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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/18/23
Chris and Beck break down everything you need to know from Wednesday's Arizona Fall League action.
Happy Thursday everyone, I hope today is great for all of you, and you find a way to make someone else’s day better.
Beck and I are back with another day of AFL coverage. The reports are free all fall league, but feel free to subscribe to get a ton of awesome stuff we have going on at the Dynasty Dugout.
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Dylan Dodd, LHP, ATL, 25
The Braves sent two arms that have already debuted in the Majors, Dodd and Darius Vines, who we discussed yesterday. Dodd has had a strong AFL and was coming off a start in which he struck out nine over five innings, producing a 43 percent whiff rate.
On Wednesday, fired five, one-run innings in which he struck out five. His lone damage was a solo home run to Dominic Keegan. He posted 13 swinging strikes and a 36.5 percent CSW. Over his last two starts he has 14 strikeouts and 34 swinging strikes.
Cater Bins, C, PIT, 25
Bins was a new name to me this offseason when I first started looking over Arizona Fall League rosters. 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.
Last week, Bins showed some impressive power posting a batted ball over 110 mph and several others over 100. On Wednesday, Bins collected three hits, including his second home run of the fall while finishing the day a triple shy of the cycle.
Hao-Yu Lee, 2B, DET, 20
Lee continues his hot week, making the sheet for the second time in three games, mashing his first AFL home run on Wednesday. He also reached base via walk and scored both times he got on base. Lee accounted for three of Salt River’s four runs and raised his batting average to .357 while pushing his OPS to 1.071.
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.
Sterlin Thompson, INF/OF, COL, 22
Thompson has been a frequent visitor of the list due to his strong performance all AFL, obliterating baseballs to the tune of a 96 mph average exit velocity and a 62 percent hard-hit rate. While he had just one hit on Wednesday, Thompson reached based three times and is rocking a 1.164 OPS to pair with his .410 batting average.
It feels like everyday we are writing up Thompson, but for good reason as he has been one of the best players in the Arizona Fall League.
Wes Clarke, 1B, MIL, 23
Clarke continues to mash in the AFL after a strong 2023 season that flew under the radar, after he hit 26 home runs with a .392 OBP. This is not a new thing as Clarke has been a prolific power hitter since he was at the University of South Carolina where I saw him frequently.
On Wednesday, Clarke mashed his fourth home run of the Fall League pushing his OPS to 1.118. There is massive power and strong strike-zone awareness shown by high exit velocities and low chase rates.
Jacob Hurtubise, OF, CIN, 25
Hurtubise’s season may have flown under the radar more than most, likely due to his age as the 25 year old slashed .330/.479/.483 with seven home runs and 45 stolen bases. Hurtubise had three hits on Wednesday night and stole his eight base of the fall. His batting average is now up to .286 with a .733 OPS. He is definitely a contact-centric approach but one that is pretty intriguing despite his age.
Liam Hicks, C, TEX, 24
Hicks might just be the biggest Arizona Fall League breakout. From relatively unknown to a star hitter posting a .488 batting average through his first ten games is quite the impressive feat. While 17 of his 21 hits are singles to this point, Hicks is still showing strong plate discipline and contact skills.
He was on base three times on Wednesday, two coming via singles and the other through a walk. 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 Hicks’s AFL has been fun to watch.
DJ Herz, LHP, WSH, 22
Herz was dominant for the most part on Wednesday, posting nine strikeouts over four innings while generating 12 whiffs and a 39 percent CSW. He was part of a mid-season trade that sent Herz to Washington and Jeimer Candelario to Chicago. Herz looked like a different pitcher in Washington, seeing his ERA cut by nearly two runs from 4.73 to 2.80. The other notable thing was seeing his walk rate drop from 15 percent to 13.6 percent. While a 13 percent walk rate is still way to high, but Herz has always missed plenty of bats despite not having an overwhelming arsenal. His stock is rising, and I am excited to see what the rest of the fall league holds for Herz.
Oliver Dunn, INF, PHI, 26
I am not sure anyone had Oliver Dunn hitting over .400 with a 1.300 OPS and nine stolen bases(tied for the league lead) on their bingo card. But here we are, and Dunn is the Scottsdale’s lead off hitter, reaching base four times on Wednesday night. Dunn had his third double and third triple of the Arizona Fall League pushing his average to .419 with a 1.320 OPS.
Despite his age, Dunn had a big breakout in 2023 in Double-A with the Phillies, hitting 21 home runs and stealing 16 bases while slashing .271/.396/.506. He was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2019 draft and was a Rule 5 selection by Philadelphia.
Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF, PHI, 22
I think Rincones has made the list everyday this week as his incredibly strong week continues. Three more hits on Wednesday included a triple, two RBI, and three runs scored while also stealing his fourth base. Rincones pushed his average to .348 to pair with a 1.085 OPS.
I have said it and will say it again, I did not give his 2023 season the respect that it deserved. 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.
Matt Kroon, UT, PHI, 26
It must have been a day for Phillies prospects in the AFL as Matt Kroon makes the third Phillies bat to make the writeup today. Kroon went four-for-four on the day with four singles pushing his average up to .300 and his OBP over .400 for the fall league.
I guess age caused Kroon’s season to fly a bit under the radar, but after spending the season in Double-A and Triple-A, Kroon slashed .326/.399/.526 with 11 home runs, 31 doubles, five triples, and 26 stolen bases.
Glendale kept it rolling on Wednesday to pick up their fifth win and their third in a row. They held Mesa to just six hits and two runs in total while collecting ten hits of their own and plating six. A three-run fifth inning including a Corey Rosier RBI single and a two-run Aaron Sabato homer is all it would take to grab the lead and never look back
Corey Rosier, OF, BOS, 24
Rosier led off for the Desert Dogs after spending the majority of the fall to this point in the bottom third of the lineup. He rewarded the skipper with three hits in five at bats, a run, an RBI, and two stolen bases. He’s been perhaps the most productive hitter in their lineup sans JT Schwartz.
This is the third time I’m writing about Rosier, and the points that need to be reiterated are that he’s an excellent runner and he makes a lot of contact. He swiped 49 bases on 57 attempts over 116 games in 2023 and another 40 in 45 attempts the year prior. His overall contact rate was 78.5%, which is very solid, and allows him to project as a potentially sneaky accumulator at the big league level. There isn’t a ton of pop, and I don’t think he’ll be much more than a 4th or 5th outfielder type, but for very deep leagues, he could carry some value.
JT Schwartz, 1B, NYM, 23
I keep writing that I fear Schwartz lacks the thump necessary to be a valuable first baseman for fantasy purposes and he keeps hitting for damage immediately after. He popped his second home run to go with a single, a double, three RBI, and a run in a three hit effort yesterday.
He’s probably just a nice depth piece for the Mets, but if he can keep demonstrating game power in the Desert after hitting just four home runs in 245 plate appearances during the regular season, he stands to see his stock rise.
Aaron Sabato, 1B, MIN, 24
Sabato was doing Sabato things on Wednesday, going yard for his second of the fall and adding another two strikeouts to his tally. After 287 games and 1,230 plate appearances in his minor league career, Sabato has 53 home runs and a 32.0% K rate. He is currently tied for second place in strikeouts among hitters at the AFL.
He’s yet to live up to his draft pedigree since being selected in the first round of the 2020 draft by the Twins. He was coming off of back-to-back seasons with North Carolina that ended with a four-digit OPS and monster slugging outputs, and hope for his hit tool had started to blossom as he walked more than he struck out in an abbreviated 2020 campaign. That draft is probably where the most mistakes were made out of any year in recent memory, largely due to incomplete data and a lack of live looks.
The Solar Sox were largely thwarted on Wednesday, managing just six hits – four of which came from James Triantos and Billy Cook – and allowing six runs on 10 hits. Tyler Santana was their most effective arm, but even he wasn’t particularly sharp.
James Triantos, 2B, CHC, 20
He took the OPS crown yesterday and just kept padding. He has a comfortable lead over Oliver Dunn and Jakob Marsee after a two-hit night that included a triple. The Triantos helium is about to be through the roof, and I’d be looking to acquire now and cash out later in the off-season.
I’m not saying Triantos can’t hit for power, but what we’re seeing in Arizona is a stark departure from the extra-base output we’ve seen from him over the last few years. He finished with a slug under .400 in both 2022 and 2023. His slugging percentage currently sits at .805, just one measly point behind Oliver Dunn.
Billy Cook, OF, BAL, 24
Cook reached in all four plate appearances, accumulating a single, a double, and two walks. The five batters behind him accounted for just one hit and left him stranded on all four occasions.
He had a very solid season in AA and should probably be talked about more – his 24 home runs and 30 stolen bases were an impressive figure to go with a .251/.320/.456 line – and if he were a year or two younger there would be more interest.
Tyler Santana, RHP, CHC, 25
Santana went 3.2 innings without allowing an earned run, which was rather fortunate given he allowed three hits and two walks in the process of securing 11 outs. He was efficient despite living outside of the zone, firing 56 pitches and just 31 for strikes (55%).
Santana profiles as a middle reliever, and was most often deployed out of the bullpen for South Bend. He was very old for the level and allowed a 4.07 ERA with a 20% K-rate. There isn’t much to bank on for fantasy viability, regardless of format.
The Javelinas righted the ship, taking home a win for the first time this week. They tallied 14 hits, six of which went for extra-bases, en route to a 7-4 victory over Salt River.
Dominic Keegan, C, TBR, 23
Keegan is a sneaky good bat at the catcher position, and he’s showing it off in the fall. He’s accumulated a .400/.464/1.344 line through 28 plate appearances, a minuscule sample, but it’s coming on the back of an excellent 2023 campaign that spanned 448 plate appearances between A and A+. He had a double, a home run, a walk, two RBI, and a run on Wednesday.
His three fall league homers is more game power than we’ve seen him tap into as he had 13 long balls in 106 games during the regular season, and he may be the beneficiary of the thin desert air, but he’s a name to keep an eye on regardless. His on-base skills and even average thump would make him a usable option behind the plate.
Jacob Berry, 3B, MIA, 22
I know that Berry was drafted just over a year ago out of college but for some reason I always expect him to be 25 years old. I am genuinely surprised when I go to his baseball reference page and see his birthday listed as May 5, 2001.
Berry was Peoria’s most productive hitter on Wednesday. He had a 7th inning solo shot, an 8th inning double, and a ground ball single in a three hit effort. His fall has been significantly better than either of his professional regular seasons. I’m not particularly interested in buying back in, but if he keeps this pace up and your leaguemates are paying attention to fall stats, there could be a nice sell window coming.
Nathan Martorella, 1B, SDP, 22
Martorella submitted a two hit effort of his own with two RBI and a run to boot. Both hits came off of lefties Dylan Dodd and Jake McSteen, which would typically be very nice to see, but Martorella is the rare left-handed batter with reverse platoon splits. He hit lefties to the tune of a .268/.393/.438 slash over 135 plate appearances in the regular season, outpacing his .251/.351/.437 line against righties.
He’s had a bit of a slow start in the fall, but I think he’s a back-end of the top 100 type of prospect.
Ike Buxton, RHP, MIA, 23
Buxton struck out eight Rafters over five innings of work. He surrendered five hits including a Hao-Yu Lee solo home run in the fourth, but was otherwise effective against a Salt River lineup that has proven more potent than it would appear on paper.
He’s not typically an overpowering arm, evidenced by his 22.5% K rate over 77 innings in the regular season, but he was strong on Wednesday. He might find his way into spot starts at the big league level but ultimately profiles better as a swingman or long reliever.