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October 13, 2013

Minor League Update

AFL Recap for Games of October 11

by Jeff Moore

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Hitter of the Day: Mitch Haniger, CF, Brewers (Surprise Saguaros): 4-4, R, 2B. Haniger has come out of the gates like a missile in the AFL and is now hitting .563 through four games. He profiles as a bit of a tweener in the outfield, splitting time between center and right field. He doesn’t have enough power to play the corner regularly, and may not be able to handle center field defensively.

Pitcher of the Day: Andrew Heaney, SP, Marlins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Heaney did very Andrew Heaney things on Friday, barely breaking a sweat while dominating in the desert twilight. Heaney was barely fazed by either the Florida State League or the Southern League, so there was little reason to believe that the Arizona Fall League would be any different. Basically, he can shove no matter who he faces, and his refined approach should land him in Miami at some point next season. Frankly, given the Marlins rudderless approach to prospect promotion, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in the Opening Day rotation, despite just six Double-A starts under his belt.

Seeing it Well

  • Jonathan Meyer, DH, Astros (Peoria Javelnias): 1-3, R, HR, BB. Meyer has some power, but he’s a much better hitter against lefties, so any production against right-handed pitching is a plus, even if it against a soft-tosser like Sam Gaviglio (see below).
  • Eddie Rosario, 2B, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-5, SB, 2 K. Rosario has a solid bat that would be a great fit at second base, where it would be an above-average asset. Unfortunately, he can’t play second base, at least not well. Despite the Twins optimism, Rosario is destined for the outfield. He can hit, however, and even though the value of his bat is diminished by having to put it in the outfield, there’s no reason he can’t be a valuable piece.

Finding the Zone

  • Jonas Dufek, RP, Astros (Peoria Javelinas): 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. It’s tough to be a prospect when you’re already 25 and have just a half-season of Double-A under your belt, but Dufek’s strikeout rate continued to trend in the right direction, which is a good sign. Striking out the side against the best competition you’ve faced is also a good way to make a name for yourself.
  • Ken Giles, RP, Phillies (Peoria Javelinas): 1 IP, 0 H, O R, 0 BB, 3 K. Giles is an absolute strikeout machine who has battled control issues. This is what happens when those types of guys don’t walk anybody.

Bad Days at the Plate

  • Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 1-5, R, 4 K. It feels like sacrilege to mention Buxton’s name in any kind of negative context, but there’s almost no way to sugar coat four strike outs in one game. Of course, even when Buxton struggles, he still gets a hit and scores a run. The consolation prize: Mike Trout struggled in his one stint in the AFL, and he turned out okay, so don’t put too much stock numbers at the end of a long season.
  • Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Braves (Scottsdale Scorpions): 0-4, 3 K. Kubitza has a patient approach at the plate. Sometimes that leads to strikeouts in bunches. In his defense, his Scorpions teammates struck out 17 times as a group, so maybe there was something in the water.

Forgettable Outings

  • Sam Gaviglio, SP, Cardinals (Salt River Rafters): 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Gaviglio doesn’t miss many bats, which can make pitching in the hitter-friendly AFL a daunting task. He’s a control-artist with limited stuff but a good idea of how to use it, but that many balls in play comes back to bite you from time to time.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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