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Live From The Arizona Fall League: 11/1/23
Chris and Beck break down everything they saw from their live looks in the Arizona Fall League.
We made it! While Beck has been out here for five days now, I made my 2023 AFL Debut yesterday with the Peoria/Salt River game and then Glendale/Surprise. We have a ton of notes and a ton of film.
We will have film on every play in the Arizona Fall League on our YouTube channel, + I am working on adding film of players I saw all year in the Minors.
I am giving away a couple of free month subs for anyone who subscribes to our YouTube. So click the sub button below.
Peoria (Guardians, Marlins, Mariners, Padres, Rays)
Chase DeLauter, OF, CLE, 22
DeLauter has the “has the looks off the bus appearance,” meaning he is a physical specimen. Standing at 6’4”/235 with a highly athletic build, DeLauter just looks like a ball player.
Peoria only collected two hits on Wednesday, but DeLauter was one of them, hitting a ground-rule double in the first inning. With all the chatter on social media about his swing and getting my first look in person, I like what I saw. He has a short follow-through, nothing else. The swing is smooth and quick to the ball, and DeLauter makes a ton of contact, doesn’t chase, and hits the ball hard. I will bet on that player.
Ryan Webb, LHP, CLE, 24
Webb posted a solid year in High-A in 2023, in which he posted a 3.29 ERA across 82 innings with a 24 percent strikeout rate to a 10 percent walk rate.
On Wednesday, he struck out six across 4.1 innings, pushing his AFL strikeout lead to eight as he has 33 strikeouts.
Webb’s command was inconsistent in the early going, but improved throughout the start. His fastball sat 91-93 mph with a decent arm-side run, and he paired changeup with it that sat 82-84. Webb also threw a heavy load of sliders sitting in the 82-84 velocity range while dumping in several curveballs at 77.
The command and strike-throwing will need to improve, but Cleveland appears to have something here in Webb.
Graham Pauley, 3B/OF, SDP, 23
Pauley looked the part in person, having a physical, but athletic frame and smooth swing from the left side geared for contact. After a hot first week, he slumped for a bit, but is back at it this week. He homered on Tuesday, and doubled on Wednesday, collecting one of Peoria’s two hits.
Coming off an awesome year in which he hit 23 home runs and stole 22 bases, the former 13th-rounder is off to a strong start in the Arizona Fall League. Pauley’s performance plus data support him being a top-100 prospect.
Mesa (A’s, Astros, Cubs, Orioles, Yankees)
Kenedy Corona, OF, HOU, 23
Corona was one of the more under-the-radar plays I saw during the 2023 regular season, and his performance flew pretty under the radar. 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.
After missing a decent portion of the Arizona Fall League due to injury, Corona has come back strong and did most of Mesa’s damage on Wednesday, collecting three hits, including a double, and driving in two runs. The sample is small, so don’t look too much into his sub-.700 OPS in the desert, Corona can hit.
TT Bowens, 1B, BAL, 25
Before the AFL, I really was not familiar with TT Bowens at all, but he has been solid in Arizona, posting some high exit velocities and some home runs that have traveled a long way. He collected three hits, including a triple on Wednesday, which is pretty impressive for the 6’4”/235 first baseman. He slashes .231/.342/.446 in the Fall League with three home runs in 76 plate appearances.
Ben Cowles, SS, NYY, 23
While I did not get to see Cowles on Wednesday, Beck has come away pretty impressed with him in his live looks. He collected just one hit Wednesday, but it was a home run, giving him three on the AFL in 67 plate appearances. Cowels is slashing an impressive .333/.448/.611 to give him an OPS over 1.000 in the desert while showing good versatility in the field, playing across the infield.
Surprise (Blue Jays, Brewers, Rangers, Reds, Royals)
Eric Brown Jr., SS, MIL, 22
Brown has been picking it up after a slow start in the desert, and he did it again on Wednesday, hitting a majestic home run off of Dodgers’ Kendall Williams. It was a beautiful line drive that left the bat like a laser. He has pushed his Arizona Fall League batting average up over .300 now with an .839 OPS. It has been a much-needed resurgence for the Brewers prospect after a slow start to his pro career.
He is a bit shorter than I thought, but Brown is built and highly athletic. He did a lot of good things last night in my looks.
After having an incredible career at Coastal Carolina, Brown has not yet lived up to the hype, as his power has seemingly dissipated. After posting strong exit velocities with metal, he posted just an 84.5 mph average exit velocity and a 90th percentile of 100 mph this year. The good news is that Brown makes contact on 82 percent of pitches, with that number jumping to 90 percent in-zone.
Zach Maxwell, RHP, CIN, 22
Maxwell looks like an MLB reliever with a big frame and a big fastball. He allowed one run in his 1.2 innings of work, but struck out three and displayed an impressive arsenal.
His fastball sat 96-98 but touched 100 with an impressive slider sitting 85-87, getting so ugly swings and misses. The Reds have an arm they can use out of the pen as soon as 2024 with the advanced stuff he has.
Jacob Hurtubise, OF, CIN, 25
Hurtubise looks the part and was impressive out of the leadoff spot on Wednesday. While he only collected one hit, he did steal his tenth base of the season and put a ton of balls in play. He was one of two Surprise hitters not to strike out during the game, as the team only collected four hits.
The contact ability stood out to me, as well as Hurtubise’s speed. He stole 45 across 119 Minor League games this season and showed decent pop, too. Power is not likely to be a big part of his game, given the body, but there is a lot to like here. Hurtubise slashed .330/.479/.583 during the regular season in what was a pretty under-the-radar year.
Scottsdale (Angels, Cardinals, Giants, Nationals, Phillies)
Oliver Dunn, INF, PHI, 26
Scottsdale was totally stymied against Mesa last night. This is also a game I didn’t have the privilege of being at live as AFL scheduling has been wonky surrounding the World Series. Dunn came away with two of the Scorpions’ six hits, both singles.
He’s been one of the best hitters in the AFL, no other way to put it. He’s on the older side, so some of the standout performance should be expected, but look at guys like CJ Alexander – being older than the competition doesn’t guarantee success. He is looking like a steal for Philadelphia, who acquired him from the Yankees as a rule 5 selection.
Robert Hassell III, OF, WSH, 22
Hey, Bobby Barrels is out here! He’s got a decent line at .293/.362/.362 through 69 plate appearances and it’s nice to see him hitting well. However, the concerns I had entering the fall are still present – he isn’t hitting for impact. He’ll have to develop hand and wrist strength to consistently unlock extra-base impact.
Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, STL, 22
Hjerpe fired 28 pitches to get six outs, striking out three in the process. He’s been used exclusively in relief in the AFL, but I suspect he’ll get back to starting early next year. The Cardinals are being cautious after an injury-marred season in his professional debut and the book is far from closed on his potential as a rotation piece.
Salt River (Braves, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers)
Sterlin Thompson, OF, COL, 22
I really think Sterlin Thompson is tailor-made for Coors Field. Sure, there’s the home run benefit of playing in the Colorado altitude, but there’s also the vast, expansive outfield conducive to batting average and extra-base hits. Thompson has consistently taken pitches where they are thrown and shot them into the outfield gap or down the line.
His two-RBI double in the fifth inning came just two batters after Ryan Webb’s no-no bid was broken up. Salt River and Peoria combined for just three total runs on seven hits, of which Thompson’s was decisive.
David McCabe, CI, ATL, 23
A total lack of offense in this contest made it difficult to pin down who to highlight. McCabe is as good as any as he’s been very solid without much fanfare, including coverage from me. He had one of Salt River’s five hits in the game to go with a walk and a run scored.
I was surprised by McCabe’s size and further so by his ability to put bat on ball with his frame. He ran an 80% contact rate in the regular season that improved to 84% in the second half and has more power than you may deduce from his 17 home runs in 123 regular-season games.
McCabe played first base in this game. It’s not a positional need for Atlanta, obviously, but I took notice because he had logged exactly one inning at first base in his professional career prior to the AFL. He’s still being deployed primarily at third, but is fringy defensively and will have problems seeing the field if he doesn’t develop some positional versatility beyond the corners.
Glendale (Dodgers, Mets, Twins, Red Sox, White Sox)
Bryan Ramos, 3B, CHW, 21
Ramos launched a huge home run off of Mitch Bratt into the left field bullpen in the 7th inning. Perhaps more impressive was that he reached base on catcher’s interference twice in the same contest, which is a bizarre lightning-strikes-twice occurrence I haven’t witnessed in person before.
He finished 2-3 with three runs and two RBIs. It was the strongest performance I’ve seen from him since arriving in Arizona. I’m a big fan of his swing and frame.
Jacob Burke, OF, CHW, 22
If I’d been following Nate Handy’s B-sides a year ago I may have been on Burke earlier. He had a very solid 2023, compiling six home runs and 19 stolen bases over 385 plate appearances, and has been similarly productive in the AFL.
He finished last night’s game with three hits in five at-bats including a pair of doubles and a single. His third-inning double was an absolute blast that the park somehow held and likely would have been a home run if it were a day game.
Kevin Parada, C, NYM, 22
I’ve had a hard time with Kevin Parada while out here. He previously looked lackluster both at the plate and behind the dish, but his performance last night was a breath of fresh air. The box score will say he was 2-3 with a double and a single, and the box score would be right, but what it doesn’t capture is the absolute lazer he yanked just foul in the seventh inning. Something about seeing a baseball leave the bat at that velocity will make you turn your head.
Ben Casparius, RHP, LAD, 24
There was no arm more impressive in the Glendale vs. Surprise game last night as Casparius pitched three clean innings in relief while striking out six, walking one, and allowing a single.
He was sitting 93 - 95 mph on his fastball and showed off a nasty slider with big horizontal break and mixed in a curveball. The Dodgers have a laughable amount of arm talent in their system at any given time, and although Casparius’ results haven’t been there he could be an arm that jumps next year as a result of his stuff combined with LA’s pitching development.