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The Angels Top 32 Prospect Performances, Beginning with Randal Grichuk

Time to kick off prospect season!

Coverage of the 2010 top Angels' prospects begins with a look at the best statistical performances of 2009. Using the generally-accepted sabermetric assessment of a player's contributions, value-over-replacement-player ("VORP"), I ranked the Halos organization's top 32 minor league players of the year.

Halosphere guru Sean Smith (baseballprojection and contributor to minorleaguesplitsbaseballreference, hardballtimes, and fangraphs) gave me a peak at his 2009 Total Zone defensive calculations, which I incorporated into each player's final score. Thanks Sean! 

The +/- bat, +/- glove, and +/- runs saved figures are all in runs relative to the average player in the given prospect's league. I then applied positional and "value over replacement player" adjustments, which is why the +'s and -‘s don't correspond exactly with a player's ranking on the list. Simply put, guys who play everyday over a full season accrue the value they create over inferior players who would otherwise fill their spot. Guys who play skill positions - catcher, short, 2nd and 3rd - accrue more value than those who don't. 

Here are rankings # 32 to # 21. Numbers 11-20 and 1-10 will appear on Halos Heaven later this week.

32) Randal Grichuk, 18 - OF, Arizona Summer League.

.322/352/.551, 7 HR, 6 SB. +6 bat, +4 glove

The Halos' top pick of the '09 draft led the ASL in hits and triples, and ranked 2nd in total bases and extra base hits. BA labeled him the 5th best prospect in the ASL, trumpeting the power but expressing concerns about his glove, so it's great to see TotalZone rate him at +4 in the field.

31) Joshua Blanco, 19 - LH SP, Arizona Summer League

3 Wins, 2 Losses, 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 63 K/13 BB. +11 runs saved.

The Halos drafted the 6'2" southpaw out of a Texas High School in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. Despite a solid pro debut, he was the forgotten man when the Halos brass put together the Cedar Rapids and Orem rotations. Blanco clearly mastered rookie league, but he's one of many talented arms under consideration for Cedar Rapids' 2010 rotation.

30) Bobby Wilson, 26 - C, AAA

.271/.316/.398, 8 HR. -7 bat, +9 glove 

The bat regressed this year, but AAA managers still voted Wilson the best defensive catcher in the Pacific Coast League. Plus, he's got outstanding make-up and that all-around-good-guy thing going. The Halos catching situation is getting crowded, with Conger advancing to AAA and Carlos Ramirez potentially moving quickly behind him. Look for the Halos to make big decisions about their catching depth in the coming year.


29) Jean Segura, 19 - 2B, Pioneer Rookie League, AAA

.346/.392/.512, 3 HR, 11 SB. +9 bat, +0 glove

Tom Kotchman called the nineteen-year-old second baseman Orem's best position player, and told BA he might be "the best position player in the league." BA nevertheless ranked him only the league's sixth best prospect, but noted his offensive upside. TotalZone scored him just average at the keystone, so he's going to have to improve with the glove.

28) Efren Navarro, 23 - 1B, A+

.287/.360/.397, 5 HR, 3 SB. +0 bat, +10 glove

Efren Navarro is the definition of the average player. He put up a 101 OPS + in the Cal league, which would have made his bat entirely inadequate for first base had he not been so good with the glove. 

27) Francisco Rodriguez, 26 - RH RP, AAA

5 wins, 4 losses, 77.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 60 SO/40 BB. +9 runs saved.

The stats don't exactly jump off the page, but Rodriguez put in a slew of above-average innings in the unforgiving PCL. His stuff doesn't blow scouts away and his performance may have peaked this year, but let's give credit where credit is due: the Bees undoubtedly won more games with Rodriguez as a fixture in their pen. Maybe he'll get a cup of coffee next year.

26) Pil Joon Jang, 21 - RH SP, Arizona Rookie League

6 wins, 3 losses. 82.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, 72 K/10 BB. +8 runs saved.

Overshadowed by younger, flashier Fabio Martinez Mesa, Jang was the actual ace of the ASL Angels' staff, pitching more quality innings than any other starter. A 2007 scouting report described a good fastball sitting at 93 and solid slider, though I haven't seen any more recent reports.  This summer was his pro debut after signing for $560,000 upon completing service with the Korean Army in September of 2008.

25) Carson Andrew, 21 - RH RP, Pioneer Rookie League

1 win, 0 losses. 50.1 IP, 2.68 ERA, 40 K/14 BB, +12 runs saved

Andrew was a 28th round pick in the June draft out of Jacksonville University. He was below average as a starter, but transitioned to the pen when Garrett Richards entered the Orem rotation. His stuff played well in relief: he put up a 1.48 ERA, induced lots of groundballs, and K'd nearly a batter an inning.

24) Gabriel Jacobo, 22 - 1B, A Ball

.257/.317/.427, 10 HR, 6 SB. +0 bat, +12 glove

The middling offensive numbers are a comedown after the .320/.338/.504 line Jacobo put up over 133 A-ball plate appearances last year, but let's focus on the positive: (1) he was a monster with the glove at first base, saving 12 runs according to TotalZone, and (2) he hit .285/.330/.488 after the All-star break. He's a solid all-around player who still has some upside left in his bat, especially if he can boost his walk rate.

23) Christopher Pettit, 24 - OF, AAA

.321/.383/.482, 8 HR, 18 SB. +14 bat, -2 glove

Ah, what might have been: Pettit carried a monster season into June, batting .371 with 27 extra-base hits, before an errant pitch broke his hamate bone. He returned in July, but was never quite the same, though he did collect his first two major league knocks in a September call-up. His ability to play a passable center could land him the 4th/5th outfielder role on the mlb club, though he'll have to show that he can overcome his platoon split against right-handed pitching (2009: 1.117 OPS against lefties / .772 OPS against righties. Career: .966 OPS against lefties / .876 OPS against righties).

22) Garret Richards, 21 - RH SP, Pioneer Rookie League

3 wins, 1 loss. 35.1 IP, 1.53 ERA, 30 K/4 BB. +15 runs saved

BA ranked Richards the fourth best prospect in the Pioneer League and labeled him a potential front-line starter due to his 93-94 mph fastball and complimentary arsenal of 3 average-to-plus offspeed pitches. His performance supported the aggressive ranking: he was an insane 15 runs above average in only 35 plus innings. Richards will likely head the Cedar Rapids rotation come April.

21) Manuel Flores, 22 - LH SP, A and High A

9 wins, 7 losses. 153.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 93 K/26 BB. +5 runs saved.

Flores was just +5 runs above average on the season, but there's a lot of value in taking the ball every fifth day and generally going deep into games. He's a finesse lefty who's likely to hit a wall at the higher levels - indeed, he struggled in six Cal League starts to finish the season - but he still provided more quality innings than more highly-profiled rotation mates Will Smith, Ryan Chaffee, and Tyler Chatwood.

Honorable mentions:

  • Matthew Sweeney ranked 31st on the list with a +14 bat and a bad-but-not-as-bad-as-expected minus 3 glove at the hot corner. He would have ranked much higher with a full season.
  • Yancarlos Santiago is an intriguing DSL lefty who earned his way into the rotation midseason. He's old for the league and doesn't have a projectable frame, but did put up a decent K-rate and was +11 runs saved over 47 IP.
  • Angel Castillo was a hair under average with a -4 bat, but played a great right field with a +10 glove. Fangraphs applies a much bigger park adjustment to Cedar Rapids than I did, so he'd rank higher in other systems. Regardless, there's a lot to like with his massive power and speed potential, but he still has to figure out the strikezone.
  • Mark Trumbo scored +8 with the bat and +0 with the glove.  Trumbo has never done well in runs-based scoring systems like this, because they don't give much credit to corner guys with less-than-stellar defense and patience, despite their ability to drive in runs. The optimist will say, "Kendry Morales never ranked highly in runs-created-based scoring systems either, and look at him now." The pessimist will say, "yeah, but Trumbo still hasn't hit .300 anywhere, and his right-handed bat puts him on the wrong side of platoon splits most of the time."  You decide.
  • Fabio Martinez Mesa ranks way down the list due to the shockingly high number of unearned runs he gave up (his unearned runs total a full 33% of his total runs allowed). At any rate, you'll be hearing plenty about him when organizational best prospect lists come out, so don't dwell too much on his low ranking here.