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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

WATCH LIST SUMMARY -- POSITION PLAYERS
Well, the minor league regular season is over, so it's time to wrap up the Watch List. Below you'll find everyone's numbers as of each time I did one, so you can get a shape and feel to each player's season. Each player is linked to their page at Minor League Splits; it is from there that I used the park-adjusted numbers to determine their OPS+. For players who spent substantial time at AA or above, I also have their Major League Equivalencies, courtesy a spreadsheet posted by Dan Szymborski of the Baseball Think Factory. I've also removed the major league lines for the guys who've had action with the big club.

At the end is the Watch Out list of guys I didn't follow as closely; they're mostly short-season or low-level players whose performances should be taken with a degree of salt.

I'll be getting to the pitchers later this week.

Erick Aybar, SS, AAA Salt Lake, BB/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
MLE 312 69 15 2 4 15 40 20 15 221 262 317
Final 339 96 20 3 6 21 36 32 18 283 327 413 87
8/18 311 92 18 3 6 21 34 31 17 296 342 431 96
7/26 220 69 14 3 6 XX 22 22 12 314 363 486 115
7/05 182 54 10 3 5 14 20 17 9 297 350 467 107
6/09 144 42 6 2 4 10 17 13 7 292 342 444 101
5/11 127 37 6 2 3 8 17 12 6 291 338 441 98
4/26 78 27 2 2 2 5 10 6 4 346 393 500 127
I’ve taken out Erick’s major league sips of coffee here.

As you can see, Erick really peaked by late July, hitting .410 that month. He followed it up with a 177/221/229 in August, really dragging his numbers down. In fact, if you run his MLE as of July 26, you get an AVG/OBP/SLG closer to 250/290/375, which though not very good is still substantailly better than his final numbers. I don’t know if his sporadic playing time on the AL/PCL yo-yo contributed to the slump.

Aybar batted leadoff for Salt Lake, a role in which he would be miscast at the major league level. His OBP was well-below the league average before you even adjust for his park, and his stolen base success rate is poor.

You have to think Aybar’s days in the organization are fairly numbered. Brandon Wood certainly played well enough AA that he deserves the promotion, and Sean Rodriguez is breathing down everyone’s neck, too. It’s probably also too early to move Wood to third base, and Orlando Cabrera has a hold on the major league job ... so there’s nowhere to put him. I have no idea of what’s going to happen.


Michael Collins, C, A Rancho Cucamonga, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Final 477 139 29 1 7 29 74 9 9 291 371 400 104
8/18 420 123 22 1 7 23 69 7 6 293 370 400 102
7/26 356 107 21 1 7 17 60 6 6 310 368 424 111
7/05 280 83 18 1 5 13 49 5 4 296 367 421 110
6/09 216 66 10 1 3 10 38 4 2 306 367 403 106
5/11 118 40 5 1 3 6 19 2 1 339 383 475 129
4/26 67 25 5 1 2 4 10 0 1 373 427 567 164
If that batting average and walk total don’t make the OBP make any sense to you, know this: Collins was hit by a pitch a staggering 32 times this season. This represents a skill, certainly, though I doubt his HBP totals will always be so extreme.

At any rate, he held his own, and will have to keep doing so as he moves up the ladder. He’s demonstrated more power and patience in the past, both of which would obviously be quite welcome from here on out.


Nick Gorneault, OF, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
MLE 375 83 19 5 9 27 117 4 3 221 276 373
Final 407 115 25 9 15 38 106 6 4 283 343 499 110
8/18 344 98 22 5 14 34 88 5 4 285 347 500 112
7/26 285 79 18 4 13 30 68 3 3 277 342 505 110
7/05 267 77 17 4 12 30 59 3 3 288 355 517 116
6/09 222 66 15 3 8 28 44 2 3 297 373 500 120
5/11 121 36 8 3 4 12 28 0 1 298 361 512 113
4/26 73 20 2 1 4 5 18 0 1 274 321 493 102
Gorneault missed some time to injury in July, and never really got completely back into the swing after his return.

There’s really no room for him here. I guess he could fill the Curtis Pride role, but he doesn’t bat left-handed. I’d like to see him get at least a cup this year for his years of service, but he seems condemned to the life of a AAAA slugger.


Jeff Mathis, C, AAA Salt Lake, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
MLE 353 80 25 2 3 18 83 2 1 226 268 334
Final 384 111 33 3 5 26 75 3 1 289 333 430 94
8/18 346 100 30 2 4 23 69 2 1 289 332 422 92
7/26 281 86 24 2 3 17 54 1 1 306 345 438 99
7/05 217 62 19 1 3 15 45 1 1 286 326 424 90
6/09 129 36 13 0 2 6 23 1 1 279 307 426 85
5/11 23 8 3 0 0 2 7 0 0 348 385 478 120
This is a rather underwhelming performance on the whole, though the fact that Mathis is still so young (22) is mitigating. But he needs to get better; where Mike Napoli can still help you hitting .226, Mathis doesn’t have the secondary skills to do the same.


Kendry Morales, 1B/DH, AAA Salt Lake, BB/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
MLE 233 59 10 1 7 10 44 0 2 253 288 395
Final 256 82 13 1 12 14 40 0 3 320 359 520 123
5/11 116 28 3 1 3 9 22 0 2 241 296 362 68
4/26 74 18 1 0 3 1 13 0 2 243 253 378 60
That might seem like a pretty brutal MLE, but Kendry’s 240/302/388 in the majors isn’t that far off of it. Still, it’s a nice season at AAA, as Morales pulled his regular schtick of following a month or so of awfulness with some rockin’-out awesomeness. He still walks too infrequently, and I’m not convinced he’s going to be more than a .270 or .280 hitter on a regular basis, but he’s got some pop and as soon as he internalizes the adjustments he seems to have to make every year, he’s in line to put up some very good years.


Sean Rodriguez, SS, A Rancho Cucamonga and AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Final 65 23 5 0 5 11 18 0 3 354 462 662 163 AA
8/18 455 137 29 5 24 47 124 15 3 301 377 545 145 A Final
7/26 383 119 24 3 20 37 109 13 3 311 382 546 145
7/05 308 92 17 2 16 24 84 10 3 299 360 523 132
6/09 221 63 10 2 9 17 56 7 3 285 353 471 118
5/11 117 38 6 1 4 4 34 6 3 325 365 496 127
4/26 58 23 4 1 3 2 16 4 1 397 429 655 185
Coming into the year, I said I’d liked to see Sean put up a 320/440/520, and I’d even take a 300/410/500.

The mission was semi-accomplished; he didn’t walk quite as much as in the past (though he improved at this considerably as the season wore on), but demonstrated some very good power, and put up the highest OPS+ at his level of anyone on this list.

Now, the Cal League will do that to you, so we should anticipate a bit of a power decrease next season. But Rodriguez has made his presence known, and announced that he can’t be neglected in the farm system shortstop crunch. He took well to AA, where he’ll be making his home next year.

The only alarming thing, as it is with several of our prospects, is the strikeout rate. But if S-Rod continues to draw walks and hit for some power, that shouldn’t be too awful. Still, he struck out more frequently at Rancho than Brandon Wood did, so it’s something we have to keep our eyes on.


Drew Toussaint, OF, A Rancho Cucamonga, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Final 372 90 25 1 12 35 119 2 2 242 325 411 95
8/18 337 82 21 1 11 30 105 1 2 243 325 409 96
7/26 293 72 18 1 10 26 88 1 2 246 330 416 99
7/05 248 59 13 0 10 21 75 1 1 238 323 411 95
6/09 187 43 12 0 8 19 59 1 1 230 321 422 97
5/11 103 20 6 0 3 12 38 1 0 194 291 340 69
4/26 62 17 6 0 3 7 20 1 0 274 357 516 107
Sometimes a sleeper prospect goes into hibernation.


Mark Trumbo, 1B/3B, A Cedar Rapids, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Final 428 94 19 0 13 44 99 5 5 220 293 355 82
8/18 367 83 17 0 12 44 86 5 5 226 309 371 91
7/26 293 67 14 0 11 38 71 4 4 229 317 389 99
7/05 249 51 12 0 10 22 61 1 3 205 271 373 80
6/09 180 39 7 0 8 16 45 1 3 217 284 389 88
5/11 92 17 3 0 4 5 22 1 0 185 232 348 62
4/26 48 8 0 0 1 3 12 1 0 167 226 229 29
Trumbo dug himself into a hole with an awful start, but hit 286/423/390 in July, and walked more often than he struck out.

It turned out to be his best month by a landslide. Still, despite the crash-and-burn finish, it was nice to see him crawl back toward respectability over the course of the year. As I mentioned at length in the last Watch List Update, Trumbo demonstrated a huge gap between his performance with runners on base (265/350/453) and with no one on (190/251/291), and even had a very respectable strikeout-to-walk ratio in the former instance. I still don’t know that that has any meaning, but it might be a sign that this raw player has some things he can put together.


Reggie Willits, CF/LF, AAA Salt Lake and MLB Angels, BB/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
MLE 320 83 14 2 2 54 55 20 13 259 369 334
8/18 352 115 18 4 3 77 50 31 15 327 448 426 127 AAA Final
7/26 318 102 14 4 3 65 49 24 14 321 437 418 122
7/05 275 84 14 4 3 56 44 22 12 305 424 418 118
6/09 178 55 10 2 1 33 30 14 9 309 416 404 113
5/11 76 24 5 2 1 12 13 8 3 316 404 474 122
4/26 47 14 4 1 1 4 6 6 4 298 353 489 110
He needs to improve that stolen-base percentage, but everything else about Willits’ line indicates he could be a major league player. I’m still skeptical that he’ll be able to maintain a great walk rate in the majors, where pitchers won’t fear his total lack of power, but even if he were able to put up a .350 OBP he’d match what Legs Figgins has brought us the past couple of years.

Of course, the no-power and middling stolen bases might limit whether or not he can be a regular. That’s the big question – is Willits consigned to the Rich Becker career of the low-power high-walks fourth outfielder, or can he be the David Eckstein of the outfield? The Angels love that latter type, so if he shows anything he might be able to stick for awhile. But that would mean Figgins would have to move back to third, taking Dallas McPherson out of the picture even before his cranky back had the opportunity to do so, as well as the surging Maicer Izturis.

With Vlad/Garret/Rivera set at two of the three outfield positions and DH, and with Casey Kotchman and Kendry Morales knocking on the first base door, the Angels have a lot of decisions yet to make for 2007. If Kotch or Morales plays first, what do you do with the other one? Do you DH him and put Rivera in center, with Willits as his defensive caddy? Who gets third, Figgins or Ztu? And what do you do with McPherson, presuming he can stay healthy long enough for you to do anything?


Brandon Wood, SS, AA Arkansas, BR/TR
When    AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
MLE 418 90 32 2 13 35 171 12 3 216 284 396
8/18 453 125 42 2 25 54 149 19 3 276 355 552 123 Final
7/26 380 108 36 2 22 50 126 14 1 284 371 563 130
7/06 307 92 30 2 18 40 100 11 1 300 385 586 139
6/09 229 67 23 1 13 26 77 7 1 293 373 572 133
5/11 131 36 11 0 8 14 42 3 0 275 356 542 121
4/26 78 25 8 0 5 8 29 1 0 321 386 615 146
We all know about the strikeouts, but if you look at that MLE for a moment ... if a 21-year-old really did put up that line in the majors, I think you’d say there was room to grow. Say he puts up a 230/300/420 at age 22, a 240/320/450 at age 23 ... you can see where this is going. He still has plenty of time.

He’s always going to have a low average, because he’ll always strike out. But he’s learning to walk, and he’s still got the real ultimate power. And if he can continue to hold down shortstop, that’s pretty damn good.

I’d like to see him put up at least a 300/370/520 line at AAA next year. That won’t knock your socks off, but it will demonstrate some progress. I’m also looking for the walks to continue to go up and the strikeouts to start to come down. Everything else will come into place.


Watch Out:
Who       Lvl  AB  H  2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Conger Azl 69 22 3 4 1 7 11 1 0 319 382 522 174
ClyFuller Azl 157 42 3 5 0 25 47 14 4 268 383 350 108
Mount R 277 79 14 2 9 36 67 10 3 285 370 448 143
Ortiz Azl 171 48 10 4 5 6 45 10 5 281 315 474 135
Peel AA 495 141 37 4 16 28 105 13 11 285 344 473 101
Phillips R 263 63 12 1 6 20 75 11 8 240 298 361 92
Rivera R 242 62 11 2 5 24 65 4 3 256 328 380 107
Sandoval A+ 434 112 28 2 5 59 98 30 8 258 343 366 91
Statia A 417 124 31 1 1 52 54 23 15 297 379 384 123
A+ 60 18 2 1 0 8 7 1 1 300 386 367 99
Sweeney Azl 170 58 11 7 5 23 27 4 1 341 431 576 194
Wilson AA 374 107 26 0 9 33 47 1 6 286 350 428 95
Hank Conger justified his first-round status by hitting very well in limited time before an injury; he’ll obviously need to continue that at higher levels. Clay Fuller might turn into Reggie Willits type, or could fill out and add some power. Ryan Mount showed the Angel middle infield monopoly goes deep. Norberto Ortiz needs to get a grip on the strike zone, but has demonstrated good power here as well as in the Domincan Summer League (305/387/570 last year). Aaron Peel was unable to follow up on a pretty good season at Rancho; he’s the poor man’s Nick Gorneault. P.J. Phillips struggled, but is still young. Luis Rivera was born on a dark October day in 1986, and hit pretty well in a pretty good pitching environment. Freddy Sandoval is considered the best third-base glove in the Cal League, which in concert with his speed and walks might get him some time as a utility player in the bigs four years down the road. Hainley Statia had a marvelous season at Cedar Rapids, and held his own in the Cal League for a couple of weeks, where he’s likely to do damage next season. Third baseman Matthew Sweeney absolutely lit up the Arizona League, registering second in slugging percentage and home runs. Bobby Wilson held his own as a catcher in AA, and might be a useful reserve in a couple of years.

Comments:
Minoeleaguesplits.com also has MLE's for every player in a full season league.
 
Based on old park factors. I'll go with Szym's updated figures ... not that there should be any substantial difference.
 
Thanks, as always.

My new way of thinking about Figgins, is that he's good enough to have tricked us into thinking we need to make a place for him in the starting lineup. We don't.

I'd trade O-Cab & McPherson, land an Aramis Ramirez type, and try like hell to get a Vernon Wells, too (lotsa money coming off the books, and we got guys to trade).

Izturis can keep SS warm until the next guy's ready, and Aybar can be the middle-infield super-sub. Willits is a terrific 4th OF type. If you fill both CF & 3B, he can be a *5th* OF type, with Figgins flapping around to fill in spots.
 
I dunno about Wood. He's having an even worse career trajectory than McPherson, and forget Dallas's injuries, he's just not that good a major league hitter even when he's healthy, adjusting slowly if at all to major league pitching. Heck, I'm having the same problem with Howie Kendrick; is there something about this organization that causes these guys to fizzle in the Show? (I would say it's the Hatcher-tastic offensive philosophy, but that's just me.)
 
He's having an even worse career trajectory than McPherson

Let's see, what were these guys doing at age 20?

McPherson -- Hitting .378 in college ball
Wood -- Leading the entire minor leagues in home runs.

How about 21?

McPherson -- Posting good numbers in 124 AB in the Pioneer League
Wood -- Leading the Texas League in extra base hits. While playing SS, not 3B.

To say that Wood's trajectory is "worse" is just asinine.
 
Agreed that his age is important, but the strikeouts are even more so... that .216/.284/.396 major league equivalent is his future unless he cleans up his strikeouts. He needs to show he can cut back on them or he's a dead duck.
 
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