Sure, there were some good performances at the plate. Gary Brown had three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base, not a bad day’s work for the Giants’ No. 1 prospect. Nick Castellanos, the Tigers’ top prospect, hit a ninth-inning home run to give Mesa its first win. And Washington prospect Brian Goodwin (No. 3) homered to tie the game in the ninth as Salt River went on to beat Brown and Scottsdale, 6-5.
But Thursday’s Star of the Day is a no-brainer, and it comes from the mound.
Kyle Gibson came to the Fall League to continue to make up for lost innings and to regain his form following Tommy John surgery. The Twins’ No. 16 prospect would likely be in the big leagues by now if it hadn’t been for his elbow woes and he threw just 28 1/3 innings in 2012 as he worked his way back. Well, if Thursday is any indication, he’s shaking the rust off quite nicely. Gibson went five shutout innings on Thursday, something that doesn’t typically happen this early in the AFL schedule. He gave up just four hits, walked none and struck out eight. He hadn’t thrown more than four innings in any outing since he returned from TJ surgery.
It’s pretty clear that the Star of the Day comes from the Surprise Saguaros, who beat Peoria, 8-4.
Rangers first base prospect Chris McGuiness went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, falling just a triple short of the cycle (in over 1,500 professional plate appearances, McGuiness has just one triple, so this isn’t exactly shocking). McGuiness, a product of the Citadel, came to the Rangers from the Red Sox as part of the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal. He’s coming off a solid 2012 campaign in Double-A where he finished fourth in the Texas League in homers and seventh in slugging percentage.
Elsewhere… Rays OF Kevin Keirmaier stole three bases as his Phoenix Desert Dogs lost in 11 innings to the Scottsdale Scorpions, 6-5. And Salt River homered three times. The Diamondbacks’ No. 4 prospect Matt Davidson hit one, and two of the Nationals’ Top 20 went deep as well: Matt Skole (No. 12) in the first inning, going back-to-back with Davidson, and Brian Goodwin (No. 3 and No. 67 overall) in the 9th.
The first day of the Arizona Fall League is in the books and it’s time to revive a series I’ve tried on here in the past — the AFL Star of the Day. I’ll admit it’s been a challenge keeping it going all Fall, but I’m going to do my darndest to post every day. After a day’s games, please feel free to send in nominations in comments or via Twitter (@jonathanmayob3).
Typically a hitting-friendly league, there were some pitchers that deserved serious consideration. The Royals’ Justin Marks tossed three hitless innings for Surprise in what ended up being a 5-2 win for Peoria. Chris Gloor of the Giants tossed four innings of three-hit, shutout ball for Scottsdale, striking out five and walking none. In the same game, Shawn Haviland of the A’s went three scoreless, allowing just one hit while striking out four for Phoenix. And it was the Desert Dogs who won the game.
But I think I’ll stick with some offense for our first AFL Star of the Day: Javier Baez of the Cubs. Ranked No. 23 on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, and No. 1 on the Cubs’ Top 20, Baez is coming off of a very solid first full season that saw him reach the Florida State League at age 19 and hit a combined .294/.346/.543 with 16 homers and 24 steals. And he didn’t make his 2012 debut until the end of May. Now he’s one of the younger performers in the AFL. And all he did was homer and double while driving in three in Mesa’s 6-5 loss at Salt River on Tuesday night.