We’ve written a bunch about Travis this fall, but he’s earned it; this was his sixth multi-hit game in his last 10, and he now leads the circuit in doubles with 10. All of the sample-size caveats apply, but he’s done the overwhelming bulk of his damage against right-handers to boot, which is a nice success for him to hang his hat on heading into 2016.
Hader’s innings have been limited in the desert, but he’s made them count when he’s taken the ball. His dominating line (16 innings, one run on six hits, 19 strikeouts, seven walks) shows the kind of floor he’s capable of reaching if ends up in a big-league bullpen. He was hitting 97, which is bananas given the physicality. I was a big fan in my looks last year; he can locate his fastball to all four quadrants, and he isn’t afraid to come right after hitters thanks to solid command and excellent deception. There’s enough projection in the deuce and change to continue wishing on a mid-rotation future, and his performance in Arizona has certainly done nothing to dim the dream.
Others of Note:
Paxton’s been able to add another 30 innings to his 2015 ledger with his work this fall, and that’s really the takeaway here. His results have been mixed, as he’s posted solid strikeout and walk numbers while allowing a whole bunch of base hits. None of that really matters too much—he’s not throwing breaking balls, after all—and he’s been able to spend important quality time developing a cutter.
That’s two straight strong outings for Johnson to close his Arizona campaign. He had his hard curve biting yesterday, commanding it well along with his low-90’s fastball.
Carlos Asuaje, 2B, Padres (AFL Scottsdale Scorpions): 3-4, R, 2B
Brendan touched on Asuaje a couple days ago, and he’s now working on a 10-game hit streak (albeit one with 11 strikeouts and zero walks).
Justin Haley, RHP, Red Sox (AFL Scottsdale Scorpions): 4 IP, H, 6 K
A former sixth-rounder out of Fresno State, Haley suffered through a disastrous campaign at Double-A Portland this year, lowlighted by an ERA north of 5.00, 142 hits allowed in just 124 innings, and 16 losses for good measure. He’s rebounded with a solid effort in the desert, however, and yesterday he showed stellar command of a low-90s fastball with plane while flashing a couple average complements in his slider and change. He’s just a year removed from a strong two-level effort and still offers sneaky value as overlooked organizational depth.
Brandon Dixon, 2B/CF, Dodgers (AFL Glendale Desert Dogs): 3-4, R, 2B, SF, 2 RBI
Dixon’s a former third-rounder out of Arizona, a second baseman by trade who this past year started toggling between the keystone and the outfield grass (with a handful of reps at third base for good measure). He’s on the bigger side for a middle infielder, but he shows decent athleticism and quickness in spite of the frame, and he’s solid if unspectacular in the field. The bat remains a question mark however, as despite an early-season statistical rampage in the Cal League, he struggles to keep his balance and maintain fluidity in the box. I saw a guess hitter, and Double-A pitchers apparently did, too. There’s some natural loft and power in the swing, but it’s unlikely he ultimately hits enough to establish a regular role.
Alberto was something of a surprise addition to the Rangers’ 40-man roster and subsequent September call-up, but he can play shortstop and he’s put up decent enough numbers over the past couple seasons in the high minors. There isn’t exactly room at the ol’ depth chart inn for Alberto in Texas, but he figures to play some kind of big-league role for them in 2016.
Erik Gonzalez, SS, Indians (DWL Leones del Escogido): 3-3, 2 R, SB
I wrote up Gonzalez on Tuesday, but just know that I like him and he continued to rake yesterday.
Drew Stankiewicz, IF, Phillies (AFL Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-4, BB, 2 R, 2B, K
A small, grinding middle infielder from Arizona State, you say? The son of former major leaguer Andy, Stankiewicz went to Philadelphia in the 11th round in 2014 on the strength of his solid bat-to-ball skills and dirty uniform. He hit well in a second look at Sally pitching this year before struggling after a second-half promotion to the Florida State League, and that was the pattern last year post-draft as well. The upside here is limited, but he’s a guy who plays above the tools and could easily force his way onto a big-league bench for a few years in a utility role if the offensive development continues to progress.
Silvino Bracho, RHP, Diamondbacks (VWL Aguilas del Zulia): IP, BB
Bracho made his big-league debut this year for Arizona after throttling High-A and Double-A hitters with little regard for their feelings, and the Venezuelan’s topline performance held in 13 appearances against the best hitters in the world. He’s a short-ish righty whose four-seam tops out at 94, but he gets low extension with a drop-and-drive motion that helps his perceived velocity play up with deception, and he pins the ball in the lower half of the zone. It’s an unusual motion and profile, but he can play a key role in the middle of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen if hitters continue to struggle squaring him up.
Fight Another Day:
Connor Sadzeck, RHP, Rangers (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 1.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 2 K, HR
I was mildly surprised to see Sadzeck’s name on an AFL roster given he’d just come back from Tommy John surgery in May, but he’s certainly in need of the reps. He can dial up a wicked fastball in the high-90s with above-average arm-side run and solid boring action down low or enough pop at the top of the zone to miss bats. But the command was raw upon his return and remained so through a mid-year promotion to Double-A. His second-half struggles continued right on through the fall, so he’ll head presumably back to Frisco in the spring with an eye toward refining his command and developing his curveball into a useable enough pitch for him to succeed in a middle-relief role down the line.
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