Hitter of the Day:
Brett Phillips, CF, Milwaukee Brewers (AFL Salt River Rafters): 3-4, 2 BB, 3 R, 2B, 3 RBI, SB. Salt River put up 17 yesterday, and Phillips was right in the middle of it from the two-hole. His .229 average this season stole the headlines for statline scouters, but he drew walks at a 13 percent clip, and his .278 True Average was comfortably above average for the Southern League. He also continued to display an interesting power-and-speed toolset while young for Double-A. He’s continued to put together extremely patient at-bats during his time in the desert, logging 12 walks in 11 games, and profiles well as a solid top-of-the-order hitter.
Pitcher of the Day:
Kyle McGrath, LHP, San Diego Padres (AFL Peoria Javelinas): 3 IP, H. McGrath was one of my dudes in the season’s first couple months as an exotic over-the-top lefty. The former 36th rounder spent the season dominating the socks off minor leaguers with an outstanding changeup (0.93 ERA, 41 hits allowed in 67.1 innings, with 78 strikeouts to 10 walks), and it was apparently enough for the Padres to flirt with converting him to starting this fall. So far, so good: yesterday marked his fourth three-inning stint of the short season, and he’s allowed all of one run on five hits to date. He tops out in the high-80s and doesn’t have the most durable frame for a starter, but results are results, and he’ll be yet another interesting arm in the Padres’ system to follow next year, especially if the experiment continues.
Others of Note:
Francis Martes, RHP, Houston Astros (AFL Glendale Desert Dogs): 4.2 IP, 2 H, BB, 7 K. The AFL has been a bit of a slog thus far for Martes, but the young fire-baller rebounded with an exquisite performance yesterday in line with his true talent. Martes’ mid-90s fastball hops on hitters right quick, and his hard curve remains one of the best I’ve seen in the last couple seasons of Cal League ball. He turned a lot of heads this year at an extremely young age in Double-A, and boasts the foundation of a frontline profile if the command consistency all comes together.
Dawel Lugo, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks (AFL Salt River Rafters): 4-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI. Lugo’s bat-to-ball skills are just flat-out solid, but his 17 home runs this year are more of a Cal League-induced mirage. His solid-average raw power plays down with a swing plane more conducive to singles and doubles, so basically what you see in this box score is what you can reasonably expect to get from him on a good day. His aggressive approach has been on overdrive in the desert thus far with no walks, and the tendency to chase everything he sees is one he’ll need to continue fighting if he’s to carve out a useful big-league role.
Travis Demeritte, 2B, Atlanta Braves (AFL Salt River Rafters): 2-5, BB, 3 R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, K. Demeritte’s slugging numbers, on the other hand, are pretty legitimate thanks to a combination of bat speed and leverage.
Reed Garrett, RHP, Texas Rangers (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 4 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 K. Garrett suffered through a tough campaign at Double-A this year, but has had a nice little run in Arizona thus far. He should provide some upper-minors depth for Texas over the next couple years, with won’t-kill-you spot-starting capability.
Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 1-3, BB, R, 3B, RBI, SB, 2 K. Poor present base-stealing instincts and efficiency have been a consistent ding on Gordon’s otherwise very solid across-the-board profile, but he’s stolen five out of six for Surprise, including successful efforts in three straight games.
Chris Stratton, RHP, San Francisco Giants (AFL Scottsdale Scorpions): 4 IP, ER, 6 H, BB, 5 K. Stratton’s already 26 and coming off a pretty innocuous end-of-season run as a big-league mop-up man, but this makes three solid turns in four out in Arizona. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep him in the rotation at Triple-A next year as depth, or if they proceed with a full conversion to relief and stick him into the mix for the middle innings.
Dylan Cozens, RF, Philadelphia Phillies (DWL Aguilas Cibaenas): 1-4, R, HR, RBI, K. Cozens is a polarizing prospect after his breakout domination of the Eastern League was so thoroughly restricted to home games against right-handed pitching. He’s struggled early into his winter campaign in the Dominican, but yesterday’s dinger was an impressive one to left-center off a southpaw.
Manny Corpas, RHP, FA (VWL Bravos de Margarita): 1.1 IP, BB, K. The former Rockies closer has given up just a solo homer in 10 appearances thus far, while whiffing a dozen, walking just three, and rediscovering his groundballin’ mojo. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 and spent last year in the independent Atlantic League. But he’s only 33, and I’m predicting a comeback. Mark it, dude.
Fight Another Day:
Justin Williams, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (AFL Peoria Javelinas): 0-4, 3 K. The three-whiff game is something of an oddity for Williams, who in spite of a hyper-aggressive approach generally shows strong bat-to-ball skills. There’s plus power potential here, though he’s young and the approach may very well keep that grade from coming to fruition in games.
Yoan Moncada, INF, Boston Red Sox (AFL Surprise Saguaros): DNP. Moncada’s AFL season has officially ended prematurely, as the club shut him down to rest his ailing thumb. He finished with a fittingly solid .292/.370/.458 effort in his half-dozen games, and will enter 2017 as one of the best prospects in baseball.