Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet (Oct. 23)
(No. 1 Alex Jackson)
This edition of the Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet takes into account what AFL players did from Oct. 16-22.
Contributing: J.J. Cooper, Ben Badler, Kyle Glaser and Josh Norris.
1. Alex Jackson, C , Braves Team: Peoria Age: 21 Why He's Here: .438/.500/.938 (7-for-16), 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO
The Scoop: A change in scenery continues to do wonders for Jackson. The sixth overall pick in 2014 had a tumultuous tenure with the Mariners but found new life after a trade to the Braves. He delivered his best offensive season and ascended to Double-A in 2017 and is continuing that success in the AFL. Jackson recorded a hit in six of his first nine at-bats of the week, homered in back-to-back games and raised his overall line to .321/.387/.714. He ranks in the top five in the Fall League in home runs (3), RBIs (8) and total bases (20). His defense at catcher remains a work in progress after he moved in from the outfield this year. (KG)
2. Albert Abreu, RHP, Yankees Team: Scottsdale Age: 22 Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO.
The Scoop: Right now, it would be hard to find an Astros fan upset with the trade that brought Brian McCann to the American League champs. But the pair of pitchers the Astros gave up–Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman–are both premium pitching prospects. Abreu missed time this year with a sore elbow, but he’s shown no ill effects in the AFL. He has a fastball he can run up into the upper 90s to go with a potentially plus breaking ball. (JJ)
3. Andrew Knizner, C, Cardinals Team: Surprise Age: 22 Why He’s Here: .471/.500/.882 (8-for-17), 3 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO
The Scoop: The Cardinals drafted Knizner in the seventh round in 2016 out of North Carolina State and watched with glee as he surpassed all expectations and reached Double-A in his first full season, hitting .324 in 51 games at Springfield. Knizner isn’t slowing down in the Fall League. He has a hit in all seven games he’s played so far, and finished the week with a two-home run effort at Mesa. Knizner, a former third baseman who converted to catcher in college, is also seeing time at first base in the AFL. (KG)
4. Daniel Johnson, OF, Nationals Team: Mesa Age: 22 Why He’s Here: .444/.474/.500 (8-for-18), 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2-for-2 SB.
The Scoop: Johnson made a strong impression on scouts during the regular season, when he ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the low Class A South Atlantic League. He kept up the strong production after his promotion to the high Class A Carolina League and it’s continuing in the AFL, where Johnson is showing his plus speed and a strong, compact swing from the left side. (BB)
5. Elniery Garcia, LHP, Phillies Team: Glendale Age: 21 Why he's here: 0-0, 0.00, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 SO, 1 BB
The Scoop: Garcia, who served an 80-game suspension after testing positive for Boldenone, is in the AFL building innings he lost while waiting to be reactivated. He’s also working on adding a slider in addition to his three-pitch mix of a low-90s fastball, downer curveball and changeup. He scuffled in his first start, but rebounded in his second outing with four shutout innings with five punchouts. Garcia struggled with command and control at Double-A Reading (17 walks in 25.2 innings). If he can harness those issues, he’ll only add to the Phillies’ impressive system. (JN)
6. Luis Urias, 2B, Padres Team: Peoria Age: 20 Why He’s Here: .364/.500/.727 (4-for-11), 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO, 0-for-1 SB.
The Scoop: Urias was in contention for his second straight batting title, ranking second in the Double-A Texas League in batting average, before a sprained ankle at the end of July shelved him for three weeks and affected him after he came back. He still finished sixth in the TL and led in on-base percentage despite being the league’s youngest position player on Opening Day. Now completely healthy, Urias is back to raking in the Fall League. He has a hit in all but one game, has more walks than strikeouts and is hitting .368 with a .480 on-base percentage. Most importantly, he is hitting for extra-base power. With three doubles and a triple in six games, Urias boasts a .632 slugging percentage. (KG)
7. Estevan Florial, OF , Yankees Team: Scottsdale Age: 19 Why He’s Here: .357/.357/.643 (5-for-14), 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBIs, 0 BB, 7 SO, 0-for-1 SB.
The Scoop: Few players in the AFL (or anywhere in the minors) can match Florial on pure tools and athleticism. Yet the AFL is also an aggressive assignment for Florial, who is still 19 and spent most of the year playing in the low Class A South Atlantic League. Plate discipline still remains a focal point for Florial to improve—he hasn’t drawn a walk and has already struck out 11 times in 27 plate appearances—but his power/speed combination makes him one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. (BB)
8. Braxton Lee, OF, Marlins Team: Salt River Age: 24 Why He’s Here: .536/.571/.615 (7-for-13), 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 SO, 0-for-1 SB.
The Scoop: Sometimes a trade can free up a player. In Lee’s case, swapping Florida orgs from the Rays to the Marlins in the Adeiny Hechavarria trade has given him a clearer path to the big leagues. Lee immediately became one of the best defensive outfielders in the Marlins system. He’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not added to the 40-man roster this offseason, but after hitting .294/.398/.364, a strong AFL season could further his case for a roster spot. (JJ)
9. Max Fried, LHP, Braves Team: Peoria Age: 23 Why he's here: 1-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 SO, 1 BB
The Scoop: Fried finds himself on this list again after a second strong start in the AFL. The lefthander has been sitting mid-90s with his fastball and has coupled the pitch with a pair of strong offerings in his curveball and changeup. So far, the combination has been more than enough to baffle the opposition. Over his first two outings, Fried, who made his MLB debut this season, has combined over his first two starts to strike out 11 (tied with Abreu for the league lead) over eight shutout innings with just four hits allowed. (JN)
10. Jack Reinheimer, SS, Diamondbacks Team: Salt River Age: 25 Why he's here: .556/.692/.778, (5-for-9), 4 R, 2 2B, 3 BB, 2 SO.
Young Catchers Ready To Contribute In Atlanta
Alex Jackson and William Contreras have shown improvement since arriving in the big leagues ahead of schedule.
The Scoop: Reinheimer, a fifth-round pick out of East Carolina in 2013, has a reputation as a solid defender up the middle. He makes a lot of contact but shows little power at the plate. Even at Triple-A Reno, typically a hitter’s paradise, Reinheimer hit just four home runs and slugged. 351. But he showed some extra-base pop with two doubles last week, and with some more offensive improvement, could find himself a role as a backup infielder in the majors. (JN)