Hitter of the Day: Jonathan Schoop, SS, Orioles (Surprise Saguaros): 3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 BB. Schoop did two things on Thursday that he didn’t do much of this season: hit for power and draw walks. Schoop is a generally aggressive hitter and has hit for moderate power in the past but has struggled to show it off against more advanced pitching. Of course, this one came off of Noel Arguelles, so take it with a grain of salt. Before this year, Schoop absolutely killed lefties but this season his splits reversed.
Pitcher of the Day: Jamie Walczak, RHP, Reds (Glendale Desert Dogs): 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K. Walczak has worked primarily as a reliever throughout his five-year professional career, so it’s impressive to see him having success as a starter. The 26-year-old can be dominant when he throws strikes because he misses a ton of bats, despite possessing only a low-90s fastball.
Seeing it Well
- Yorman Rodriguez, CF, Reds (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-5, R, SB. Two hits, no strikeouts, and a batting average that is now over .300? Small sample sizes are fun, but all of these things are good signs for Rodriguez.
- Travis Shaw, 1B, Red Sox (Surprise Saguaros): 4-5, 2 R, 2B, BB. One day after hitting his fifth home run of the AFL, Shaw reached base five times, although he uncharacteristically hit his way on for four of them.
- Mitch Haniger, RF, Brewers (Surprise Saguaros): 3-6, 2 R, 2B. After a red-hot start, Haniger came back down to Earth, but he’s still showing off good doubles power and maintaining a strong BB:K ratio.
- Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies (Gigantes del Cibao, DWL): 2-4, R, K. Franco has followed up his breakout 2013 campaign by hitting .313 thus far in the Dominican Winter League, but his 14-to-1 K:BB ratio explains the concerns that many scouts have with his approach at the plate. His hand-eye coordination is enough to overcome it to a certain extent, but he’ll always make a lot of outs.
- Cesar Hernandez, 2B/CF, Phillies (Bravos de Margarita, VWL): 2-3, 2 R, BB, K. Hernandez is making a case for a utility role on the Phillies next year and is playing both his natural second base and his new center-field position this winter.
Additional Home Runs
- Joe Wendle, 2B, Indians (Surprise Saguaros): 2-4, R, HR, BB. Wendle has good pop for a little guy (5-foot-11) and for a second baseman, although he profiles more as a utility guy than an everyday guy at the keystone. His bat may force him into the lineup everyday at some position though.
- Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros (Cangrejeros de Santurce, PRWL): 1-4, R, HR, K. Singleton never got things going in 2013 after he came back from his 50-game weed vacation out of shape, but he connected on his first winter league home run on Thursday.
Finding the Zone
- Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays (Salt River Rafters): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. The 5-foot-10 Stroman is blessed with a ridiculously quick arm that allows him to throw an easy 95-mph fastball and flash a plus slider. It’s his changeup, however, that sets him apart. Because of his stature, scouts are quick to suggest that he will end up in a bullpen, but his delivery doesn’t use much effort, so he has a chance to handle a starter’s workload. The changeup should serve him well against lefties.
Bad Days at the Plate
- Matt Skole, 1B, Nationals (Mesa Solar Sox): 0-5, 4 K. Patient hitters are prone to these kinds of days as a product of the deep counts they consistently work. Skole hasn’t hit well this fall (just .163), but even with his nightmare on Thursday, he still has just one more walk than strikeout on the AFL season and a .357 on-base percentage.
- Kenny Wilson, CF, Blue Jays (Salt River Rafters): 0-4, R, BB, 4 K. Wilson’s game is speed, which doesn’t do much good when you don’t make contact. He’s inconsistent at the plate and looked bad even against situational lefty Fred Lewis on Thursday, swinging and missing badly on a curveball.
- Joc Pederson, RF, Dodgers (Cardenales de Lara, VWL): 0-4, R, BB, 3 K. Pederson is having one of the strangest winters of any prospect, hitting just .243 but with 30 walks in 22 games. He’s always been a patient hitter, but he’s taking it to new and interesting extremes this winter. He struck out three times on Thursday, a problem which sometimes plagues him, but he still managed to draw another walk.
- Colby Suggs, RHP, Marlins (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2/3 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, K. Suggs has a big time arm and late-inning stuff but his command has held him back. He walked too many batters during the regular season but on Thursday the bigger issue was missing within the zone.
- Adys Portillo, RHP, Padres (Peoria Javelinas): 1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 3 BB 0 K. Portillo’s command is catching up to his stuff, but outings like this show just how far it still has to go.
- Aaron Northcraft, RHP, Braves (Scottsdale Scorpions): 1 IP, H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. Northcraft was unable to repeat his mechanics or armslot at all on Thursday night and it showed when he walked the first three batters of the game. There are a lot of moving parts to his delivery, and it’s led to borderline excessive walk totals for a player who doesn’t miss many bats.