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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/11/23
Arizona Fall League breakdown from Chris and Beck for Wednesday, October 11.
Today we mourn the loss of one of our own. Phillip Thompson was an avid member of the Dynasty Dugout and an incredible prospect mind. He turned me on to prospects I wasn’t familiar with. He had a heart attack at age 32 and passed away, leaving behind a wife and a daughter. Would you consider supporting below:
RIP Phillip. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family and loved ones today.
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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This week we have flipped teams. Chris has Salt River, Scottsdale, and Surprise covered for you. Beck has Peoria, Mesa, and Glendale.
Benny Montgomery, OF, COL, 21
Montgomery has had an up and down career after being selected eight overall in the 2021 draft. He came out of the gate hot with strong performances in the Arizona Complex League in 2021 and in Single-A in 2022. This year featured a full season in Spokane in which Montgomery slashed .251/.336/.370 with ten home runs in a hitter friendly environment.
A big AFL could be a big boost of confidence for Montgomery who is certainly on the right track after a two hit night on Wednesday boosted his Fall League average to .320. He had three hard-hit balls which included 106.4 and 105.9 mph batted balls. Montgomery might be a sneaky add in dynasty leagues if he can make consistent contact.
AJ Vukovich, OF, ARI, 22
Vukovich had a sneaky good year in Double-A this year, spending half of the season as a 21 year old. He slashed .263/.333/.485 with 24 home runs and 20 stolen bases. On Wednesday, he collected two hits, including a double, and scored three runs. Two of his batted balls registered as hard-hits(99.7 and 100.6 mph). Vukovich is a bat to watch this fall and is a sneaky good add in dynasty.
Justice Bigbie, OF, DET, 24
Bigbie was highly underrated in during the season and many dismissed his performance because of his age. Pre-AFL I wrote:
A 19th-rounder in the 2021 MLB Draft out of Western Carolina, Bigbie does not get a lot of respect in prospect circles despite having an incredible season. After moving from High-A all the way to Triple-A this year, Bigbie slashed .343/.405/.537 with 19 home runs and 45 extra-base hits in 485 plate appearances.
Bigbie makes respectable contact despite being an aggressive hitter and hits the ball with authority. Arizona seems like an ideal hitting environment for Bigbie to look impressive and improve his dynasty stock.
On Wednesday, Bigbie collected three hits and drove in three of Salt River’s seven runs, raising his batting average to .318 with a .892 OPS.
Ivan Melendez, 1B, ARI, 23
Melendez collected just one hit on Wednesday, but it was a big one, a home run that left the bat at 109.8 mph. He has some of the best power in the minors, but swing and miss will always be a concern. Melendez mashed 30 home runs in the regular season, but struck out 34.3 percent of the time.
Gabriel Rincones Jr., OF, PHI, 22
Rincones Jr. had a very solid season this year 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 a total of 49 extra base hits.
He is now off to a strong start in the AFL posting a .333 batting average and a 1.048 OPS. On Wednesday, he collected two hits including his first home run of the fall and also added his fourth double. He drove in two and scored three times, accounting for five of Scottsdale’s nine runs.
DJ Herz, LHP, WSH, 22
Herz saw his stock take off in 2021 and even into 2022 as he dominated the lower levels of the minors with his big fastball, but struggled with command. He had a solid year in Double-A with the Cubs but was traded to Washington at the deadline for Jeimer Candelario and in his eight starts with the Nationals’ Double-A, posted a 2.55 ERA and struck out 53 across 35 innings.
He has seen the success carry over into the AFL and even though he allowed three earned on Wednesday in four innings he still has a solid showing. I’d argue that his performance was much better than the line indicated. Hertz still struck out four and walked just one while throwing 68 percent strikes, which is a win in my book.
Eric Torres, LHP, LAA, 24
After a pretty rough 2023 season in which Torres posted a 8.31 ERA in 47.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, he has looked like a different pitcher in Arizona. Walks were a major issue in the regular season, posting 58 walks in those 47 innings. On Wednesday, Torres posted another scoreless outing in which he pitched two innings with five strikeouts, but still had two walks. There probably is not a ton of fantasy value here, but five strikeouts over two scoreless earns a spot on our writeups.
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 which included an RBI and he reached base for a fourth time via walk. His batting average is now up to .324 with an .834 OPS. He is definitely a contact-centric approach but one that is pretty intriguing despite his age.
Michael Trautwein, C, CIN, 24
One thing I love about the Fall League is learning about new names that I was not familiar with before, Trautwein being one of them. He spent the full season as a 23 year old in High-A and Double-A, slashing .248/.360/.384 with six home runs in 307 plate appearances.
He had a huge game on Wednesday, hitting two home runs and driving in five while also collecting two walks. His OPS is now up to 1.377 in the AFL.
Damiano Palmegiani, CI, TOR, 23
Beck covered Palmegiani several times last week, as he has been off to a hot start in the AFL and I thought it was interesting that he wrote this:
I wrote on Tuesday that Palmegiani is an interesting name to follow as we learn more about the Blue Jays intentions with Matt Chapman. Should they forego a qualifying offer, or make a qualifying offer that is subsequently declined, Palmegiani could be in the mix for playing time at the hot corner alongside Orelvis Martinez, Davis Schneider, and Cavan Biggio.
I certainly believe it is a real possibility that he could end up getting a lot of reps in Spring Training with a chance to win a spot. He continued his run of dominance in the desert by hitting his first home run of the fall and drawing two walks, bringing his average up to .400 with a 1.186 OPS.
Peyton Wilson, OF, KC, 23
Wilson has been a name I have followed closely since his days at Alabama and then when he was taken in the second round of the 2021 draft. He spent some time in Columbia that year before moving up and being in Double-A for all of 2023. He posts good contact numbers, and had a slash line of .286/.366/.411 with six home runs, but 33 doubles while stealing 19 bases.
He smacked two home runs on Wednesday while also having a double, and driving in four runs, bringing his fall average up to .417 with a 1.308 OPS.
Eric Cerantola, KC, RHP, 23
Cerantola had a solid year moving to mostly pitching out of the bullpen in which he had a 3.66 ERA across 76 innings between High-A and Double-A, with 99 strikeouts.
On Wednesday, Cerantola came in and pitched three scoreless innings of relief, striking out four without issuing a walks. Even though he may not be a starter long term, Cerantola has shown the ability to eat innings and provide value with strikeouts.
I’m just realizing this as I’m finishing the write-ups, but all three of my teams lost last night. Glendale dropped their contest 16-1 to complete the clean sweep for the ‘S’ teams. Let’s have the memory of a goldfish and show up better today.
JT Schwartz, 1B, NYM, 23
Glendale managed just 6 hits, two of which came off the bat of JT Schwarts. Both were singles. There wasn’t any real offensive threat for the Desert Dogs in this contest. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the guys on the bump for the other squad.
Schwartz was solid in the regular season, compiling a .305/.392/.432 line across 296 plate appearances, 277 of which were with Double-A Binghamton. I’ve said this in a few articles, but the burden of proof on first basemen is extremely high given their lack of defensive utility, and it’s not clear to me that Schwartz has cleared that bar. He managed just four home runs and four stolen bases and struggled mightily against same-side pitching.
Chris Troye, RHP, BOS, 24
Troye isn’t on the rundown because he had a shutdown relief performance, as is usually the case, but instead because he had a tough outing and shared the experience on Twitter in a brilliant thread. I recommend everybody read it, digest it, and apply it to your life. Attitude matters and Troye has his head on straight by all accounts. I’m excited to see him throw fire out of the pen in Boston soon.
The Solar Sox lost this one in a heartbreaker. They led the Scorpions 8-5 entering the bottom of the ninth inning and coughed up four runs after two hits and two walks both came around to score. The final run came on a walk-off balk.
Zach Dezenzo, 3B, HOU, 23
Dezenzo hasn’t had the greatest fall so far, so a nice performance on Wednesday was a welcome sight. He finished the contest with two doubles, a walk, a run scored, and a strikeout.
I’m a huge Dezenzo fan and I think it’s clear the Astros got a bargain on him in the 12th round of the 2022 draft. He broke out early in the year at A+ before coming down to Earth again once he reached AA, ultimately finishing with a .305/.383/.531 slash complemented by 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases over 410 plate appearances.
I had concerns about Dezenzo’s ability to hit high velocity driven by his large leg kick and bat path, but it doesn’t appear to trouble him at all. The Astros have him as a top-5 prospect in their system internally.
Kevin Alcantara, OF, CHC, 21
Alcantara was just 1-4 on the day but the one hit was a no-doubt homer off Nick Jones accompanied by a tasteful bat flip. His three run shot gave Mesa the lead that they’d later cede back in the bottom of the ninth.
The raw power is certainly there. I wrote about Alcantara’s strong finish to the regular season earlier this week, but consistency has eluded him thus far in the AFL. He’s got one of the highest ceilings of anyone attending but he’ll have to tap into it with more regularity to be viable as a fantasy asset.
Christian Franklin, OF, CHC, 23
I didn’t know much about Franklin prior to last night, but some digging made it clear why; he missed all of 2022 after tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee during Spring Training. He was a phenomenal athlete coming into the 2021 draft out of Arkansas and was ultimately selected in the 4th round by the Cubs. He had three hits including a double in five at bats last night.
His professional track record is fairly short as a college draftee who lost a season to injury, but given the lengthy absence preceding the year, his 2023 was very solid. He had 381 plate appearances primarily at A+ and finished the year with 12 home runs, 14 stolen bases (on 21 attempts), and an OPS of .828.
It’s not totally clear what the plan is for him in Chicago as an old-for-the-level college draftee, particularly with the glut of outfield options available at the big league level and more promising names ahead of him in the system.
The Javelinas dropped their first game of the fall in this one as they were outgunned by Salt River, 7-4.
Jakob Marsee, OF, SDP, 22
It would appear Marsee heeded my cries for mercy yesterday as he left this contest without reaching base in five at-bats. He struck out in four of those plate appearances, twice against Nick Dombkowski and once a piece against JC Flowers and Tyler Samaniego. It dropped his AFL line to a measly .516/.590/.903.
Kyle Manzardo, 1B, CLE, 23
Third consecutive day with a long ball for Kyle Manzardo and this one was demolished. He got a slider down and in and turned on it to send it 460 feet. He was scorching baseballs all evening, finishing with three batted ball events over 100 mph – a first inning single at 101.8, a third inning home run at 108.3, and a ninth inning double at 100.1.
A strong fall could mean very big things for Manzardo early next year if you catch my drift. I’d still like him to get more reps against left-handed pitching for fear of him becoming a platoon corner infielder early in his career, but he has every opportunity to win the first base job out of spring, regardless.
Jacob Berry, 3B, MIA, 22
Berry’s 2023 regular season was not what you would have hoped for out of the #6 overall pick, but he’s been excellent in the fall. He finished last night’s contest with two hits to boost his line to .360/.448/.480.
He was actually quite unlucky to walk away with just two knocks in the contest, as he had four batted balls over 95 mph across his five plate appearances. The AFL could be the baseball respite he needs to get his mojo back, but as of right now he’s not a player I’m ranking inside my top 250.
Carson Williams, SS, TBR, 20
Williams contributed a 3-5 night with a pair of singles and a double. He scored a run, drove one in, and stole a base for his third through seven games. It had been a bit of a slow start for him but he’s now up to a .333/.486/.407 line.
He’s been vulnerable to the strikeout for his entire minor league tenure and finished the 2023 regular season with a K rate north of 31%. He’s currently sitting at a 26% K rate through 34 plate appearances in the AFL, which may be an encouraging sign moving forward, but he added another two to his tally last night.