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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/3/23
Arizona Fall League recap from October 3, 2023 from Chris and Beck.
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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Beck has Salt River, Scottsdale, and Surprise covered for you. Chris has Peoria, Mesa, and Glendale.
Drew Romo, C, COL, 22
Not a particularly special night for Romo, but he added a hit and a walk in a night where the offense was relatively squalid. He’s a glove-first catcher who could find his way to Colorado on the back of his defensive prowess. If he’s playing every day he could provide offensive value as there are likely 15-20 home runs in the bat and he’s been adept at avoiding strikeouts. He’ll open the 2023 calendar in AAA.
A.J. Vukovich, OF/3B, ARI, 22
Vukovich is a bit of a legend where I’m from for his standout performance as a two-star athlete in Wisconsin. The Diamondbacks paid him significantly over slot to pry him away from a Louisville commitment in the 2020 draft and he’s since proven to be a solid if unspectacular bat.
Everything ticked up for him this year as he spent the entire season at Amarillo, a true hitter’s paradise. He clubbed 24 home runs en route to a .263/.333/.485 line but struggled to keep his K rate in check (28.4%). He contributed a single that left the bat at 98.7 mph on Tuesday.
Justice Bigbie, OF, DET, 24
Bigbie notched Salt River’s only extra base hit in the contest while also being the only batter not to strike out. It was a tough showing for Salt River offensively as the team collected a total of just 5 hits to pair with 14 strikeouts. Bigbie’s double put runners on second and third with just one out in the bottom of the 7th but the game was out of reach by that point.
He’s coming off an excellent regular season – he made my minor league team of the year – and he could be a prime AFL helium candidate. This is his second appearance on my portion of the AFL recap.
Tekoah Roby, RHP, STL, 22
Even on a night where Ricky Tiedemann was on the bump, Roby was the arm-turning heads last night. He fired three innings and surrendered just one hit while striking out five. He had everything in his arsenal working and demonstrated a true 4-pitch mix, going to each of his fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup to generate outs. He induced ten whiffs across those three innings.
Roby is set to be a big riser with a strong AFL. The biggest question mark for him has been his health as he’s missed time in 2021 (sprained elbow) and 2022 (sprained shoulder).
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, STL, 22
Hjerpe was one of my favorite targets in FYPDs with the hypothesis that a polished college arm should move quickly through the lower levels of the minors. He got off to a slow start in April, pitching his way to a 6.75 ERA over 16 innings for Peoria before finding his groove in May.
He missed the majority of the season after elbow surgery to remove a loose body in his throwing elbow. The AFL will be a good opportunity for him to build innings back up. He appeared in relief after Roby and fired a clean inning with one strikeout. There is a smidge of reliever risk in his profile and the Cardinals will want to play it safe with their former first-rounder, which muddies the water a bit for those tracking his usage.
Reggie Crawford, LHP/DH, SFG, 22
Crawford was the 30th overall pick in the 2022 draft and one of the rare prospects attempting to both pitch and hit at the professional level. He underwent Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2021 and as a result there isn’t a lot of pro track record with him. He pitched just 19 innings in 2023 across A and A+ while adding 19 plate appearances
The Giants are going to let him pursue both pitching and hitting, evidently, so following his usage throughout the AFL will be interesting. He finished Tuesday’s game 0-3 with 2 K’s and a walk.
Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, TOR, 21
Despite his velo and command coming and going throughout his start, Tiedemann generally looked good in his AFL debut. He went 5 innings, struck out 7, and allowed just one earned run while inducing 15 swings and misses. This was the deepest he’s gone in any appearance in 2023, both in terms of innings and pitches thrown, signaling to me that the Blue Jays are interested in building him up for a shot at the rotation in early 2024.
Health will be the thing to watch for Ricky this fall and into next spring. He’s had issues with biceps inflammation that plagued his regular season. Performance when healthy has never been a question.
Gavin Cross, OF, KCR, 22
Cross pitched in a 1-4 effort for Surprise last night in a game they ultimately lost 9-0. The 9th overall pick in the 2022 draft has yet to really find his footing as a professional as he posted a .203/.298/.378 line over 413 plate appearances with a 27.8% K rate in his first full season.
He was known for his hit tool, plate discipline, and ability to hit for power to all fields pre-draft and we haven’t seen that come to fruition yet. The thin desert air could be the right place for him to right the ship, but I can’t say that a strong AFL would change my expectations for him moving forward all that much.
Glendale’s bats had a total of four hits on Tuesday, all singles. So this team will be covered with more pitchers today.
Jake Eder, LHP, CHW, 24
I really believed that Jake Eder could come back and look like his 2021 self in which he posted a 1.77 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 71.1 before having Tommy John. But, since returning, Eder saw inconsistent command and regressed stuff, especially after his trade to the White Sox. But in his first AFL start Eder did not allow a hit but did walk three and turned in a sub-60 percent strike rate. Getting his stuff and command back will be a major sticking point for Eder in the AFL.
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. In two innings of work, Casparius struck out three while not allowing a walk and threw strikes at a 69 percent rate. His slider is elite, the command needs to take a step forward, but keep a close eye on Casparius this fall.
Jordan Leasure, RHP, CHW, 25
Leasure was traded to Chicago as part of the Lance Lynn trade nad while hs is an RP through and through, could be a sneaky good one. His fastball is easily plus if not better and he pairs it with a solid slider. Leasure could pitch in the back-end of the White Sox bullpen next year and is someone to watch closely. He struck out two batters over a clean, 11-pitch, inning.
James Triantos, 2B, CHC, 20
Triantos might be the best pure hitter in the Fall League, making high-end contact as shown by his 83 percent contact rate in 2023. On Tuesday, he led off and was one base five times which included three singles and two walks, even stealing a base. Power will likely always be the question mark, but Triantos is as good as a pure hitter as their is.
TT Bowens, 1B, BAL, 25
I would be lying to you if I said I was familiar with TT Bowens before Monday’s AFL action. When watching Monday’s action, I actually was a bit confused and thought Bowens was supposed to be Jace Bowen, but alas.
After two hits on Monday, Bowens added two home runs and three RBI on Tuesday with exit velocities of 101.3 and 102.6 mph with his longest home run traveling 432 feet. I am not sure if their is much fantasy intrigue and I am not going to say there is after two games, but I would just watch him closely.
Lazaro Armenteros, OF, OAK, 24
It feels like a decade ago since “Lazarito” was the next big international signing. The crazy thing is.. It has been seven years since he signed.
2023 was a big year for Armenteros as he hit 20 home runs and stole 17 bases while slashing .252/.383/.496 with 405 of his 462 plate appearances coming in Double-A.
Armenteros had two hits on Tuesday with three batted balls that had exit velocities of 103.3, 92.7, and 88.7 mph. There is a ton of swing and miss here, but there is power and speed.
Carter Baumler, RHP, BAL, 21
The Mesa pitching staff was awesome, but Carter Baumler probably impressed me most of any of them. He struck out seven over three scoreless innings with one walk. Baumler had a 30 percent whiff rate and a 27 percent CSW.
Baumler's arsenal looked good despite having just 28.2 pro innings since being drafted in 2020 due to Tommy John and Shoulder issues. His fastball sat 93 mph with nice ride and run, his changeup averaged 17 inches of fade, and the slider and curveball are distinct pitches in different velocity bands with nice depth. If he can get healthy, I am in.
Peter Van Loon, RHP, BAL, 24
Van Loon did not have a great 2023 season as he posted a 6.04 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP over 53.2 Double-A innings while striking out 29 percent of hitters and walking 9.5 percent. He did not look like that guy on Tuesday, though as he struck out four over 3.2 scoreless innings with two walks and one hit. His fastball sat 92 mph, and his curveball was absolutely devastating, showing nice depth and horizontal movement. The fastball has nice armside run as well.
Matt Sauer, RHP, NYY, 24
Sauer had a pretty under-the-radar season in 2023 in which he posted a 3.42 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 68.1 Double-A innings while striking out 29.5 percent of batters and walking 10.3 percent.
On Tuesday, he struck out two over two scoreless innings, but the arsenal was more impressive than his performance. Sauer was primarily fastball/slider, with the fastball sitting 94 and topping out at 95.5 while showing very good ride up in the zone. Sauer saw his slider have up to 12 inches of horizontal movement and nice depth. He did mix one curveball that had 49 inches of vertical break and had about 3 mph separation from the slider.
Logan Workman, RHP, TB, 24
Workman is a name to keep an eye on in the Arizona Fall League after 70 innings in Double-A this year in which he posted a 3.73 ERA and struck out 78 batters. Workman looked good in his first AFL start in which he threw 4.2 scoreless innings allowing one walk and striking out five. He needed just 71 pitches in which he threw 47 strikes(66%). Workman generated 14 whiffs and had an impressive 38 percent CSW. He is an arm to keep a close eye on.
Kyle Manzardo, 1B, CLE, 23
While he did strikeout twice, Manzardo seemed to get his timing right by mid-game, generating two singles and driving in two runs. He needs a big performance in the Arizona Fall League after struggling this year while dealing with off-the-field stuff. Manzardo did finish the season strong with six home runs and seven doubles in 17 games in September.
Graham Pauley, INF/OF, SD, 23
Pauley had another strong game on Tuesday, and it is not much of a surprise at this point after an incredible 2023 season. Pauley has a high-end hit tool with respectable exit velocities but puts them on ideal angles, creating a ton of barrels.
On Tuesday, Pauley had a single, double, and three RBI while playing left field again, which I find pretty interesting. The versatility could lead to him being in the Padres lineup sooner than later.
Chase DeLauter, OF, CLE, 21
Another day, two more hits for future AFL MVP Chase DeLauter. There are questions about the swing and why it is so short, but I am not overly worried. It is high-end contact with plus raw power and speed. The short swing actually leads to increased contact skills and the ability to get to pitches in all parts of the zone. When you can mash a ball 450 feet despite the short swing, I would have no worries about his power output.
Nathan Martorella, 1B, SD, 22
Martorella had two singles on Tuesday in what could be a big fall league after a strong 2023 MILB season. It was a tale of two halves, though, as Martorella appeared to be in the midst of a massive breakout. In his first 46 games, Martorella hit seven home runs and was slashing .280/.392/.491 with as many walks than strikeouts. But from August on, he managed just three home runs and slashed .209/.314/.338. It could have been fatigue, but a strong AFL could give Martorella a nice confidence boost.