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Arizona Fall League + LIDOM Recap: 10/20/23
Chris Clegg breakdown everything you need to know from the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League.
I feel like these reports keep getting better everyday, but maybe I am biased. Today’s report features 25 players from the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League. Today’s writeup is free and features 22 player writeups and over 3,000 words. The writeups are free each day, but if you enjoy my work, please consider subscribing to get an edge in your dynasty leagues while also supporting me becoming a full-time content creator.
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Today Chris is covering the Dominican Winter League, Salt River, Scottsdale, and Surprise. Beck has Peoria, Mesa, and Glendale.
Dominican Winter League
Vidal Brujan, OF, TB, 25
Brujan collected two more hits on Friday and stole his second base in two games. The once-lauded top prospect declined rather quickly but still has the speed to show. It is interesting that a 70-grade runner was caught 14 times on 33 attempts in Triple-A. I wonder what kind of impact he could have at the Major League level.
Orelvis Martinez, 2B, TOR, 21
Martinez had an awesome 2023 season in which he saw the hit-tool improve, and his massive raw power was on display. Martinez mashed 28 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. It is interesting to see him playing second base in LIDOM, which might be a good sign for his playing time potential next year in Toronto. On Friday, Martinez collected two hits, including a double, and drove in a run
Cesar Prieto, 3B, STL, 24
Prieto displayed a strong hit tool in 2023 posting very high contact rates and a .364 batting average in Double-A before hitting .317 in Triple-A and then being traded to St. Louis. He hit ten home runs and stole nine bases on the season, but the main carrying tool is contact here. After two hits and walk on Friday, Prieto has back-to-back games with multiple hits.
Ronny Simon, MI, TB, 23
The switch hitter had a breakout season in 2023, hitting 13 home runs and stealing 31 bases between Double-A and Triple-A while actually seeing his performance take a step forward in Triple-A Durham. Simon does not post big exit velocities, but he does respectable contact skills and plus speed. On Friday, Simon collected four hits, including a double, and added a stolen base while collecting two walks as well to put him on base an impressive six times.
Salt River (Braves, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers)
Jackson Jobe, RHP, DET, 21
Another impressive outing from Jobe did not quite show up if you just look at the box score, but watching him pitch showed a different picture. Jobe completed 3.2 innings on Friday night, allowing four hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out seven batters. Obviously, the seven strikeouts were great and he generated 13 whiffs, good for a 45 percent whiff rate to pair with a 34 percent CSW.
Jobe also did a good job of limiting hard contact, with the only hard-hit given up being a 105 mph home run from Damiano Palmegiani, which was smacked. His fastball sat 95-96 all night, and touched 98.3 on the gun with impressive ride at the top of the zone, generating nine whiffs on 14 swings. The cutter was the pitch that Palmegiani hit the moonshot off of, but overall, it was a solid pitch. Both the sweeper and changeup sat in similar velocity ranges which is okay since they move in completely opposite directions, averaging over 25 inches of separation between them.
There is a reason Jobe was moved to my number one overall pitching prospect. The stuff paired with his command is elite, and you can expect to see that on display in Detroit sooner than later. No need to waste bullets on an arm like this in the Minors, I expect to see Jobe in the Majors by July.
Benny Montgomery, OF, COL, 21
I really want to write about someone else on Salt River, I do! But Montgomery continues to force his hand night in and night out. On Friday he collected two more hits and also got on via walk, with both hits coming off Ricky Tiedemann. Not an easy feat to accomplish, but Montomgery lined a single in the outfield in his first at-bat, then drilled a groundball double down the first base line in the fifth inning, driving in Salt River’s only run of the night.
After two more hits, he has pushed his average up to .373 and his OPS up near 1.000, while showing impressive contact rates and hard-hit data. The underlying data backs the performance completely as he has a hard-hit rate of over 50 percent with a 90th percentile exit velocity north of 105 mph. Montgomery’s Arizona Fall League performance is living up to the hype that the Rockies hoped they would see out of the former eighth-overall pick.
AJ Vukovich, OF, ARI, 22
Vukovich had a big game on Friday night, collecting two of Salt River’s five hits and nearly left the yard, which would have been his third hit of the night. He registered two hard-hit balls, coming in at 95.9 and 98.5 mph. His long flyout traveled 383 feet, just missing a home run, but ended up being a flyout. Vukovich also snagged his ninth stolen base of the Arizona Fall League, giving him the second most of any hitter.
Surprise (Blue Jays, Brewers, Rangers, Reds, Royals)
Damiano Palmegiani, CI, TOR, 23
Palmegiani had a massive game on Friday night, taking Jackon Jobe deep on a home run that traveled 442 feet. He had five batted balls, with three of the five registering north of 105 mph(105.4, 107.5, and 108.9). Six of seven of Surprise’s runs came courtesy of Palmegiani as he drove in three and scored three times. His OPS is now up to .966 in the Arizona Fall League to pair with a .289 average.
Both Beck and I believe Palmegiani can force the Blue Jays’ hands soon than later. Beck wrote this last week:
I wrote on Tuesday that Palmegiani is an interesting name to follow as we learn more about the Blue Jays intentions with Matt Chapman. Should they forego a qualifying offer, or make a qualifying offer that is subsequently declined, Palmegiani could be in the mix for playing time at the hot corner alongside Orelvis Martinez, Davis Schneider, and Cavan Biggio.
I certainly believe it is a real possibility that he could end up getting a lot of reps in Spring Training with a chance to win a spot.
Abimelec Ortiz, 1B, TEX, 21
Ortiz was one of the Minors’ biggest breakouts in 2023 as he mashed 33 home runs and drove in 101 runs while slashing .294/.371/.619, with 80 of his 109 games coming in High-A. Some may be quick to call it a fluke, but the underlying data does not suggest that as Ortiz posted a 90th percentile exit velocity of 106.4 mph with a 90.2 average. He hits the ball at ideal launch angles, generating a near 40 percent sweet spot percentage and a 24 percent barrel rate. His contact and chase rates are also respectable as Ortiz made contact on 79 percent of pitches in-zone and 70 percent overall, while chasing 29 percent of the time. Those are fine numbers considering the high-end exit velocities.
We are here to talk about Ortiz Arizona Fall League performance, though and it has been good! Two more hits, including a double on Friday, raised his average to .318 and his double left the bat at 107 mph, traveling 392 feet. Ortiz has established himself as a borderline top-100 prospect at this point.
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, TOR, 21
I could write a book about Ricky Tiedemann at this point with everything going on and still dominating each time out. In all three of his nine-inning games that he has started this year, he has completed five innings, tossing 65-75 pitches which pushes way past what he did in the 2023 regular season.
On Friday, Tiedemann struck out five over five innings, issuing three walks and allowing one earned run. He generated 15 whiffs(43%), with nine coming via sweeper, which he devastated hitters with. The sweeper got Sterlin Thompson, a high-contact hitter, twice. The fastball velocity fluctuated throughout the start, getting as high as 96.3 mph to ring up Jace Jung on an elevated fastball. Tiedemann also saw it get down to 90.6 mph.
The release separation concerns me a bit, however, as his slider release point is MUCH lower than the fastball, which could lead hitters to pick up on it. It is still a near-impossible pitch to hit, especially to lefties, but I have to wonder if he is changing the release point for a comfortability thing as he has been dealing with injuries much of 2023. All that to say, Tiedemann has been awesome in the Arizona Fall League and looked great last night despite the concerns.
Eric Brown Jr., SS, MIL, 22
At this point, I am pretty sure Brown has had a multi-hit game every day this week, making the list all five days. Brown had two singles on Friday night, but drove in two runs and stole his eighth base of the Arizona Fall League. He has a batting average of .345 now with a .902 OPS in a much-needed strong AFL performance.
This is the kind of performance many expected after his dominant college performance at Coastal Carolina, where his data was some of the best in college baseball. I still believe in Brown and will buy all the dynasty shares this offseason.
Scottsdale (Angels, Cardinals, Giants, Nationals, Phillies)
Carter Howell, OF, SF, 24
I’ve mentioned it before, but I was not familiar with Carter Howell at all prior to the Arizona Fall League announcement. Upon doing a deeper dive into his profile, Carter strikes me as a hitter who plays up in a OBP format league as he posted a walk rate over ten percent during the 2023 MiLB season and hit six home runs while stealing six bases in 354 plate appearances.
Howell collected three hits on Friday including his third home run of the AFL while also adding a double and a single. Scottsdale scored seven runs, and Howell accounted for four of those, collecting three RBI and scoring a run as well. His batting average now sits at .324 to pair with a 1.054 OPS.
Thad Ward, RHP, WSH, 26
It has been a long journey for Thad Ward as a now two-time AFL participant and the first overall selection in the 2022 Rule 5 Draft. His results in Washington in 2023 did not quite live up to billing as the first overall Rule 5 pick, but injuries did factor in. He finished the MLB season with a 6.37 ERA in 35.1 innings.
Ward was sharp on Friday, though, tossing four innings of one-run ball, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out three. The command was a bit inconsistent as he only threw strikes at a 53 percent clip, but you will still take the results.
Inohan Paniagua, RHP, STL, 23
Paniagua was always known as a command-first type pitcher, but after dealing with injuries in 2023, he walked 13.7 percent of hitters. The strikeouts also took a step back as his fastball sits in the low 90s but his curveball induces most of his swings and misses.
On Friday, he had his best outing of the Arizona Fall League, pitching four-scorless innings with two hits allowed and zero walks while striking out three. Paniagua does not bring a ton of dynasty intrigue, but the performance earns a spot on the list.
Israel Pineda, C, WSH, 23
Pineda is one of the few players who has made the majors to head out to Arizona for more reps. Injuries limited Pineda to 41 games this season, in which he slashed .176/.229/.268 with three home runs after having 14 Major League plate appearances in 2022.
Despite getting off to a slow start in the Arizona Fall League, Pineda has now seen his average bump up significantly over the last week. On Friday, he collected two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs to bring his OPS to .734.
Jeremy Rivas, SS, STL, 20
Rivas is one of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League but keeps hitting despite not being one of the well-known names.
Rivas collected two more hits on Friday, both singles, to push his batting average back over .300. His profile is largely one geared for singles, with 14 of his 16 Arizona Fall League hits being singles. During the regular season, Rivas posted a .277 slugging percentage, with 62 of his 83 hits being singles.
*Beck was unavailable today for a really good reason that I’m sure he will share shortly. So no writeups on Peoria, Glendale, and Mesa. I would write them but I’m out of the office the rest of the day. I’m pumped for Beck.