Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo were called up to the Angels on Monday night and will be in uniform Tuesday evening. They have 23 games after Tuesday to impress – Mike Scioscia indicated that neither would start on Tuesday. The two big questions are: What can we expect of them in the major leagues based on their minor league numbers? What will they have to do to move up the depth chart in the Angels organization with an eye on 2011?
HANK CONGER: Hank Conger was the Angels’ #1 pick in the June 2006 draft. He was the 25th player taken. Only two other high schoolers taken in the 2006 first round have made the major leagues: Jeremy Jefress pitched an inning for the Brewers lat Wednesday in his MLB debut and Clayton Kershaw, who is actually a month and a half younger than Conger is already a major league fixture. Brett Anderson, Chris Tillman and Trevor Cahill were high school arms taken in the 2nd round. Only 9th round Ryan Kalish and his 67 OPS+ for the injured reserve list in Boston beat Conger to the bigs among high school position players drafted in 2006.
HANK CONGER MLE: Hank Conger’s Minor League Equivalency numbers for this season in AAA translate to a major league batting average of .248, an On Base % of .318 and a slugging of .371 … putting him light years ahead of Jeff Mathis. While his .689 OPS is a drop-off from Mike Napoli at .803, such discrepancies did not stop Mike Sciosica from favoring someone else behind the plate besides Napoli.
CONGER IN 2011: Considering Scioscia’s inexplicable affection for Mathis, all bets are off. It would be reasonable to assume Mathis will be canned after this pathetic season, pathetic career and 2nd year of arbitration hovering with a raise built into the general agreement. In a perfect world It would be Conger caching the majority of Angels games in 2011 with Mike Napoli spending time at DH and backstop, with Bobby Abreu DH-ing on nights that Napoli is catching. But Napoli may be trade bait and a Conger/Mathis platoon is possible in the Mike Scioscia alternate reality where Mathis is an asset to the team. Lost in this shuffle is the serviceable Bobby Wilson. Don't forget that the Phillies once took Ryan Budde in the Rule 5 Draft. Who knows where the third, fourth and fifth string catchers (with as much to offer as Mathis and at the major league minimum salary) figure into the weird science of Scioscialism.
MARK TRUMBO: Anaheim native Trumbo had an amazing season in Triple A, belting 36 HR… one wonders what might have been had he been called up to replace Kendry Morales in June and Napoli’s power had stayed at Catcher to take away the plate appearances given to Jeff Mathis. Maybe the Angels would be in the same boat and Trumbo would have proven to be over matched, but it is doubtful in that scenario that the team would have been any worse than the 9 games back in which they stay today. Suffice to say, Trumbo has not a damn thing left to prove in the minors.
MARK TRUMBO MLE: To calculate Trumbo’s power-centric numbers, I adjusted the MLE calculator to contextualize his batting in Salt Lake – which he did for half his games anyway and is a known geographical high point in the PCL for power. The light air and clean living there conspire to put more balls over the wall than would fly at sea level – and therefore I adjusted the Major League spot on the MLE calculator to reflect the Newport-Beach-adjacent Anaheim Stadium. This penalizes Trumbo in the results, but, in the waning days of the Brandon Wood debacle, it is best for Angels fans to have tempered expectations. We can afford to wait to get bent out of shape until the coming of Mike Trout in 2013. In Anaheim Trumbo projects his Salt Lake highs to plummet a bit – a .244 batting average and a .299 On Base % might keep a rookie 1B in the MLB and Trumbo’s adjusted .448 Slugging is not bad for a 24-year old. A .747 OPS in Anaheim this season would be at the tail end of the power spectrum, below Torii Hunter, Mike Napoli, Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu, but above everyone else. Consider that Juan Rivera has been playing some 1B late in this season and that the righty Trumbo’s MLE OPS is 51 percentage points higher than what Juan has produced in the bigs this season. On the other side of the coin, the injured Kendry Morales had an OPS of .833 prior to his injury.
TRUMBO IN 2011: It doesn’t get any easier for Mark Trumbo in 2011 in Anaheim. He turns 25 in January but is blocked by a returning Morales. You can bet that the conservative and depth-loving Angels will keep Trumbo this winter and while a replay of the Figgins/Wood blockage/debacle seems fresh in our minds, the hope would be that Trumbo’s bat just demands to be in the lineup. But in the veteran-loving mind of Mike Scioscia, Mark Trumbo will enter 2011 with no seniority, and in the fraternity house that is the Angels lineup card, freshmen sit.
Good luck with the initiation, fellas. Repeat after me: Thank you sir, may I have another?
Credit Where Credit is Due: I used this awesome Minor League Equivalency calculator for this article.