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Nate Smith & Harrison Cooney: Top Angels Prospect Performances of 2014

Taking a look at Nate Smith and Harrison Cooney, who posted two of the better seasons on the Halos' farm last year.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

10.  Nate Smith, 22, A+ & AA.  3.2 RA-9 WAR, 3.1 FIP-based WAR. 2.97 ERA, 23% K-rate, 9% BB-rate.

In contrast to some of the other arms that populate this tier of the ranking, Smith's runs-allowed and FIP-based WAR align like clockwork. The dude misses bats, limits HR's (or did in some pretty friendly home parks) walks a few more than he should, and otherwise posts a pretty generic balls-in-play profile. That should make him look worse than he is in Salt Lake, but if the k-rate holds, there will be a place for him in Anaheim. He had an unusual season, in that he held righties to a .198/.272/.311 line versus .256/.320/.433 against lefties. It makes sense: his bread and butter is a plus change-up, while his slurvy breaking ball is more of a show-me pitch [***Update: Baseball America's prospect book just arrived, and they claim Smith possesses two breakers, the below average curve and a slider that might be average]. On balls in play, righties managed only a .256 BABIP because they posted above average infield and outfield flyball rates. They also hit a below average number of homeruns on contact. A good change piece'll do that. Lefties, however, feasted on the ho-hum FB/breaking ball combination, batting .344 on contact even while fanning almost a quarter of the time.

A broken pinky probably postponed his MLB debut in 2014, but it did set him up for a look in the Arizona Fall League. He didn't get a lot of press there, but ranked fifth in the league in k-rate, and 4th in K minus BB rate (of pitchers who reached the 20 inning threshold). He out performed some pretty big names in that regard. He isn't really suited to serve as a LOOGY due to the reverse splits, and he's buried behind a lot of starting depth at this point, but if he meets reasonable success in Salt Lake, then the FIP-ish/flyball skillset will force a debut one way or another in the majors, and soon. Not bad at all for a 2013 eighth round draft pick.

11.  Harrison Cooney, 22, A Ball. 3.1 RA-9 WAR. 1.6 FIP-based WAR. 2.65 ERA, 17% K-rate, 9.4% BB-rate.

Among Angels' pitchers, only Mike Roth, Kurt Spomer and Tyler DeLoach posted bigger gaps between their runs-allowed WAR and their FIP based WAR than Harrison Cooney.  He walked a lot of guys--too many guys--and he didn't miss as many bats as you'd expect from a live arm regularly slinging mid-90's heat. That fastball was nevertheless too much for A-Ballers, who did very little damage on contact against him. Righties managed one home run all season, and pounded the ball into the ground 52% of the time. Lefties did better, lifting about 7% more balls into the air and fanning 8% less often, but still only managed a .278 BABIP. Cooney has a live arm, with a classic fastball/slider mix that could make him a good relief option down the road. The solid stuff even lends our 2013 sixth rounder some breakout potential if he can figure out his command woes, but it appears more likely that hitters capable of dealing with a little squiggle in their heat will sit on mistakes and light him up at the higher levels.