Arizona Fall League Wrap: DeShields and Spangenberg lead the way for Peoria

Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Brett Nicholas (left) is congratulated by Houston Astros outfielder Delino DeShields after hitting a solo home run against East during the fourth inning of the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s edition of the AFL Wrap, we’ll take a look at the Peoria Javelinas club which was populated by players from the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals organizations.

The team’s leading hitter (in terms of average) was San Diego second base prospect Cory Spangenberg. At 22, Spangenberg looks like he’s a good defensive player with excellent contact skills but little power to speak of. In three years since being drafted, he has never hit more than six home runs in a season and he’s not exactly a prodigious doubles/triples hitter either. In the AFL, he hit .308/.357/.492 with four doubles, a triple and two home runs, so perhaps he’s starting to come into more power. He only walked five times and historically isn’t a particularly patient hitter but he limited strikeouts to 17 in 64 at bats which isn’t bad. His base stealing was excellent in the AFL though, with seven stolen bases in eight attempts.

Leading the team in home runs was Astros prospect Japhet Amador. The 26 year old tips the scales at 6’4″ and 305 pounds but earned a contract with the Astros after a huge season in the Mexican league hitting 36 home runs and hitting .368. The biggest concern for Amador is his strikeout rate with 17 in the AFL and just one walk but still had an impressive .507 SLG and .284 batting average. Needless to say, Amador won’t be stealing any bases. He has returned to Mexico to play in their offseason league and will likely return to Triple-A for the Astros in 2014.

Center fielder Delino DeShields has some great bloodlines and really showed that he belonged in the AFL. He hit .275/.383/.362 and flashed his outstanding speed with eight stolen bases in 11 attempts. While he didn’t hit any home runs, he did hit four doubles and a triple. While he struck out a lot (21 times in 69 at bats), he also was able to get on base and lead the club in OBP by taking 12 walks.

Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges stood out with his outstanding defense and solid hitting. He hit .273/.333/.400 with five doubles and a triple. He walked 5 times and struck out 14 times in only 55 at bats, meaning that he could use a little more polish at the plate. Hedges struggled after he was promoted to Double-A and I’m sure he’ll use the AFL experience to grow as a ballplayer.

Royals prospect Jason Adam had the best K/BB ratio of the starting pitchers for Peoria. Adam threw 29 innings, striking out 24 and walking only seven but got burned enough to inflate his ERA to 4.03 despite a 1.10 WHIP. Adam had mediocre numbers in Double-A but he just turned 22 in August and repeating the year at the same level won’t be a tragedy.

Astros prospect Matt Heidenreich had the best ERA for the starters, keeping it to 2.14 over 21 innings with 18 strikeouts and nine walks. Heidenreich was definitely strong, holding batters to a .194 average and if he can keep the walks down, he’ll be able to post better WHIP ratios than the 1.10 he had in Arizona. The 6’5″ righty is also only 22 and reached Double-A in an injury shortened season.

Seattle’s Dominic Leone was strong, posting a 15:1 K/BB ratio out of the bullpen while the Padres’ Keyvius Sampson limited the opposition to just one earned run over 11 1/3 innings. Finally, the Padres’ Dennis O’Grady was the only pitcher to not allow a run, holding the opposition off the board for 9 1/3 innings, striking out eight.

My vote for Team MVP is Cory Spangenberg and Top Pitcher is Matt Heidenreich.

Topics: Houston Astros, San Diego Padres

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