The future in Anaheim begins now (OK, well, Tuesday, but let’s not get dragged down by technicalities). AOL Fanhouse is reporting that the Angels are set to call up stud prospect OF Peter Bourjos in time for this coming series in Baltimore starting Tuesday. The transaction is not yet official and there is no word who is being sent down to make room for Bourjos (likely a reliever), but this move is going to happen and Angel fans should rejoice. The only real remaining question is how much Bourjos will get to play?
Yes, I know he looks 12, but he is good. Trust me.
Plagued by a stagnant offense and some of the worst outfield defense of the Mike Scioscia era, the Angels have finally decided to make the move that Angel fans have been clamoring for for weeks now, calling up Peter Bourjos. For those not familiar with Bourjos, even though he has been considered a top five Angel prospect for a few years now, he is a speedy young outfielder who plays TREMENDOUS defense in center field.
At only 23 years old and in his first season at Triple-A Salt Lake, Bourjos has posted a slash line of .312/.364/.498 to go with 27 stolen bases on 32 attempts, impressive numbers by any standard even if you factor in that the PCL is a hitter friendly league. The Angels hadn’t really expected Bourjos to be ready so soon but he has been scorching hot the last month, to the tune of a .438 average and 1.193 OPS in the month of July, making him simply too impressive for the Angels to ignore given their need to inject life into their beleaguered lineup and somebody who could actually catch a ball into their corner outfield spots.
While he has been ticketed as the Angel center fielder and leadoff man of the future, Bourjos isn’t likely to serve in either role for the Halos. Even though nobody wants to hear this, Bourjos is likely a better CF than Torii Hunter right now, but there just is no way they are going to shift Torii to a corner at this point of the season (maybe next season if Bourjos impresses the next two months). And while Bourjos has great speed and can hit for average, he is still a work in progress in terms of plate discipline as he doesn’t walk enough and strikes out too much to be a fixture at the top of the order, especially since Erick Aybar has been playing well in that spot the last two months.
That leaves Bourjos looking to steal time in left field for the Angels, which I don’t think anyone can complain about giving the misadventures in fielding we have seen from Juan Rivera of late. However, that doesn’t mean Juan Rivera is bound for the bench.
As much as folks want to see Juan be gone, he actually has been hitting the best out of the quadrumvirate of Angel OFs/DHs who have all been generally slumping the last month. Rivera actually hit .319 in July and had a better OPS than Matsui, Abreu and Hunter for the month, so he isn’t going to be going the way of Brandon Wood.
The more likely victim here is Hideki Matsui with Juan Rivera sliding to DH or to right with Abreu DHing. At a minimum, Hideki Matsui should be benched permanently against lefties since he is hitting a paltry .180/.214/.351 against southpaws. Beyond that, Bourjos can find more at-bats whenever Mike Scioscia decides Hunter and Abreu need time off.
That is assuming that Scioscia is on board with playing the youngster at a time when the Halos aren’t admitting they are out of the AL West race. As we saw in previous seasons with Brandon Wood and Sean Rodriguez, Sosh isn’t afraid to let a hot prospect spend a bulk of their time collecting ass splinters on the bench instead of being given a legit look in the field. I don’t think that will be the case for Bourjos though if Scioscia’s recent comments to the press are any indication.
To put it mildly, Sosh has had an ass-ful of the Keystone Cops routine he has seen from his corner outfielders of late. Nor has he seemed impressed by Juan Rivera’s situational hitting, as evidenced by Rivera hitting 8th in the order recently. The end result of that frustration should be Bourjos getting some early looks in left, likely hitting eighth or ninth in the order.
Whether young Peter can actually provide the spark that many hope for shouldn’t really matter much though as expectations have to be pretty low for the kid outfielder, even though he has been tearing up the PCL, simply because of his youth. The important thing here is that he gets an early dose of big league baseball and an opportunity to show the Angel brass whether or not he is really ready to be handed a prominent role in 2011. The Halos are going to have a lot of roster decisions to make this off-season and getting a sneak preview of what Bourjos can and cannot do should only help make those decisions easier to make.