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October 28, 2013

Minor League Update

AFL Recap for Games of October 25-26

by Jeff Moore

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Games of October 25

Hitter of the Day: Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (Mesa Solar Sox): 3-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 3B, 2 K. You’d think it would get tiring talking about the same prospects over and over again, but when it’s a prospect like Bryant, it doesn’t. Friday was a great sign for Bryant, who had a dynamic game despite not hitting a home run. Despite his .429 fall batting average, he still has 13 strikeouts in 10 games, so that’s something to keep an eye on, but if the production continues, no one will care about the strikeouts.

Pitcher of the Day: Tim Berry, LHP, Oriles (Surprise Saguaros): 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Berry doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he pounds the strike zone and when he hits his spots, he can be quite effective. He’s done exactly that this fall, walking just two in 11 innings but striking out just six.

Seeing it Well

  • Jorge Soler, RF, Cubs (Mesa Solar Sox): 2-4, R, HR, BB, K. I talked yesterday about how the Cubs were waiting for Soler’s power to manifest itself in the form of home runs. Well, what do I know? Soler connected on his first fall home run which is a good sign for the Cubs, who are dying to see more of this production from their investment. Soler has shown them great tools thus far, but they would love to see more power like this as he develops.
  • Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 1-4, R, HR, K. Any time Buxton homers it’s news worthy, especially if it doesn’t result in the Earth moving. Buxton actually hasn’t had that great of a fall, but even with some struggles in sporadic play (not necessarily unrelated), he’s slugged .500.

Finding the Zone

  • Drew Hutchison, RHP, Blue Jays (Salt River Rafters): 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K. Hutchison continues to dominate minor league competition on his way back from injury, but that’s exactly what he’s supposed to do. The most important thing is he’s throwing strikes and missing bats, which is what you want to see from any rehabbing pitcher.
  • Vidal Nuno, LHP, Yankees (Scottsdale Scorpions): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K. Nuno should be successful in the AFL, having thrown over 20 major-league innings this season. Still, it’s good to see him come out and go right after his competition.

Bad Days at the Plate

  • Delino DeShields, Jr., CF, Astros (Peoria Javelinas): 0-3, BB, 2 K. In general, DeShields has had a good fall, but even when he gets on base, he hits for no power. Even when he hits well, however, he strikes out too much for a leadoff man with good speed, and now has 13 strikeouts in 11 AFL games.
  • Cameron Rupp, C, Phillies (Peoria Javelinas): 0-5, 2 K. Rupp isn’t likely to be much more than a backup catcher, but given the Phillies unstable catching situation entering this off-season, he certainly has something to play for. Even though he’s hitting .300 in limited play this fall, his 10-to-1 K:BB ratio says it all.

Forgettable Outings

  • Zack Jones, RHP, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2/3, H, 4 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 0 K. Jones has dynamic stuff, but it won’t matter if he can’t throw strikes. He has battled control his entire career and seven walks in 5 1/3 AFL innings isn’t changing that.

Games of October 26

Hitter of the Day: The Salt River Rafters Lineup: 17-45, 20 R, 5 2B, 4 HR, 9 BB, 3 K. The Rafters went off on Javelinas pitching on Saturday, putting up a 20-spot including four home runs. Dustin Garneau, a 25-year-old Rockies catcher, led the way with two home runs, and while he’s not really much of a prospect, he’s a catcher with decent pop, so there’s something to work with. Garneau’s Rockies teammate Cristhian Adames added a home run of his own (a tool he doesn’t usually feature) as part of a four-hit day. Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty stayed red-hot with three more hits and is now hitting .356 on the fall.

Pitcher of the Day: Bo Schultz, RHP, Diamondbacks (Salt River Rafters): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. At 27, Schultz is not a prospect, but he has been incredibly effective this fall, lowering his AFL ERA to 1.47. Never a big strikeout guy, Schultz saw a big spike in Triple-A this season and has continued to strike out more than a batter per inning this fall. He’s gotten away from his four-seam fastball in favor of more cutters/sliders, which could help explain the change.

Seeing it Well

  • Travis Mattair, 1B, Reds (Glendale Desert Dogs): Mattair has been all over the map this fall, with his home run ending a four-game stretch in which he went 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts.
  • Jason Rogers, LF, Brewers (Surprise Saguaros): 3-5, 2 R, HR. Rogers has a chance to be a late-bloomer having missed a significant portion of his first full professional season in 2011. He broke out this season with 22 home runs and now has two this fall.

Finding the Zone

  • Miguel Pena, LHP, Red Sox (Surprise Saguaros): 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Pena can cruise when he gets his combination of two-seam fastball and change-up working together. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he can neutralize aggressive hitters with his change-up.

Bad Days at the Plate

  • Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 0-4, 3 K. One day after connecting on a home run, Buxton found himself struggling to put the ball in play. Buxton is incredible, but he has a lot of things going against him in the AFL, including playing only a few days a week, being much younger than all of his competition, and being worn down towards the end of his first full season.

Forgettable Outings

  • Jason Adam, LHP, Royals (Peoria Javelinas): 4 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Adam has been good this fall until Saturday. His velocities were on par with what they have been this fall with his fastball averaging around 93 mph, but it was his location that got him in trouble. Adam routinely missed over the plate and up in the zone, and the Rafters made him pay. He wasn’t wild, walking just one batter, but it was an example of the difference between command and control, and Adam doesn’t have good enough stuff to get away with poor location.
  • Carson Smith, RHP, Mariners (Peoria Javelinas): 1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 0 K. Smith is primarily a fastball-slider power guy, so it’s not surprising that he struggled on a day when he uncharacteristically threw nine changeups out of 32 pitches. It’s a work in progress for him and at the moment it’s only 4-5 MPH slower than his fastball, so it’s not fooling too many hitters.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeff's other articles. You can contact Jeff by clicking here

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