Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 Arizona Fall League Final Recap/Analysis

Phoenix Desert Dogs Arizona Fall League Replica Cap - MLB.com Shop
The regular season of the Arizona Fall League has come to a close with the Phoenix Desert Dogs finishing 14-22, last place in the AFL West, and tied for the league's worst record with the Scottsdale Scorpions. Let's review how the Reds prospects performed this fall with the Desert Dogs. There were three hitters and four pitchers originally sent to do work in the AFL. Aroldis Chapman became the fifth pitcher when he was sent to warm up for the Puerto Rican League (which didn't happen). Two hitters succeeded. One hitter did not. The pitchers did seem to perform fairly well given their limited outings. Perhaps several or all of the following players will wind up in Cincinnati some time in the near future.

C Yasmani Grandal
3 G, .333 (4-12), 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
.385 OBP, .500 SLG, .885 OPS

Yasmani Grandal was sent to the AFL by the Reds with the intentions of him being an every day player and getting the most work of any of the Reds prospects, and for good reason as he was ranked the fourth best prospect in the Reds organization by Baseball America. He started the first game, and then played a couple more and was successful at the place, which left the mystery of why he was not playing more? It was later discovered that Grandal injured a finger on his left hand that bothered him when he caught, and even more so when he was hitting, so he was shut down for the remainder of the AFL for precautionary measures. Despite his limited playing time, he was selected as one of two Reds for the 2011 AFL Rising Stars game, though he was unable to participate.

SS Brodie Greene
21 G, .288 (23-80), 4 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R, 10 BB, 12 SO, 2 SB
.374 OBP, .475 SLG, .849 OPS

Brodie Greene spent most of last season at Class A Advanced Bakersfield for the Reds. The 24 year old certainly did well enough to classify his 2011 AFL stint a success. He played in the sixth most games for the Desert Dogs and tied for third in home runs on the team, as well as fourth in RBIs. The middle infielder also made just two errors in the field. Greene is far from becoming a future staple of the Reds infield, but he is trending in the right direction for the time being.

2B Cody Puckett
20 G, .147 (10-68), 3 HR, 9 RBI, 9 R, 15 BB, 29 SO
.301 OBP, .338 SLG, .639 OPS

Cody Puckett did not have a good 2011 AFL. There's not a whole lot that can be said about what he did, other than he was easily the worst performer the Reds had in the AFL. He used a 1-15 stretch to end the season and plummet his batting average to the worst on the team. We like to find positives though, so here we go. Puckett was willing to play anywhere for the team, and it seemed like he did, playing in the outfield, infield and at designated hitter while he tried to get his bat on track. He also showed decent power considering three of his 10 hits were home runs, and he collected nine RBIs on those 10 hits. He also had two doubles and a triple. He was second on the team with 15 walks, but also second with 29 strikeouts. Puckett needs to just try and shake this one off, and get back at it next year.

LHP Travis Webb
7 G, 7 GS, 19.2 IP, 2-1, 5.03 ERA, .312 BAA
24 H, 3 HR, 11 ER, 9 BB, 24 SO

With all things considered Travis Webb did okay in the hitter friendly atmosphere of the AFL. His ERA is not pretty figure and he gave up a lot of hits, but only had one really bad outing. He was the only starter the Reds had in Arizona, after having started only five games for Carolina last year where overall he was 1-7 with a 4.41 ERA. Webb was working on adding a new pitch, the slider, to his repertoire among other things during the 2011 AFL. He certainly has some other things that he needs to improve upon if he wants to become a successful starting pitcher.

LHP Donnie Joseph
12 G, 16.2 IP, 1-1, 2.16 ERA, .288 BAA
19 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 17 SO

Donnie Joseph had arguably the best 2011 AFL of any Reds prospect, pitcher or hitter. Considering he was 1-3 with a 6.94 ERA for Carolina this past year, he did himself a world a good in Arizona. Mind you, although I didn't see him throw one pitch, he was one of the two players who impressed me the most. He started a little slow, but then became an absolute shutdown reliever. Over his last eight games, which comprised 11 of his 16.2 innings, he allowed zero earned runs and just 9 hits, including four perfect outings. Joseph is a pitcher who is thought of highly in the Reds organization, despite a bump in the road in 2011, but if he can continue to build upon his AFL performance going into next year, he could become an impact reliever for the Reds. Given the current bullpen situation, I wouldn't be surprised if he possibly makes an appearance or two in Cincinnati next year, given that he starts next season at Louisville, which I assume he will.

RHP Nick Christiani
12 G, 14.2 IP, 0-1, 5.52 ERA, .254 BAA
15 H, 3 HR, 9 ER, 7 BB, 10 SO

Nick Christiani's numbers are not an accurate representation of what he did in Arizona. At the very beginning he was going toe for toe with Brad Boxberger for the best start in the AFL. Then he had an absolutely horrific outing, giving up five earned in just a third of an inning. If you could take away that one game, he would have an ERA of 2.55. That's the curse of the reliever, especially in the AFL, since you don't pitch enough innings to have a chance to overcome one bad outing. Christiani spent most of last season in Louisville, and with some more polishing could also make the trip up I-71 some time next season.

RHP Brad Boxberger
11 G, 13.1 IP, 0-0, 5.40 ERA, .260 BAA
3 SV, 13 H, 1 HR, 8 ER, 6 BB, 22 SO

Brad Boxberger ran into the same problem that Christiani did and it happened in his very last outing of the season, in which he gave up four earned runs in one inning of work to balloon his ERA to 5.40. Don't be fooled though. Boxberger continued to validate his selection as a 2009 1st round draft pick. You could say that one inning was the definition of what Boxberger was in the AFL, but not for all the runs though. It was because amidst all those runs he struck out the side, ending his 2011 AFL season the same way he started it. He struck out the side in his first appearance as well, en route to getting his first seven outs in the AFL via the K. Boxberger was selected to participate in the AFL Rising Stars game, where he threw a perfect inning, which included striking out Bryce Harper and making him look like a fool. I'm not anointing Boxberger the next Reds closer just yet, but he's certainly going to be in the mix going into 2012, and may be the favorite going into 2013, barring some blockbuster acquisition (re: Andrew Bailey). I absolutely expect him to pitch for Cincinnati next year, maybe as soon as opening day, and believe me, I am excited.

LHP Aroldis Chapman
2 G, 2.2 IP, 0-0, 3.38 ERA, .143
1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO

Aroldis Chapman really didn't pitch enough to give any real analysis. The game where he gave up a run, he allowed a hit and a walk. Walks will get you in trouble anytime, and it is something that Chapman needs to improve on when pitching often. The bigger news from the fall was that Chapman was scratched from his last appearance with Phoenix due to shoulder soreness, which was nothing major, just precautionary. That precaution carried over as the plans to send him to Puerto Rico for winter ball were scrapped as well, since the shoulder is what Chapman had issues with during the 2011 season. Whether or not he can transition back to being an effective starter remains to be seen, but we do know he can blow hitters away late in the game. Would he be better every fifth day though?

No comments: