Stephen Strasburg’s time in the Arizona Fall League is finished after the Nationals righthander twisted his left knee prior to today’s game.
The Nationals in a press release claimed the injury was "not serious" and that an MRI showed inflammation. Strasburg will fly to Washington D.C. tomorrow to visit medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih. Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, will miss his scheduled start for Saturday’s AFL championship game.
We’ve heard conflicting reports on the details and severity of the injury at Baseball America since it happened earlier this morning, but we will pass along further information as we learn more.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—It doesn’t take long to see what all the fuss is about with Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown.
Brown, 22, is a potential true five-tool player with a wiry 6-foot-5, 204-pound frame that screams projection. He’s an outstanding athlete with plenty of bat speed, plus raw power that’s beginning to translate to game situations and, despite a bit of an awkward load, a solid swing with good extension. After tearing through the league in his first dozen Arizona Fall League games, Brown’s performance has tapered off to .239/.302/.407 through 29 games.
"Early in the season, he showed you the raw power and showed you the hitting ability," said Scottsdale manager Jeff Banister, the Pirates minor league field coordinator. "He’s playing deeper now than he’s ever played before, more games than he’s ever played—it is a grind. But he does possess all the five tools to go out and take over the game. When he’s not doing it with the power, he can do it with his legs on the bases. He has that dominating right fielder’s arm that can shut down guys on the basepaths as well. He’s big and lanky, and he can use that speed in the outfield. Boy, I tell you, I wouldn’t mind having him patrolling right field every day."
PHOENIX—For all the accolades Stephen Strasburg has received, he might be even better than you think.
Strasburg didn’t have much need to throw his changeup at San Diego State, not with an arm that consistently pumps mid- to high-90s fastballs and a filthy breaking ball.
Strasburg does have a good changeup though, as Aaron Fitt points out in the Nationals top 10 scouting reports, and the Arizona Fall League provides him with the perfect outlet to mix in his changeup against more advanced hitters. It’s plus pitch at 88-91 mph with good sink, which the Peoria Saguaros found out on Saturday.
Facing Houston’s Jose Vallejo to lead off the game, Strasburg struck out Vallejo swinging on a 91-mph changeup on a 2-2 pitch. After Padres shortstop Lance Zawadzki popped out, Reds outfielder Chris Heisey struck out swinging on another 91-mph changeup in a 2-2 count. Strasburg struck out Heisey swinging again in the fourth inning, this time getting him to swing through an 89-mph changeup in a 3-2 count.
"He has an excellent changeup, and he has thrown it quite well," said Phoenix pitching coach Paul Menhart, who spent the 2009 minor league season coaching the Nationals’ high Class A Potomac club. "It is a plus pitch, in my opinion, and he’s used it as we’ve asked him to quite effectively to go along with the electric fastball and very above-average curveball."
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—There isn’t anything too flashy about Chase D’Arnaud.
While the Pirates infielder won’t hit 460-foot home runs, show off a rocket arm or fly down the line in four seconds flat, he’s a very good athlete with a well-rounded skill set.
"He does everything well enough," said an American League scout. "He doesn’t have a standout tool, but he has some bat speed and he can square it up. He’s got gap power, but he can turn on one and hit it out."
Coming into the season, Bell appeared to be a likely candidate to move off of third base, while Snyder was a below-average defender at first base after trying his hand at catching earlier in his career.
That perception is changing.
SURPRISE, Ariz.—Jenrry Mejia signed with the Mets two and a half years ago in relative anonymity.
His $16,500 signing bonus looks like a clearance-aisle price today for the organization’s No. 1 prospect, a power-armed righthander who reached Double-A in June before just turning 20 last month.
Pitching for Surprise yesterday after missing his last scheduled start due to illness, Mejia touched 96 mph with his fastball once, otherwise ranging from 90-95 mph and mostly sitting 92-95 (he’s been clocked as high as 98 mph in previous outings here in the AFL and during the minor league season).
His fastball is a swing-and-miss offering, not just because of its velocity but because of its outstanding movement. Mejia generates tremendous cutting action on his fastball, and he’ll also put some sink on his heater as well. Between the velocity and movement, Mejia has a pitch he can use as an out pitch or to induce grounders—71 percent of his outs on balls in play were groundouts during the minor league season.
“It has a lot of power—it gets on you quick,” said Surprise pitching coach Tom Phelps, the Yankees’ Double-A pitching coach at Trenton during the 2009 minor league season. “He has a fastball that will cut, and he also has a fastball that will sink. As long as he keeps it down in the zone, he gets a lot of ground balls and a lot of early outs and quick innings. The big thing for him is controlling it in the zone and not getting behind hitters and walking hitters.”
PEORIA, Ariz.—After catching all season, some of the catchers in the Arizona Fall League are starting to show some wear and tear.
While it’s been a struggle for the 2008 first-round picks after the grind of their first full professional seasons, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been a standout for the Peoria Javelinas.
“He’s pretty impressive as a catcher,” said an American League scout. “He’s been one of the better—if not the best—catchers here. He plays good defense, has just enough power and throws well at times.”
SURPRISE, Ariz.—How a player translates his tools into game situations is important, but batting practice is a great time to get a better feel for prospects.
BP is an opportunity to measure a player’s raw power and get a better feel for his swing—the length, the plane, the bat speed, how a hitter loads and generates torque, and so on. It gives scouts (and journalists) an extra 40-50 swings or so for each player that they won’t see in the game, and while the ability to translate everything from BP into game situations is another question, it’s a helpful way to assess raw tools and mechanics.
Yet while watching Mesa take BP, I found myself unable to take my eyes of the left side of their infield taking ground balls. I know I’m not the only person to say that, either.
The AFL is a great league for hitters with the favorable Arizona air and disproportionate ratio of hitting prospects to hitting prospects. Still, the Mesa pitchers have to feel pretty good when a ground ball is hit to third base or shortstop, where the Solar Sox have three premium defenders: Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro and Marlins third baseman Matt Dominguez.
The Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game didn’t have Stephen Strasburg in it, as the 2009 No. 1 draft pick and Nationals phenom was scratched from his appearance by a stiff neck.
Mike Minor, the lefthander out of Vanderbilt whom the Braves drafted six picks after Strasburg, probably wishes he’d slept the wrong way too.
Minor gave up seven runs in the first inning, including giving up a three-run homer to Brandon Allen (Diamondbacks) to dead center field. That set the tone for the evening, an entertaining all-star game with plenty of offense and tools on display. Minor’s West Division club overcame the East’s seven-spot in the first, capping the rally for an 8-7 victory with a two-run eighth-inning home run by Matt McBryde (Indians) off Strasburg’s fellow Nationals prospect, righthander Drew Storen. [...] Continue Reading »
Some prospect injury news that is still a bit developing. First, No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg will miss his scheduled start in Saturday’s Rising Stars game at the Arizona Fall League. The National righthander has a muscle strain in his neck, according to an AFL press release. Righthander Tommy Mendoza (Angels) has replaced Strasburg on the Rising Stars roster.
Second, Twins catcher Wilson Ramos, who is tearing up winter ball in his native Venezuela, left a game last night with an apparent right knee injury. Twins general manager Bill Smith said the club is aware of the injury but is not yet aware of the severity of the problem. Ramos ranks second in the Venezuelan League in batting at .403 with a league-high six home runs through 20 games and 77 at-bats.
The World Series will be over by Saturday, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any baseball on TV. Set your TiVo for 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 7 on MLB Network, and you can watch the fourth-annual Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars Game.
The teams are split up by AFL divisions. The East team will have players from the Mesa Solar Sox (Angels, Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox and Twins), Phoenix Desert Dogs (Athletics, Blue Jays, Nationals, Orioles and Rays) and Scottsdale Scorpions (Giants, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Pirates and Rockies). The West team will be comprised of players from the Peoria Javelinas (Brewers, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers and White Sox), Peoria Saguaros (Astros, Braves, Indians, Padres and Reds) and the Surprise Rafters (Cardinals, Mets, Rangers, Royals and Yankees).
The game is arguably as loaded with talent as the Futures Game and the scheduled starting pitchers are two first rounders: Nationals righthander, and first-overall pick, Stephen Strasburg will take the hill for the East squad and Braves lefthander Mike Minor will toe the rubber for the West.
[...] Continue Reading »
BA’s AFL maven Bill Mitchell reports that Athletics farmhand Grant Desme has homered twice again Wednesday. Batting cleanup for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Desme hit his ninth and 10th home runs in an 11-6 victory against the Peoria Javelinas.
Desme, a second-round pick in 2007 out of Cal Poly, homered in the first inning off Brewers righthander Josh Butler, a three-run shot. He hit a solo homer in the eighth inning off Brewers righty Omar Aguilar for his 10th. Desme, the minors’ only 30-homer, 30-steals performer in 2009, is now just four home runs shy of the AFL record set in 2005 by Brandon Wood, and he’s done his damage in just 12 games. [...] Continue Reading »
The Arizona Fall League lost a little of its star power this week, as Mike Stanton and Jason Heyward, two of the top outfield prospects in baseball, were sent home by their teams because of injuries.
Stanton, Florida’s top prospect, was hitting a Fall League-leading .478 before being shut down with a back injury. He had hit only one home run but was 11-for-23 with four stolen bases before the injury flared up. Heyward, the Braves’ top prospect, was sent home with a strained hamstring that also led to back inflammation according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was 4-for-14 with three doubles in four games in Arizona.
Both players are expected to be fully healthy before spring training.
The Royals have replaced outfielder David Lough in their Arizona Fall League contingent, with the Surprise Rafters, with outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
Lough left the AFL with a back injury, ending what had been a breakout season. Splitting his season almost evenly between high Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, he hit .325/.370/.496 with 14 home runs and 19 stolen bases. The 23-year-old out of Mercyhurst (Pa.) was the system’s best position player in the minors this season.
Dyson, 25, is a different kind of player, a 25-year-old speedster who stole 46 bases this season and made his first trip to Double-A. He has yet to hit a home run in 801 professional at-bats and hit .276/.345/.337 overall this season between low Class A Burlington and Northwest Arkansas. He struck out 68 times in 315 at-bats.
By Dave Perkin
Stephen Strasburg made his long-awaited and highly-anticipated professional debut here Friday night in an Arizona Fall League contest.
The righthander was one of the most highly publicized prospects in baseball history, Strasburg enjoyed a sensational junior season at San Diego State in 2009 and was named BA’s College Player of the Year on his way to being the No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Nationals in June.
Taking the mound for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in a game against the Scottsdale Scorpions, Strasburg delivered 52 pitches in 3.1 innings of work. Overall, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder faced 11 hitters, allowing two hits, one walk and striking out two. He got eight ground outs and no fly outs. Thirty-two of his pitches were strikes, and he notched first-pitch strikes on six of the 11 batters he faced.
BA spoke to a veteran pro and amateur scout and received his assessment on Strasburg’s outing. [...] Continue Reading »
Updated rosters for the Arizona Fall League season, which starts today, are online here. Let’s take a look at some of the updates:
• Five Japanese pitchers will take part in the AFL, a first for the league and a byproduct of the demise of Hawaii Winter Baseball.
Two are 2006 Japan League first-round picks—lefthanders Hiroshi Katayama (Rakuten Golden Eagles), who will play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, and Takanobu Tsujiuchi (Yomiuri Giants), who will pitch for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Tsujiuchi has had control problems in Japan, while Katayama, much more physical at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, had a 5.42 ERA in the Japanese minors this season and has had injury issues the last two seasons. [...] Continue Reading »
As usual, the Arizona Fall League was a hitter’s paradise this year. The league averaged a sweet 6.9 runs per nine innings (per team), resulting in league average slash stats of .293/.365/.473.
The league can make even ordinary hitters look like they belong in the middle of the Gas-House Gorillas’ lineup.
The AFL season is only 38 games long, and as managers shuffle around their lineups to get everyone adequate playing time, most prospects are lucky to get 100 or so plate appearances. That amounts to essentially one month or around 20 percent of the regular minor league season, but with so many scouts and key decision makers in attendance, a player’s AFL showing can sometimes receive a heavier weight in those minds than it might otherwise merit.
But the AFL does give us our first records of 2008 draft picks, like Justin Smoak, using wood bats against professional pitchers, and let’s us see how hitters like Tyler Flowers and Logan Morrison–both of whom spent the entire year at high Class A–fare in a league that has historically played as a Double-A/Triple-A hybrid.
And we do have the means to somewhat neutralize player performance–albeit in a blunt way–to account for the league’s high offensive environment by comparing hitters’ performances to the AFL average.
Hitters below are sorted by Baseball-Reference.com’s OPS+ formula, without the park adjustment. The formula is: 100* (OBP/LgOBP + SLG/LgSLG – 1), a loose guideline of how a player performed relative to the league average (100). Each player’s listed position is the position at which he played the most games during the AFL season.
As always, an asterisk (*) denotes a lefthanded batter and a pound sign (#) is for a switch hitter. All caveats about analyzing small sample AFL performance records apply.
Prospect Of The Day
Phoenix first baseman Josh Donaldson (Athletics) did most of the damage at the plate to help the Desert Dogs defeat the Solar Sox for the Arizona Fall League championship on Saturday afternoon.
Donaldson went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs.
The home run was Donaldson’s seventh of the AFL and came off of Mesa righthander Tim Wood (Marlins).
Donaldson finished fall ball with a line of .288/.315/.452 over 104 at-bats. [...] Continue Reading »
Prospect Of The Day
Peoria Javelinas shortstop Brent Brewer (Brewers) didn’t have a particularly good regular season. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft out of a Georgia high school, Brewer spent 2008 split between low Class A West Virginia and high Class A Brevard County. While Brewer is a gifted athlete, he struggled at the plate and hit just .236/.307/.334 over 449 at-bats between the two stops.
All that was behind him, however, as he added an exclamation point onto his AFL campaign yesterday—the final day of the season. Brewer got just 30 at-bats in the desert, but made the most of them by hitting .300/.344/.700. Yesterday, he went 2-for-4 with two home runs as the Javelinas took down the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 13-6.
[...] Continue Reading »
Prospect Of The Day
It was an all-Hughes matchup as the Peoria Javelinas faced off against the Scottsdale Scorpions yesterday.
Righthander Phil Hughes (Yankees) got the ball for the Javelinas, while righthander Jared Hughes (Pirates) took the hill for Scottsdale.
Taking the mound for the last time this fall, Phil stole the show.
Facing the Scottsdale Scorpions, Hughes went five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits in the process. He didn’t issue a walk and struck out 10 as the Javelinas rolled past the Scorpions, 5-0.
The performance gives Hughes a final line in the AFL of 2-0, 3.00 with 38 strikeouts and 13 walks over 30 innings.
[...] Continue Reading »
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