Why this guy continues to see fastballs is anybody’s guess, but here we are. Walker II is now 8-for-his-last-13 with a couple of bombs (and only two strikeouts!), bringing his Fall League tally up to a 1.137 OPS to date. But while his video-game numbers thus far have been fun, the scouting consensus remains unchanged.
Butler boasts a fastball that can work in the high-90s with good plane and sink to help him induce his fair share of groundballs. Lack of progress developing his secondaries led to a bullpen conversion down the stretch at Lake Elsinore, however, and that’s ultimately the former seventh-rounder’s likeliest path to a big-league future. A rare solo home run—he’s allowed just two in more than 90 professional innings—in his previous outing remains his only blemish through three appearances thus far in the desert.
Best of the Rest:
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Mariners (AFL Peoria Javelinas): 3-4, R, 2B, HR, RBI, K
Narrowly edged out for “Hitter of the Day,” Tyler O’Neill continued to build on a fall campaign of doin’ what Tyler O’Neill does. He’s now launched three bombs among six extra-base hits in his first 27 at-bats with 11 strikeouts and no walks. He rounded the bases last night in stoic, professional silence, while nearby a lone Kingbird dropped provocative suggestions onto a cool evening breeze and Wily Mo Pena, brow tucked into the drowsy furrow of a much older man, bobbed his head abruptly in a knowing, solitary nod.
Bautista cracked our Nationals’ Top 10 last spring on the strength of his plus defensive projection in center, sweet wheels, and a possibly-solid-enough hit tool. Alas, it was a tough season, as he lost two and a half months to injury and faded down the stretch after a solid return to High-A in July. So far, so good as he tries to make up the lost at-bats in his homeland, however, as he’s now 16-for-his-first-35. He’ll be a name to watch into next spring.
Lewis Brinson, CF, Rangers (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 1-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Brinson is following up a monster campaign across two levels with a monster performance out of the gate in Arizona. His power and speed combo is one of the better ones in the high minors, while he projects as a potentially impact defender in center. The question remains whether he’ll hit enough to be a superstar, or whether the rest of the package will carry the load for a solid-average major-league centerfielder. I was enamored with the possibilities in my looks this year, and you should be, too.
Mauricio Cabrera, RHP, Braves (AFL Peoria Javelinas): IP, 2 K
Our own Chris Crawford touched on Cabrera’s outstanding fastball on Monday, and he was back at it again today, sitting triple digits with the gas in an impressive inning of work. If he can figure out something—anything—to play as a reasonably competent secondary, there’s late-inning potential here, command be damned.
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cardinals (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 4 IP, 4 H, 3 K, 3 BB
Reyes topped out at “only” 98 yesterday, sitting mostly 94-96 with a fastball that has double-plus written all over it even in a more frequently-travelled velocity band. Despite the ferocity of the raw stuff there’s still ample refinement to come in Reyes’ development, however, as for a second straight start his command began to wander as he tried to mix up his arsenal the second time through the order.
Austin Hedges, C, Padres (DWL Leones del Escogido): 2-4, R, HR, RBI, K
He’s technically not still a prospect, having exceeded rookie eligibility by seven at-bats in September. But hoo boy could he use a solid fall campaign at the dish to restore some confidence after a pretty worst-case-scenario offensive debut. He gunned down a runner in this game, presumably to remind everyone that his defensive chops remain elite. But the bat will determine the arc of his impending lengthy big-league career, and it’s nice to see him off to a decent 8-for-28 start.
Mark Zagunis, OF, Cubs (AFL Mesa Solar Sox): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K
I was moderately intrigued by the baseline tools Zagunis showed off at the Carolina League All Star Game this past June, but Tucker Blair was less enthusiastic after an extended look later on. A converted catcher, Zagunis has the kind of dense build that makes his decent athleticism pop a bit in the field. The former third-rounder’s swing is fairly rigid, however, and despite an exquisite command of the zone and impressive physical strength yesterday’s dinger was more surprise than standard, as he lacks the leverage or fluidity to drive the ball on a consistent basis. His on-base skills give him a decent offensive baseline, but the pure hitting ability has a ways to go. His campaign in the desert has been rough thus far, and it remains unclear just what his future utility might be for the North Siders.
Tyler Austin, 1B/OF, Yankees (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 2-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB
It’s been that kind of fall for Yankee hitting prospects thus far, though after a wildly disappointing campaign in the upper minors, it’s probably fair to question the “prospect” label for Austin at this point. After surviving an end-of-season DFA and outright off the 40-man roster, it remains to be seen what (if any) future he has within the organization. He lacks a standout tool, and while a nasty wrist injury gave his poor performance cover for a while, his failure to produce consistently this year has knocked him down into the ranks of “org guy” on the depth chart. It's hard to see him figuring prominently in the club’s 2016 plans, though a solid fall campaign certainly won’t hurt.
Fight Another Day:
What Acevedo has in velocity he still lacks in, well, pretty much everything else. His long limbs and limited athleticism join forces in an unholy alliance of inconsistency in his arm swing and unbalanced drive, leaving the command well below-average at this stage. Renato Nunez was among those to take advantage yesterday, launching a flat, mid-80s slider somewhere out New Mexico way.
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