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Kole Calhoun & Brandon Hynick: Top Angels Prospect Performances

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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.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

(7) Kole Calhoun, 25, Of.  AAA. 3.8 WAR, +26 bat, +3 glove.  .354/.431/.617 with 12 HR and 10 SB

So what does a prospect look like when he's fully cooked and ready for the show? Calhoun's 2013 line with the Bees was the egg timer going "ding."  Here's the highlight real from last year.

What sets Calhoun apart from the legion of Quad A mashers banging around the PCL is his contact rate. Our new leadoff man fanned in only 11.7% of his Salt Lake PA's last year, making him one of the more difficult guys to punch out in the system. That's a great number for slap-hitting middle infielder, but package it with a 12% walk rate and .264 iso, and you have a guy who has absolutely nothing left to prove against minor league arms.  Calhoun's a heady hitter who can identify pitches and play the pitcher/hitter chess game with the best of them. He has a beautifully balanced stroke, and his bat stays in the hitting zone for a long time with a level cut. I hate to resort to clichés, but he stays in the middle of the field and can go the opposite way with the best of them.  If he were just a little bit luckier in the raw power department, he'd be a superstar caliber hitter.

Speaking of running up against genetic limits, Calhoun has fascinated me for years because of his transformation from one-dimensional college masher into all-around contributor. As a college senior, his tool package graded out as well-below average, with only his hit tool and power projecting as average and above-average respectively.  His run tool flashed 30 (well-below-average), and his arm graded out at 40.  In the three years since, he's stolen 47 bases, racked up 46 assists, done this, and -- most spectacularly -- this:


He's spent his mid-20's moving up the defensive spectrum instead of down it.  No one does that. Instead of hitting that genetic wall and bouncing off, he's actually lowered his shoulder and pushed it back, outperforming expectations in spectacular fashion.

Here was our first hint of what was happening.  Navegantes! Navegantes!

(8) Brandon Hynick, 28, rhsp. AA.  3.7 WAR, +17 runs saved.  141.2 IP, 2.80 ERA, 98 K/34 BB

Hynick wound up the most productive hired gun on the farm last year.  Desperate for arms to soak up AA innings, the Angels brought Hynick in as a minor league free agent, and he did exactly what the Angels hoped he would do. From the July scouting report:

Hynick usually pitches in the mid to high 80's, but locates well and can vary the velocity and shape of his breaking ball, giving him a weapon potent enough to knock out Texas Leaguers. He has an interesting delivery, tilting his front shoulder towards the sky, then standing tall while coming way over the top, hiding the ball and creating good angle to the plate. It's working for him. Well, that and the Travs' cavernous home park.

Hynick still hasn't found a home for the 2014 season, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him rejoin the Travelers. The Halos aren't exactly overrun with quality starters in the upper minors, and appear committed to making the Arkansas affiliate a competitive club. Hynick could be a veteran anchor.