Mike Piazza Brings It Again: Top Angels Prospects of 2014

J. Meric

Keep in mind that this is not a traditional top prospect list because it focuses entirely on 2013 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.

(29) Mike Piazza, 26, RHSP.  AA. 2.3 WAR, 9 runs saved. 96.2 IP, 3.26 ERA, 92 K / 41 BB

Despite a July arm injury that sapped velocity, Piazza contributed his usual good work to the Travs as under-appreciated swingman and - after having to again earn the privilege - rotation mainstay.  Living in the mid to upper 80's while only occasionally touching 91 is generally not the path to a healthy 23.5% k-rate, but Piazza has a knack for keeping hitters guessing with his fastball, change-up and short-slider. Righties in particular have difficulty timing him, despite his lack of a big breaker, and he changes speeds with lefties enough on the outside part of the plate to keep them from killing him...  Just.

I suspect the Halos will send him back to AA in 2014, where he‘ll play a leadership role on a staff comprised of Mike Sappington and organizational types.  I still think Piazza will be an FO guy someday.

(28) Zach Wright, 23, C.  High A/A.   2.3 WAR, +1 bat, +1 glove. .262/.346/.390 with 8 HR and 6 SB

With the possible exception of seventeen-year old Mario Martinez, you won't find a catcher on any of the Halos' top prospect lists, despite the present low bar for entry. However, the farm does contain some solid organizational types who we'll see a lot of in the coming years. Favorites at the moment include Jett Bandy and Anthony Bemboom, the latter of whom wound up supplanting Wright on the playoff bound 66er's roster.  Wright's late season-demotion seemed to lite a fire under him, however, and he bashed Midwest League pitching down the stretch to the tune of an .810 OPS. That accrued him enough value to land on this list, even if it came against inferior competition.

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