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2009 Angels Position Prospects, Historically Speaking

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How good, historically speaking, were our best prospect performances in 2009? The short answer is, pretty good. According to the stat OPS+, Halos position prospects Carlos Ramirez, Dillon Baird, and Alexia Amarista put up some of the best performances of the decade. Not bad for a system widely criticized as having left its best days behind.

OPS+ adjusts offensive contributions to league and competitive context, so it's really the best stat to use when looking at performances across levels. Simply put, OPS+ is the best shorthand I know of making an apples-to-apples comparison of a player hitting .300 in the Midwest League to a player hitting .300 in the Pacific Coast League.

First, let's take a look at the best numbers. Here's a list of decade-best offensive performances over at least 100 PA's by OPS+. 2009 guys are in italics.

OPS+     PLAYER                     PA's       LEVEL          AGE  YEAR

201     Carlos Ramirez            190       Adv_Rook      21   2009

193     Roberto Lopez               319       Adv_Rook      22   2008

193     Seth Loman                    199       ASL_Rook      21   2007

188     Chris Pettit                       266       A-Ball              22   2007

181     Dallas McPherson         302       AA                    23   2004

180     Sammy Swenson          267        Adv_Rook       23   2001

177     Dallas McPherson         136      Adv_Rook        20   2001

177     Sergio Contreras           201     Adv_Rook        20   2000

176     Matthew Sweeney         202      ASL_Rook       18   2006

173     Howie Kendrick              337      A-Ball                20 2004

Notice any patterns here? Half of the best OPS+'s were put up by college kids in advanced rookie ball, where significant diversity of age and talent makes it relatively easy for older draftees to stand out. Still, Orem catcher Carlos Ramirez performed better than 85 other college kids with over a hundred rookie league PA's, and that demands recognition. He got on base in exactly half of his PA's. Moreover, if you add his numbers from the Pioneer League playoffs, his season line reads even better: a 219 OPS+ with 10 homeruns across 214 rookie ball plate appearances. He's a guy to watch next year.

But we're interested in guys who put up a larger sample size, so let's look at only the best performances of players who got at least 250 PA's and see if any more 2009 draftees float to the top.

OPS+ PLAYER                PA's    LEVEL          AGE YEAR

193 Roberto Lopez          319    Adv_Rook      22    2008

188 Chris Pettit                 266    A-Ball              22     2007

181 Dallas McPherson    302    AA                   23     2004

180 Sammy Swenson     267     Adv_Rook     23     2001

173 Howie Kendrick        337    A-Ball             20     2004

173 Chris Pettit                272    Adv_Rook     21    2006

171 Howie Kendrick         312     AAA               22     2006

170 Dillon Baird               250    Adv_Rook    21    2009

167 Jose Fernandez        522    AAA                26     2001

167 Dallas McPherson    339     A+                  22  2003

Again, we see one player from 2009, this time Ramirez' Orem teammate, first baseman Dillon Baird.  If you're curious, Randall Grichuk's age 17 season in the ASL ranks 25th on this list. Trout didn't have enough PA's to qualify.

Next, let's acknowledge that it's a far more difficult thing to outperform your peers over a full season, rather than just a half season. Here's a list of the decade's best performances by OPS+ over 500 or more PA's.

OPS+  PLAYER                   PA's     LEVEL     AGE   YEAR

169 Dallas McPherson      573      AA, AAA    23       2004

167 Jose Fernandez         522     AAA           26        2001

163 Sean Rodriguez         724     AAA          23_24   2008+2009

158 Chris Pettit                   573     A, A+          22         2007

156 Brandon Wood           595     A+                20          2005

153 Mike Campo               569       A+               25          2002

144 Alexia Amarista       557       A               20          2009

143 Mike O'Keefe              537       AA              24        2002

142 Mike Napoli               584        A+              22         2004

141 Robb Quinlan           588        AAA            25         2002

Cedar Rapids' second baseman Alexia Amarista is the next '09 name to pop up, which is something of a shock due to his lack of power relative to the other guys on the list. He had a very, very good season in a league that is very, very hard on hitters. I also included split seasons in this list, giving Dallas McPherson credit for his historic 2004 campaign in AA and AAA, and Chris Pettit for his very good season in A and High A. For Sean Rodriguez, I collapsed his '08 and '09 AAA seasons into a single line - he deserves to be remembered for his fine work there.

Sure, 2009 was no banner year for the Halos system, especially at the higher levels, but it did see some very good performances by players new to the organization. Those performances rank right up there with the best of a talent- rich decade, so I think it's fair to say that the pipeline is not running dry.