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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/26/23
Chris & Beck break down everything you need to know from the Arizona Fall League
This week of the Arizona Fall Leauge has been a little annoying just because it has only been two games each day and we love baseball! The more the merrier. Beck is flying out to Arizona tomorrow and I will be out there early next week. We are amped to bring you live coverage! But for today, just writeups.
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Peoria (Guardians, Marlins, Mariners, Padres, Rays)
Graham Pauley, INF/OF, SDP, 23
Pauley left Thursday’s contest with three hits, all singles, and a stolen base to boot. He hasn’t been quite as good in Arizona as he was across three levels in 2023, where he compiled 23 home runs and 22 stolen bases. He hits the ball hard with regularity, boasting some of the best barrel rates in affiliated baseball, and is a great off-season target that should not have a substantial price tag.
Jakob Marsee, OF, SDP, 22
Authorities in Arizona showed up at the Peoria Sports Complex this morning to investigate reports of lefty-lefty crime. Marsee took Daniel Lynch IV deep in the first inning for his third of the fall campaign. It kept him in the running for fall league MVP for which James Triantos appears to be the current front-runner.
Jacob Berry, CI, MIA, 22
Berry smoked a homer in the sixth inning off of Angel Zerpa. It was his second of the fall and raised his line to .302/.373/.491 through 13 games. He’s been better here, but Arizona is also a hitter’s paradise, and I’m inclined to believe the larger body of work. I don’t necessarily trust Miami’s player development, especially their hitting development, and even further with the organizational disarray following Kim Ng’s surprise departure.
Ryan Bliss, 2B, SEA, 23
Even though the greater Phoenix metro area may be a nice place to hit, there’s an argument it isn’t as hitter-friendly as the Texas League and Pacific Coast League, where Bliss spent his regular season. He hasn’t played poorly, but there’s been a distinct lack of extra-base impact through 11 games for him. He has just one double, and the rest of his 12 hits were all singles.
I think he can be a piece for Seattle next year. He’s a good player who hit a major statistical benchmark in 2023 by racking up 23 home runs and 55 stolen bases, becoming one of just a handful of minor leaguers to ever reach that feat, but the major question is whether the surface production will translate against big league pitching and in a ballpark that suppresses power.
Surprise (Blue Jays, Brewers, Rangers, Reds, Royals)
Hendry Mendez, OF, MIL, 19
As far as I can tell, we’ve not yet written about Hendry Mendez as part of our daily AFL recaps. He came to the Brewers as part of the international class that brought Jackson Chourio. He was exciting immediately in a small sample in both the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Complex but has yet to put it together in full-season competition. He has a .185/.313/.259/.572 line through 8 games in the fall league.
Mendry prioritizes contact but doesn’t hit for much damage at present. He had a 60.6% groundball rate with High-A Wisconsin.
Wes Clarke, 1B, MIL, 23
I am delighted to see Wes Clarke continue his fall rampage, primarily because I’m a Brewers fan, even though yesterday was a modest performance. He had a pair of singles and a pair of RBI in a 2-5 night. Two pair is a pretty good poker hand, and we’ll give him a nod for it on the diamond, too.
Every time I’ve written about Clarke I’ve also made mention of the Brewers’ corner infield situation. Rowdy Tellez and Carlos Santana are both question marks at first base with decisions to be made by the front office; the former is entering his second arbitration hearing coming off of a disappointing 2023, the latter is a free agent. Clarke finished 2023 at AA.
Jacob Hurtubise, OF, CIN, 25
Hurtubise had a near-identical line to Clarke, with two small differences: he had one fewer strikeout, and his second RBI proved decisive in Surprise’s victory over Peoria.
Hurtubise leads with his contact ability and isn’t afraid to swipe a bag. He had 45 in 54 attempts over 119 games in the regular season. He’s not likely to do a bunch of over-the-fence damage but could be a player who surprises folks when he gets a chance with the big league club. His .330/.479/.583 season-long slash flew pretty under the radar, which I suspect is due to his age.
Daniel Lynch IV, LHP, KCR, 26
How long has Daniel Lynch been rocking the IV? Have I been living under a rock? In any event, being the 4th is cool unless it’s being a #4 starter, which is probably the absolute ceiling for Lynch at this point in his development. He’s played in parts of three big league seasons and compiled a 5.18 ERA with 211 strikeouts over 252 innings.
He was solid on Thursday, tossing three innings of one-run ball while striking out five. That’s to be expected, given Lynch has significant big-league experience. It’s a good opportunity for his opponents to see big-league stuff, even if it’s fringy.
Glendale (Dodgers, Mets, Twins, Red Sox, White Sox)
Aaron Sabato, 1B, MIN, 24
The Twins 2020 first-rounder has not quite lived up to billing yet after a monster career at the University of North Carolina. There has never been any denying the power, but it is more of a question of can he get to it consistently in games due to the contact skills. Sabato posted a 32 percent strikeout rate in 2023 with a 64 percent contact rate. The Arizona Fall League has not been much better, as Sabato has the second-most strikeouts among all hitters.
Thursday was a good day for Sabato, who mashed his fourth AFL home run and added a second hut on the night. This pushed his batting average closer to the Mendoza line, now sitting at .179. The power is absurd, and quality of contact is good when he makes contact.
Tyler McDonough, 2B/SS, BOS, 24
McDonough was a late add to the Arizona Fall League after Brainer Bonaci was sent home. He is small but an excellent athlete who I got to see quite often when he was in Greenville.
The versatile hitter blasted his first Arizona Fall League home run on Monday and has continued to hit all week as he added two more hits and his fourth stolen base of the AFL.
McDonough spent most of the year in Double-A, in which he slashed .250/.325/.375 with five home runs and 24 stolen bases.
Ronan Kopp, LHP, LAD, 21
Looking for the Dodgers' next big pitching prospect? He might be sitting right in front of our eyes. Kopp is a towering 6’7” lefty who struck out 36 percent of batters during the 2023 season. Despite walking 17 percent of hitters, he still managed to keep the WHIP at 1.30. The strike percentage being below 60 percent leaves questions of whether he will be a starter long-term.
Kopp pitched another scoreless outing on Thursday night with two strikeouts pushing his total to 13 in seven innings, only allowing one earned run and just three hits. Even if Kopp’s future is in the bullpen he will likely still have a ton of value for fantasy leagues.
Ben Casparius, RHP, LAD, 24
Casparius had an incredible start to 2023 in High-A, in which he posted a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings with 44 strikeouts. The bump to Double-A was not as kind as he allowed a 6.62 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP while his strikeout rate dropped six percentage points.
While it has been an up-and-down showing in the Arizona Fall League, Casparius bounced back on Thursday, posting three scoreless innings with one hit allowed, two walks, and three strikeouts. His slider is elite; the command needs to take a step forward but keep a close eye on Casparius this fall.
Mesa (A’s, Astros, Cubs, Orioles, Yankees)
Kenedy Corona, OF, HOU, 23
Corona had a very underrated season between the Astros’ High-A and Double-A affiliates, slashing .251/.331/.458 with 22 home runs and 32 stolen bases. There are strikeout issues, but I saw Corona live a good bit and was consistently impressed with some massive home runs.
He has missed a good bit of the Arizona Fall League due to injury and has just eight at-bats. He didn’t do much on Thursday, but he was worth noting because people have asked where Corona has been. He did steal a base on Thursday.
James Triantos, 3B, CHC, 20
Triantos is doing everything he can to win the Arizona Fall League MVP award. He keeps hitting and is tied for second in the league with 25 hits with three doubles, five triples, and he blasted his third home run of the AFL. The slash line is now up to .424/.500/.683 for an impressive 1.304 OPS.
He is gaining a lot of buzz, and I will admit I was too low on him in my rankings. Triantos cracked Baseball America’s list of prospects who gained the most exit velocity in 2023, with his average EV jumping from 82.6 mph to 87.6 and his 90th percentile EV pushing from 99 mph to 102.5. Those are significant jumps, especially when you pair them with elite contact like Triantos showed with an 83 percent clip. The biggest issue is the need to lift the ball more, and if Triantos finds the sweet spot more often, he could see the power exponentially take a step forward.
Scottsdale (Angels, Cardinals, Giants, Nationals, Phillies) - NO GAME
Salt River (Braves, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers) - NO GAME