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Parade of prospects helped Halos in 2011
Parade of prospects helped Halos in 2011
By Jonathan Mayo
At the start of the 2011 season, MLB.com unveiled Top 10 prospect lists for all 30 Major League organizations on Prospect Watch. Over the course of the season, those lists changed due to graduations to the big leagues, trades and performances. With the season completed, MLB.com will review how the prospects on those lists fared in 2011.
When a player is touted as the No. 1 prospect in an organization, not to mention the top future star in all of baseball, the expectations are going to be nothing short of astronomical.
So when Mike Trout got the call to join his parent club in July, there were, no doubt, many who felt disappointed that he hit just .163/.213/.279 over his first 43 at-bats before being sent down. The fact he was still a teenager and was making the leap from Double-A Arkansas to Los Angeles didn't necessarily matter. Trout was "The Future," and it was supposed to arrive just then.
Not one to sulk, Trout went back to work upon being sent back down to Arkansas, hitting .333/.408/.587 over 16 games there before being called back up. Upon his return, he was a different player -- and not just because he had turned 20 at the beginning of August.
"I knew what to expect," Trout said. "I had no idea what to expect that first time. That first day is a whirlwind, and you get more relaxed over time. You're in the clubhouse with all of these [veterans]. You have to learn every day. I asked a lot of questions. The second time, I knew what to do, I wasn't just lost."
Trout hit .400 with four homers over 25 at-bats for the remainder of August, then had a three-hit day in early September to bring that .163/.213/.279 line all the way up to .267/.341/.520, helping the Angels stick around in the playoff hunt. He scuffled a bit toward the end of the season, though he did finish with a 4-for-10 flourish.
After two trips to the big leagues and 123 at-bats there, to go along with the 353 ABs he amassed in Double-A, it would've been understandable if Trout shut it down at that point. But he comprehended the expectations extremely well, perhaps because he put them on himself. He saw what he needed to work on and knew next year could be a big one for him. So Trout headed to Arizona for some work in the Arizona Fall League to put on what many hope are the finishing touches, so he can remove the prospect tag from his name in 2012.
"I'm just getting more at-bats out here and I'm working on the little things," Trout said. "I'll take a couple of weeks off, then get at it again. Then, it's time for Spring Training."
Top 10 review
Trout isn't the only top Angels prospect to contribute at the Major League level. The Angels may have fallen short of making the postseason for the second straight year, but there had to be some satisfaction in seeing how much the farm system helped the big league club win 86 games in 2011.
Angels top 10 prospects
A look at how the Angels' Top 10 Prospects list looked at the beginning and end of the 2011 season:
Mike Trout, OF
Kaleb Cowart, 3B
Jean Segura, SS
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Tyler Chatwood, RHP
Alexi Amarista, 2Bx
Garrett Richards, RHP
Trevor Reckling, LHP
Hank Conger, C
Jordan Walden, RHP
Cam Bedrosian, RHP
Chevy Clarke, OF
Fabio Martinez, RHP
Randal Grichuk, OF
Players in bold were removed from the list after reaching the rookie eligibility threshold.
The initial Top 10 list at the start of the season ended up with two potential Rookie of the Year candidates. Mark Trumbo was the No. 4 prospect in the spring and he spent the entire year at first base, replacing the injured Kendrys Morales. All he did was lead all rookies with 29 homers and 87 RBIs. Even his strikeout rate (120 in 539 ABs) wasn't as bad as some people may have anticipated.
Trumbo's hopes for some postseason hardware might be dashed by his teammate in the bullpen. Jordan Walden, the No. 8 prospect at the season's start, had shown some glimpses of what he could do in the bullpen in 2010. This past year, he grabbed hold of the closer's role and led all AL rookies with 32 saves. Walden, with his 2.98 ERA and 67 K's in 60 1/3 IP, was also an American League All-Star.
If it was just those two, along with Trout, making up the production from the Angels' youngsters, that would have been plenty. But the Angels got even more help. Tyler Chatwood, the No. 5 prospect, made 27 appearances (25 starts) for the Angels. And while he was up and down, he did soak up 142 innings in making the leap to the Majors at age 21. Hank Conger (No. 7) had a strange season, spending much of the year in the big leagues, but only getting into 59 games and picking up 177 at-bats. Even Garrett Richards, who began the year at No. 6 and is now at No. 3 on the Top 10, was asked to help out, appearing in seven games in August and September.
Organizational Players of the Year
MLB.com's Preseason Picks
Trout, OF: Sometimes you have to go with the obvious pick. The only thing that hurt his overall numbers was the time he spent in the big leagues. So he didn't quite lead the organization in average and steals (he finished second and third, respectively).
Chatwood, RHP: When it was predicted Chatwood would be the Angels' pitcher of the year for the second year in a row, it was with the caveat of "unless he's needed in the big leagues." Sure enough, the right-hander made 27 appearances (25 starts) and threw 142 innings for Los Angeles.
MLB.com's Postseason Selections
Trout: Even with the 40 games in the Majors, Trout hit .326/.414/.544 in the Minors in 2011, showing more extra-base pop, as predicted, while also stealing 33 bases.
Garrett Richards, RHP: Richards pitched well enough in Double-A to warrant a callup to start against the Yankees in August. With Arkansas, Richards finished second in the system in ERA (3.15) and tied for second in wins (12), while holding hitters to a .233 average.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.