BA intern Peter Wardell checked in from the AFL championship game with some observations of his own:
• Lost in the shuffle of Brian Goodwin’s seventh-inning baserunning blunder was Peoria right fielder Rymer Liriano (Padres)’s impressive, accurate throw to the plate. The 21-year-old’s plus arm has earned the distinction of Best Outfield Arm in the Padres’ system three straight seasons and ranks among the best in all of the minor leagues.
• Peoria outfielder Billy Hamilton (Reds) showed off his elite speed all over the diamond on Saturday—tripling to center field in the first, drag-bunting for a single in the second and very nearly tracking down a well-hit ball to right-center in the eighth, a play that would knock him out of the game. On his bunt single, Hamilton timed 3.45 seconds home-to-first. It was the third fastest time I personally had gotten on him this fall (Best: 3.39 sec at Rising Stars Game).
• Hamilton wasn’t the only Reds player to excite however. Peoria shortstop Didi Gregorius (Reds) made a pair of impressive plays on shallow pop-ups into left field and got the chance to show off his plus arm on a tough fifth-inning chopper.
• Salt River second baseman Carlos Sanchez (White Sox) registered the game’s only stolen base. A slightly above-average runner, Sanchez led the AFL in stolen bases this fall with 11. Hamilton ended up with 10.
• Peoria righthander Carson Smith (Mariners) impressed in his inning of work with a pair of strikeouts. Smith, who throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, sits 93-95 with his fastball, mixing in an 85-87 mph slider with good bite.