2018 Arizona Fall League Rosters Analysis
Scouting the 2018 Arizona Fall League rosters, which were announced Thursday afternoon. J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser and Josh Norris contributed analysis.
The Stars: OF Cristian Pache (Braves) is one of the best center fielders in the minors defensively, but this year he also showed he can drive the ball. He came into the season with zero career home runs. This year he has nine as he earned a late-season promotion to Double-A . . . 2B Keston Hiura (Brewers) is one of the better hitters in the upper minors. He’s lived up to expectations at the plate this year, but more importantly, he’s been able to play regularly at second base after an elbow injury forced him to DH most of last year . . . 1B Evan White (Mariners) was the club’s 2017 first-round pick. He has showed outstanding athleticism for a first baseman, but wasn’t hitting for much power until a late August surge.
Interesting: OF Buddy Reed (Padres) seemed to resuscitate his prospect status with an outstanding first half of the season in the high Class A California League that resulted in a Futures Game invite. He’s an excellent center fielder, but he’s hit .152 since being promoted to Double-A in July . . . SS Lucius Fox (Rays) had a nice bounce-back season with high Class A Charlotte as he showed his speed, athleticism and a developing batting eye to post a .371 on-base percentage.
Rehabbing/Converting: RHP Hansel Rodriguez (Padres) has barely pitched this year as he worked back from an elbow injury.
Salt River Rafters
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The Stars: OF Brent Rooker (Twins) has hit 22 home runs in his first full pro season, which means he has 40 home runs overall in less than 200 career pro games . . . SS Carter Kieboom (Nationals) carries one of the highest hit tool grades of any middle infield prospect in the game. His production tailed off a little after he was promoted to Double-A, but he is hitting .284/.360/.452 overall this season . . . C Daulton Varsho (D-backs) impresses evaluators with his hitting ability and his above-average athleticism for a catcher.
Interesting: OF Brian Miller (Marlins), the team’s supplemental first round pick in 2017, is a solid outfielder defensively and he can hit for average, but he needs to show he can drive the ball—he has only one pro home run and a career .374 slugging percentage . . . 1B Pavin Smith (D-backs) will also be working on driving the ball after posting a sub-.400 slugging percentage in the California League this year . . . OF Monte Harrison (Marlins) has power and speed, but he’ll be working on making more consistent contact. He has struck out more than 200 times this season.
Rehabbing/Converting: RHP Jon Duplantier (D-backs) missed nearly two months with a sore biceps . . . LHP Alex Robinson (Twins) is trying to make up some innings after missing time this year with a hamstring injury.
Mesa Solar Sox
The Stars: After playing two ways at Arizona and starring in the Wildcats’ run to the College World Series, 3B Bobby Dalbec (Red Sox) decided to stick with hitting as a pro. All he’s done this year is place himself among the minor leagues’ home run leaders in his second full season as a pro. He’ll join forces with fellow Red Sox teammates 3B Michael Chavis and 1B Josh Ockimey to form one of the more powerful trios on the circuit . . . OF Daz Cameron (Tigers), who was dealt from the Astros to the Tigers nearly a year ago to the day in the Justin Verlander deal, has put up a stellar season and has showcased a well-rounded tool set that could help him become an everyday regular in center field.
Intriguing: C Jake Rogers (Tigers) has stuck out this year with his arm. Rogers was also part of the Verlander deal a year ago and has spent this season terrorizing runners at Double-A Erie. He’s caught an astounding 50 of 88 runners, good for a 56.8-percent clip. That alone will be worth watching . . . LHP Darwinzon Hernandez (Red Sox) was superb in the second half of his time with high Class A Salem, putting forth a 6-1, 1.88 mark with 74 strikeouts in 52.2 innings before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland. He’ll bring his mid-90s fastball to Mesa’s staff.
Rehabbing/Converting: 2B Jahmai Jones (Angels) spent this season converting from the outfield to second base, and he’ll continue that transition in the Fall League. He’s plenty athletic, but he’s still working on the finer defensive points of the position . . . SS Nico Hoerner (Cubs) started hot at short-season Eugene and had just been promoted to low Class A South Bend before a torn ligament in his thumb cut his season short . . . Chavis was one of the more intriguing prospects in both the 2017 AFL and the Red Sox system as a whole before he was suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. He isn’t rehabbing per se, but making up for the at-bats and reps lost to suspension.
Glendale Devil Dogs
The Stars: OF Luis Robert (White Sox) missed a chunk of the season with injuries to his thumb sustained first in spring training and then again shortly after he came back. He was lauded as an amateur for his bounty of tools and blitzed through the Rookie-level Arizona League and low Class A Kannapolis before stalling a bit at high Class A Winston-Salem. Still, he has just 165 at-bats this season and will be tested against some of the best prospects in the game . . . C Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers) is one of the brightest prospects in the game. He checks in at No. 26 on BA’s most recent Top 100 list, and put up a solid season at Double-A Tulsa as a 20-year-old. The switch-hitter has shown the ability to hit for average and power though there’s plenty of polish left to be applied.
Intriguing: OF Austin Hays (Orioles) shot through the system last year and made his big league debut in September. He struggled with shoulder and ankle injuries this year but is still very much on Baltimore’s radar for the future . . . Now fully healthy, OF Luis Alexander Basabe (White Sox) has shown why he was coveted as part of the package that sent Chris Sale to Boston. He plays an excellent center field and has plenty of thump in his bat, as he showed during this year’s Futures Game when he hit a home run on a 102 mph fastball . . . He’s a old for the lower minors, but INF Laz Rivera (White Sox) has put up an .839 OPS in his first full year.
Rehabbing/Converting: OF/1B Steven Sensley (Yankees) began the year as an outfielder but moved to first base during the season. He’s listed as an infielder on the Glendale roster, so it appears that move will continue in Arizona . . . RHP Domingo Acevedo (Yankees) missed a large part of the early season with a blister on his pitching hand and just recently came back from a month-long stint on the shelf with soreness in his pitching arm . . . RHP Zack Burdi (White Sox) missed most of the regular season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and did not pitch outside of the Rookie-level Arizona League . . . OF Estevan Florial (Yankees) missed much of the early part of the season with a broken hamate bone in his right wrist and will making up for those missed at-bats in the Fall League.
Future Projection Episode 44: World Baseball Classic Lessons, Spring Prospect Buzz
Ben and Carlos give their final thoughts on the World Baseball Classic, their anticipation for Opening Day and touch on a few more spring training players of note.
The Stars: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) is the No. 1 prospect in baseball after hitting .382 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s joined by SS Bo Bichette, the No. 5 prospect in the game, and 2B Cavan Biggio as Blue Jays organization-mates and sons of prominent ex-major leaguers . . . OF Bryan Reynolds (Pirates) was the top prospect Pittsburgh acquired from the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade and hit .303/.382/.442 at Double-A Altoona this season . . . RHP Conner Greene (Cardinals) frequently touches 100 mph out of the bullpen.
Interesting: OF Julio Pablo Martinez (Rangers) will get his first taste of age-appropriate competition after signing for $2.8 million in March. The Rangers kept the 22-year-old Cuban back in the Dominican Summer League and short-season Northwest League this season . . . Biggio is listed as an outfielder after spending his entire pro career as a second baseman. He’s spent just four of 316 career games in the outfield.
Rehabbing/Converting: LHP Shawn Morimando (Blue Jays) missed three months with left shoulder soreness and made just 12 starts this season . . . 1B Yanio Perez (Rangers) has played only 55 games this year due to left knee pain.
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The Stars: RHP Forrest Whitley (Astros) and RHP Sixto Sanchez (Phillies) are two of the top five pitching prospects in baseball. Whitley is No. 8 on the BA Top 100 and Sanchez is No. 15 . . . OF Taylor Trammell (Reds) won the Futures Game MVP award and is the No. 21 prospect on the BA Top 100 . . . SS Andres Gimenez and 1B Peter Alonso are the Mets' top two prospects. Gimenez is batting .296 as a 19-year-old in Double-A and Alonso is tied for third in the minors with 33 home runs.
Interesting: RHP Melvin Adon (Giants) sits 96-100 mph and can touch 102 mph but is looking to add deception to his delivery because opponents hit him well despite his big velocity . . . RHPs Gerson Bautista, Eric Hanhold and Stephen Nogosek (Mets) are all relievers New York acquired in their trades for Addison Reed and Neil Walker in 2017 . . . C Aramis Garcia (Giants) was just recalled by San Francisco after Buster Posey’s season-ending hip surgery.
Rehabbing/Converting: Whitley pitched only 26.1 innings after serving a 50-game suspension for a banned substance and an oblique strain . . . Sanchez missed the final three months of the season with right elbow inflammation . . . RHP J.B. Bukauskas (Astros) was involved in a car accident in spring training and pitched just 53 innings during the season . . . SS Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds) played only 43 games due to a hamate injury.