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Mark Trumbo and the Usual Suspects: Angels Upper Minors Report

AAA Salt Lake Bees: 68 wins, 69 losses

Mark Trumbo, 1B - (27 AB's) .433/.500/.867 with 4 dbl, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 K/4 BB

Before the season started, I asked myself how my ranking of Trumbo would change if he hit 30 HR's in the Pacific Coast League, and came to the conclusion that there wouldn't be much reason to bump him up if his other skills didn't improve. Well, he's hit 34 now, leads the Pacific Coast League in RBI's and total bases, and outperformed A's uber prospect Chris Carter all season. The reality of his accomplishment is much more exciting than the hypothetical, so my resolve started to crack in July.  Then Trumbo's approach at the plate improved rapidly through the late summer, allowing him to set a career high in walks without letting the strike zone get away from him, a must for projecting him to succeed at the next level. He's earned a shot at consideration as a regular, and therefore has vaulted up my own rankings.

Alexia Amarista, 2B - (26 AB's) .462/.481/.615 with 2 dbl, 1 trpl, 2 SB, 1 K/1 BB

Does Amarista start in AA next year, or AAA?  He's hit and played great defense wherever the Halos sent him, so the more competitive league seems like the best fit, but I do worry about him getting a little pull happy in that thin mountain air, a habit that a full season in Arkansas might knock out of him for good. 

Hank Conger, C - (30 AB's) .400/.455/.633 with 2 dbl, 1 trpl, 1 HR, 3 K/3 BB

Another solid week with the bat, though Fresno swiped five bags with him behind the plate in Sunday night's slugfest. Overall though, his defensive stats look remarkably similar to those from last year despite the higher level, so he's holding his own. He still has yet to allow a passed ball.  

AA Arkansas: 53 wins, 80 losses

Abel Nieves, 2B - (22 AB's) .364/.417/.636 with 1 dbl, 1 trpl, 1 HR, 4 K/2 BB

I've always liked Nieves, a 50th round draft pick out of Middle Georgia Community College in 2005. He's been an effective organizational soldier since then, filling in at 2B and 3B up and down the Halos system and showing a good approach at the plate everywhere he went. His best season was 2008, where he put up a .318/.409/.438 line with the Quakes while playing most every day. He probably won't be back next year, but deserves recognition for his productive Angels' career. 

Ryan Brasier, rhsp - (2 starts) 12 IP, 8 hits, 1.50 ERA, 9 K/8 BB

We haven't heard much from Brasier since his no hitter back in June. Unsurprisingly, the outing was the high point of his season, but he never really was able to build momentum after the gem. Lefties in particular have murdered him (3.2 HR's per 9 innings pitched. Yikes!). He has great velocity, but still has work to do polishing his command and secondary pitches. 

Roberto Lopez, Of, C - (24 AB's) .375/.444/.542 with 1 dbl, 1 HR, 5 K/3 BB

Lopez has hit .383 on balls in play this August, up from .200 and .233 in June and July respectively. As usual, the BABIP spike mirrors a jump in linedrive rate, which is up to 20.4% this month. Lopez has also cut his pop-up percentage to just 5% in August, so he's hitting flyballs with much more authority. Of course, that's all just a fancy way of saying he's locked in. This week's production boosted his AA OPS line over the psychologically important .700 line. If you include his April and May High A production, he's hitting .285/.360/.446 on the year, which seems like an accurate reflection of his current abilities. 

Jeremy Moore, Of - (25 AB's) .320/.320/.520 with 1 trpl, 1 HR, 4 K/0 BB

Earlier this week, Turks Teeth and Halowood debated who would make the better comp for Jeremy Moore's upside: Juan Rivera, or a faster developing, left handed version of Terry Evans.  I'd always used the Terry Evans comp when talking about Jeremy Moore, due to his consistent pairing of high strikeout totals with high batting averages on balls in play.  A late bloomer, Evans also figured out how to turn his strength, athleticism, and speed into impressive minor league HR and SB totals at age 24, something that I hope Moore is able to do in the coming year.

That said, Turks Teeth has a point: a young Juan Rivera's power production offers a striking parallel to Moore's developing pop, and Rivera went on to translate his age-24 power surge into an MLB career as 4th outfielder, DH, and eventually everyday left fielder. We are, after all, talking about how much value Moore could provide the Angels' MLB club, and there's good reason to hope his improvements will lead to a career arc similar to Rivera's. 

In the field, Rivera was a modest asset through his mid 20's, even playing some centerfield. With Evans, tepid scouting reports and Total Zone numbers suggest that he's lost a step or two in the outfield since his age 24 season.  The difference between the two guys in their late 20's is probably minimal, however, as both declined. That should serve as a warning for those of us who assume that, just because Moore looks good in the field now, he will continue to be productive out there through his prime. 

So who's the better comp? I still think Evans gives a better picture of what Moore actually looks like day to day: the K's, the slashing line drive extra base hits, the ability to beat out grounders, the stolen bases, and the consistent dabbling in centerfield. But let's hope that Turks Teeth's Rivera comp for Moore's career trajectory ultimately provides the more accurate valuation.