Hitter of the Day: Jacob Wilson, 2B, Cardinals (Salt River Rafters): 2-4, R, HR. As a senior sign out of college, Wilson has had to battle to overcome the stigma that comes with that label. Continuing to hit against better competition will help him to do just that. He has good pop for a second baseman, hitting 15 home runs in 97 games in the Midwest League this season. He also has a decent eye at the plate. That combination will help him as he faces better pitching, but it’s probably not enough to make him a major-league regular.
Pitcher of the Day: Vidal Nuno, LHP, Yankees (Scottsdale Scorpions): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Nuno worked as both a starter and a reliever in his brief stint in the majors this season, but this was by far his best AFL start. His role in the majors still hasn’t been determined, but it’s good to see him have success a second time through the lineup, even if it is against minor-league competition.
Seeing it Well
- Chris O’Brien, C, Dodgers (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-5, R, HR, K. O’Brien’s first home run of the fall was a grand slam, for what that’s worth other than timing. O’Brien is a defense-first catcher who is just hoping to prove he can hit enough to carve out a role as a major-league backup.
- Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Padres (Peoria Javelinas): 3-3, R, HR, BB. Spangenberg was perfect at the plate on Thursday and even showed off a little power, something he doesn’t usually do. Spangenberg is known for his bat-to-ball skills, but it’s nice to see him drive the ball from time to time, just to show that he won’t have the bat knocked out of his hands by better pitchers.
- Tim Wheeler, LF, Rockies (Salt River Rafters): 5-5, 2 R, 2 2B. Wheeler used to be a power hitter and is built like one, but a wrist injury and a change in approach zapped all of his production. He hasn’t even hit doubles lately, which makes Thursday a good sign.
Finding the Zone
- Michael Roth, LHP, Angels (Mesa Solar Sox): 4 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, K. We all know what Roth has to offer at this point. He doesn’t blow anybody away, literally or figuratively, but he continues to be effective. In the minors he wasn’t spectacular, and he won’t be at any level, but he should be able to carve out a big league career on pure guile.
Bad Days at the Plate
- Jorge Bonifacio, RF, Royals (Peoria Javelinas): 0-4, 3 K. Bonifacio swings like a big-time power hitter, but the power hasn’t quite shown up yet. That’s still acceptable, because Bonifacio is still just 20-years-old, and some issues with contact can’t be surprising when facing advanced competition.
- Gift Ngoepe, SS, Pirates (Scottsdale Scorpions): 0-3, 3K. Ngoepe can’t hit, and forcing him to the AFL for a second straight October isn’t going to change that. He can play shortstop defensively, but he couldn’t hit Double-A pitching this season and has struck out in almost half of his AFL at-bats this fall. He appears to have reached his ceiling offensively.
- Mike Nesseth, RHP, Phillies (Peoria Javelinas): 2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 0 BB, K. In my AFL preview, I wrote “Simply put, 25-year-olds who spent most of the season in Double-A are rarely prospects and pitchers who strike out 4.5 batters per nine innings never are.” That the Phillies used an AFL roster spot on him is yet another item on their list of poor judgments over the past few seasons and was undoubtedly fueled by his 1.64 ERA over a short relief sample in Double-A this season.