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Top Angels' Prospect Performances, 2011

Please note that the rankings below DO NOT comprise a traditional "best prospect" list.  I simply ranked players according to their 2011 Wins Above Replacement ("WAR"), which provides a rough estimate of total contributions to their respective teams.  

30)  Mike Piazza, 11/24/86 - rhrp, High A and AA

0 wins, 2 losses. 66 IP, 52 hits, 3.00 ERA, 67 K/32 BB. 10 runs saved, 1.8 WAR

Since signing as a non-drafted free agent in 2009, reliever Mike Piazza has recorded 141 strikeouts in just 129 professional innings while posting a 2.79 ERA, besting the performance of scores of guys drafted in his class.  At 6'4" and 205 lbs, he has the classic pitchers' frame, and he also put up decent to good numbers as a starter at Florida Tech, so it isn't clear why a team didn't take a flier on him in the later rounds. He graduated with honors, indicating that he's a guy who takes education seriously, so maybe he just wanted to finish school before rolling the dice on a baseball career (he's also a super-sharp guy - check out his interview with Rev here. Wish more guys in our FO could talk baseball with such lucidity and intent).  Regardless, he ended up with the Angels, likely due to Tom Kotchman's omniscience regarding all things Florida baseball. Piazza must have decent stuff, since the peripherals don't suggest that he's getting those K's by spotting 85 mph fastballs with pinpoint control.  Whether his "nasty" factor derives from a firm fastball or a tough breaking pitch, I don't know - anyone who's seem him in action, please fill us in below. And yes, apparently he is related to the other Mike Piazza; at least allegedly, because I could have sworn reading elsewhere that the two were unconnected. 


29)  Mike Wing, 10/25/88 - UT, High A

.317/.365/.502. with 11 HR and 1 SB. +10 runs bat, -1 runs glove. 1.9 WAR

Over five pro seasons, Wing's hit .300/.363/.465, so we know the Upland native contributes with the bat. A mid-summer injury limited him to only half a season worth of AB's in 2011, and was all the more devastating because it cut short a thundering .420/.485/.750 July.  That was also the month when he appeared to make real progress in managing the zone, striking out only 9 times in 88 AB's (he struck out 17% of the time over the season, while walking only 5% of the time).  He's primarily a lefty masher, posting a .395/.422/.640 line against them through the season, so the bat projects best in the Robb Quinlan/Matt Brown mold.  Unlike those other guys, however, Wing can handle every infield position: he spent most of his time at second base in 2011, but also filled in for the injured Segura with 17 games at short. He's no everyday shortstop, certainly, but his athleticism and defensive versatility give him a shot at holding down a big league utility job down the road. 

28)  Eric Junge, 1/5/77 - rhsp, AAA

8 wins, 9 losses. 160 IP, 179 hits, 5.12 ERA, 102 K/45 BB. 6.8 runs saved, 2.0 WAR

Yeah, I know: how do these numbers justify a spot on a performance-based ranking?  Yet Junge's stat line really does represent a slightly above average performance in the explosive PCL, where each team scores more that 5.5 runs per game. The Halos' brought the 34 year-old minor league vet into the organization midway through the 2010 season to bolster the Bee's decimated rotation, and he delivered, averaging over six and a third innings per start.  2011 was more of the steady, competent same. They should hand out medals to PCL rotation rocks like Junge for grinding out all of those heart-wrenching innings in baseball's most extreme run environment. 

One more note about this list: for position players, I estimate defensive performance with a simple +/- glove number. In the past, I've been able to use Sean Smith's groundbreaking TotalZone metric for defense, but happily major league teams have taken notice of Sean's talents and consequently one of them now pays for exclusive access to his genius. That means that my +/- glove numbers no longer have the gravitas of evenly applied calculation, but are instead "guest-imates" based on past TotalZone performance, recent scouting reports, and 2011 error and range factor totals.  While I have had it independently and convincingly confirmed that I am a very good guesser when it comes to such things, please take the numbers with a grain of salt.