October 2012

AFL Report: Astros and a Yankee Star

The Houston Astros are up next, with intrepid reporter Brian McTaggart writing about new manager Bo Porter’s visit to his prospects in the AFL.

As always, here’s the video report, focusing on Jonathan Singleton, George Springer and Jarred Cosart.

Now, a look at Tuesday’s Star of the Day:

The Yankees’ Slade Heathcott hasn’t had the easiest path as a professional. No. 5 on the New York’s Top 20, the former first-rounder has had some issues on and off the field. Injuries have really hampered him (2 shoulder surgeries) and his career high in at-bats is just 351. So he’s really trying to make up for some lost time with Scottsdale this fall. He certainly did that on Tuesday, going 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and five RBIs. He’s hitting .275/.408/.400 over 11 AFL games (40 ABs). He’s really enjoyed hitting from the leadoff spot, with a .471 average in four games. And yes, he was in that slot on Tuesday.

AFL catchup — Rays, Marlins, Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers…

As could have been predicted, I’ve fallen behind on AFL updates in recent days. I’d love to blame Sandy for that, but that wouldn’t be fair. So… let’s catch up on team reports and Stars of the Day, shall we?  Oh, and stay tuned for news on the Rising Stars Game rosters, the exciting game being played at Salt River on Saturday (And I’ll be there in person to cover).

First, the team reports:

Tampa Bay Rays: Focuses on Tim Beckham

Miami Marlins: Focuses on Christian Yelich

Chicago Cubs: Focuses on Tony Zych

Los Angeles Dodgers: Focuses on Chris Reed

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to hand out some Stars of the Day for action from Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Thursday: While there were some good hitting performances — Nick Franklin homered and drove in a pair for Peoria; Kyle Jensen homered and drove in two for Phoenix, Brian Goodwin went 3-for-4 with two doubles and Carlos Sanchez  went 2-for-3 with a triple and 4 RBIs, both for Salt River. But I have to give the tip of the B3 cap to Tim Crabbe of the Reds. He tossed four hitless innings for Peoria, walking one and striking out two. That brought his AFL batting average against down to .182.

Friday: It really comes down to two hitters from the Peoria-Salt River game. Vinnie Catricala of the Mariners had a nice day, going 2-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBIs. But the Rockies’ Kent Matthes one-upped him a bit, going 3-for-3 with a home run and 4 RBIs. Matthes is now fifth in the AFL with his .596 SLG and tied for fourth with 10 RBIs.

Saturday: It was tempting to give a rare star to a reliever. Chris Martin of the Red Sox went two perfect innings and struck out four for Surprise. But it was too hard to ignore Tyler Botnick‘s day for Salt River. The Diamondbacks’ infielder went 4-for-5 with a double, four RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Those were the first four RBIs of the fall for Bortnick, who is hitting .296 for the Rafters.

And, finally, Monday: A couple of good candidates, including another homer from Matthes. Ryan Perry of the Natinals went five scoreless, allowing just one hit while striking out three. But the Pirates’ Kyle Kaminska was just a smidge better. He also went five scorless, allowing just one hit. But he struck out six to earn the Star. He’s on a one good, one bad start pattern. In the two good starts, he’s gone 10 IP, allowing no runs on just four hits and no walks while striking out nine. In the not as good starts, he still isn’t walking anyone — just one free pass allowed all fall — but he’s given up four earned runs on 13 hits over eight innings. Kaminska came to the Pirates at the trade deadline along with Gaby Sanchez. He hasn’t started regularly since 2009, so it’ll be interesting to see if the fact that he is starting in the AFL means anything in 2013.

AFL Report: Angels

Today’s report is on the Los Angeles Angels and how Kaleb Cowart (No. 1 on the Angels’ Top 20) and Bobby Cassevah have taken very different paths to be in the same place in Arizona.

The video report below focuses on Cowart, Travis Witherspoon and Randal Grichuk, all in that Top 20.

And Wednesday’s Star of the Day is…

Someone from the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who absolutely pounded the Surprise Saguaros, 15-1. Honestly, I thought going for the two-point conversion after their second touchdown was a bit much… The Dogs, as I like to call ‘em, had two players with four hits. Brock Kjeldgaard of the Brewers went 4-for-6 with a pair of ribbies. But Tim Beckham of the Rays outdid him just a bit. The former No. 1 overall pick went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and four RBIs. Beckham has been working on his play at second base while making up for lost time and trying to restore his prospect status following a 50-game suspension this year.

AFL Report: Cleveland Indians

Are you kids on the Twitter? Well, then, I suggest you take a look at a handy list compiled of the players in the Arizona Fall League who like to “tweet,” as you youngsters call it. It’s fun for the whole family.

So is reading the most recent  AFL team report. Today’s subject: Your Cleveland Indians (focus on T.J. House). And, as has been my custom, here’s the video report (featuring Ronny Rodriguez, Alex Monsalve and Shawn Armstrong):

As for the Star of the Day for Tuesday’s games, let’s give a big B3 cheer for…

Kyle Jensen of the Miami Marlins for his grand slam in what ended up a 7-7 tie between Phoenix and Mesa. Jensen’s had himself a fine AFL campaign so far, sitting fifth in batting average (.390), second in RBIs (10) and seventh in OPS (1.017). But I also wanted to use Jensen to highlight some cool stuff that the folks at Trackman are doing in Arizona. They measure all sorts of cool stuff, from good ol’ fastball velocity to fastball extension and breaking ball spin for pitchers to hardest and longest hits, including exit speeds for hitters. Why do I bring this up now? Because Jensen, at last check in, led the AFL in hard contacts at the plate. Of 15 contacts recorded off the bat by Jensen, 12 were deemed as hard contacts by Trackman (hard meaning 90+ mph). He has three of the top 20 hardest hit balls of the AFL, all three of which had speeds of over 106 mph. And as Trackman points out on that leaderboard, the MLB average on  balls hit over 105 mph is .722, so Jensen is clearly doing something right.

AFL Report: Pirates

You can read all about the Pirates prospects in the AFL, featuring Vic Black. You can also watch the video report, which focuses on Black, Brandon Cumpton and Gift Ngeope. Black and Cumpton are currently on the Pirates’ Top 20.

 

And Monday’s Star of the Day goes to…

Chase Anderson of the Diamondbacks. The right-hander, ranked No. 19 on the D-backs’ Top 20, has flown under the radar because of injuries that forced him to miss nearly all of 2011. But he had a very solid 2012 season in Double-A and he’s kept it up in the Fall League. In his third AFL start on Monday, Anderson tossed four shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five. He now has a 2.79 ERA over 9 2/3 IP, with the league hitting just .152 against him.

 

AFL Reports: Hearing from the Rangers, Blue Jays and Rockies

Happy Monday everyone. Just wanted to catch everyone up on the team reports and accompanying video:

    • Toronto Blue Jays, with a focus on Sam Dyson (Video focuses on Jake Marisnick, Deck McGuire and Kevin Pillar)
  • Colorado Rockies, with a focus on Kent Matthes (Video focuses on Matthes, Corey Dickerson and Isaiah Froneberger)

And we have 2 Stars of the Day to hand out, for Friday and Saturday. First, Friday:

While the  Marlins’ Kyle Jensen gets a tip of the cap for his 4-for-5 day at the plate for Phoenix (to go along with 3 RBIs), B3 has to go with another pitcher as Friday’s Star of the Day. Any 1-0 game in the AFL stands out and while Indians LHP T.J. House didn’t figure into the decision of Scottsdale’s win by that score, he certainly did his part. House went five hitless innings for the Scorpions, walking three and striking out four. He’s now given up one run on three hits over eight innings in the AFL, following a season that saw him finish third in the organization in strikeouts and fourth in WHIP, BAA and wins.

And now, from Saturday:

The scores from Saturday look much more like the Fall League we’ve all been used to over the years — one game 16-10, another 12-11. Kudos to the aforementioned Sardinas for homering and driving in four runs. But Saturday’s Star is awarded to Josh Prince of the Brewers. Prince, a former shortstop who made the transition to the outfield during the regular season, did what a leadoff man is supposed to for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. He went 3-for-3 with two walks, getting on base all five times he came to the plate. He scored two runs and drove in three, walking and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. He also fell a home run short of the cycle. The only downside for the speedster who his hitting .433 in the AFL thus far is that he got caught stealing twice (once via pickoff).

 

AFL Report: Mariners, plus another Star of the Day

Today’s featured AFL Team Report is on the Seattle Mariners and focuses on 2012 first-round pick Mike Zunino. And here’s the video report:

 

A quick Star of the Day goes to…another pitcher:
Bobby Cassevah of the Angels went four scoreless on Thursday. The right-hander gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out three. In two AFL starts, he’s now gone seven shutout innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out four. Cassevah has actually spent quite a bit of time in the big leagues, pitching out of the Angels bullpen in 2010, 2011 and a bit this past season. A groundball machine, he’s been pitching in relief for most of his professional career. He didn’t have a good year in 2012, but it’s not often to see a guy with almost 65 Major League innings under his belt in the Fall League.

 

AFL report: Phillies, plus Star of the Day

We’ve started rolling out our AFL team overviews. We have choices, too — the written word. Yesterday, the Phillies report went up. And you can watch the accompanying video report:

And if you missed it from earlier in the week, you can read the Twins report as well. I linked to that video yesterday, but here it is again.

Many more to come… And here’s the Star of the Day from Wednesday’s action:

While Kyle Kaminska (Pirates) should be applauded for his five scoreless innings of work for Scottsdale, it’s hard not to give the Star to Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays. While going 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs and 2 SB sounds ok, but maybe not exceptional for the hitting haven that is the AFL. But then consider that one of his steals was of home, then you take notice, right? It was part of a double-steal, but as Pillar explained in the recap, he did it on his own (take note,  young baserunners, that secondary lead is important!)

“[Later in the inning], we had a left-handed hitter (Andy Wilkins) up, so the third baseman (Cody Asche) was playing off the bag a lot. I had a huge lead for my normal secondary lead, and when I saw the catcher (Mike Zunino) throw down [to second base], I was able to walk in. It was just something I did on my own, I just got a good read. At that point we still needed runs, so I capitalized on it.”

He’s been capitalizing all year. Pillar was the Midwest League MVP, got promoted to the Florida State League and kept on raking. The 32nd round pick in 2011 hit a combined .323/.374/.439 with 91 RBIs (his most surprising stat!) and 51 steals.

Another two for one AFL Star of the Day entry

Covering Monday and Tuesday’s games, following my two-day stint in our studios in NYC to shoot AFL team reports and record things for the 2013 Draft Top 50 (coming in November!)

Monday’s Star of the Day nod goes to Padres’ 2b prospect Jeudy Valdez. Leading off for Peoria on Monday, the 23-year-old went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, an RBI and three runs scored. Valdez had a big year in 2011, in the hitter-friendly California League, hitting .295 with 15 homers, 92 RBIs and 34 steals. But he wasn’t nearly as productive with the move up to the Double-A Texas League (.225/.273/.364), so a good AFL could help him get back headed in the right direction.

I figured at some point, there would be repeat Stars of the Day, but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly, and I certainly didn’t think it would happen with a pitcher. With all due respect to Kolten Wong’s 4-for-4 day, it’s Kyle Gibson who once again deserves the honor. The Twins’ right-hander continues to put Tommy John surgery in his rear view mirror. The Twins’ No. 16 prospect (me thinks he’ll move up in 2013) once again went five innings, allowing one run on six hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 8. In two outings, his line reads: 10 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 0.90 ERA, 0 BB, 16 K. Not too shabby.

Gibson is one of the Twins’ prospects featured in the AFL team report we recorded in NY. Here’s the finished version.

AFL Star of the Day, Vol. 4 and 5

Hey all –

We’ll cover two days with one post, as long as there aren’t any objections.

First, for Friday’s action:

I’m declaring it a draw, an all-UConn day. There was shortstop Nick Ahmed of the Braves. The 2011 second round pick out of UConn went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and four RBIs. He’s gone 5-for-9 in two AFL games to date after a solid first full season in the Carolina League that saw him steal 40 bases.

Then there’s the Astros’ George Springer. A 2011 first-round pick (No. 11 overall) also drove in four runs with a homer and a triple, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Springer was  a California League All-Star, putting up some big numbers, albeit in Lancaster (22 HR, 28 SB, .557 SLG). He earned a promotion up to Double-A, where he struggled a bit.

Ahmed, in case you were curious, is No. 10 on the Braves’ Top 20 Prospects list. Springer is No. 3 on the Astros’ Top 20 and No. 48 overall.

Now on to Saturday’s action:

 

It’s tempting to go with Mike Zunino of the Mariners. After all, how often does a catcher hit two triples in one game. But the real Start of the Day has to be Brock Kjeldgaard of the Brewers. The outfielder hit two homers and drove in three runs.  Kjeldgaard clearly has some pop — he hit 24 homers in 2011 — but took a step back in 2012. Could he be righting the ship in Arizona? He’s 4-for-7 with three homers and 4 RBIs in two games.

 

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