Hitter of the Day: Mac Williamson, OF, Giants (Scottsdale Scorpions): 3-3, 2B, HR, BB
The AFL is Williamson’s fourth stop of the season, and after struggling for a month against big-league arms, he seems to be enjoying his return to minor-league ball. For all of the concern about his approach, Williamson has walked plenty throughout his minor-league career, and he has enough pop in his bat to survive in at least a platoon role. Also, as a guy who focused on pitching until college, he may have a bit more development left than most 25-year-olds.
Pitcher of the Day: Lucas Sims, RHP, Braves (Peoria Javelinas): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 SO, 1 BB
Sims had his best AFL outing yet, holding Surprise’s potent offense to a single hit in three innings of work. Betting on pitchers with poor consistency and below-average control is often a fool’s errand, but Sims could have three plus pitches, and a successful outing like yesterday’s offers a glimpse at his potential if he puts everything together.
Best of the Rest
Jake Bauers, RF, Rays (Mesa Solar Sox): 1-3, 2 R, HR, BB, SO
One of the youngest players in the league, Bauers has been a mixed bag in the AFL thus far. Yesterday’s strikeout was his 10th in 33 at-bats, but he also launched his second homer and drew a walk against left-hander Michael Johnson. Perhaps worried that Bauers’ stick will be a little light for first base, the Rays have also had him focus on learning the outfield during the AFL. Monitoring his defensive progress out there will be one of the more interesting storylines throughout the rest of the season.
Brett Phillips, CF, Brewers (Surprise Saguaros): 2-4, 2B, R.
Phillips is the athletic center fielder Milwaukee needs, and he could debut as soon as next season. I’ll be tracking his power profile over the coming year: he had a mini-breakout with 15 homers at High-A Lancaster this season—earning a 50 future grade—but has hit just one in 60 games since a midseason promotion. As a center fielder with plus speed and a hit tool that projects average, he doesn’t need to hit for power, but a few dingers per season may be the difference between an average regular and an occasional All-Star.
Spencer Kieboom, C, Nationals (Salt River Rafters): 1-4, HR, BB.
Known more for his strong arm and defensive profile than his hitting, Kieboom does have the plus raw power his name suggests he should. The more he taps into it in games, the more he looks like a dependable backup in waiting.
Adam Frazier, SS, Pirates (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-3, 2 R 2B, BB, SB
A member of the fringe prospect team, Frazier compensates for middling tools by making plenty of contact while playing competently in center field and at short. Frazier walked nearly as much as he struck out, and though he doesn’t have any power to speak of, he should poke enough line drives to stick in a utility role. The Pirates are preparing him for that gig, as he’s also started working at second base.
Chad Hinshaw, OF, Angels (Mesa Solar Sox): 2-4, 2B, BB, CS.
The red-hot Hinshaw’s 2-for-4 day dropped his batting average but continued his second successful spin through the AFL. Like Frazier, he’s fringy and won’t hit for any power. He’s a plus runner though, and as a center fielder in a shallow system, he won’t have much competition for a job as a fourth outfielder down the line.
Kyle Freeland, LHP, Rockies (Salt River Rafters): 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 SO, 1 BB
No runs but few missed bats for Freeland, a pattern that is becoming worrisomely common for Colorado’s 2014 first-round pick. The left-hander missed most of the regular season with shoulder fatigue and rarely flashed the impact slider that helped make him such a hot commodity coming out of Evansville. While 2015 will be a year where he missed valuable reps, a few months of rest may ultimately do his arm some good.
Taylor Rogers, LHP, Twins (Scottsdale Scorpions): 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 SO, 2 BB
Five solid innings for Rogers, who is the latest in a long line of Twins pitchers with low-90s fastballs and soft secondaries to complement them. He’ll survive in the back of the Twins rotation, generating grounders and commanding the ball well enough to eat innings.
Fight Another Day
Alex Blandino, 2B, Reds (Peoria Javelinas): 0-3, 3 SO.
Most players, particularly ones a year or two out of college or guys playing in the AFL for the first time, report feeling fatigued by the end of the season. That may be the case with Blandino, who has worked a few walks but done little else in his first week in Arizona.
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