Results tagged ‘ Arizona Fall League ’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just one more game to go, Saturday’s championship game (3 p.m. ET, MLB Network, MLB.com). Feel free to read my preview to prep for the game.
In that story, there’s a video interview with Salt River starter (and Diamondbacks prospect) Charles Brewer. Here’s the entire video, during which we talk about the championship game, pitching at home and what an absolutely ridiculous rotation he was a part of in Double-A Mobile. Here’s the full interview for your viewing pleasure.
Today’s a big day for many players in the AFL, not just the ones playing for Salt River and Surprise. There were close to 70 players on AFL rosters this fall who either need to be put on a 40-man roster or be left available for the Rule 5 Draft. The list includes some former first-rounders and a number of players who performed well in Arizona. Since my story was posted on the subject, teams have been announcing the roster additions in stages (the dadline is midnight). Kevin Mattison, who is quoted in the story, was added to the 40-man by the Marlins. By my count, here’s a list (sure to grow) of AFLers who gained roster spots today:
I started the day in Phoenix (got my first look at the the championship game-bound Salt River Rafters), then drove over here to Scottsdale Stadium to see the Scorpions for the first time (Yes, I made it nearly three whole days without seeing Bryce Harper play. Hard to believe, I know).
I want to apologize to those who left questions to be answered in comments. One was for Aaron Hicks. I saw him play yesterday, but did not get the chance to ask him the question and I won’t be seeing Mesa again. The other question was about my take on the Mets’ Juan Lagares. He was not in the lineup yesterday. If he’s playing tonight against the Scorpions, I’ll try to find some things out about him.
No Mike Olt homer today, so he remains one shy of Brandon Wood’s record of 14, with one regular season game to play.
Jed Bradley on the bump tonight for Peoria, looking forward to seeing him pitch.
I’ll have some more video interviews in the coming days. Stay tuned to hear from (and see):
Scooter Gennett, Brewers
Danny Hultzen, Mariners
Charles Brewer, Diamondbacks
And you can look forward to these exciting stories:
AFL Top 20 prospects
Players using the AFL to earn a roster spot/audition for Rule 5
Championship game preview
Stenson Award story
2011 first-round picks playing in the AFL
And yes, I partially did that to provide myself with a handy-dandy checklist.
The six nominees for this year’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award were announced on Tuesday (you can see my story on it right here.) There’s a video interview with one of the nominees, Brodie Greene, with the story. If you want to hear more from Greene, you can watch the entire, unedited (read: raw) video right here.
The winner will be announced on Saturday at the championship game. And lest you think that effort doesn’t lead to results, it’s interesting to note that all six of these guys who are honored for their work ethic and makeup were hitting over .300 as of Tuesday’s games.
Only one time has a player won both the Stenson Award and the AFL MVP. That was Sam Fuld back in 2007. I don’t think it will happen this year, but the one guy who has a shot is Nolan Arenado. The Rockies third base prospect is third in the league in hitting, fifth in slugging and sixth in OPS. His 33 RBIs are second to Michael Olt. Even if Arenado doesn’t win MVP, he’s in the mix. And he and his Salt River Rafters are playing on Saturday for a ring.
Greetings from Arizona, following my first day in the AFL.
I spent the day in Surprise to watch the championship-bound Saguaros host the Phoenix Desert Dogs and while I haven’t seen Salt River yet, that Surprise team is ridiculously stacked. Stay tuned for a series of stories as the week (and even into next week) unfolds.
I had some issues with my flipcam early in the day, but did recover to get one video interview done — I’ll post the entirety of that interview here tomorrow.
For now, though, I want to talk about Mike Olt. The Rangers’ No. 7 prospect played in just 73 games thanks to a broken collarbone during the regular season, so he came to Arizona to make up for lost time. And boy has he (You can watch a video interview with him, courtesy of the AFL, right here).
I saw Olt hit home run No. 13 on Monday. That almost doubles his nearest competitor (7, Robbie Grossman). he’s hit four homers in his last three games. He also leads the league with 40 RBIs, a reason why most think he’ll end up with his name on that MVP Award.
Back in 2005, Brandon Wood broke the Fall League record with 14 homers in 114 at-bats. I covered a bunch of that AFL season and Wood was just insane. Fast foward to now and Olt is one back of Wood, with 13 homers, in just 95 ABs. There might be concern about holes in his swing, but the power — especially showing it here after his partial season in the Class A Advanced Carolina League — is legit.
Of course, he may want to be careful with the homer company he is inadvertently keeping. Wood has never been able to establish himself as a big leaguer. Since his 2005 AFL campaign, three players have reached double-digits in homers: Chip Cannon in 2006 (11), Tyler Flowers (12) in 2008 and Grant Desme in 2009 (11). Cannon won MVP honors in 2006 and is now out of the game. Flowers has seen some big league time, but has also spent much of three seasons in Triple-A. Desme won the MVP of the Fall League as well, then retired to join the priesthood in January 2010.