AFL Seventh and Final Week (2008 Season)
This is the seventh (whew) installment of our AFL weekly reports.
The Phoenix Desert Dogs won their fifth Arizona Fall League Championship in a row on Saturday. This was a pretty impressive win, as the Desert Dogs came from three down in the fifth to win the game 10 – 4. A’s prospect John Donaldson was the star of the game, hitting a three-run homer in the seventh. Attendance for the game was 1,881.
Mopupduty.com AFL Players of the Year : Our awards for the players having the best AFL season, not necessarily the top prospects moving forward. Throughout the rest of this article you can click on the player’s name to read his bio.
AFL Pitcher of the Year – Tommy Hanson (Braves)
Without a doubt, Tommy Hanson had one of, if not the biggest AFL breakout seasons in league history. When adding in his AFL finals stats, in 33.2 IP Hanson stuck out 57 vs 8 walks and 13 hits. Wow. These stats are far better than semi-established MLB pitcher Max Scherzer. Hanson pitched so well that the Braves designated him as untouchable in the Jake Peavy trade talks. Having only pitched in AA, Hanson could now start the season in the MLB or receive a first half call-up. We may now see Hanson moved up into a few top 10 lists.
AFL Batter of the Year – Tyler Flowers (Braves)
Its good to be a Braves fan right now. Tyler led the AFL with 12 HR. He was also in the top 10 in batting average (.387) and in the top 15 in both RBI and runs scored. The current knock on Flowers has been his D but let’s face it, with McCann locked into Atlanta for the foreseeable future, Flowers would have to move to first base or a corner outfield position. With first base being currently occupied by Casey Kotchman and with Kala Ka’Aihue moving up the organizational ladder, I’d expect Flowers to end up in LF in the majors.
AFL Players That Increased Their Stock
Eric Young: Winning the batting title, leading the league in runs scored and stolen bases should rocket Eric Young up in the Colorado Rockies prospect rankings (#22 in BA’s 2008 list).
Drew Sutton: Sutton played all over the diamond during the AFL campaign (3rd, 2nd, SS, LF, RF), allowing him to showcase his versatility. He also had a great season with the bat, leading the league with 24 walks and finishing in the top 10 in home runs, runs scored and total bases. Sutton was not even ranked in the Astros top 30 prospects at the beginning of 2008.
Kris Medlen: Yet another Braves prospect, Medlen’s 25 K vs 1 BB in 21 IP performance should help him improve upon his 24th ranking within the Braves organization. Medlan is most likely to be used as a relief pitcher going forward. In 2008 he struck out 120 in 120.1 IP. He features a low 90’s fastball and a plus curve, along with a developing change-up. He projects as anywhere from middle-relief to a possible closer at the MLB level.
Bonus Toronto Blue Jays Prospect Coverage
J.P. Arencibia: J.P. was bothered by a flu in the final weeks of the AFL and this may have hurt his overall performance. Strikeouts vs Walks were again the story for J.P., as he struck out 26 times vs only 5 walks. He hit .274 but only posted a .298 OBP.
He’s never going to be a high OBP player. To succeed he needs to continue hitting home runs. If he can, he can still be a positive contributor to the ballclub. I’m not making any future predictions or comparisons, but Ryan Braun is an example of a high K, Low BB player with power. Braun struck out 129 times vs only 42 walks last season. His high average (.285) helped carry him to a .335 OBP. Nothing to write home about but it won’t kill you. Arenciba on the other hand had 100 strikeouts vs only 18 walks in the minors in 2008. In AA he hit .282, yet only posted a .302 OBP. While J.P. doesn’t need to turn into a monster walk type of player, he still needs to improve his BB/K ratio to at least 0.33 to have any shot at posting a .320+ MLB OBP. His plus power still makes him a high ceiling player, yet due to his BB/K ratio I have to rank Arencibia third on the Jays prospect rankings behind Snider and Cecil.
Scott Campbell: A move to third signals to me that Campbell is going to be a utility player at the MLB level. He didn’t slug enough in the AFL (.320) to warrant a boost in his Blue Jays prospect rankings, even with the keen batting eye. The problem with a utility-style theory is his suspect defense. If an NL team can live with a below average D but with position flexibility and the ability to have an OBP player pinch-hit, then Campbell has a shot at hanging around the major league level for a few seasons. I personally wouldn’t give him a full-time roster spot in the American League. A similar player to Scott in offensive capabilities is Joe Inglett, who has a good batting eye but little power. Inglett is able to skate by with average D at 2nd and can start in a pinch at short. Campbell will give a team below average D at these positions. Still, I may be a bit too hard on Cambell. We’ll see how he slugs in AAA Las Vegas in 2009. I’ll need to see at least a .450+ SLG% in the PCL to get back on the Campbell bandwagon.
Zach Dials: Zach probably hurt his meager MLB chances this prospect season, allowing 28 hits in 18.1 IP. This has been the story for Zach throughout his minor league career, above a hit per IP. At best Dials may hang around the minors for a few seasons and get a call-up if a bullpen pitcher his the DL.
Ryan Patterson: As we looked at in an earlier prospect bio, Patterson was on the fast track to the MLB before having his right arm broken back in the spring of 2007. As of now he’s a potential 15 HR type at the MLB level with questionable plate discipline. He improved upon this during the AFL (7 BB vs 14 K) and he should finally get a shot at playing full-time in AAA during the 2009 season.