BA intern Peter Wardell is spending the fall in the Arizona Fall League, where he will take a weekly look at which players are hot. The second AFL hot sheet takes a look at the top performers over the past week. Statistics reflect performance through Thursday, October 25.
1. Kyle Jensen, of, Phoenix Desert Dogs (Marlins)
Statistics: (12-for-20), 4 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 0-for-1 SB
Even before his 3-for-4, home run performance Thursday afternoon at Salt River, Jensen was well on his way to making this week’s Hot Sheet with a six-game multi-hit streak, dating back to October 16.
After a shaky follow-up season at Double-A Jacksonville where he posted a .234/.338/.452 line, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Jensen has crushed Fall League pitching displaying a compact stroke and excellent feel for the barrel. Through two weeks, the 2009 12th-rounder leads the league in extra-base hits (seven), while ranking among the top five in batting (.422), on-base percentage (.469) and slugging (.667).
Despite the numbers, one evaluator recommends a tempering of expectations. “Power has never been an issue for Jensen. It’s that long load to get the bat going that makes contact a concern,” he said. “He kills sliders and fastballs. Once he times the pitch, he can square up the ball with best.”
He adds, “This is a C-minus pitching class. It is not a real test for hitting. There is still a ton of contact work to be done.”
As discussed in last week’s column, Jensen is one of the players playing for a spot on his club’s 40-man roster. If not added to the Marlins roster by Nov. 20, Jensen will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December, where the righthanded power potential would be tough to pass up.
2. Christian Yelich, of, Phoenix Desert Dogs (Marlins)
Statistics: (9-for-20), 6 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1-for-1 SB
After topping the high Class A Florida State League in slugging percentage (.519) and finishing second in batting (.330), Yelich rediscovered his bat this week after a slow start to the fall, posting his fifth straight multi-hit performance Thursday afternoon. At the plate, the 6-foot-4, 189-pound Yelich shows a quick lefthanded stroke with line-drive ability and wiry strength. The Marlins top prospect heading into the 2012 season, Yelich has looked solid in center field with above-average speed that seemingly plays up due to a quick first step.
3. Chase Anderson, rhp, Salt River Rafters (Diamondbacks)
Statistics: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 1 GS, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
After sitting out much of the 2011 season with an injured elbow (that did not require surgery), Anderson returned to Double-A Mobile this summer, going 5-4, 2.86 over 104 innings and helping pitch the BayBears to the Southern League title. Drafted out of Oklahoma in 2009, Anderson was assigned to the Arizona Fall League to build upon his workload and give the Diamondbacks an opportunity to evaluate him before the 40-man roster deadline in November.
On Monday, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound righthander turned in his best outing thus far, tossing four shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk, while striking out five. This fall, Anderson has sat 90-92 mph with his fastball, mixing in a plus changeup at 80-82 with excellent fade that ranked tops in Diamondbacks’ system in 2010 and 2011. The development of his breaking balls has been notable this fall as well, with some scouts believing Anderson has the potential for four average or better offerings.
4. Josh Prince, of, Phoenix Desert Dogs (Brewers)
Statistics: (11-for-21), 9 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K, 2-for-4 SB (one sac fly)
Capping the trio of Desert Dog outfielders, Prince has been one of the biggest surprises this fall. A third-rounder out of Tulane in 2009, Prince has had an underwhelming career to date, finishing the 2012 season with a .251/.346/.360 line at Double-A. Since setting foot in Arizona however, Phoenix’s everyday leadoff hitter has paced the Fall League in both batting (.455) and OBP (.528) with a simple swing, good barrel ability and advanced approach. A shortstop by trade, Prince moved to center this spring and has looked good across the outfield and even at second base this fall.
5. Tim Beckham, 2b, Phoenix Desert Dogs (Rays)
Statistics: (7-for-13), 5 R, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
In a week dominated by hitting, Beckham too broke out of his 1-for-19 start to the fall season, batting .538 with four extra base-hits. Beckham, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, continues to show the athleticism, plus bat speed and raw power that once made him a top prospect. However, scouts continue to raise concerns over whether his defensive shortcomings (he’s moved from short to second) and approach (he has a lot of pre-swing movement) will keep him from reaching his big league ceiling. Beckham was suspended 50 games after a failed test for a drug of abuse. He will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December unless added to the Rays 40-man roster next month.
RULE 5 WATCH
In addition to giving recent draftees, injured and suspended players an opportunity to log innings and at bats, the AFL also gives organizations a chance to evaluate players with regards to filling out 40-man rosters. This year, 76 players in the Arizona Fall League will be Rule 5 draft-eligible unless they are added to their 40-man rosters. Each week, we will preview one of these players.
Santos Rodriguez, lhp, Chicago White Sox
Rodriguez, 24, is a 6-foot-5, 180-pound lefthander from Sanchez, D.R. Throughout his career, Rodriguez has posted impressive strikeout rates but command issues have kept him from progressing through the White Sox system. This summer, Rodriguez went 2-4, 2.90 with an 8.71 K/9 and 4.42 BB/9 over 71 innings between Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham.
Rodriguez shows a live arm, sitting 94-96 mph with his fastball, touching 98 mph. While he lacks control, he has done well to keep the ball down in the zone. In addition, he mixes in a developing mid-80s changeup with good deception, and 79-80 mph slider with good downward break. Over his last three outings, he has given up just one hit, walking one and striking out four over three innings.