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Arizona Fall League + LIDOM Recap: 10/23/23
Chris & Beck break down everything you need to know from the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League.
Special Shoutout to Beck for getting engaged this weekend!! He is also closing on a house this week before flying out to Arizona as we cover the Arizona Fall League.
I feel like these reports keep getting better everyday, but maybe I am biased. Today’s report features 22 players from the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League. 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 in 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
Christopher Familia, OF, NYY, 23
Familia had a massive breakout in 2023 spending time between Single-A and High-A, hitting 22 home runs in 294 plate appearances. After slashing .398/.474/.928 in Single-A, the slashline dropped to .264/.332/.472 in High-A. Regardless, Familia showed big power and the ability to take a walk at a high-clip.
On Monday night, Familia racked up three hits, including a double, pushing his LIDOM batting average to .700 in a small sample. He is someone I am watching closely for dynasty.
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 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 Monday, Simon collected two more hits, drove in two runs and got on base a third time via walk. He is off to scorching hot start so far in the Dominican Winter League.
Hector Rodriguez, OF, CIN, 19
After being traded from the Mets to the Reds, Rodriguez broke out in a massive way in 2023, hitting 16 home runs and stealing 18 bases while posting a .293/.343/.495 slash line. Rodriguez is small(5’8”) but packs a punch. He is off to a strong start in the Dominican Winter League and added two hits, including a double on Monday night. He is hovering in the top 100 range for prospects, and for good reason.
Salt River (Braves, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers)
Benny Montgomery, OF, COL, 21
After discussing Montgomery’s performance on the Toolshed Podcast and the lack of home run power, he mashes his second home run of the Arizona Fall League off of Royber Salinas. It was his only hit of the night, but Montgomery still boasts a batting average of .357 with an OPS of .984.
His statcast data is pretty interesting to look at, as his 87 mph average exit velocity ranks in the middle of the pack among AFL hitters, but his 90th percentile exit velocity of 105.5 mph shows the ability to get to high-end exit velocities; they just haven’t been turning into extra-base hits. The largest issue is the ground balls and launch angle. If Montgomery can lift the ball consistently and make the kind of contact he is right now, there could be true breakout potential in 2024.
Ivan Melendez, 1B, ARI, 23
Melendez mashed his second home run of the Arizona Fall League and has hit the ball incredibly hard all fall, posting an exit velocity as high as 115.5 mph, with an average exit velocity of 92.5 mph. The contact is a big concern, however. Melendez really needed to come to Arizona and show consistent contact in an environment where he should be able to hit for average. Instead, Melendez has struck out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances in the desert after striking out 34.5 percent of the time during the regular season.
There has never been any questioning of Melendez's power as he hit 30 home runs this season and posted one of the highest 90th-percentile exit velocities of any player in the minors. The larger issue is that he had just a 64.5 percent contact rate this season. Some power hits can make those contact rates work, but you certainly want to see that number trend closer to 70 percent.
David McCabe, 3B, ATL, 23
McCabe continues his masterful AFL performance and has made my writeups nearly every day, and I wrote a glowing report on him in my Braves top-30, which I linked earlier in the article. I truly believe in McCabe after seeing him multiple times during the regular season and seeing an athletic corner infielder who stands at 6’3”/230 with big power and strong contact skills.
McCabe doubled twice on Monday, pushing his OPS to .853 with a respectable .295 batting average. He had a 95 mph average exit velocity with a 62 percent hard-hit rate so far in the Fall League without any homers to show for it. Like Montgomery, McCabe needs to lift the ball more to get to the in-game power. While only hitting 17 home runs during the regular season, McCabe played a large portion of his games in pitcher-friendly parks. In fact, he spent most of the year in High-A Rome, which is one of the worst hitting environments in Minor League Baseball.
Surprise (Blue Jays, Brewers, Rangers, Reds, Royals)
Liam Hicks, C, TEX, 24
As if Texas needed another reason to celebrate after winning game seven of the ALCS, sending them to the World Series, their Arizona Fall League constituents also had a great game.
Hicks continues to be one of the most impressive hitters in the AFL, getting on base five times on Monday, with four being hits. Hicks raised his batting average to .540 to pair with a 1.250 OPS. I have repeatedly said that I was not sure if Hicks would be a fantasy asset, but he is forcing his hand at this point.
Emiliano Teodo, RHP, TEX, 22
Teodo was one of my favorite pitchers to watch this year, and I got the privilege to see him several times live. He has pitched in relief stints in the AFL but has been a starter his entire MILB career, but some have questioned whether his future is in the bullpen or not. After another scoreless inning with two strikeouts, Teodo has 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work. He allowed just one hit and one walk without a run through those seven innings.
Teodo comes out with an explosive fastball that I clocked as high as 101 mph this year, and on Thursday, we saw it top at 100.3. The sinker has a ton of bore to it, making it incredibly hard to hit paired with the velocity. Teodo also mixes a changeup that has been up to 94 but can dial it back with a mid-80s slider. The stuff is insane, and you would love to see him get a chance to be a starter, but if not, Teodo could easily be a closer with a Major League team.
Peyton Wilson, 2B/OF, KC, 23
Wilson got on base three times on Monday, including two hits and a walk, raising his Arizona Fall League average to .283 with a .909 OPS. His AFL performance has flown under the radar, but Wilson has done exactly what you thought he would in the desert, showing strong plate discipline and contact. He has walked more than he has struck out.
Wilson has been a name I have followed closely since his days at Alabama and then when he was taken in the second round of the 2021 draft. He spent some time in Columbia that year before moving up and being in Double-A for all of 2023. He posts good contact numbers and had a slash line of .286/.366/.411 with six home runs but 33 doubles while stealing 19 bases.
CJ Alexander, 1B, KC, 27
Alexander was a late replacement on the Surprise roster, taking Nick Loftin’s spot on the team. He is one of the oldest players in the Fall League, but injuries have derailed a lot of his career and limited him to just 303 plate appearances in 2023.
Alexander wasted no time getting to work, collecting two hits(single and triple), and driving in three runs. While Alexander may not be someone to have on your dynasty radar, his performance on Monday earns him a spot on the list.
Scottsdale (Angels, Cardinals, Giants, Nationals, Phillies)
Trey Lipscomb, CI, WSH, 23
It was a slow day for Scottsdale, and while they scored four runs on eight hits, just one hitter had more than one hit, and it was Trey Lipscomb, who had a single and a double on the day. He is hitting just .188 with a .396 OPS, so there is not a lot to write home about, but someone from Scottsdale had to make the list, and today the honor goes to Lipscomb for this two-hit performance.
Glendale (Dodgers, Mets, Twins, Red Sox, White Sox)
The Desert Dogs improved to 9-10 with a 9-4 victory over Scottsdale on Monday even though 16 of their 27 outs came via the strikeout. They strung together 10 hits and scored two runs in each of the third, fourth, and fifth innings, followed by a three-run seventh that sealed the game.
Tyler McDonough, SS, BOS, 24
The last time McDonough made a sheet, he had only compiled 17 plate appearances. That number has grown to an astronomical 31, which gives us plenty of statistically significant results to dissect.
Jokes aside, McDonough has been superlative despite the small sample. He finished yesterday’s game with three hits punctuated by a seventh-inning homer off of Will Bednar. He doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify on the fall league leaderboards, but he’d be sandwiched between Benny Montgomery and JT Schwarts for 13th-best OPS and ahead of more well-regarded prospects like Tyler Locklear, Colson Montgomery, and Chase DeLauter.
I am obviously not taking any of this to mean you should go out and acquire McDonough in dynasty, but he’s earned some kudos for playing well over the last week.
Kevin Parada, C, NYM, 22
I don’t think Kevin Parada is a top 150 prospect anymore. He’s had a lukewarm AFL coming off of a disappointing first full professional season. A strikeout problem that wasn’t apparent at Georgia Tech reared its head, and I’m concerned that his unconventional pre-swing operation is impacting his ability to make consistent contact.
If he remedies that problem, there’s plenty of power there. He showed it off last night with a two-run homer in the third inning off of Holden Powell for his third in 50 fall league plate appearances. Three strikeouts unfortunately accompanied it on a night that ultimately ended in a 1-5 effort.
Kala’i Rosario, OF, MIN, 21
Rosario smoked a fifth-inning home run off of Will Bednar, but he, like Parada, racked up three strikeouts to bring his fall total to 21 in 15 games. He’s always had trouble with strikeouts, and he has tremendous power – he hit 21 home runs in 118 games as a 20-year-old in High A this year – such that the fact he’s top-10 in fall league strikeouts while simultaneously tied for the league lead in dingers is not surprising.
To his credit, Rosario is one of the younger players at the AFL, and the pitching, while not spectacular, is probably better than what he’s used to seeing in the lower levels of the minors.
Jake Eder, LHP, CHW, 25
Eder notched his first fall league win, but it wasn’t necessarily pretty. I’ve been vocal that Tommy John surgery is not a riskless procedure, and it’s unfortunate that Eder has been a good case study to this point. Neither his stuff nor his command has returned to the levels that made him a breakout arm in 2021. I don’t trust the White Sox to help him regain that form, at least not to the extent that I would have trusted the Marlins, who have a much stronger recent track record of developing arms.
His final line was four innings with six hits, four earned runs, and four strikeouts. It was nice to see him living in the zone, even if he was getting touched up. He was able to finish the start without a walk, something he was not able to do in any appearance during the regular season.
Mesa (A’s, Astros, Cubs, Orioles, Yankees)
The Solar Sox took down the Rafters 10-8 on the back of a seven-run sixth inning. Royber Salinas was not sharp in his start, but Mesa’s bats were hot, and everybody was itching to run as they swindled six bases from Tyler Tolve.
Kevin Alcantara, OF, CHC, 21
Mesa had 13 hits on the night, but only three went for extra bases, one of which belonged to Kevin Alcantara in the form of a double. No hitter in their lineup had a home run, which makes their 10-run outburst even more impressive. I wouldn’t say they small-balled their way into it, but baserunning was definitely a big part of it.
Alcantara has a perfectly cromulent fall line so far, perhaps except batting average, but continues to make sheet appearances with extra-base hits. Only five of his 11 hits have been singles. He remains perhaps the highest ceiling prospect in the desert and is on the young side for all attendees, having just celebrated his 21st birthday in July.
Brett Harris, 3B, OAK, 25
Harris hasn’t made a sheet appearance since October 6th. Here’s what Chris had to say:
Harris is a high OBP type of hitter who makes plenty of contact, but his plate discipline was on tap for all to see on Friday as he walked four times and came around to score twice. Being in Oakland’s org may allow him to come into some playing time as soon as next season.
I haven’t seen much of him, but I’m hard-pressed to disagree. His numbers indicate that he is a savvy hitter with great contact skills that should translate to the big-league level. As a 25-year-old prospect who finished the year with 36 games at AAA, paired with Oakland’s lack of talent at the big league level, he has a shot to contribute at some point in 2024.
Harris had a 92.8% zone contact rate and a roughly average chase rate, which helps him limit strikeouts and could potentially lead to him being an under-the-radar points league asset.
Lazaro Armenteros, OF, OAK, 24
Armenteros had an uncharacteristically un-Armenteros game on Monday, finishing 2-3 with two singles, two stolen bases, and no strikeouts. His name typically evokes imagery of turbo-charged windmills that hit a lot of nothing but send baseballs a long way when they connect, and he’s not typically associated with blazing speed.
Peoria (Guardians, Marlins, Mariners, Padres, Rays)
Peoria had to go and ruin what would have been a clean sweep for my clubs, but alas. They weren’t uncompetitive, dropping the game 7-11, but their arms couldn’t keep up with the Surprise bats. Four Peoria hitters had multi-hit games.
Dominic Keegan, C, TBR, 23
If you had asked me at the outset of the fall league who I thought would be the most prolific hitter for Peoria would be, I probably would have gestured wildly at any of Chase DeLauter, Kyle Manzardo, Tyler Locklear, Nathan Martorella, Ryan Bliss, or Graham Pauley, but through nine games that title goes to Dominic Keegan. He’s compiled a .417/.514/.853 line in 37 plate appearances.
He finished yesterday’s game with four hits, including a double and three singles. He was responsible for just one of Peoria’s seven runs, which is rather shocking given the amount of traffic and balls in play for which he was responsible. He likely won’t be ready to contribute at the big league level in 2024 after finishing the year at High A, but he’s a name to keep an eye on at the catcher position in Tampa Bay in the future. Neither Rene Pinto nor Christian Bethancourt are insurmountable hurdles to playing time, and Keegan has been very good with little fanfare.
Chase DeLauter, OF, CLE, 22
DeLauter has been so-so in the fall after a scorching conclusion to the regular season. He had three hits including a double on Monday and was responsible for two runs and an RBI.
I’ve yet to write about DeLauter’s “scissor swing”, in part because I’m not the leading authority on the mechanical implications of the short follow-through, but largely because his performance hasn’t faltered. I’d recommend reading how DeLauter describes it in his own words in this article. If I were in Cleveland’s player development department, I would leave the swing as-is and only change it if it becomes abundantly clear that it’s impacting his ability to make contact or hit for power.
In any event, DeLauter will be at minimum a top-40 prospect in my offseason update.
Tyler Locklear, 1B, SEA, 22
Locklear is here for his own two-hit night. He has been exactly as advertised in the AFL, and I’m glad his wrist injury doesn’t appear to be impacting him to any significant degree. He’s a contender for top fantasy first-base prospect, but I’d still take Manzardo, Mayo, and Bassallo over him until he shows me something against advanced pitching.
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