Arizona Fall League 2008
By David Regan - Angelswin.com Contributor
It was a great time in Arizona this year. Saw five games in the 3 days I was there, including the Dodgers twice. The blue elected to not send most of their upper-level talent down there, so I wasn’t really impressed with who was there other than a pitcher named Cody White, but he’s a bullpen guy at best.
The guy that impressed me the most was a kid named John Mayberry Jr. (OF-TEX). If that name sounds familiar, then the answer is “yes”, he is the son of the former Royals’ first baseman. He just hit an absolute bomb, made a diving catch, and threw a guy out at 3B from RF in the game I was at.
For you Angels fans, they elected to send really very little in the way of top talent to Arizona this season. I did get to see Sean Rodriguez and though he’s hitting just .215/.300/.405, it’s clear he does have some pop in his bat. It’s too bad he’s not going to be able to stay at SS, as he could have potentially replaced Cabrera after 2008 with a guy like Brandon Wood playing third. I see Rodriguez as a utility guy in the future should he make it to the big leagues and considering the huge dip in performance he saw this year moving from the CAL league to the Texas League, a big league job in the future isn’t a given at this point for Rodriguez. I think Chris Pettit got hurt right before I got there which is a bummer as I was looking forward to seeing him play after his unexpected .948 OPS / 30 SB 2007.
Adam Miller (SP-CLE) – clearly the best SP there. If he can stay healthy (arm problems last year), then Sabathia/Carmona/Miller will be the best 1-2-3 in baseball at some point next year (sorry Boston).
Travis Snider (OF-TOR) – hit the ball hard every time I saw him. No speed, but he’s a guy who can hit .320/.400/.500 in the big leagues as early as 2009.
Matt Antonelli (2B-SD) – lots of guys touting him as the team’s 2008 2B/leadoff man, but scouts were a bit down on him. Poor defense and a bat that is a bit overrated. Surprising considering his 2007 minor league numbers. One guy even said DET SS Scott Sizemore may end up the better big leaguer.
About Evan Longoria (3B-TB), one scout, and I quote, said “he’s a dick”. Nice. Of course he’ll still be a good hitter, but that was interesting.
Elvis Andrus (SS-TEX) – not sure he’ll hit enough to be a regular, but I saw a very good glove and great speed going from first to third.
Matt LaPorta (OF-MIL) – he looked pretty good in LF actually. I think he’s the Brewers’ regular LF by August.
Max Scherzer (SP-ARI) – didn’t look good to me, though his fastball was popping. Two scouts I talked to pegged him as a reliever.
Angel Villalona (3B-SF) – was born in 1990, but has incredible talent. One guy said he had a 40% chance of becoming Albert Pujols.
Jonathan Meloan (RP-LAD) – steroids was mentioned with his name. Interesting.
I asked one scout about Scott Olsen (same guy that gave me the Longoria comment) and I won’t get into the details, but Olsen was a bad guy from day one.
One guy said James Loney WAS Adrian Gonzalez. Great glove and considering A-Gone hit 30 bombs playing 81 games in Petco Park, this was a very nice compliment to Loney.
Carlos Pena came up in conversation quite a bit due to his unexpected 46-121 season and while most expected to see a fall-off in 2008, Pena is a legitimate hitter. His power is no fluke and I expect something along the lines of .275-35-100 next year. Hard to believe the Yankees and Red Sox gave up on him.
Philip Hughes will break out next year according to most guys I talked to. His 2007 numbers were more a reflection of the hamstring injury than his real talent level.
Scouts universally rank the young OF prospects as follows: 1. Justin Upton 2. Jay Bruce 3. Colby Rasmus 4. Cameron Maybin
For you Angels fans, I did ask a guy about Ervin Santana and there was some optimism. His K/9 rate was actually up this year and he was a little unlucky on batted balls in play (BABIP). There should be some improvement coming in 2008.
Josh Barfield’s name came up and it seems a lot of us were wrong (myself included) regarding who got the better end of the Barfield/Kouzmanoff deal. Asdrubal Cabrera is the real deal and to think, the Tribe got him for Eduardo Perez.
Here are a few pitchers I read about who are injury risks for 2008 based upon their innings pitched in 08 vs. 07: Brian Bannister, Matt Belisle, Fausto Carmona (uh oh), Chad Gaudin, Edwin Jackson, Braden Looper, Dustin McGowan, Adam Wainwright.
A few random comments / observations: Tim Lincecum – good (not great) starter, elite closer potential. Fernando Martinez – overrated (I saw him in Arizona last year and wasn’t impressed, though he’s still in his teens). Jeff Clement – probably not a future big league catcher. Nick Adenhart – great delivery, power arm. Could be a #1 starter according to some.
Let me know if you want opinions on anyone else.
Dave Regan writes for Rotowire.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org