A couple of weeks back, Ryan and I spent the better part of a week in Scottsdale talking baseball and taking the marvelous action that is the Arizona Fall League. Salt River’s games have wrapped up for the season as they won’t be playing in the AFL championship, and with the seasons of Arizona’s prospects officially finished (aside from those playing in Caribbean winter leagues), I thought it would be appropriate to share some final thoughts on the players and performancesI never really shared those thoughts here, although we gave some initial takes on The Pool Shot, so maybe this is a little overdue. As a wise man once said, better late than never.

Oscar Hernandez, C – We got to see a little bit of Oscar with the Diamondbacks this season where he was clearly overmatched at the plate. He didn’t fair any better in the AFL, and small sample caveats aside, he hit just .179 in 56 at-bats. Of his ten hits, three went for extra bases (all doubles) while he showed reasonable plate discipline. His pop times were routinely between 1.9-2.0, something like major league average. Hernandez showed an ability to frame pitches and was active behind the plate while receiving the baseball. He’s quiet back there, something that should serve him well. Right now, it looks like AA will be his assignment to start 2016 and I’d expect him to struggle to hit at that level. Still, the defense will keep him in the fold and right now it looks like he’s probably a career backup or a fringy starter who’s better defensively than he ever will be offensively.

Gabby Guerrero, RF – I liked what I saw from Guerrero in two looks. He’s fluid at the plate, has obvious power and can really sting the baseball. Unfortunately, the hit tool is still probably a 30 (on the 20-80 scale) and he’s prone to chasing bad pitches. He also whiffed on some fastballs in the zone from non-elite pitching which gives me pause. Then again, I also saw at-bats where he worked counts, showed some restraint and turned in quality AB’s, so it’s just a little inconsistent at the moment. In the field, he’s adequate to cover right field and while it won’t be a plus defensive profile, it might be good enough to keep him there considering his cannon for an arm. Reports of his makeup are positive and he’s known as a hard worker who’s willing to continue refining his game. He’s never going to make a ton of contact, but he could turn into a .250 hitter with some good power numbers who struggles to get on base. That puts him in the second-division starter category if it all goes well. He’ll repeat AA and maybe we see the improvements that the Diamondbacks have tried to implement with him. He’s not even 22 yet and had a relatively good AFL, so maybe this is the beginning of the turnaround.

Yoan Lopez, RHP – Getting to see Lopez pitch live a couple of times was a nice surprise this fall and it’s easy to see why the Diamondbacks liked him. The velocity can be plus and the slider can be sharp. He even snuck in some curveballs that got swings and misses. But there’s effort in the delivery and he’s so slight of stature it’s almost hard to imagine that he casts a shadow. The fastball is relatively flat and the command of all of his pitches comes and goes. When he was on, he could mow down hitters. When he wasn’t, he was getting hit hard or issuing four-pitch walks. He did a good job of getting ahead of hitters in the second start I saw and generated enough swings and misses to think he can be useful, but in other starts he got hit punished. I’m not sure what to make of it all just yet. If he doesn’t take a big step forward, he’s a reliever for me and maybe not even that good of one. If the command does come around, he’s a number four starter who can pitch like a number three on occasion. 2016 is going to be huge for him and he’ll join Oscar and Gabby in Mobile.

Jack Reinheimer, SS – It was great to get a long look at Reinheimer as he played every game I saw. He’s not the quickest shortstop and he doesn’t have the most range, but he does have a quick release and he’s fluid at short. I think he can stick there for the time being and is probably an average defender. At the plate, he’s got a clean, quiet, short stroke that should make lots of contact and put some balls into the gaps. He’s a plus runner who’ll nab an extra base on you if you’re not careful. Overall, the package isn’t wildly exciting but he could crack the MLB roster as a utility guy who won’t kill you offensively although the bat is going to be light. His defense and speed will keep him in the majors when he does eventually make it.

Daniel Gibson, LHP – Gibson is 24-year old lefty who’s not far from the majors. He throws across his body and has a bit of a jerky delivery which does provide some deception. Hitters had a tough time reading the ball out of his hand and he mowed down three batters to close out the game that I saw him pitch in. The velocity was in the low to mid 90’s and he had a breaking pitch that he was able to locate for called strikes. This forced batters to swing and they were not rewarded as he generated several whiffs in just one inning of work. Gibson was able to move the fastball around and get ahead of hitters, then put them away. He’ll be a sneaky candidate to make the Opening Day roster, depending on what the club does with adding relievers, but an assignment to AAA Reno is most likely.

Myles Smith, RHP – Smith replaced Adam Miller on the Rafters’ roster and he was surprise to see pitch. His stuff wasn’t plus but he did show some ability to locate it and he had a bit of a funky delivery that threw hitters’ timing off. A flier in the Zeke Spruill trade, Smith should see AA next year after a successful season in Visalia in 2015. He’s a long shot, but maybe a sleeper to continue to monitor.

Adam Miller, RHP – As mentioned above, Miller was shut down after just four innings. A big workload at AA Mobile, mixed with his AFL time, put him at 60 innings for the year. The 26-year old righty has a big arm but big command issues that need to be ironed out before his MLB-ready.

Daniel Palka – RF – Palka was traded to the Twins before the AFL concluded, so I won’t waste words, but the big power is tempered by some swing and plate discipline issues that will make it tough for him to reach the majors as anything more than a bench bat.

3 Responses to Double Plus: Some Final Thoughts on AFL Prospects

  1. Noah says:

    Myles Smith was acquired from the Red Sox for Zeke Spruill, not Wade Miley.

  2. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    Reinheimer = Pennington, more or less, it seems. Not bad to have such a guy coming up through your system.

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