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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/16/23
Chris and Beck begin week three with a bang with a ton of names and performances to know from the AFL.
Hey everyone! Hope your week is starting off well. Beck and Chris will be with you everyday this Fall League, breaking down everything you need to know from the previous day! Today’s writeup is free and features 19 player writeups.
Jase Bowen, OF, PIT, 23
As we start every AFL writeup, it seems, Bowen continues his torrid run in the AFL, showing to be one of the best hitters in Arizona. In Monday’s action, Bowen blasted his second home run and was one base three times while driving in three.
From a statcast standpoint, few hitters have posted consistent exit velocities like Bowen has. He has consistent hard-hits and barrels, so it is no surprise to see his OPS at 1.113 to pair with a .383 batting average.
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.
Benny Montgomery, OF, COL, 21
Montgomery had a triple, three hits, and three RBI as he continues to be quite impressive in a much-needed Fall League. After slashing .251/.336/.370 with ten home runs in a hitter-friendly environment, he has turned up the heat in Arizona.
After three hits on Monday, he now has his average up to .405 with a .959 OPS. While he has not hit for a ton of power, Montgomery has still posted plenty of high exit velocities, registering multiple over 106 mph. He might be a sneaky add in dynasty leagues if he can make consistent contact.
Hao Yu Lee, INF, DET, 20
Lee is making the list for the first time this fall, but has had quite an underrated AFL. He collected two hits and a walk to bring his batting average to .364 to pair with an .864 OPS.
Lee moved from Philly to Detroit this season, posting a .273/.362/.399 slash with six home runs and 16 stolen bases. At the moment, I am not sure how much of a dynasty asset Lee is, but he could have more opportunities to move up quickly now that he is in Detroit.
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. In smaller roles, he has looked stellar this year and posted another incredible outing on Monday, striking out five over two scoreless, hitless innings, with one walk.
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.
Liam Hicks, C, TEX, 24
What can’t Liam Hicks do?? This guy has been on an incredible heater so far. Last week, he had 12 hits and showed the six-hit day last week was no fluke.
Hicks had two hits on Monday to keep the hot streak rolling and pushed his batting average up to .529 to pair with a 1.247 OPS. I have questioned the fantasy intrigue, but maybe Hicks is breaking out before our eyes.
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, STL, 22
It has been an up-and-down fall league for Hjerpe, who has seen his command come and go. Last night was one of those tough nights for command and control as he allowed four walks over 0.2 innings pitched, and three runners came across to score. Hjerpe now owns a 8.31 ERA on the Fall League, and it is possible that he is still a bit rusty after missing over three months of the season due to injury. I still believe in Hjerpe long-term as a back-end starter with a decently high floor.
Robert Hassell III, OF, WSH, 22
Hassell blasted his first home run of the Arizona Fall League in route to a big night in which he accounted for three of Scottsdale’s six runs. He added a double and a walk while driving in two.
Hassell has not looked like the same hitter since moving over to Washington, but his Arizona Fall League performance has hopefully pushed some of that behind him, as he has been hitting much better over the last couple of weeks.
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 just 41 games this season in which he slashed .176/.229/.268 with three home runs after having 14 Major League plate appearances in 2022.
It has not been the best AFL for Pineda, but he earns a spot on the sheet from mashing his second home run, singling, and driving in two runs.
The Glendale Underdogs took a big game from the scuffling Peoria Javelinas by stringing together a four-run bottom of the seventh and refusing to surrender the lead back. Friend of the program Christopher Troye earned the save as they improved to 3-10 to start the third week of AFL competition.
Jake Eder, LHP, CHW, 25
Eder didn’t give up a hit in his two innings of work, but he walked four batters and coughed up a run. It took him 55 pitches to get through those two innings, just 29 of which were strikes (53%). It’s clear that Eder is not the same pitcher he was pre-Tommy John surgery, with both his stuff and his command failing him in his return.
Kala’i Rosario, OF, MIN, 21
Rosario tallied his 23rd home run of 2023 and his second of the fall in the form of a third-inning solo shot that traveled 426 feet and left the bat at 106 mph. The book on Rosario is out; he’s hitting for a lot of power for a 20-year-old, but his contact ability and plate discipline leaves something to be desired. Last night’s homer was just his third hit in 40 plate appearances in the AFL, and he has a 32.5% strikeout rate.
Jacob Burke, OF, CHW, 22
Burke belted his first career grand slam on a Haden Erbe slider that caught too much of the plate. It cemented the comeback effort and sealed the win for Glendale. For his part, Burke has had a lukewarm AFL thus far with a .225/.354/.400 line after 48 plate appearances. He is striking out more than he did in the regular season, which is something to monitor after he performed well in his first taste of A+.
Two of the three teams I’m covering won yesterday, which is a nice change of pace after a brutal series of losses. I’m pretty sure they had a combined winning percentage below .300 (please don’t fact-check this, I’m going strictly off of vibes). The Solar Sox managed 14 hits and seven walks while plating 10 runs.
James Triantos, 2B, CHC, 20
Night-in and night-out I am writing about James Triantos. Any more of this and Carolyn might start getting jealous. He added four more singles to his tally to bring his fall league hit total to 15 in a 4-6 night at the dish, plus a stolen base and three RBI for good measure.
Triantos stands to be one of the biggest risers with a good AFL given the attention the fall league garners and his draft pedigree. He’s worth a pickup if your league still has waiver / FAAB transactions open with the idea that he could be sold at a profit later in the off-season. He trails Jakob Marsee for the league lead in OPS by a slim margin through nine games.
Kevin Alcantara, OF, CHC, 21
I’ve written about Alcantara a number of times over the last week and I’ve yet to mention his picture on Baseball Reference, which is a direct disservice to the regular readers of the AFL rundown. Do yourself a favor and get googling – it’s a fun one.
Alcantara was easily the most important player in this matchup. Not only did he have a spectacular catch on a diving effort in the top of the 6th, but he also belted a majestic, opposite-field walk-off home run to secure Mesa’s fourth win of the fall.
He’s one of my favorite players in Arizona this year with perhaps the highest ceiling of any position player in the AFL. Here’s what I wrote last week:
“He’s a physical anomaly at 6’6, and naturally, with guys of that size I’m closely monitoring their propensity to strike out. His frame gives him more than enough strike zone to contend with. If all clicks for Alcantara, he’ll be an offensive force, but it hasn’t gelled for him yet. Without giving it too much thought, he’ll land around the top 100 in my off-season rank update.”
Caleb Durbin, 2B, NYY, 23
Durbin had a monster game with a double, a home run, two walks, two RBI, and a run scored in five plate appearances. He has had a phenomenal fall through nine games following a superlative regular season and may be a name to keep your eye on.
He’s on the smaller side with an official measurement of 5’6, 185 lbs, but he brings two plus-or-better skills that could make him a points league asset: his speed and his contact ability. He made contact on 88% of pitches at which he offered, ultimately culminating in a miniscule 6.2% strikeout rate. He walked more than he struck out at both levels he appeared in while adding four home runs and 36 stolen bases.
Benjamin Cowles, SS, NYY, 23
This is the third consecutive sheet appearance for Cowles, who belted a home run immediately following Caleb Durbin’s sixth inning blast. He finished the night 1-4 and raised his fall OPS to .943 with the four-bagger.
Still unlikely to be ranked in my next iteration, but he has cemented himself as a name I’m circling for when I make it out to Phoenix at the end of the month.
Lazaro Armenteros, OF, OAK, 24
I called out last week that Armenteros had a rather concerning strikeout predicament likely to hold him back. It reared its head last night as Lazarito finished 0-5 with four strikeouts. He’s been the seventh-worst hitter by OPS through seven games in the AFL while carrying a 39.2% strikeout rate, and while it’s a small sample, it’s also reinforcing what we saw from him in the regular season.
This vaunted Javelinas line-up hasn’t been able to get anything going over the last few days, and yesterday was no different. They notched just four hits and four runs against Glendale, even with Jakob Marsee, Chase DeLauter, Kyle Manzardo, Jacob Berry, and Ryan Bliss all on the same scorecard. The only positives were Braden Nett, who was very effective on the mound for five innings, and their baserunning; they stole seven bases in the contest.
Nasim Nunez, SS, MIA, 23
Nunez had the only extra-base hit on a night where Peoria was totally stifled by Johnny Wholestaff. Glendale used seven pitchers over the course of the game with the longest appearances coming from Jake Eder and Ronan Kopp at just two innings a piece
Nunez was originally a second-round pick out of the Georgia high school ranks in 2019 and was part of the unfortunate cohort that missed all of 2020 due to the pandemic. I’ve written this before, but I think high school draftees and international signees who had less professional action before the year-long hiatus were the most impacted by losing live reps. He’s really struggled in his professional tenure, compiling a .233/.358/.286 triple-slash over 1,588 plate appearances.
Jakob Marsee, OF, SDP, 22
Marsee made his mark on last night’s game despite going hitless by walking twice and stealing three bases. He’s leading the AFL in slugging, has a top-three mark in batting average, and is in fourth in on-base, naturally making him the current OPS leader. We’ve written about him incessantly as a result of his performance and the helium that is sure to come as a result.
Braden Nett, RHP, SDP, 21
Nett has very little professional track record to this point. He was an undrafted free agent and entered the year with a shoulder ailment that led to limited usage in 2023. He tossed just 40.1 innings and walked 37 batters, so it was nice to see him cede just one free pass over five innings last night.
He finished last night surrendering one earned run that came on a Kala’i Rosario solo homer. He struck out seven over his five innings of work. He’s been one of the strongest statistical performers after three outings, with 13 innings of work, 16 strikeouts, and just two earned runs.