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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/17/23
Chris and Beck breakdown everything you need to know from Tuesday's Arizona Fall League action.
Happy Wednesday, let’s make it a good one!
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 and nearly 3,000 words! Let’s get it!
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Darius Vines, RHP, ATL, 25
Vines is one of the few players to pitch in the Majors that is out in Arizona, getting more reps. A large part of this is that he spent a lot of the year injured, posting just 49.1 innings in the Minors before getting a 20-inning Major League sample. Vines pitched reasonably well in his opportunities, going to Coor Field in his MLB debut and looking dominant, and he finished the year with a 3.98 ERA in his 20-inning sample.
Vines does not dominate with his fastball by any means, averaging around 90 mph, but he has made it work with a devastating changeup while also mixing a slider and a cutter.
On Tuesday, Vines posted another strong AFL start, striking out nine over 5.2 innings of one-run ball. He did not allow a walk and only allowed four hits, lowering his ERA to 1.59. The low velocity gives me pause about Vines’ potential role in the Majors, but when he pitches, he performs. Keep an eye on how Atlanta’s rotation shakes out this offseason.
Benny Montgomery, OF, COL, 21
I am sorry, I really hate repeating players making the writeups everyday, but it is hard to not include Montgomery with the kind of performance he is putting up night after night. His underlying data is highly impressive, and the performance has followed it. Montgomery’s 90th percentile exit velocity of 105.8 mph is extremely impressive and ranks fourth among all AFL hitters with at least ten batted balls.
The exit velocities and the 57 percent hard-hit rate had been impressive, but he had yet to hit a home run until Tuesday night and only had two extra-base hits. But After a two-hit and two RBI performances which included a double and a homer, Montgomery pushed his AFL OPS over 1.000. Coming into the week, he had zero extra-base hits, but after two games this week, he has added a double, triple, and home run. He still doesn’t seem to be getting the buzz he deserves, so I am buying while I can in dynasty.
Jace Jung, 2B, DET, 23
Jung makes the list despite not collecting a hit because I wanted to highlight a couple of things he had been doing. He drew two walks last night and stole three bases which is largely the reason he made the writeups today. But I think some are still underrating his performance from this year.
After spending time in High-A and Double-A, Jung posted a slash of .265/.376/.502 line with 28 home runs and five stolen bases. I am not a fan of his pre-swing set-up and movement, but he makes it work. I think Jung is still a great buy in dynasty leagues this offseason, especially since his AFL performance has not been off the charts.
Mitch Bratt, LHP, TEX, 20
Bratt is one of the younger players in the AFL, as he just turned 20 years old in July. He might be most known for his massive blow-up in the WBC for team Canada against the US. But putting a 19-year-old in that spot against a studly US time probably was not fair.
But Bratt spent the year in High-A Hickory, where I saw him pitch several times, compiling a 3.54 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 61 innings with just 17 walks. He has strong command, and even though the arsenal is not overwhelming, he has a solid three-pitch mix that he uses effectively.
On Wednesday, Bratt pitched 3.1 scoreless innings, striking out three batters while not surrendering a walk. The young lefty might be an arm on the rise next year, especially if he moves to Double-A and handles a hitter-friendly environment in Frisco well.
Eric Brown Jr., SS, MIL, 22
Brown has been a favorite of mine for some time, especially since he was a local here in South Carolina, playing his college ball at Coastal Carolina. His data was off the charts from a contact and power standpoint, but the performance has not materialized in pro ball.
Brown had a single but stole his sixth base of the AFL while having a .326 average to pair with an .872 OPS. He needed a strong performance in the desert.
Tekoah Roby, RHP, STL, 22
Roby’s Arizona Fall League has been a roller coaster ride thus far as he looked dominant in his first outing, to failing to get out of the first inning last week, to striking out six over three innings on Tuesday. He did allow two earned runs, but it was on just three hits and a walk. Overall, Roby had a strong outing.
He missed 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, while also mixing in a slider and a changeup. It is an impressive four-pitch arsenal that could be four pitches that are all at least above average.
Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF, PHI, 22
I am not sure enough people talked about the season that Rincones Jr. had in 2023, and I am equally at fault. Between Single-A and High-A, slashing .248/.351/.427 with 15 home runs and 32 stolen bases. He added 31 doubles and three triples for 49 extra-base hits.
His Fall League performance has been equally as good as he mashed his second home run and accounted for five of Scottsdales seven runs. Rincones added a double and a walk, while scoring all three times he was on base and drove in two. I will correct my ranking of Rincones as I truly believe he is a prospect to watch.
Reggie Crawford, 1B, SF, 22
Crawford is an impressive two-way player who has dealt with injuries throughout his young career since being drafted. As a pitcher he shows an impressive fastball/slider combo, and even though his command has been up and down, he might can make it work on the mound.
I still believe Crawford’s future is as a hitter despite his performance so far in the AFL. He has a big frame and a smooth swing that I love, and blasted his second home run of the AFL on Tuesday. Looking at the numbers, he has just a .161 batting average and a .684 OPS, but I truly believe there is more here, and even if the breakout does not happen in the AFL, 2024 could be his year.
I’m not really sure what’s going on anymore as I watch a Peoria team with an absolutely loaded line-up drop their fifth consecutive game and second in a row to a Glendale team that entered the week with a measly 2-10 record. For Glendale’s part, they strung together 11 hits – six of which went for extra bases – and struck out 10 Peorians. This game concluded with a Glendale win in 10 innings as they scored three runs in the top of the tenth and nearly coughed it up in the bottom half of the inning.
Kala’i Rosario, OF, MIN, 21
Rosario hit the locker room after this one with by far his best AFL performance under his belt. He blasted his third AFL home run in the sixth inning with a towering shot to his pull side. It was his second consecutive game with a long ball and he added two singles for good measure.
If Rosario can rein in his issues with swing-and-miss, cut the K-rate moderately, and continue to progress through the minor leagues with his power intact, there is some intrigue. As it stands, his hit tool projects to be prohibitive to reaching an ultimate ceiling that is otherwise very intriguing.
Colson Montgomery, SS, CHW, 21
Two hits on the evening including a single and a double brought Montgomery’s AFL line to .256/.289/.535 through 45 plate appearances. He’s been largely as advertised so far with the notable exception of on-base prowess. Through 186 minor league games, Montgomery has had a .410 OBP with 123 walks and he finished the 2023 season with a 56:56 K:BB.
I think he’ll be a consensus top-10 prospect before he graduates, which could be early in the season next year. There’s a chance he’s the opening day shortstop for the White Sox as they have unresolved questions in their middle infield heading into the off-season.
JT Schwartz, 1B, NYM, 23
Schwartz makes the sheet for a homer of his own, this one a two-run shot to his pull side off of Rays righty Logan Workman. It was his first home run of the fall and improved his line to .267/.333/.400 through 33 plate appearances.
I mentioned the handedness of the pitcher only because Schwartz had rather notable platoon splits with significant struggles against same-side pitching during the regular season. He put together a very solid campaign in totality, but I’m concerned he lacks the power output to be a valuable first baseman especially if he is unable to make adjustments against lefties.
The Solar Sox fell behind early after giving up a pair of runs in both the third and fourth innings and were unable to mount a comeback despite their best efforts. They fell to Scottsdale 5-7 but did manage moral victories for out-hitting and out-walking the Scorpions.
James Triantos, 2B, CHC, 20
There’s a new top dog in the AFL and his name is James. He went 3-5 with three singles and three stolen bases, putting on display the skills we’ve been writing about over the last two weeks as he makes appearance after appearance on the sheet. Seven hits in the last two days have propelled him over Jakob Marsee for the league lead in OPS.
Triantos is a prime helium candidate. He has the bat-to-ball skills, athleticism, and pedigree to fly up boards with a strong fall and so far his campaign has been more than just strong. He’s been superlative.
Max Muncy, SS, OAK, 21
Muncy was responsible for the only damage Mesa could muster against Tekoah Roby by way of a two-RBI double in the top of the second that scored Caleb Durbin and Benjamin Cowles.
He started the AFL very hot but has since cooled off and his line sits at .241/.333/.310. He was a popular fall breakout candidate after a second half push that saw him put together a .985 OPS in August and a .886 OPS in September. He’s yet to fully materialize his first round pedigree, though hope is not lost as he reached AA as a 20-year-old and performed well. It was his most productive stop of his minor league career to date.
Caleb Durbin, 2B, NYY, 23
Back-to-back sheet days for Caleb Durbin who is putting together an AFL that demands attention. He has a four-digit OPS after his 2-4 effort on Tuesday that included a double, a run, an RBI, and a walk.
I wrote yesterday that Durbin is a name to keep an eye on after his breakout 2023 regular season. Despite his diminutive stature, Durbin makes a ton of contact and has plus wheels, both of which make him a potentially viable fantasy option when he reaches the bigs.
The Javelinas managed to get all three of their big-bopper first basemen in the lineup and it paid off in spades despite them dropping the contest. These three combined for 14 total bases and the vast majority of Peoria’s offense.
Tyler Locklear, 1B, SEA, 22
Locklear unloaded on a Ben Casparius hanger in the 6th inning for his second of the fall. He was one of my favorite players entering the year and was on a tremendous pace before missing a good chunk of the season with a hand injury that occurred on a hit-by-pitch.
He did enjoy the benefits afforded to him by Funko Field, the home stadium for the Everett Aquasox, but even if the surface performance was inflated, the underlying data is very strong too. He has tremendous power, great contact ability, and is discerning at the plate. With a full season of work he would have been a consensus top-40 prospect, if not better, and I think there is a chance he seizes the first base role from Ty France in 2024.
Kyle Manzardo, 1B, CLE, 23
Did the Rays lose a trade? Manzardo was the man last night, belting two home runs and continuing his fall league laser show. He was the only batter in Peoria’s lineup who did not strike out. He now has a commanding league lead in home runs.
Cleveland’s first base picture is a little blurry. Josh Naylor has two years of arbitration remaining, his brother Bo could figure in some first base playing time while rotating with Cam Gallagher at catcher, and there are plenty of bats that could plug into DH. With all of that said, I do think Manzardo has a strong chance to make the opening day roster and get the lion’s share of plate appearances at the position. A lot of this hinges on his ability to hit left-handed pitching.
Nathan Martorella, 1B, SDP, 22
The Javelinas stuffed Martorella in left field for this game. He played there 22 times in 2023, so it’s not entirely new territory, but it’s obvious nonetheless that this was in an effort to get all three of their first basemen into the lineup. He rewarded them with a 1-4 night that included a double and a run scored.
Martorella is an interesting prospect at 1B, but there are still a handful I’d take before him (Mayo, Manzardo, Basallo, Locklear, Isaac, Montes, et al).