I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful, peaceful, joyful Thanksgiving. Among all the wonderful aspects and gifts in my life, I am thankful to you-my loyal readers for your years of following my work. Believe me, it is much appreciated.
The 2018 edition of the Arizona Fall League is now in the history books. The league concluded Saturday, November 17, 2018, when the West Division Peoria Javelinas won their second consecutive Arizona Fall League Championship, beating the East Division winning Salt River Rafters with a 10th inning walk-off home run by Atlanta Braves prospect Braxton Davidson. The final score was 3-2 in an entertaining, closely played game.
Davidson had to be helped back to his team’s clubhouse with what appeared to be a broken foot following touching home plate after his home run. He said he hurt his foot when he was rounding second base on his way to a jubilant celebration at the plate. As it turns out, X-rays have shown his foot is sprained, but not broken.
Prior to the game, outgoing Fall League Director Steve Cobb announced that Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers was named the winner of the Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award. The Darnell Stenson Sportsmanship Award was given to Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker. The league’s batting championship was won by the Colorado Rockies Tyler Nevin.
MY ALL ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE 25-MAN ROSTER
After watching six weeks of outstanding baseball in the Fall League I have determined my All-Arizona Fall League Team by position. In each case my position winner is listed first. The runner-up is listed below the winner. My ALL-AFL FALL LEAGUE ROSTER includes the following:
KEIBERT RUIZ-LOS ANGELES DODGERS-.286/0/8 in 13 games
DAULTON VARSHO-ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS-.262/0/9 in 18 games
TYLER NEVIN-COLORADO ROCKIES-.426/0/20 in 17 games
PETER ALONSO-NEW YORK METS-.255/6/27 in 27 games
KESTON HIURA-MILWAUKEE BREWERS-.323/5/33 in 23 games
COLE TUCKER-PITTSBURGH PIRATES-.370/0/11 in 20 games
NICO HOERNER-CHICAGO CUBS-337/1/11 in 21 games
VLAD GUERRERO JR.-TORONTO BLUE JAYS-.351/0/17 in 19 games
YU CHANG-CLEVELAND INDIANS-.337/4/17 in 23 games
DANIEL WOODWROW-DETROIT TIGERS-.371/0/6 in 16 games
NICK HEATH-KANSAS CITY ROYALS-.338/0/4 in 21 games
CRISTIAN PACHE-ATLANTA BRAVES-.279/0/9 in 20 games
SAM HILLIARD-COLORODO ROCKIES- .328/2/14
No. 1 STARTING PITCHER
FORREST WHITLEY-HOUSTON ASTROS
W-L: 1-2 ERA: 2.42 WHIP: 0.96 K/BB: 36/7 in six starts covering 26.0 innings pitched
No. 2 STARTING PITCHER
SCOTT BLEWETT-KANSAS CITY ROYALS
W/L: 4-0 ERA: 2.49 WHIP: 1.14 21 K/BB: 21/8 in six starts covering 25.1 innings pitched
No. 3 STARTING PITCHER
JORDAN YAMAMOTO-MIAMI MARLINS
W/L: 3-0 ERA: 2.08 WHIP: 1.08 K/BB: 27/3 in six starts covering 26.0 innings pitched
No. 4 STARTING PITCHER
JON DUPLANTIER-ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
W/L: 1-1 ERA: 3.32 WHIP: 1.52 K/BB: 32/10 in six starts covering 23 innings pitched
No. 5 STARTING PITCHER
EVAN KRUCZYNSKI-ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
W/L: 2-2 ERA: 1.99 WHIP: 1.63 K/BB: 20/11 in six starts covering 22.2 innings pitched
MELVON ADON-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: ERA: 2.92 WHIP: 0.81 in 12.1 innings pitched
SAM WOLFF-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: ERA: 0.00 WHIP: 0.40 in 10.0 innings pitched
DARWINZON HERNANDEZ-BOSTON RED SOX: ERA: 1.59 WHIP: 1.24 in 11.1 innings pitched
JORDAN SHEFFIELD-LOS ANGELES DODGERS: ERA: 1.93 WHIP: 1.07 in 9 innings pitched
JESUS TINOCO-COLORADO ROCKIES: ERA: 1.72 ERA WHIP: 1.15 in 15.2 innings pitched
ZACK BURDI-CHICAGO WHITE SOX : ERA: 0.00 ERA WHIP: 0.64 in 4.2 innings pitched
JAZZ CHISHOLM-SS-ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS-.442/3/9 in 10 games
TAYLOR TRAMMELL-OF-CINCINNATI REDS-.298/0/6
I could not have an Arizona Fall League roster without Jazz Chisholm. He was a designated “taxi squad” player and only got in 10 games all fall. But he is an electric player with outstanding defensive ability, power in his bat and outstanding speed. I didn’t include a reserve second baseman so I could leave room for Chisholm.
I also want to sneak outfielder Trammell on my team because I think he is an outstanding overall athlete with a very good defensive tool, a strong arm, power and speed.
Designated Hitter Sam Hilliard is also an outfielder.
Below you will find my final Arizona Fall League scouting profiles for 2018. You may read all my scouting profiles on previous articles included on the Clubhouse Corner website.
SCOUTING PROFILES OF ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE PLAYERS
MELVIN ADON-PITCHER-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS-AGE 24
B/T: R/R HT: 6-3 WT: 235 pounds
Big and stocky with a very strong arm, Melvin Adon lit up the radar guns during his 10 Fall League relief appearances. At times he was throwing his fastball over 100 miles per hour. But his blazing fastball isn’t his only weapon. An improved slider compliments his fastball and can easily be classified as a much better than average, plus-plus pitch. I rate his slider at a grade 70 just as it sits now. And I think that pitch will get even better.
The San Francisco Giants signed Adon out of the Dominican Republic. After spending his first year as a professional in the Dominican Summer League in 2015, the next season Adon came stateside and pitched for Salem-Keizer in the Short Season Northwest League. He was used as a starter, his role in every one of his four minor league seasons. The lone exception was at the Giants Rookie League club this past summer in Arizona. Adon threw 4.2 innings of relief in rehab work following a mid-season injury.
In the Fall League, Adon compiled a very impressive 2.92 ERA in his 12.1 innings of relief work. He was one of the best relievers in the league, using his blazing grade 75 fastball along with that much better than average slider and occasional changeup to retire hitters. In his 10 games, he walked only three hitters while striking out 21.
Adon was selected for the Fall Stars Game. He threw 1.0 inning and yielded 2 hits, and an earned run, while striking out 1 batter.
Of his 69 minor league appearances, 62 have been as a starting pitcher. He has a combined ERA of 4.36 and a 1.47 WHIP in 318 minor league innings of work. Prior to coming to the Fall League, Adon’s highest level of participation was Class-A Advanced in 2018. He pitched at San Jose in the California League from April through June. He then sat out the month of July with an oblique injury before going to Arizona in the summer to pick up some innings in the Rookie League.
Adon’s emergence as a reliable and at times unhittable reliever has given the Giants a decision to make regarding his future. Should they continue him on the path of a starting pitcher or use him in relief? Can he become a dominant closer in the big leagues? Based upon my observations this fall, I wouldn’t doubt Adon in a closer’s role. I think he is much more valuable coming out of the bullpen in this current baseball environment than starting and possibly scuffling in multiple innings.
In the Fall League, Adon yielded only seven hits in his 12.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen. He got one save.
Like many fastball pitchers, Adon has to be careful that his pitch doesn’t flatten out when he reaches the height of his velocity. I would prefer to see him sit in the high 90’s and get the type of movement on the ball that helps avoid the barrel of the bat. However, Adon’s fastball/slider combination is so good, he has little to worry about going forward. He has to continue to develop that combination of pitches by throwing strikes and retaining good command and control. Repeating his delivery and concentrating on altering the balance and eye level of the hitter should be foremost in his development plan. Harnessing his control for another full season (perhaps more) may be his final step before he can be considered ready for “prime time”.
From what I have observed of Adon this fall, he may not need his changeup if he remains a reliever. However, if he can perfect that pitch to the same degree his slider has improved, it would just give him another weapon for deception.
Scouting summary: A power pitcher with a very high velocity fastball and superb slider combination. Improving his outlook by pitching in relief, Adon can become a major league closer.
Scouting grade: 55
MONTE HARRISON-OUTFIELDER-MIAMI MARLINS-AGE 23
B/T: R/R HT: 6-3 WT: 220 pounds
Harrison was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft out of Lee’s Summit West High School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He was traded along with infielder Isan Diaz, pitcher Jordan Yamamoto and outfielder Lewis Brinson to the Miami Marlins for outfielder Christian Yelich, the 2018 National League Most Valuable Player.
While many believe Brinson was the centerpiece of the trade, it may be Harrison that has the best major league career.
A true five-tool player, Harrison is big, strong and fast. He has outstanding arm strength and plays terrific defense anywhere in the outfield. I have graded his arm as a 70 on the 40-80 scout scale. Harrison has the speed to steal or take an extra base.
Using a very powerful frame from top to bottom, Harrison should hit a large share of doubles and even some triples. In parts of five minor league seasons, he has hit 77 doubles and 13 triples to compliment his 52 home runs. And this past season at Double-A Jacksonville, Harrison stole 28 bases in 37 attempts.
So far in his career, Harrison has been a bit behind in recognizing pitches quickly enough out of the hand of the pitcher. He can be fooled on breaking balls. In the 2018 season he struck out 215 times. Making better contact and using more plate discipline are required for him to reach his potential.
His .242 career batting average is far below what was expected of him when Harrison was drafted and traded. Both the Brewers and Marlins saw a very good high school athlete capable of bringing strength and speed to their big league clubs. But he’s still only 23 and huge upside remains.
Scouting summary: An athletic, powerful and fast outfielder with talent that hasn’t blossomed
yet. Plays outstanding defense but the hitting tool has lagged.
Scouting grade: 50
ESTEVAN FLORIAL-OUTFIELDER-NEW YORK YANKEES-AGE 20
B/T: L/R HT: 6-1 WT: 185 pounds
Estevan Florial was an international free agent signing of the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic. When he was in the Dominican he assumed the identity of Hansel de Oleo. Major league baseball discovered the discrepancy and barred him from signing for one year. The net result was Florial signing with the Yankees in 2015.
In the Arizona Fall League we did not see the Florial that had been advertised by many evaluators as the No. 1 prospect in the Yankees organization. Instead, we saw Estevan Florial that hit .179 with no home runs and eight RBI. He played in 21 games, so the opportunity was available. However, by virtue of his reputation as an outstanding prospect, Florial made the Fall Stars West roster. He had one at-bat hitting in the 9th position in the lineup and he made the best of that at-bat. He hit a triple and scored off the Diamondbacks Jon Duplantier.
Mostly a centerfielder, Florial has played all three positions for New York. He is best, however, using his speed and very strong arm in center. He can track down balls quickly in all directions and close on balls hit in the air using his grade 70 running speed and ability.
Florial’s bid to be an impact major league player will depend upon the use of his three best tools. He has that blazing speed, he plays outstanding defense and he has a very strong arm. He lacks a true quality hitting tool and he may not hit for average. He has very little power to speak of. He has a good walk rate that helps his solid on-base percentage.
In May, 2018 Florial broke his hamate bone and required surgery. He made up for some of those lost at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.
Florial began his 2018 season playing at Class-A Advanced Tampa. Then he suffered the hamate injury and missed half of May, all of June and some of July. When he returned he was assigned to the Gulf Coast Rookie League for July. He returned to Tampa and Class-A Advanced to finish his season. He finished last year with a composite batting average of .283. He hit six home runs and drove in 35 runs. He stole 16 bases in 26 attempts.
Perhaps his hand was bothering him in Arizona, but he just didn’t hit the ball hard.
Given the number of prospects the Yankees have in their pipeline, it would make some sense for Florial to be among the players the team may trade to upgrade their pitching. He still has those outstanding tools that are attractive to many clubs.
Scouting summary: An athletic outfielder best suited to use speed and outstanding defense in centerfield. Could struggle at the plate against quality pitching, but speed helps his on-base percentage.
Scouting grade: 50
JORDAN SHEFFIELD-PITCHER-LOS ANGELES DODGERS-AGE 23
B/T: R/R HT: 5-10 WT: 190 pounds
The younger brother of Mariners lefty starter Justus Sheffield, the younger Jordan was a 1st round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 draft out of Vanderbilt University. He was the No. 36 player taken in the draft.
Sheffield has pitched in parts of three seasons in the Dodgers organization. He has a record of 4-13 with an ERA of 5.01 and a 1.56 WHIP. Sheffield has a walk rate of 4.9 per nine innings. That’s one of his biggest issues as he continues in his development. He simply has trouble commanding his pitches. His strikeout rate is 9.6 per nine innings, which is solid.
Sheffield gets good velocity from his short frame. He brings his fastball between 94-96 miles per hour, but it isn’t unusual to see him amp up the velocity to a higher level. It is at those maximum high velocity moments when his already difficult control becomes even shakier.
Sheffield uses a good slider and a changeup to complete his repertoire. The changeup needs repetition and work, but the slider fits nicely with his fastball.
Healthy and strong after having Tommy John surgery in 2013, Sheffield has been used as both a starter and reliever for the Dodgers. In the Arizona Fall League, he pitched solely out of the bullpen and it appears that may be his future. In the AFL he threw 9.1 innings in 10 games. He finished with a nice 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He yielded four walks and struck out seven.
Sheffield spent 2018 pitching mostly for Rancho Cucamonga in the Class-A Advanced California League. He spent three games pitching for the Dodgers Rookie League club in Arizona. He had a combined record of 1-3 with a 6.88 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. He walked 5.3 men per nine innings. He struck out 10.6 per nine.
A good athlete with a strong and quick arm, there are questions about Sheffield’s ability to hold up. Does he have the stamina to pitch as a starter, or is he best used in relief? Given his slight frame and history of elbow issues, it may be best for the Dodgers and for Sheffield to continue his Fall League path and use him out of the bullpen going forward.
Sheffield appeared for the East Fall Stars and went .2 of an inning, yielding one hit and striking out one. He got a “hold” in the game.
Scouting summary: An athletic pitcher with a slight frame. Has issues with command and control and may be best suited out of the bullpen. Fastball, slider and changeup repertoire will be all he needs as a reliever.
Scouting grade: 45
DARWINZON HERNANDEZ-PITCHER-BOSTON RED SOX-AGE 21
B/T: L/L HT: 6-2 WT: 245 pounds
Darwinzon Hernandez was an international signing by the Boston Red Sox out of Venezuela. After pitching in the Dominican Summer League in 2014 and 2015, he made his first stateside appearance in 2016 pitching for the Red Sox Short Season Lowell team in the New York-Penn League. He threw 48.1 innings to a 3-5 record. He had a 4.10 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. But Hernandez walked an average of 6.7 per nine innings, while striking out 10.8 per nine.
This past season, Hernandez pitched at Class-A Advanced Salem and at Double-A Portland. The results were good. He had a 9-5 record, starting in 23 of 28 appearances. He yielded 86 hits in 107 innings, an outstanding statistic. His WHIP of 1.42 reflected a 5.6 per nine innings walk rate, which didn’t help his overall cause. But he increased his strikeouts to a very nice 11.3 per nine innings pitched.
In the Fall League, Hernandez was used exclusively out of the bullpen. He threw 11.1 innings of relief, yielding a 1.59 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. He walked six and struck out 24.
The excellent fall for Hernandez may mean a role in the bullpen for him going forward. He uses a 93-98 miles per hour sinking fastball as his featured pitch. Inducing ground balls and missing bats, Hernandez is especially tough against left-handed hitters. This fall, his slider was a reliable pitch. If he sticks to a fastball/slider combination out of the bullpen he may not need his unreliable changeup, which appears to still be a work in progress. He also throws a curveball that didn’t seem too advanced either.
Still a bit raw but showing great improvement, Hernandez has the ability to get a high strikeout rate, He is a projectable left-hander with the capability of coming in to high leverage situations at the major league level.
In the Fall Stars Game, Hernandez pitched .1 inning and yielded one hit while striking out one.
Scouting summary: Solid left-hander suited very well as a situational lefty out of the bullpen. Has a good fastball/slider combination that can induce swings and misses as well as ground balls.
Scouting grade: 50
SCOTT BLEWETT-PITCHER-KANSAS CITY ROYALS-AGE 22
B/T: R/R HT: 6-6 WT: 210 pounds
Very long and very lean, right-hander Scott Blewett was a pleasant surprise this fall. He had a record of 4-0 in his six Fall League starts. Pitching to a 2.49 ERA in 25.1 innings, Blewett walked eight while striking out 21. Every time I saw him pitch I began to like him more and more.
Blewett was signed by the Royals after they selected him in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft out of Baker High School in Baldwinsville, New York.
Blewett has a three-pitch mix including a 90-95 miles per hour fastball, a very good 80-83 miles per hour changeup and a mediocre slider. It is his changeup that keeps hitters guessing and off-balance. His sequencing of pitches is excellent, as he knows when he has the hitter set-up for the wicked changeup.
Blewett was highly regarded in high school, but scouts backed off a bit when it was discovered he had a problem with a sore shoulder. However, the Royals took him in the 2nd round and he is rounding in to a very reliable pitcher in their organization.
Pitching downhill with his huge frame, Blewett’s fastball actually looks even faster and harder to hit. The ball is on the hitter right now with his good arm extension and follow-through. And once he has established that pitch, it is the changeup that moves the hitter’s feet. He also uses the curveball as a finishing pitch with some success.
A work in progress, Blewett yielded 21 hits in his 25.1 fall innings pitched.
Blewett may have over-performed his norm during his time in Arizona. He has a career ERA of 4.54 in 102 starts covering 539.2 innings pitched. He also has a rather high 1.41 career WHIP. But I saw a pitcher with much better overall numbers than that this fall.
Blewett reached Double-A Northwest Arkansas this past season. He had 25 starts (one relief appearance) and pitched to a 4.79 ERA while compiling a record of 8-6.
Blewett has now shown himself and his team that he is a credible starting pitcher capable of retiring quality hitters. If he can use the momentum of his good six week stint in Arizona to his advantage, he has a chance to be a back end of the rotation starter for a Royals club in transition.
Scouting summary: A tall, thin righty with a promising repertoire and improving results. Could be a back end of the rotation major league starter.
Scouting grade: 50
Starting next week I will discuss the Hot Stove and give my impressions of what we can expect moving forward through the winter months.
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