Another Arizona Fall League has come and gone. The Diamondbacks sent
seven eight players to the AFL this year, five pitchers and three infielders. The headliners were clearly Jake Barrett, Andrew Chafin and Jake Lamb, but there were some other upside prospects in the AFL for Arizona this year, too. Amongst them were relievers Matt Stites and Henry Garcia and starter Bo Schultz. Joining Lamb on the position side were shortstop Nick Ahmed and second baseman Mike Freeman.
When looking at the AFL, it’s important to keep all small sample size warnings in mind. Because most pitchers only make a handful of appearances and hitters get less than 100 at-bats, it can be tough to draw any solid conclusions. Essentially, take everything you read here and abroad with a grain of salt when it comes to the AFL, whether your favorite prospect hit .350 or put up a 7.00 ERA.
Prospect Ranking: 5th
Barrett was the highest-rated prospect for the Diamondbacks to appear in the AFL. The dominant righty made nine appearances and logged four of the Salt River Rafters’ eight saves. Despite that stat, he struggled with his command, walking six and allowing ten hits, including two homers. Needless to say, it wasn’t a stellar performance and certainly wasn’t up to par with his regular season. He was likely tired after a full season in which he threw over 60 innings. Barrett’s AFL performance should have no impact on his prospect stock.
Prospect Ranking: 9th
After just two appearances, Chafin was removed from the Rafters’ roster. It’s not clear what prompted the move and the stats are irrelevant. Perhaps the only thing we can glean from experience is that the organization chose to run Chafin out as a reliever rather than as a starter. Since he’s started 49 of his career 57 games, this may come as a bit of a surprise. It’s well known, however, that scouts and analysts have often viewed Chafin as a future reliever, so perhaps the organization was considering converting the power lefty before they ended his campaign. At this point, it’s all about making sure he’s good to go for 2014 and we’ll have to wait and see how the organization chooses to use him going forward.
Prospect Ranking: 17th
Acquired by the Diamondbacks from the Padres in the Ian Kennedy deal, Stites made his Diamondback debut in the AFL. He missed time after coming over from San Diego and used the AFL to make up innings. Over 11 appearances and 10.1 innings, he struck out nine and walked three while allowing nine hits. Picking up for Barrett, Stites registered three saves and continues to look like a candidate for the back end of the Diamondbacks bullpen in the very near future.
Prospect Ranking: NR
Schultz is an organizational player who helped himself out with a nice AFL performance. He led the Rafters in innings pitched (32) and struck out 28 over his seven starts while walking just seven. He scattered 35 hits and didn’t yield a single long ball. For a guy who’s been up and down and bounced between starting and relieving, he just may have a chance to contribute, most likely as a middle reliever or a spot starter.
Prospect Ranking: NR
After being signed out of independent ball, Garcia went on to convince the Diamondbacks that they made a good decision by being filthy from the left side all year for South Bend. He replaced Andrew Chafin once he was removed from the Salt River roster and made five appearances. Over five innings, he struck out five and walked two while giving up a home run. The sample is pretty much meaningless but it shows that the organization has expectations for Garcia and they weren’t afraid to challenge him by jumping him from Single-A to the Arizona Fall league where he held his own. He has a future in the Arizona bullpen as a middle reliever.
Prospect Ranking: 7th
Lamb was on fire in the California League before a wrist injury shut him down. He came back just before the end of the season and got to make up some missing at-bats in the AFL. As one of the best position player prospects in the Arizona system, it was encouraging to see him hold his own against strong talent, hitting .299/.386/.416 over 21 games with six doubles and a home run. The swing-and-miss in his game is still a little scary (25 K’s in 77 AB’s) but he takes his walks (11 BB in 77 AB’s) to balance them out. If he can refine his approach, he looks like a solid major league third baseman.
Prospect Ranking: 27th
Always known for his glove, Ahmed took part in his second AFL after playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Braves’ system last year. He was a paltry contributor at the plate, which should come as no surprise, by hitting .219/.329/.281 with one double and one home run in 20 games. Ahmed makes up for his lack of hitting ability by drawing walks (11 in 64 AB’s) and playing an excellent shortstop. Kevin Towers recently compared Ahmed’s ability at short to Gerardo Parra’s ability in right, so that should give you some idea of how good he is in the field. Going forward, he’s a guy who’s defense will keep him in the majors for a long time even if the bat never comes around.
Prospect Ranking: NR
Freeman is an older prospect at 25 but has slowly and steadily climbed the organizational ladder. In his AFL debut, he held his own and put up numbers similar to his career line by hitting .268/.354/.339. With just five home runs in over 1300 minor league AB’s, we should never expect power from Freeman, but his five steals without being caught was a pleasant surprise considering he was facing the most advanced competition of his career. In fact, if gets to the majors, it will likely be due to the value he provides with his wheels as he appears destined for a utility role on a major league club.
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