2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

Hitter of the Day: Sam Travis, 1B, Boston Red Sox (Scottsdale Scorpions): 2-3, R, 2B (at press time)

With only nine homers in 120 games, Travis won’t impress stat-scouters who want big power numbers from their first basemen. He’s a strong kid, but a flat swing will preclude him from posting big power numbers. Still, he can hit: Travis lashes line drives in bunches, and as a 22-year-old in Double-A, he walked nearly as often as he struck out. If I had to bet on one first-base prospect without plus power panning out, I’d take Travis.

Pitcher of the Day: John Simms, RHP, Washington Nationals (Salt River Rafters): 5 IP, R, 4 H, BB, 4 SO

There’s nothing sexy about Simms. A modestly sized righty, he works in the high-80s and low-90s with his fastball, flashing an above-average curve and turning over a firm changeup with less fade than you’d like to see. He gets good run on his fastball, though, and when he’s on, his command helps everything play up a little bit. He’s not an impact arm, but pitchers with worse stuff have made it work in a big-lague rotation.

Best of the Rest

Fernando Perez, IF, San Diego Padres (Peoria Javelinas): 1-3, HR, BB

A tweener defensively, perhaps it’s appropriate that Perez launched his first AFL homer as Peoria’s designated hitter yesterday afternoon. 2015 was a struggle for Perez, who struck out four times as often as he walked without tapping into the above-average raw power that makes him an interesting prospect. There’s probably too much swing and miss in his game for it to work, particularly if he has to move off of second base.

Jharel Cotton, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Glendale Desert Dogs): 3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 SO

Cotton sat in the low-90s with a plus curve yesterday, but at this point, questions about Cotton are less about stuff and more about whether he has the command to survive in a big-league rotation. Each game he starts strongly before fading in the middle innings is another datapoint in the “no” column.

Aledmys Diaz, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (Surprise Saguaros): 2-5, R, 2 2B

Diaz is old for a prospect, and is no longer a full-time shortstop. Still, he’s a good hitter with average power and strong defensive chops, particularly if he settles in at third base.

Peter Tago, RHP, Chicago White Sox (Glendale Desert Dogs): 1 IP, H, SO

An inconsistent delivery and grip-and-rip mentality will always limit Tago’s ability to throw strikes, but he’s come a long way from the days when his offspeed pitches would, often as not, land on the infield grass or in the opposite batter’s box. The right-hander touches the mid-90s, and while he has a limited ceiling, he could sneak his way into a big-league bullpen as soon as 2016.

Roman Quinn, CF, Philadelphia Phillies (Tigres Del Licey): 1-3, BB

With 80 speed, all Quinn has to do to have an extended big-league career is get on base. He takes a good approach at the plate and as you’d imagine, he can handle center field. Every walk is a good sign for a player who was on his way to a breakout season before a hip flexor injury pushed him out of action for a couple months.

Fight Another Day

Paul Fry, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Peoria Javelinas) 1 IP, 2 H, R, 2 SO

He hasn’t fared well in the AFL, but Fry is a good candidate to play a role as one of the ubiquitous “dynamite relievers you’ve never heard of” in 2016. Drafted in the 17th round out of St. Clair County Community College two years ago, Fry took well to professional instruction. Soon after draft day, Fry added a few ticks to his fastball and significantly improved his slider, which some grade as a plus offering. With few relievers ahead of him in Seattle, Fry figures to spend time in the Mariners bullpen next summer.

Connor Lien, CF, Atlanta Braves (Peoria Javelinas) 0-4, 3 SO

Lien had his best professional season yet but has struggled in the AFL, striking out in nearly half of his at-bats. Whiffs are the weak point in Lien’s game: He’s a plus runner and a strong defender in center field with just enough pop to keep pitchers honest, but he’s raw at the plate and will need to make more contact going forward to have a career.

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Is a freshly minted 25 old for a player who was a Cuban signee and who is probably ready for an every day trial? You're so ageist, Brendan! lol

Opinions of Diaz's defense at SS were pretty optimistic this year. He's got nowhere to play at the moment with Peralta and Carpenter in his way, but he might just be positioning himself as Peralta's heir, so I'm not sure he's necessarily done as a FT SS. Rather, it makes sense to get him reps at both SS and 3B (and perhaps 2B) so that he can back either up as needed. Given the opportunity, I could see something similar to what Eugenio Suarez provided the Reds this year: adequate D, solid contact ability and above avg power for the position.