The 2013 Arizona Fall League has come to a close and we’ll review the performances of some of the top prospects who participated. The Glendale Desert Dogs received minor leaguers from five organizations, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds, the Miami Marlins, the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. With such strong minor league systems (particularly the Twins’), it’s a wonder that the Desert Dogs only finished with a 13-16-2 record.
Byron Buxton, MLB’s top prospect, closed his AFL season early after a shoulder injury sidelined him. He hit only .212/.288/.404 but still managed to impress the scouts in attendance despite a very unimpressive showing. His injury must have been a huge factor because he didn’t look like the #1 prospect in the minors when he appeared on MLB TV for the Fall League but with an offseason, look for Buxton to start the year in Double-A and move up quickly if he continues the dominance that he showed in the 2013 regular season.
One of the more impressive AFL seasons was put together by Desert Dogs outfielder Jared Mitchell who rebounded from a very poor season with the Chicago White Sox’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. Mitchell led Glendale in home runs (5), OPS (1.005) and stolen bases (6) showing an all-around game with a .302 batting average and .425 OBP. Mitchell walked 14 times to 17 strikeouts for an excellent ratio.
Cincinnati Reds’ prospect Yorman Rodriguez opened some eyes with his bat, but his defense made people want to look away. Dropping a ball and air-mailing a throw in the AFL “Fall Stars” game, Rodriguez also hit .271/.323/.435 with four home runs and three stolen bases. Rodriguez struggles with the strikeouts, whiffing 27 times (most on the team) in 85 at bats.
Outfielder Brent Keys from the Marlins’ organization had one of the best batting averages on the club, hitting .319/.382/.391. Despite having little power, Keys followed up a very strong season spent mostly in the Florida State League where he hit .346 with an excellent AFL campaign.
Reliever Nick Wittgren, also from the Marlins, opened a lot of eyes by following his outstanding season (mostly in the Florida State League) with an outstanding fall. Wittgren threw 13 2/3 innings and allowed just one run on six hits and two walks (for a 0.59 WHIP) with a whopping 19 strikeouts. Wittgren was probably the best relief pitcher in the AFL this season.
Minnesota’s Alex Meyer was also impressive, picking up an extra 26 innings of work in the Arizona Fall League after an injury shortened season in Double-A. Meyer sported a 3.12 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP with 28 strikeouts and just seven walks. His high-90s fastball and excellent stuff had the scouts in attendance drooling over his potential.
Another Marlins prospect, Andrew Heaney, had an excellent fall with Glendale. Heaney worked 27 2/3 innings with a 1.95 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 24 strikeouts and nine walks.
For team MVP and Best Pitcher, my votes go to Jared Mitchell and Nick Wittgren.