the box. However, he's a good athlete with plus speed, great range at short, and surprisingly good bat speed, so he's not without his virtues. Right now, those tools translate much better in the field, where he played a strong shortstop despite the early offensive struggles.

Once demoted in June, Soto really took to the Pioneer League, putting up a .329/.381/.500 line through the summer. His K rate dropped slightly, but the real difference was that his BABIP spiked 145 points, from a .254 mark with the Kernels to .399 with the Owlz. That's a pretty astounding gap, even with a stat as volatile as BABIP, and really underscores just how great it is to be a hitter in the Pioneer League.

Soto's defensive skills guarantee a return trip to the Midwest League. The bat speed gives him surprising pop, and if he's able to improve his approach, he could be a pleasant surprise in 2013. He doesn't have a tremendous ceiling, but athletes with his ability to play shortstop at the highest level will get plenty of time to learn how to hit.

11) Joel Capote, 22, OF - 2.8 WAR, +16 bat, +2 glove. .339/.439/.508 with 5 HR and 11 SB

The Halos snagged Capote in the 28th round of the draft out of St. Thomas University. He had bounced around before that, playing at both Miami-Dade College and Florida International University. He's not very physical, he's fast but not a burner, and he lacks projection of any kind. But he does know how to play the game. I feel like I know this guy - friends of mine dreamed of catching on like Capote did in pro-ball, and might have too with just one or two more lucky breaks. Capote's living the dream, and likely earned more looks with a stellar performance through his first 65 pro games. I expect that he will play a significant role at the top of the Kernels' Bees' order in the coming year.

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