|Mike Trout remains one of the top prospects in all of minor league baseball.|
Last November I published the 2010 FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report. These are published at the end of every season as a review of the year just concluded.
We’re two months into the 2011 season, so let’s take a look at how those prospects are doing so far this year.
1. Mike Trout OF — Considered one of the top prospects in all the minor leagues, Trout remains on course. His AVG/OBP/SLG as of May 31 were .305/.413/.512 (164 AB) with 13 stolen bases in 18 attempts. With Double-A Arkansas players, it’s always important to look at their home/away splits because Dickey-Stephens Park is one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the Texas League. Trout’s splits (AVG/OBP/SLG):
Overall: .305/.413/.512 (164 AB)
Home: .268/.360/.423 (97 AB)
Away: .358/.482/.642 (67 AB)
That split suggests the 19-year old wunderkind is having a much better year than the overall numbers tell us.
I won’t be surprised if Trout moves up to Triple-A Salt Lake after the Texas League All-Star Game (which is June 29 at San Antonio).
2. Hank Conger C — Last November I wrote:
Hank has Jeff Mathis, Mike Napoli and Bobby Wilson ahead of him, but it’s expected that the Angels may move at least one of them this winter. Conger most likely will get more Triple-A seasoning in 2011 as he needs more catching experience and to clean up his throwing mechanics. Absent a setback, it’s reasonable to assume Hank will be the Angels’ starting catcher by the end of 2011.
That was pretty much on target. Mike Napoli was traded to the Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells. (The Blue Jays then flipped Napoli to the Rangers.) I didn’t think the Angels would carry three catchers, but they have, with Bobby Wilson having the least playing time.
The Angels have played 57 games to date, and Conger has appeared in 31 of them, 26 as the starting catcher. He’s thrown out only 7 of 31 runners (22.6%), but that’s often a misleading stat as it doesn’t reflect how well his pitchers have held on runners. He’s been charged with only one passed ball in 200 total chances; last November I noted he had allowed no passed balls in 2010.
Hank’s offense has been what you’d expect from a 23-year old rookie going through his first 100 at-bats. His overall AVG/OBP/SLG are .233/.288/.369 (103 AB), but Hank’s a switch-hitter. Mike Scioscia has given Conger only eight at-bats against left-handed pitchers (he’s 2 for 8, both singles), so most of his at-bats have been left-handed.
For now it looks like Conger will continue to split time with Mathis, although he may be on track to fulfill my predication that he’ll be the starting catcher by the end of 2011.
3. Jean Segura 2B — I wrote last November that the Angels had tested Segura at shortstop during fall instructional league and might move him to that position with Inland Empire in 2011. That turned out to be accurate, but he’s in the middle of his second stint on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. The injury began in mid-April when he was hitting .412 twelve games into the season; since then, his AVG has dropped to .276. Even with the injury, he’s managed to swipe 18 bases in 23 attempts over 37 games. We’ll have to wait until the injury fully heals and Jean is back to his aggressive self to get a handle on his progress; the California League All-Star Game may be out of the picture.
It should also be noted that Arrowhead Credit Union Park is one of the few pitcher-friendly parks in the league. Let’s look at his home/away splits:
Overall: .276/.343/.428 (152 AB)
Home: .205/.284/.329 (73 AB)
Away: .342/.398/.519 (79 AB)
Hmmm … As with Trout, it looks like Jean’s home park is masking an overall better performance.
4. Garrett Richards RHP — Here’s what I wrote in conclusion about Richards:
It’s likely that Garrett will start 2011 with Double-A Arkansas, where he’ll find pitcher-friendly Dickey-Stephens Park to his liking. The key will be to look at his Texas League road numbers to get a more accurate gauge of his progress.
Okay, so let’s go to the splits:
Overall: 5-1, 3.90 ERA, 9 Games Started (57.2 IP), 40:23 SO:BB Ratio, .232 AVG.
Home: 3-0, 1.86 ERA, 4 Games Started (29.0 IP), 18:7 SO:BB Ratio, .198 AVG
Road: 2-1, 5.97 ERA, 5 Games Started (28.2 IP), 22:16 SO:BB Ratio, .264 AVG
So it looks like the home field is masking some overall mediocre starts by Garrett. A particularly stark contrast can be found in GO/AO, which is Ground Outs to All Other Outs. At home it’s an outstanding 2.12. On the road it’s 1.21.
The Texas League a decade ago had a reputation as a hitter’s league, but most of the franchises have new ballparks so it’s now considered fairly neutral.
Garrett just turned 23 on May 27, so plenty of time to adjust to Double-A.
5. Randal Grichuk OF — Randal is becoming a real-life incarnation of Joe Btfsplk, the Li’l Abner character described as “the world’s worst jinx.” In 2010 he broke first his left thumb and then his right thumb. He was recovering from the latter injury in extended spring training when he fractured his knee cap on a foul ball. It’s expected that he’ll report to Cedar Rapids once he’s healthy.
|Mark Trumbo has taken over the Angels’ first base job and leads all major league rookie with ten home runs.|
6. Mark Trumbo 1B-OF — The common expectation over the winter was that Kendrys Morales would be ready for Opening Day, so Mark Trumbo would probably head for Triple-A Salt Lake. Morales failed to heal as expected and eventually underwent a second surgery that shelved him for 2011, so Trumbo has started at first base for most of the Angels’ games.
In 180 at-bats, Trumbo’s line is .256/.306/.472. Recent media reports note that Trumbo has changed his hitting mechanics, adding a higher leg kick with his front foot. Compare that to this April 6, 2008 video of a Trumbo home run for Rancho Cucamonga, where he barely lifts his front foot.
In their spring 2007 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America wrote of Mark’s hitting mechanics, “He doesn’t have much of a load and his hands are slow.” That was a common criticism in his early years, that he was largely immobile below the waist on his swings. But he’s worked to correct that and cites the leg kick for a recent increase in home run production.
With Trumbo’s 2010 Salt Lake numbers, I noted that five parks in the PCL are super-hitter friendly, including the Bees’ Spring Mobile Ballpark. At neutral and pitcher-friendly fields, his line was .236/.300/.505. That’s not too far off from his .256/.306/.472 with the Angels in 2011. He’s trending in the right direction so hopefully he’ll continue to improve. His defense has been better than many critics claimed in the past.
7. Fabio Martinez RHP — Last November I wrote about Fabio:
Martinez was shut down after a July 30 start due to shoulder stiffness, probably due to his bad mechanics, and missed the Kernels’ post-season run. He spent the rest of the season on rehab assignment at the Angels’ minor league complex in Tempe. He pitched again in fall instructional league; I was there for his October 15 start, and he was back to his old bad habits.
Well, Fabio is still at the minor league complex, technically on rehab assignment. The official word is that he’s suffering from shoulder weakness. It’s hoped that he’ll be assigned to an affiliate by July. My guess is it’s either Cedar Rapids or Inland Empire.
8. Alexi Amarista 2B — With Brandon Wood waived to Pittsburgh and various injuries to other players, Alexi found himself in Anaheim after just 55 at-bats with Salt Lake in 2011 (.455/.483/.673). At only 22, he’s overmatched in the majors for now (.136/.170/.227 in 44 AB) and should return to the Bees once Vernon Wells comes off the disabled list, assuming no one else gets hurt. Mike Scioscia showed enough faith in his versatility to give him four starts in left field; he’s not a total stranger to the outfield, appearing there in 34 games with Rookie-A Tempe in 2008, but he’s best-suited for second base.
9. Trevor Reckling LHP — Trevor was the Angels’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2009, but derailed in 2010 when he struggled at the Triple-A level. The Angels sent him back to Double-A for the second half of 2010, and that’s where he began 2011. In nine starts, he’s 1-6 with a 3.78 ERA, and a 38:18 SO:BB ratio in 52.1 IP. Looking at his home/away splits, it’s interesting to note that he’s been more successful away from Dickey-Stephens Park — a 4.28 ERA at home (27.1 IP), a 3.24 ERA on the road (25.0 IP). A recent MLB.com article suggests Trevor is pitching better than his record suggests. He just turned 22 on May 22, still quite young for Double-A.
10. Jeremy Moore OF — J-Mo ended May with an AVG/OBP/SLG of .269/.299/.451. As mentioned upstream, a more accurate analysis of PCL numbers would filter out the super-hitter friendly parks, but that sample size so far is too small, so let’s look at Moore’s home/away splits:
Overall: .269/.299/.451 (193 AB)
Home: .280/.314/.500 (100 AB)
Away: .258/.283/.398 (93 AB)
His AVG from April to May dropped from .321 to .236, although on May 28 he had a 5-for-5 game at Tucson (one of those hitter-friendly parks).
Moore will turn 24 on June 29. He’s always been a raw toolsy project. Patience is a virtue when it comes to J-Mo, so let’s see where the rest of the year takes him.
|Tyler Chatwood has a 3.64 ERA in the major leagues after 11 starts.|
In closing … I didn’t include RHP Tyler Chatwood in the 2010 list for a couple reasons. One was the way I weigh who ranks on the annual list. I give consideration to the parent club’s needs, and coming into 2011 the Angels seemed to need left-handed pitching prospects (such as Reckling) and power-hitting outfielders (such as Moore) more than another right-handed pitching prospect (such as Chatwood). I was well aware that internally the Angels were very high on how Chatwood ended 2010, but I was concerned about his drop in strikeout rate when he was promoted to Double-A last year as well as his high walk rate.
That concern didn’t bother the Angels, who sent him to Triple-A to start 2011. After Joel Piniero and Scott Kazmir were injured and Matt Palmer faltered, Chatwood found himself called up to Anaheim at age 22. He’s managed to survive, posting a 3.64 ERA in 11 starts (64.1 IP) despite a SO:BB ratio of 29:34. How does he survive despite his poor SO:BB ratio? Double play ground balls. He has 13 so far.
With Palmer inconsistent at Triple-A and Kazmir’s career in free fall, it looks like Chatwood may spend the rest of 2011 in the majors. Tonight he pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings at Kansas City, giving up five hits while striking out two and walking two.
I knew when I wrote the article last November that I was taking a risk by leaving Chat off the list. If he proves me wrong, it’s all the better for the Angels.