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October 24, 2013

Minor League Update

AFL Recap for Games of October 23

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Day: Tim Wheeler, RF, Rockies (Salt River Rafters): 2-3, R, HR, BB. Seeing the once-powerful Wheeler connect on a home run is a good sign for the Rockies. Wheeler has combined to hit just seven home runs over the past two seasons after hitting 33 in 2011 His power has yet to fully come back after surgery on his hamate bone.

Pitcher of the Day: Matt Purke, LHP, Nationals (Mesa Solar Sox): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Purke has been fantastic this fall and has now made three starts without allowing an earned run. More importantly, he’s fanned a batter per inning, perhaps signaling a return of some of the impact stuff that he had in college.

Seeing it Well

  • Steven Souza, CF, Nationals (Mesa Solar Sox): 3-4, R. Injuries and a PED suspension have gotten in the way of Souza’s development over the years, but there’s still some talent there for the 25-year-old to develop into a nice role player.
  • Michael Ohlman, C, Orioles (Surprise Saguaros): 1-3, 2 R, HR, BB, K. Ohlman’s power is his meal ticket offensively and it’s carrying over to the AFL after breaking out this season. There are questions about his swing working against better pitching, but if he can provide moderate power numbers, he could serve as a backup with some pop, which can be valuable when used in the right situations.

Finding the Zone

  • Alex Meyer, RHP, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Meyer continues to deal this AFL and continues to throw strikes. His ability to repeat his delivery was the big question when he was drafted, but he has quelled that concern as well as any tall pitcher in recent memory.
  • Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays (Salt River Rafters): 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. Sanchez has perhaps as much potential as any pitching prospect in the game. He’s still learning how to put it all together, but when it's all there, he dominates like this.

Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Arizona Fall League) – October 17, 2013 from Jason Cole on Vimeo.

Bad Days at the Plate

  • Nolan Fontana, SS, Astros (Peoria Javelinas): 0-4, 2 K. It’s been a rough fall for Fontana, who is now 4-for-28 in the AFL, but he does have five walks in nine games, which shows that even when he’s struggling, he doesn’t have to be a complete loss at the plate.
  • Travis Mattair, 1B, Reds (Glendale Desert Dogs): 0-4, 4 K. It doesn’t get any worse at the plate than Mattair on Wednesday. Simply put, Mattair doesn’t have the power to make up for these kinds of strikeouts.

Forgettable Outings

  • John Barbato, RHP, Padres (Peoria Javelinas): 3 1/3, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K. A sixth-round over-slot signee, Barbato has been a completely different pitcher as a starter than as a reliever. He strikes out significantly more batters as a reliever, and this outing reaffirms the bullpen as his likely destination.
  • Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (Salt River Rafters): 1 2/3, 2 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 1 K. Scouts love Stroman’s stuff and he’s moving quickly through the Jays system, but his performance on Wednesday isn’t the reason why. There are questions about his ability to remain a starter long-term—because of his size, not his stuff.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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