Hitter of the Day: Phil Ervin, CF, Cincinnati Reds (Peoria Javelinas): 3-6, 2 R, HR, 6 RBI

Ervin has teased in the two-and-a-half years since Cincinnati popped him with its first-round pick. He takes an impressive batting practice, and with above-average speed and a strong throwing arm, he looks every bit like a big-league outfielder. But while his approach has improved and he’s shown patience at the dish, Ervin hasn’t hit for much power in games, and given that he’s now 23, it’s fair to wonder if he’s ever going to. 2016 will be a big year for him.

Pitcher of the Day: Sam Wolff, RHP, Texas Rangers (Surprise Saguaros): 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 SO, 1 BB.

Wolff tore his Achilles in spring training and missed all of the regular season. He’s been wobbly thus far in the AFL, but he turned in his strongest outing on Tuesday afternoon, hitting the mid-90s and keeping hitters off balance with his offspeed stuff. Long-term, though, his slider probably won’t have enough bite for him to remain a starter. Wolff should spend 2016 working out of the rotation to make up for lost repetitions, but his big fastball and inconsistent secondaries foretell a future in the bullpen.

Best of the Rest

Bubba Starling, CF, Kansas City Royals (Surprise Saguaros): 1-4, HR, 2 SO

A vintage Bubba Starling performance. Few players have had a stronger AFL than Starling, who also impressed evaluators all summer in his strongest minor-league campaign to date. He’s always had the pop and athleticism to be a star, and the more he taps into his power in games, the easier it is to imagine him developing into a legitimate big-league contributor. A breakout 2016 season would not be surprising.

Reese McGuire, C, Pittsburgh Pirates (Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-4, 2B

Undoubtedly, some Pirates fans will hang on to every good game McGuire has at the plate, searching for evidence that his bat is catching up to his defensive chops. Well, hopefully they aren’t. Don’cha know you’re not supposed to scout the stat line?

Mike Yastrzemski, LF, Baltimore Orioles (Peoria Javelinas): 3-5, R, 2B

There’s nothing loud in Yastrzemski’s game. In the field, Yastrzemski is an average runner and he’s solid, if unspectacular as a corner outfielder. With fringe-average power, he’ll need to hit for average to stick as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues.

Ryan Butler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Peoria Javelinas): 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 SO, 3 BB

With a fastball that reaches triple digits, middling secondaries, and poor command, Butler profiles best at the back end of a bullpen. Like Wolff, Butler missed most of the season, and he’ll probably work as a starter again next year, maximizing opportunities to work on his slider and changeup in games.

Roemon Fields, CF, Toronto Blue Jays (Salt River Rafters): 2-4, R, 3B, BB

Few 23-year-olds debuting in short-season ball are destined for a long career, but everything about Fields’ career path has been unusual. At Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, Fields was the only player on his team who could hit the ball out of the infield. Despite a solid senior season, few coaches wanted to take a chance on a player who had rarely faced strong pitching. He played at Yakima Community College before finishing his college career at Bethany College, a tiny Div. III school in West Virginia. He was working for the Seattle Postal Service when Toronto took a chance on his athleticism and signed him out of an amateur tournament.

Less than three years after that tournament—games he never would have played if his boss hadn’t given him time off of work—Fields is knocking on the big-league door. He’s a 70-grade runner who draws praise for his work in center field, and while his bat is a bit light for a starter, he could work enough walks and line enough singles to have value in a utility role.

Fight Another Day:

Corey Black, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Mesa Solar Sox): 1.1 IP, 2 H, 6 R, 3 BB

Poor control forced Black to the bullpen in Double-A Tennessee this season, and that’s where his long-term future lies.

Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Chicago Cubs (Mesa Solar Sox): 1-4, SO, 3 E

A rare afternoon to forget for Candelario, who entered the day’s action slugging over .700. He’ll never be confused for Brooks Robinson at third, but yesterday’s performance was just a bad day at the office for a player whose glovework has improved notably in his time as a Cub.

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Fields played at Bethany College in Kansas.
How much would Bubba have to hit for him to be a contributor in CF?
Austin Jackson was a 2-win player in 2015 with a 94 wRC+ (267/.311/.385) and 8.3 defensive runs above average in center.