Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet (Oct. 16)
This edition of the Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet takes into account what AFL players did from Oct. 10-15.
Contributing: J.J. Cooper, Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser and Josh Norris.
1. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees Team: Scottsdale Age: 21 Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO
The Scoop: Two of the players the Yankees acquired in the Andrew Miller trade last summer have made the major leagues. Sheffield could be next. The lefthander missed a chunk of time this summer with an oblique injury and is making up lost innings in the AFL. In his debut, Sheffield was brilliant. He allowed one hit over five shutout innings with six strikeouts to boot. All of his three pitches were on point in his outing, including a fastball that touched 97 mph and a slider and changeup in the mid-to-high-80s that got swings and misses. (JN)
2. David Bote, 2B, Cubs Team: Mesa Age: 24 What he did: .500/.556/1.063 (8-for-16), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: Bote delivered career-highs of 30 doubles, 14 home runs and 59 RBIs this year at Double-A and is carrying his enhanced bat into the AFL. Bote homered in three of four games, notched a hit in all four, and reached base at least twice in all four. The 2012 18th-rounder has a track record of controlling the strike zone, showing solid bat speed and getting on base. The Cubs have had a run of bat-first second baseman come through the system, led by trade acquisition Tommy La Stella and followed by Bote and Chesny Young. Bote has more power than Young, making him the likely heir to La Stella's role. His main question mark is on defense, and he's in the AFL trying to improve his play at second base. (KG)
3.Elier Hernandez, OF, Royals Team: Surprise Age: 22 Why He’s Here: .455/.500/.909 (5-for-11), 3 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
The Scoop: When he signed, it was Hernandez who was considered the gem of the Royals’ 2011 international class, just ahead of Raul Mondesi. Mondesi sped to the big leagues while Hernandez has been on a much slower pace, generally repeating each level before moving to the next. Hernandez’s bat has struggled to live up to expectations, but he’s become a more and more polished hitter in recent years, although his power has largely been contained to showing modest power in batting practice. Hernandez was on pace for his best season as a pro before a groin injury cost him half the season. He knocked off rust in his first week in the AFL with three extra-base hits. (JJ)
4. Josh Naylor, 1B, Padres Team: Peoria Age: 20 What He Did: .400/.438/.800 (6-for-15), 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB
The Scoop: Naylor has yet to consistently turn his big raw power into game power, but evaluators are generally optimistic he will get there eventually. The Canadian first baseman showed flashes of that in the first week of AFL play, homering in back-to-back games while posting multiple hits in three of four contests. Known for his hefty frame, Naylor showed off his better-than-expected speed as well, stealing two bases in as many tries. (KG)
5. Sheldon Neuse, SS/3B, Athletics Team: Mesa Age: 22 Why He’s Here: .375/.412/.750 (6-for-16), 6 R, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 6 Ks.
The Scoop: The Nationals sent Neuse to the Athletics along with intriguing young lefthander Jesus Luzardo in the deal that shored up their bullpen this year. Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson helped the Nationals in their playoff push, but it wasn’t enough to get them out of the division series. Neuse could benefit the A’s for years to come. He’s showing his power in the friendly environs of the AFL’s parks, but he’s also continuing to work on his defensive versatility, sliding back-and-forth between shortstop and third base. (JJ)
6. Max Fried, LHP, Braves Team: Peoria Age: 23 Why He's Here: 0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: It’s been a long road for Fried, who missed almost all of the 2014 and 2015 before getting traded to the Braves from the Padres. He made his MLB debut this year and dazzled in his opening start in the AFL. The lefthander sat 95-97 mph with his fastball and mixed in a pair of average or better offspeed pitches. One scout noted Fried was getting a little bit off-line in his delivery, which was about the only nit to pick. (JN)
7. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves Team: Peoria Age: 21 Why He's Here: 1-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
The Scoop: Toussaint, who was dealt to the Braves from the Diamondbacks in the Bronson Arroyo deal, has had trouble with command throughout his career, so he’s worked exclusively out of the stretch in the AFL. In two outings, the results have been excellent. Toussaint walked two but hasn’t allowed a hit and has struck out an AFL-best eight hitters. He’s been up to 97 mph with his lively fastball, which he’s done an excellent job of landing on the outside corner to righthanded batters. He’s also shown his dynamic 78-80 mph curveball and a mid-80s changeup as well. (JN)
8. Adbert Alzolay, RHP, Cubs Team: Mesa Age: 22 Why He's Here: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO
The Scoop: In an organization that needs pitching prospects, Alzolay’s development this year has been crucial for the Cubs. He is yet to allow a hit or a walk in two AFL outings, spotting his plus fastball to both sides of the plate. Alzolay could return to Double-A Tennessee to open the 2018 season after making seven starts there this year, with a chance to help the big league club by the end of the season. (BB)
9. Will Smith, C, Dodgers Team: Glendale Age: 22 Why He’s Here: .455/.538/.818 (5-for-11), 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 SOs.
The Scoop: In Smith’s first game after he was promoted to Double-A, he was hit by a pitch that broke a bone in his hand, ending his first full pro season. Like many ailing players, Smith is using the AFL to make up for lost at-bats. Smith is an excellent defensive catcher thanks to more athleticism than the average backstop, but he also has a pretty impressive bat, as he showed in his first week in the AFL. (JJ)
10. Eric Filia, 1B/OF, Mariners Team: Peoria Age: 25 What He Did: .500/.571/.833 (6-for-12), 4 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO
Adbert Alzolay: Cubs 2020 Rookie Of The Year
Adbert Alzolay finished with a flourish in his final two starts to put himself into prime consideration for an expanded role in 2021.
The Scoop: Filia, the leading hitter on UCLA's 2013 national championship team in the postseason, has raked since he entered pro ball and never stopped. With an elite approach and a picturesque lefthanded contact swing, Filia has hit .337 in his minor league career with an .876 OPS. He showcased his skills with three extra-base hits in four games during the week and tied for second in the AFL in batting average. For all his hitting skill, Filia takes poor routes in right field on both fly balls and ground balls and his average arm isn't accurate. He's begun playing first base in the AFL as such. (KG)