Hitter of the Day:
Andrew Stevenson, OF, Washington Nationals (AFL Glendale Desert Dogs): 5-6, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, CS. Glendale hung a 15-spot on Peoria, and Stevenson was right in the middle of it leading off. He has torn it up in the AFL, with hits in his last nine games en route to a .999 OPS that rates fourth-best in the league. His hit tool has long been a question mark on account of an unorthodox swing with limited loft, and his production stalled after a second-half promotion to Double-A. The speed-and-defense profile gives him a nice floor, and there’s potential for a starting role down the line if the bat plays in full.
Pitcher of the Day:
Sure, why not? No other hurlers did anything particularly notable last night. The life of a middle reliever is not without its particular unpleasantness. Case in point Speier, who entered the game with runners on the corners, coaxed a double-play ball, and got out of the inning right quick. But because the inherited run scored on his watch he got charged with a blown save for his troubles. Bah, I say!
Others of Note:
Ian Happ, 2B, Chicago Cubs (AFL Mesa Solar Sox): 2-3, BB, R, 3B, 2 RBI, K. Happ continues to be one of the more polarizing, and therefore interesting, prospects around. Supporters see enough bat-to-ball and well-roundedness to drive a solidly above-average profile at the keystone, even if his glove never quite turns into an asset. Detractors see an unlikely fit on the dirt and a much less impactful offensive profile in the outfield.
Greg Allen, OF, Cleveland Indians (AFL Mesa Solar Sox): 2-4, R, SB, K. The bag was Allen’s league-leading eighth of the fall, and he has combined it with surprising pop to produce one of the breakout performances. I liked him a lot in a couple looks this year, and while the desert slugging is misleading, he’s a solid player capable of producing quality at-bats, impact on the bases, and solid defense up the middle.
Luis Arraez, 2B, Minnesota Twins (VWL Navegantes del Magallanes): 3-4, BB. On the heels of taking down the Midwest League batting title with a .347 mark in his stateside debut, Arraez is now hitting .358/.376/.505 with four strikeouts in a hundred plate appearances in Venezuela. He’s just an average runner, and there is absolutely no power whatsoever, but his swing is Spud Webb-short to the ball and he’s shown nothing short of elite contact ability in his brief career to date.
Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (AFL Glendale Desert Dogs): 2-4, BB, 3 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 K. Bellinger’s making the most of his reps in Arizona, pacing the league in doubles. He progressed well this year after tapping back into the more patient approach he’d misplaced at Rancho Cucamonga.
Dylan Cozens, RF, Philadelphia Phillies (DWL Aguilas Cibaenas): 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K. A couple days after busting up teammate Boog Powell in a clubhouse altercation, Cozens took old friend of The Show Raul Valdes deep. That’s only semi-notable because, after posting an OPS 400 points worse against left-handers during the regular season, Cozens has mustered a bizarre-world split in the Dominican, hitting .286/.375/.810 with all four of his homers against southpaws.
Ryder Jones, 3B, San Francisco Giants (AFL Scottsdale Scorpions): 3-4, BB, R. Jones has plus power and a solid arm at third, but he’s struggled to get and keep his bat going in either of the past couple seasons. He’s raking in Arizona, though.
Eric Wood, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates (AFL Surprise Saguaros): 2-3, 2 R, RBI, K. A former sixth-rounder, Wood showed a nice power spike in a return engagement in the Eastern League this season, and the improvement has carried over into the desert, where he’s now hitting .400 in 15 games. He’s got a broad enough base of tools that it isn’t hard to squint and see him getting a couple cracks at big-league pitching someday.
Fight Another Day:
Kyle McGrath, LHP, San Diego Padres (AFL Peoria Javelinas): 2 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, BB, 2 K, 2 HR. Oof. I said nice things about McGrath last week, but he took this one on the chin. The two homers illustrate a potential liability given the stuff, though he’s done a nice job limiting the long ball in his career to date.
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