Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet (Oct. 14)

This is the inaugural installment of the Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet. It takes into account what AFL players have done since the AFL season began on Tuesday.

Contributing: J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Vince Lara-Cinisomo and Josh Norris.

1. Nick Gordon, ss, Twins
Team: Surprise
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .667/.667/.700 (6-for-9) 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2-for-2 SB

A smooth-swinging shortstop, Gordon has surprising strength with gap power. The lefthanded batter jumped to an early lead in the AFL batting race by going 6-for-9 with a pair of stolen bases. He mixed in a walk to reach base in seven of 10 plate appearances. The Twins finished next-to-last in the American League in on-base percentage this season, and young players like Gordon and 2016 rookie Max Kepler could help remedy that in the future. (VLC)

2. James Kaprielian, rhp, Yankees
Team: Scottsdale
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 1 H, 6 SO, 0 BB

Kaprielian, the Yankees’ first-round pick out of UCLA in 2015, made four fantastic starts at high Class A Tampa before a strained flexor tendon in his elbow scuttled his season. Back healthy after a stint in instructional league, Kaprielian opened his AFL season with a bang. The righthander whiffed six in three innings and threw strikes with all four of his pitches. His fastball, which took a major jump once he turned pro, touched as high as 97 mph. (JN)

3. Hunter Cole, of, Giants
Team: Scottsdale
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .429/.500/1.429 (3-for-7) 2B, 2 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO

An outfielder for his first two years at Georgia who moved to third base as a junior, Cole played both in the dirt and in the outfield as a bat-first versatile corner infielder/corner outfielder early in his pro career. He even played a little bit of second base—not well, but he played it. This year he focused entirely on right field, which makes it a lot tougher for him to profile as a regular unless he finds more power than he’s ever shown before. So far, so good in the AFL. Cole has homered twice in his first two games, and the righthanded batter impresses scouts with an average hit tool. (JJC)

4. Ramon Laureano, of, Astros
Team: Glendale
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .625/.667/1.000 (5-for-8), 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 0 SO, 1-for-1 SB

Laureano was one of three Astros draft picks from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC in 2014. They took him in the 16th round as a relative afterthought. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Dominican burst onto the scene this year by leading the minors in on-base percentage while demonstrating a balanced skill set where he did everything well, if nothing spectacular. He continued his track record of hard, line-drive contact into his first week of the AFL, going 3-for-5 with a double and triple in Glendale’s opener and following up with a 2-for-3 effort with a stolen base the next day. (KG)

5. Harrison Bader, of, Cardinals
Team: Glendale
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .444/.444/.778 (4-for-9), 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-1 SB

Bader forced his way to Triple-A in just his second pro season, a real departure for the Cardinals in how they promote players. He has good balance at the plate, if a bit too aggressive. He can play center field and profiles better there, but has enough power and arm strength to slide to a corner. (VLC)

6. Greg Bird, 1b, Yankees
Team: Scottsdale
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .375/.444/.750 (3-for-8), 2 R, 3 2B, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 0 SO

Success in the AFL is nothing new for Bird. He dominated the circuit two years ago and earned the league’s MVP award. He made a big impression in New York in 2015, but missed all of this season with a torn right labrum in his shoulder. He’s back in the AFL rehabbing that injury, and so far has shown the same smooth, powerful stroke that has him firmly embedded in the Yankees’ long-term plans. (JN)

Zach Vincej, ss, Reds
Team: Peoria
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .444/.444/1.111 (4-for-9), 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 SO

Vincej has gotten where he’s gotten because of his glove. He’s a steady, reliable shortstop who puts the bat on the ball and draws enough walks to be a playable bottom-of-the-order hitter. He hit three home runs this season at Double-A Pensacola and averaged three home runs a year during his four full seasons in the the minors. So Vincej’s AFL start with two home runs in two games is a little out of character. (JJC)

8. Greg Allen, of, Indians
Team: Mesa
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .444/.545/.556 (4-for-9), 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2-for-3 SB

With Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer in the fold, the Indians already have center-field talent to spare. Allen only adds to that depth. The Sacramento State product combines speed, defense, contact skills and more than a touch of power into an intriguing overall package. Between high Class A and Double-A this year, Allen hit .295/.416/.413, struck out only one more time than he walked and stole 45 bases in 58 tries. (JN)

9. Brandon Dixon, 3b/1b, Reds

3ds_reds81Team: Peoria
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .455/.455/.545 (5-for-11), 1 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 SO, 1-for1 SB

If Vincej is a glove-first Reds prospect, Dixon is the opposite. He can hit, but he’s yet to find a position that fits. Dixon played everywhere but shortstop and catcher at Double-A Pensacola this season. In the AFL he’s played the corner-infield positions. Dixon looks more comfortable in the outfield than the infield, but his bat fits better if he can play in the dirt, so that’s where he keeps getting chances. (JJC)

10. Austin Gomber, lhp, Cardinals
Team: Glendale
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO

Gomber might get overshadowed in a system that includes pitching prospects such as Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver and Sandy Alcantara, but he keeps producing despite average stuff. He showed great improvement with his curveball this season. Gomber went 7-9, 2.69 at two levels in 2016 with an opponent average of just .220. (VLC)

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