Monday, November 19, 2012

My Realistic Reactions To The AZFL Season

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up its 2012 season this past week, and overall it was a pretty good showing for the Yankee representatives.  Some guys dominated and continued to improve their prospect stock, some guys got to work on their transitions to new roles and positions to hopefully improve their prospect stock, and some guys just got the work in that they needed to get in after losing most of their 2012 seasons to injury.  I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who are jumping for joy at some of the results and whipping themselves into a "ZOMG GUYZ, THE YANKZ SHOULD TOTES LET SLADE HEATHCOTT TAKE OVER IN RIGHT FIELD THIS YEAR!!!!!!" frenzy, but that's just not going to happen.  At the risk of coming off as a Negative Nancy here, allow me to put each player's AZFL performance in the proper context, just so there aren't any crazy expectations based on a few weeks' worth of games.

Slade Heathcott- .388/.494/.612, 10 XBH, 13 R, 15 RBI, 12 BB/14 K in 18 Games

Heathcott was the best player on the field most nights in the AZFL, and he was arguably the best player in the whole league.  Hitters' league or not, an OPS over 1.100 is damn good and this just built on the momentum that Heathcott created after coming back strong from his shoulder injury this season.  With Mason Williams behind him, he should and likely will start the season in Double-A Trenton, and I'd like to see him spend the bulk of the season there just to make up some of the ABs he's missed and to make sure he can stay healthy.

David Adams- .286/.388/.524, 12 XBH, 13 R, 15 RBI, 14 BB/13 K in 22 Games

Adams also continued to build momentum from his injury comeback and continued to force himself into the fringe of the 2013 roster picture.  He's always been a bat-first prospect, and that continued in the AZFL as he actually had more total bases than Heathcott, but he's no slouch with the glove.  Adams will probably get an invite to ST next season, and depending on how things go down with CoJo and Ronnier Mustelier, I see him starting the season as either the 2B or 3B for the newly-named RailRiders in Triple-A.

Austin Romine- .222/.342/.286, 4 2B, 9 R, 6 RBI, 12 BB/13 K in 18 Games

Romine was part of the group here to make up for lost time, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bummed out by his performance.  He didn't exactly scorch the earth with his bat in 2011 when he made the jump to Triple-A and that trend continued here.  The walks are a plus, but there just hasn't been any power in his bat, something I'm willing to chalk up to the back injury but hoping to see improvement on next season.  Romine will head to ST again with a chance to win the backup job, but he'll end up in Triple-A again to start the year.

Dellin Betances- 12.0 IP, 13 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 15 K in 8 Appearances

Betances' transition to reliever has taken place, and for a first real audition this wasn't much to write home about.  The K/BB ratio is a positive, as walks absolutely dominated Betances' world this season, but he was still very hittable and didn't show the velocity on his fastball that he once had.  My expectation was that Dellin could dial up the heater a little more to the mid-to-high 90s as a relief pitcher, but if he's going to live in the low 90s with his shaky command his effectiveness is going to be limited.

Dan Burawa- 11.2 IP, 19 H, 15 ER, 13 BB, 6 K in 11 Appearances
Zach Nuding- 21.2 IP, 31 H, 14 ER, 10 BB, 12 K in 7 Starts

2 guys who were here to get work in and 2 guys who got their heads kicked in in the process.  I wouldn't put too much weight on the ugly results for either of these pitchers, as both were off-the-board prospects with potential at best.  If anything, their performances in the AZFL will act a reset button for them to come into the 2013 season healthy and ready to start fresh.

Mark Montgomery- 10.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 19 K in 9 Appearances

Ho-hum.  Another day, another instance of Montgomery striking guys out at an alarming rate.   He got beat up a little in his final appearance of the season, but before that he rattled off 7 consecutive scoreless outings and didn't show any signs of diminished velocity or sharpness after a hefty workload in the regular season.  If this kid isn't in the Major League bullpen by next August, something went horribly wrong.

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