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October 30, 2013

Minor League Update

AFL Recap for Games of October 29

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Day: Jared Mitchell, RF, White Sox (Glendale Desert Dogs): 3-4, R, HR, BB, K. Mitchell followed up a bad 2012 with a horrific 2013, yet because he still has many of the tools that got him selected in the first round, he got a chance in the AFL. He’s hitting .389 this fall but that won’t be enough to erase the memory of back-to-back terrible seasons. He still fails to make contact at far too high a rate, although his 11-to-5 BB:K ratio this fall is a great sign, even if it is in a small sample size.

Pitcher of the Day: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. After dominating the Florida State League and doing well in Double-A, his 1.45 AFL ERA is really just showing off. The Marlins have been ridiculously aggressive promoting prospects in the past year, but Heaney can probably handle it if they move him quickly. At the very least, Heaney’s fastball/slider combo should have no problem in a return to Double-A to begin next season, and the Marlins have a recent history of skipping prospects over Triple-A altogether.

Seeing it Well

  • Peter O’Brien, C, Yankees (Scottsdale Scorpions): 1-4, R, HR, K. O’Brien’s best tool is his above-average power for a catcher and he’s had that on display this fall, but unfortunately it has come with a .175 batting average. O’Brien has some holes in his swing and an over-aggressive approach that has led to a 13-to-2 K:BB ratio this fall to follow up his 134-to-41 ratio this season.
  • Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-5, 2 R, HR, K. Even when Buxton isn’t at his best, he’s still better than most. Of all of his tools, power isn’t even his best one, yet despite his (relative) struggles, he’s still up among the AFL leaders with four home runs.

Finding the Zone

  • Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Padres (Peoria Javelinas): 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K. Sampson has had bouts with control from time to time, but when he’s on, he’s been good because he doesn’t get hit hard. His fastball sat around 92 mph on Tuesday, and he did a good job keeping hitters off-balance with 10 change-ups in 43 pitches, more than he’s thrown thus far in the AFL.
  • Hansel Robles, RHP, Mets (Scottsdale Scorpions): 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Robles gets by with a mediocre fastball that, on this night, barely broke 90 mph, and doesn’t usually strike out batters at this clip. He augmented it with a good slider on Tuesday that resulted in three swings and misses on seven swings but generally doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff.

Bad Days at the Plate

  • Garin Cecchini, 3B, Red Sox (Surprise Saguaros): 0-4, BB, 2 K. Cecchini has a great approach at the plate and generally walks more than he strikes out, so even on a day when he struggles, it’s not a surprise that he managed to work a walk. He may not have the prototypical power of a corner infielder, but his on-base ability will help to compensate.

Forgettable Outings

  • Zack Jones, RHP, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2/3 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, K. This was the third bad outing in a row for Jones, who was coming off of a strong performance as a reliever in the Florida State League, where he struck out 70 batters in 48 2/3 innings. He’s still fanned batters in the AFL, but he’s walked just as many and has failed to complete an inning in back-to-back outings.
  • Matt Purke, LHP, Nationals (Mesa Solar Sox): 3 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 BB, K. Purke had been very good thus far in the AFL, allowing just one run in his first three starts, but on Tuesday he was very hittable. Purke is still working his way back to complete health so there’s an occasional bump in the road to be expected.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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