Over the past couple of weeks, we have talked about Mark Appel, Joe Sclafani and Andrew Aplin, all of whom have participated in the Arizona Fall League. Yesterday the Fall League came to a close with the Salt River Rafters (comprised of prospects from the Astros, Twins, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Marlins) claiming the Championship in a 14-7 finale.
In the final game, Sclafani went 2-for-3 (Double, 2 runs, rbi, 2 walks) and Mitch Lambson pitched an inning, striking out one en route to the Salt River victory.
The Astros have a talented farm system, and the showing that many of their prospects had in the Fall League is just one more example.
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It should be noted that if Sclafani had garnered enough at-bats, he would have been the batting champion of the AFL. Instead, he started the season on the taxi squad (playing only a couple of days per week) and missed the cut, after playing in just twelve games. 5 of Sclafani’s 17 hits in the Fall League were doubles. While the utility man struck out at a higher clip than in his minor league career (138 walks to 147 strikeouts), that may just be the adjustment to seeing better pitching. He will be an interesting player to watch this spring in Kissimmee.
Aplin and Rio Ruiz both drew twelve walks, demonstrating their plate discipline. Ruiz spent 2014 in Lancaster, hitting .293 with 11 home runs and 77 rbi. He’ll likely see a jump to Double-A in 2015. Aplin will likely get some extra work in Fresno to start 2015, but will be a player to keep your eyes on if one of the Astros outfielders begins struggling.
Pitching prospects for the Houston Astros performed very well, for the most part.
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Appel pitched the most innings in the AFL, and had the fifth lowest ERA of those that threw more than twenty innings, which was helped by his strikeout to walk ratio of 3:1. It may be too early to say definitively that Appel’s struggles in Lancaster are a thing of the past, but the optimist in me is thinking he’s turned a corner.
Tyson Perez, who split time between Lancaster and Corpus Christy in 2014, was dealt some hard luck while going 0-2. Perez only gave up one earned run, but was charged with two losses, due to two unearned runs crossing the plate. Perez allowed 11 hits in 14.1 IP, spanning 10 appearances. The stellar stat for Perez: an 11:1 K/BB rate. That is impressive.
Mitch Lambson also split time in Lancaster and CC, compiling a 2.14 in 2014. Lambson pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, but his walk total was a bit high, averaging a walk every other inning. Vincent Velasquez got hit around a little, allowing 14 hits and 10 runs in 13 2/3 innings in just five outings (four starts).
With the Fall League having been concluded, the wait for Opening Day truly begins. At least there’s hot stove season!