Darnell Sweeney, 2B, Dodgers (Glendale, AFL): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR. Expectations were tempered entering the season because scouts weren’t crazy about any of Sweeney’s tools outside of his speed, and because his breakout 2013 season came in the California League. Then, he spent the entire 2014 campaign excelling in Double-A, greatly increasing his walk rate and backing up his power production. For a plus runner, he’s not an effective base-stealer, which negates some of his value, but he made better contact while also making the toughest jump along the developmental process. After spending most of his time at shortstop last year, Sweeney played more second base this year and saw some time in center field. His speed and versatility could be something the Dodgers can use in the future, especially if his plate discipline remains intact.
Garabez Rosa, LF, Orioles (Glendale, AFL): 3-4, 2 R, HR. Rosa swings at virtually everything, to little effect. The Orioles continue to give him opportunities because there is some pop in his bat and he can play virtually ever non-catcher position on the diamond (including shortstop), but a career minor league K:BB ratio of over 10-to-1 (yes, you read that right) is borderline criminal and will be enough to keep him from ever hitting effectively. (h/t to @tuckerblairON)
Robbie Ray, LHP, Tigers (Glendale, AFL): 4 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 5 K. After a mediocre season in Triple-A and a poor stint in the majors, Ray is putting together a strong fall season, allowing his first run in three outings on Wednesday. He’s missing bats at a much higher rate in our small fall sample, something that could be a product of luck and sample size, but that could also have a little to do with pitching in shorter stints. The Tigers were high enough on him to accept him as a centerpiece for Doug Fister this past winter, but that doesn’t mean his future isn’t in a relief role. If, however, he can return his strikeout rate to close to its double-digit 2013 pace, he could remain a starter.
Max Kepler, OF, Twins (Salt River, AFL): 2-5, R, 2B, 3B, 2 K. Kepler looks the part of a budding power hitter, with good size, strength, and a swing that should produce both hard-hit baseballs and good loft. But it simply hasn’t happened yet in five years as a professional. Despite that half-decade, Kepler is still just 21 and is relatively inexperienced, having signed out of Germany when he was 16. This fall will be a good test for Kepler, who was underwhelming in the Florida State League last year and is facing his toughest assignment yet. Simply put, he looks like he ought to be a better prospect than he’s been so far, but it’s too early to rule him out just yet.
Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Leones del Escogido, DWL): 2-4, 2 K. Pederson tore up Triple-A this year and is ready for the majors, but struggled in limited playing time down the stretch for the Dodgers, which indicates nothing given his inconsistent playing time. Winter leagues are a good test for budding major leaguers, as they typically feature a greater variety of offspeed pitches from experienced pitchers. Pederson played winter ball last season where his patient approach led to an incredible amount of walks. Thus far this year, it’s led to eight strikeouts in 16 plate appearances, which is, again, indicative of nothing. His strikeout rates are worth watching, however, as they could limit his power against better pitching, though they are, at least to a certain extent, a byproduct of his patient approach.
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