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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/10/23
Arizona Fall League breakdown from Chris and Beck for Tuesday, October 10.
Hey everyone! Hope your offseason is starting off well. Beck and Chris will be with you everyday this Fall Leauge, breaking down everything you need to know from the previous day! Today’s writeup is free and features 22 player writeups. Moving forward, the writeups will be for subscribers so to get an edge in your dynasty league, sub below and get access to all of this:
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This week we have flipped teams. Chris has Salt River, Scottsdale, and Surprise covered for you. Beck has Peoria, Mesa, and Glendale.
Jase Bowen, OF, PIT, 23
Bowen has been one of the hottest hitters in the AFL over the first eight games. He had three hits and three RBI on Tuesday, including his first fall league home run to bring his batting average to .394 to pair with a 1.065 OPS. He is making a ton of contact and has put 25 balls in play so far, posting a 90.6 mph average exit velocity with 15 hard hits.
This season, Bowen hit 23 home runs and stole 26 bases between High-A and Double-A while having 95 RBI and 86 runs scored. He is a sneaky-good athlete with some pop and a player that you should be interested in for dynasty leagues.
Sterlin Thompson, 2B/3B, COL, 22
Yesterday I discussed Thompson being on one of the hottest starts of any hitter in the Arizona Fall League. While he did record just one hit in four tries and added a walk, Thompson scorched two baseballs, 106.8 mph and 106.7 mph.
He is now up to 19 batted ball events in the Fall League and owns a 96.4 mph average exit velocity, and has hard-hits in 13 of his 19 events. Thompson makes an insane amount of contact and, with how hard he is hitting the ball, could set himself up nicely to be in contention for the AFL MVP. I have been too low on Thompson, ranking him around 125 overall, but he looks like a bonafide top 100 dynasty prospect to me.
Carter Bins, C, PIT, 25
I won’t sit here and lie to you and act like I was familiar with Carter Bins before last night. The Pirates farmhand accumulated just 118 plate appearances this year after making it to Triple-A in 2022. In 101 Double-A plate appearances, Bins hit three home runs and slashed .222/.297/.367.
But on Tuesday night, he looked like stud, collecting two hits, including a home run and driving in three runs. Bins posted batted balls of 110.3, 105.4, 97.4, and 88.5 mph. That is a pretty impressive showing of power.
Ivan Melendez, 1B, ARI, 23
Melendez collected just one hit on Tuesday, but it was a big one as Melendez mashed a double that left the bat at 105.7 mph. He struck out twice and is still showing too much swing and miss, but there is no denying his power as he hit 30 during the Minor League season, but struck out over 34 percent of the time.
Dylan Smith, RHP, DET, 23
After pitching just 37 inning during the Minor League season, the Tigers sent former third round pick Dylan Smith to the AFL where his first start was far from ideal. But, Smith bounced back in a big way on Tuesday, firing four innings, striking out five, while allowing one earned run. He allowed just two hits, but walked three despite a solid 65.5 percent strike rate.
Smith generated ten whiffs, good for a 36 percent whiff rate and also posted a 33 percent CSW. His fastball averaged near 94 mph while topping out at 95.3 mph. His slider and curveball both diced up hitters, getting six of the ten overall whiffs.
Tekoah Roby, RHP, STL, 22
After missing most of the year injured and then being traded to St. Louis at the deadline, Roby looked like a different pitcher coming back. In 12 innings with St. Louis, he posted a 3.00 ERA with a 43.2 percent strikeout rate, showing a big fastball and curveball combo.
After looking dominant in his first AFL start, Tuesday’s outing was not ideal as Roby failed to make it out of the first inning, only recording two outs. He allowed five runs(three earned) and walked two batters. Roby will look to rebound in a big way next week as I still believe he is the third best arm in the Fall League.
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, STL, 22
Hjerpe pitched 1.2 innings of relief work on Tuesday, allowing three hits and one earned run. He did strikeout all five outs that he recorded and walked one. Hjpere’s deceptive nature of his arm slot creates some hard to pick up release points and allows his low-90s fastball to play up. His slider and changeup both profile as above-average pitches and his command is solid as well. A healthy 2024 season could see Hjerpe’s stock make a huge rise.
Victor Scott II, OF, STL, 22
Scott ran wild this year, stealing 95 bases between High-A and Double-A this year. The 2022 fifth-rounder also slashed .303/.369/.425 with nine home runs, ten triples, and 20 doubles. He added two more hits on Tuesday night, pushing his Fall League average to .333 to pair with a league-leading six stolen bases. Scott plays strong defense and could find himself as the Cardinals centerfielder before long and might just be the Estuery Ruiz type players you did not know you needed.
Zak Kent, RHP, TEX, 25
Kent gets very little love in prospect circles, but there may be some reasons to be intrigued here. He threw just 34 innings this year, but posted a 3.97 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP while posting 34 strikeouts. On Tuesday night, Kent had a stellar outing, completing five innings in just 57 pitches. He landed 41 of those for strikes, good for a 72 percent strike rate.
Kent did not walk a batter and gave up four hits that led to one earned run. He has an intriguing arsenal of pitches in a slider, fastball, and splitter but also mixes in a curveball. He could be a fun arm to follow.
Liam Hicks, C, TEX, 24
Hicks stole the show on Tuesday, collecting six hits in six tries which included scoring five runs and driving in two. All six hits were singles and we are looking at a profile that had a .408 OBP but a .368 slugging percentage during the Minor League season. Probably not a lot of fantasy intrigue, but six hits in a night earns you a spot on the list.
Eric Brown Jr., SS, MIL, 22
I have long been a fan of Eric Brown Jr. since his days of dominating at Coastal Carolina. His pro career so far has been less than ideal, but the positive takeaways have been OBP and stolen bases. Brown has a ton of power in the tank as we have seen him post very high exit velocities throughout his career, but it has not yet materialized into game power.
On Tuesday, Brown collected three hits and drove in four runs, which included a double, and even reach base via walk. His average is up to .308 with an .841 OPS in a much need strong performance so far in the desert.
Tough night for Glendale. They were held mostly in check offensively and their bullpen got beat up on by a very strong Peoria offense. They dropped this ballgame 17-4.
Jake Eder, LHP, CHW, 25
Everybody was hoping that Eder would return to form after completing his Tommy John rehab, but neither his stuff nor his command have been sharp. He surrendered just two earned runs in the contest, but the Javelinas were all over him for seven hits and a walk. Harry Ford and Graham Pauley both took him deep on solo shots.
I’ve been keen to see how Eder’s fall would shape up and whether he would be able to ease concerns about his repertoire and his ability to command it, but it hasn’t been there yet. He’s thrown a total of 6.1 innings and walked four batters.
Colson Montgomery, SS, CHW, 21
Dear reader, I wish I was writing with better news. Montgomery is not on the sheet for a stellar performance last night; quite the contrary. He submitted an 0-4 night punctuated by two strikeouts in what was a continuation of a challenging AFL campaign thus far. He’s been a bottom-10 hitter through 6 games, compiling a very funny .148/.148/.148 line in 27 fall league at-bats.
It’s a terribly small sample and doesn’t change anything for me, but you’d still like to see him performing after missing much of the 2023 season with a back injury. I think there is a chance he’s the opening day shortstop for the White Sox and a strong AFL would make me feel much better about that possibility.
Corey Rosier, OF, BOS, 24
Second consecutive day on the rundown for Rosier who was 2-4 with a triple and two RBI. He’s been really solid in the back third of Glendale’s lineup and is just one of two batsmen with an OPS north of .800 on their roster as of the time of writing.
He’s got a meandering minor league career already at 24. Here’s what I wrote yesterday detailing his path to the Red Sox:
“Rosier was a 12th-round pick by the Mariners in 2021 and has been dealt twice already in his short minor league career; first to San Diego along with Ray Kerr in exchange for Adam Frazier, then again to Boston alongside Eric Hosmer, Max Ferguson and cash at the 2022 deadline.”
Mesa dropped this one to the Rafters 9-3. There wasn’t much cooking for them on offense against Dylan Smith nor the five relievers who followed him.
James Triantos, 2B, CHC, 20
Triantos was seeing the ball pretty well last night, registering exit velocities of 96.0 mph, 99.8 mph, and 103.0 mph. Only one of those batted balls resulted in a hit in the form of a 3rd inning triple off of Dylan Smith. He added a walk and a stolen base in a 1-3 effort.
He’s been a little bit of an afterthought since being selected in the second round (#56 overall) of the 2021 draft. Neither his 2022 at A nor his 2023 between A+ and AA were particularly impressive from a surface perspective, but he’s been among the very best hitters through a week of AFL contests and has compiled a .467/.636/.667 line with five walks to just two strikeouts.
Impact may always be a question for Triantos but there is a pretty nice hit tool here that should play up in points formats.
John Rhodes, OF, BAL, 23
I was waiting for Rhodes to do something sheet-worthy so I could share this tidbit: his hometown is Soddy Daisy, Tennessee, and I think that’s a very fun name for a town. A fourth inning double that left the bat at 104.9 mph and traveled 274 feet is what lands him on the sheet today. Rather uneventful evening otherwise as he struck out in his other three plate appearances.
I liked Rhodes as a deeper target last year after he clubbed five home runs and 15 doubles while stealing 16 bases in 247 plate appearances at A+, but things haven’t gone as smoothly for him since. He finished 2023 with Bowie and a final line of .228/.323/.422. He struck out at a 26.3% clip.
There’s power here and the AFL might be the right environment for it to manifest in games. There is also some hit tool risk.
Carter Baumler, RHP, BAL, 21
Baumler is a potential AFL riser simply because we haven’t seen much game action from him otherwise. He was a fifth round selection in the shortened 2020 draft and has since undergone Tommy John surgery and battled shoulder problems.
Baumler was solid in this one despite conceding some hard contact in his four innings of work. He allowed four hits, a walk, and two earned. He also struck out three. He was sitting 93 mph on his four seam fastball, which isn’t going to blow anybody away but does feature good shape that helps it play above its velocity. His slider and curveball are at least average, and given the distinct velo bands they occupy it’s a pretty good mix of pitches.
Peoria remains the most potent offense in the AFL after scoring 17 runs on Tuesday to remain a perfect 7-0. The Javelinas are a wagon.
Jakob Marsee, OF, SDP, 22
Marsee just won’t stop. No matter how much I beg, he keeps hitting. Have mercy, Marsee. He collected another four hits last night to extend his AFL-leading hit total to 16 in 26 ABs. That’s a .615 batting average for you math extraordinaires out there.
There isn’t anything in the surface performance you can nitpick so far. He’s shown some pop with seven extra-base hits. He’s demonstrated discipline with five walks to two strikeouts. He’s flashed some speed with four stolen bases. He’s going to rocket into top-100 lists everywhere.
Which brings me to the next point – I think he’s a prime sell candidate. He’ll have all the helium in the world, and to an extent that’s warranted, but his batted ball data simply doesn’t back the performance. I’m having some difficulty myself deciding how in I am given that performance is performance, but I’m also wary of the sustainability and how it will all translate at the next level. In any event, I’m sure many people will be higher on him than I end up being.
Tyler Locklear, 1B, SEA, 22
Locklear had a three hit night while adding two runs, a walk, and a strikeout. Two of his three hits were doubles and his performance on Tuesday lifted his fall line to .300/.464/.550 over five games.
I can’t lie, I was pumped to see Locklear on this Peoria team. He was off to a phenomenal start with Everrett before missing a bunch of time after being hit on the wrist with a pitch. He returned in August and spent just 13 games back at A+ before being promoted to Arkansas, where the benefits of Funko Field were stripped away and things got a little more challenging.
I’m a firm believer that Locklear would be considered a top-40 dynasty prospect had he stayed healthy for the duration of the year. The AFL is a great opportunity for more evaluators to get eyes on him in advance of 2023.
Graham Pauley, 3B, SDP, 23
Pauley had just one hit in last night’s affair but it went over the fence, so he’s here. He also had two runs, two RBI, and a walk. He’s long been an underrated fantasy prospect and I don’t suspect it’ll stay that way for very long.
Pauley’s 2023 spanned three levels with him ultimately finishing the year at AA. He demolished baseballs at every stop, putting together a very encouraging .308/.393/.539 line to go with 23 home runs and 22 stolen bases. He makes plenty of contact and has a knack for the barrel, with some of the best barrel rates across all of the minor leagues.
Harry Ford, C, SEA, 20
Ford’s AFL sample has spanned just 12 ABs so far, but he’s sure been productive with them. He had two home runs last night, one off of Eder and one off of Twins left-handed pitcher Zach Veen. His final line was 2-5 with three runs, 5 RBI, and a walk for good measure.
The second of the two home runs left the bat at 108 mph and traveled an estimated 408 feet to left field. Tapping into this kind of power consistently will be important for Ford moving forward, especially if he ends up transitioning to a corner outfield position with Cal Raleigh manning backstop. He has the athleticism to make that move if necessary and that’s a nice bonus for ensuring some extra plate appearances.
Kyle Manzardo, 1B, CLE, 23
Manzardo got a hold of one and yanked it 431 feet over the right-centerfield wall in Glendale for his second home run of the AFL. I wrote yesterday that there is juice in this bat and he went ahead and promptly proved me right. He scored three runs, drove in four more, walked once, and struck out twice.