Well, the Arizona Fall League is over and I’d mark it down as a success for nearly all Cardinals-related parties involved. Every week I’ve tried to update you on how everyone did in the AFL, along with how a few others are doing in some of the other offseason leagues.
If you’d like to see the complete breakdown of Cardinals stats during the Fall/Winter, you can follow THIS LINK HERE. Keep this link handy. It’s a nice little tool
It’s November, the Cardinals aren’t in the playoffs, yet there are still plenty of reasons to keep on an eye on future Cardinals Players.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
RHP Sandy Alcantara: 5 Starts, 4.20 ERA, 15 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 8 BB, 14 K, 1.27 WHIP, .208 BA Against
Sandy did not receive any innings this week after his magnificent start last Friday. Surprise entered the week virtually eliminated from the Championship Game and, among other reasons, it didn’t make sense to try and get him back into the rotation at a time that would have been contrary to the time he had been receiving between starts.
By now you know the reviews for Sandy in Arizona have been uber-positive. He had an up and down start streak that made guessing as to how he was going to produce completely unpredictable. Alcantara can be as dominant as he can be flat and, like with most flame throwing pitches, his success will come down to how he learns to harness his heat.
With the best changeup, the best fastball, and the best repertoire of all of the pitchers in the Fall League, Alcantara made a helluva impression on scouts and teams alike.
RHP Jordan Hicks: 9 Appearances, 1 Start, 6.32 ERA, 15.2 IP, 20 H, 11 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 6 BB, 16 K, 1.66 WHIP, .323 BA Against
What a great finish to the Arizona Fall League for Hicks. He received his first start this week after being relegated to the bullpen for the beginning of his AFL campaign. It was a great start, too, as he pitch 3 Innings of 2 hit, 1 run(0 ER), 2 strikeout baseball while not walking anyone. That “not walk anyone” thing is the key for me. Also as important, he threw 29 of his 43 pitches for strikes and he was in control for the entire start.
The stat line above isn’t exactly pretty, but what I’ve decided to key in on is that Hicks went his last four appearances spanning 7 innings without allowing an earned run. He did this while striking out 8, only walking 2, and allowing a modest 4 hits. It was a stat line told a more harsh story of his time in the AFL than the 21 year old ended up actually having.
And he finished the way that he needed to.
RHP Josh Lucas: 12 Appearances, 5.25 ERA, 12 IP, 14 H, 7 ER, 2 HR Allowed, 3 BB, 13 K, 1.42 WHIP, .298 BA Against, 1 Save
At the beginning of the AFL all that I wanted to see from Lucas was a strike out per inning, a low HR allowed total, and 50%+ usage of the slider. Everything else mattered very little to us. I was hoping for a low walk total, but the truth is that Lucas’ command has always been too good to allow a ton of walks, so I wasn’t exactly thinking or worried about that.
The good news is, he pretty well did all that I asked! 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. Only 2 homeruns allowed. He also only walked 3. The bad news is, and I can’t say this officially because I don’t have the numbers, but it’s been reported that he wasn’t throwing his slider nearly enough. That pitch has the ability to make hitters look ultra-bad, but he was using his fastball more. Oh well, he’ll learn soon enough.
I do really like Lucas as a Memphis reserve in the bullpen, ready to help at a moments notice on a short term basis if one of the relievers in the majors needs a DL stint. I just worry that he probably isn’t the type of reliever that you’d like to have anchored in a major league bullpen.
RHP Arturo Reyes: 10 Appearances, 6.23 ERA, 13 IP, 18 H, 9 ER, 1 HR Allowed, 2 BB, 12 K, 1.54 WHIP, .340 BA Against, 1 Save
I know for a fact that Arturo is leaving Arizona having left behind a very positive impression on his teammates and coaching staff. Just like with Alcantara, Reyes didn’t pitch this week, but that doesn’t mean anything from a “should this be valued?” standpoint.
We know that Reyes is more of a traditional “pitcher” when compared to the other names on this list. We know that he pitches with command and, had he played baseball ten years ago, would be the prototypical Brad Thompson of the Cardinals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there’s a spot for a pitcher like that in the majors right now.
Now, that’s not to detract from what Reyes has accomplished. He had very successful turn in the AFL and the fact that he was even sent there is a huge positive. It’s a bummer that he struggled so much at the end of the fall league, but he got off to an eye opening start that should not be forgotten. In a day and age when pitchers are hurling the ball at lightning speeds with no clue where it’s headed, it’s kind of refreshing to see a pitcher pitch.
C/1B Andrew Knizner: 16 Games, 63 AB, 21 H, 3 Doubles, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 4 BB, 11 SO, 333/382/524/906
Knizner didn’t make it into a game this week, but, like with the pitchers, there’s no reason at all to read more into that. Trust me.
At this point you know about the impression that Knizner has made on scouts, fans, and baseball people alike. People are finally starting to see how advanced and mature of a hitter he is. You can see budding power, too, and that is probably the one knock on his game in the batters box. It’s also a modest gripe because he hits to all fields and has solid gap to gap power that needs to be more appreciated than it is.
The biggest impact to perception that Knizner has made in Arizona is that most scouts now believe that he is capable of staying behind the plate. He’s made huge strides from the beginning of the season and it’s well known by all baseball people that Knizner was working tirelessly on his off days in Arizona, and on the days when he was playing first, to get better as a catcher.
Knizner is a smart kid, the ultimate hard worker, and a true talent that appears to be on the same track to the majors as Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong were entering the 2017 season.
CF Oscar Mercado:22 Games, 87 AB, 23 H, 5 Doubles, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 14 BB, 18 SO, 6 SB, 0 CS, 264/363/322/685
Seeing that Mercado went 6 for 6 in stolen base attempts in Arizona is a huge positive considering that he did it against some of the best defensive catchers in the minors.
Now, of course, the issue is the lack of power. It shows you just how difficult baseball is, even in the minors. Entering the AFL he knew that his game was good but he need to add walks. So, in Arizona he added walks but it cost him power. He did add two doubles this week to finish out the season, so that’s a plus. My guess is, he’ll enter 2018 being told to add power without compromising his plate discipline and that’s where the big challenge will be.
I, for one, am glad to see him working on his pitch recognition and I can’t wait to see how that carries over to 2018.
SS/3B/2B Edmundo Sosa: 17 Games, 59 AB, 18 H, 1 Double, 1 Triple, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 12 SO, 0 SB, 1 CS, 305/359/356/715
Man, you talk about taking the bull by the horns to end the AFL successfully. Sosa did a lot to rebuild his hurting stock these last few weeks.
Over the last two weeks he’s added walks, extra base hits, and regular base hits to his resume and he’s seen all of his stats tick up. More impressively, he’s done this while playing really above average defense at three different positions. I have been very critical of Sosa in the past, but the way that he ended his time in the AFL is truly worth taking note. Once considered to be a top 10 prospect in the system, injuries and struggles have halted his development. Hopefully he can carry that momentum into the 20018 season.
For the first time in two full seasons, I’m bullish on Sosa.
1B/LF/DH John Nogowski: 9 Games, 32 AB, 6 H, 4 Doubles, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO, 188/257/313/570
Some times you want to sound really smart and say really intelligent and insightful things about a player when the truth is, there isn’t much to say that you haven’t already said.
That’s the case with Mr. Nogowski.
He’s a fine player who, because he was the taxi squad player, played very little in Arizona. He showed off his double’s power when he did get to hit and he seemed to prove that he’ll only ever be able to play 1B, which is tough for his offensive profile. Still, it was a successful time in Arizona for the once released former A’s prospect. The Cardinals are fortunate to have this depth piece in their system.
RHP Dailyn Martinez: 1 Appearance, 0.00 ERA, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 HR Allowed, 0 BB, 1 K, 1.20 WHIP, 3.33 BA Against
Martinez made his first appearance in the Dominican League this week and he did very well.
Personally, I”m a big fan of Dailyn. He has good size and a pretty productive repertoire set. 2017 was the first season that he pitched out of the pen and although he had mixed results, he showed the ability to do what needed to be done. I love Martinez as a potential pen arm and I think that 2058 will be a great year for him.
OF Randy Arozarena (Entering Sunday): 31 Games, 132 AB, 41 H, 13 Doubles, 1 Triple, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 5 BB, 30 SO, 6 SB, 3 CS, 311/355/583/938
Yes, Randy did have a walk off HR on Saturday night. Yes, Randy took a walk this week. Yes, he did have a bunch of hits. Yes, He does have his average above .300. Yes, he is our lord and savior and we should worship him accordingly.
For real though, the Mexican League is not a league worth using to evaluate how a player is doing or how a player’s success will transfer to America. There isn’t enough talent or consistency. However, that shouldn’t deter you from celebrating any type of success, especially the dynamic success that Arozarena has had up to this point there. Just try and remember that Anthony Garcia owned that league. Keep that perspective.
Thanks For Reading!