We get to our final wrap up post of the Arizona Fall League, looking at the league champions, the Surprise Saguaros. The Saguaros brought in prospects from the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles.
Leading the charge with an outstanding 1.157 OPS was Boston Red Sox first base prospect Travis Shaw. Shaw led the team with five home runs to go with a .361/.452/.705 triple slash line that also included six doubles, 10 walks and 14 strikeouts in 61 at bats. Shaw had an underwhelming year in Double-A but his patience at the plate is impressive. He has struck out over 100 times in each of the past two regular seasons and by cutting down on his strikeouts and putting the ball in play more, he should increase his chances at a major league spot when Big Papi is finally finished.
Also coming from the Red Sox were two infielders ranked on Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis’s Top 20 list from the AFL. 3B Garin Cecchini (#16) is a contact hitter in a Kevin Youkilis/Wade Boggs mold who was also honored with the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award for the Arizona Fall League. Cecchini’s overall numbers were solid but, like Shaw, his ability to get on base is extraordinary. Cecchini hit .277/.434/.338 with four doubles, 17 walks and 14 strikeouts in 65 at bats.
Second baseman Mookie Betts was ranked at #19 by Mayo and Callis, hitting .271/.373/.368. Betts has only played in High-A in the regular season, so his good AFL showing is a little more impressive than it might otherwise be. Betts consistently shows power and on-base ability with OBPs over .400 in Class-A and High-A ball this season to go along with 15 total home runs (plus one in the AFL).
Ranked #8 by Callis and Mayo, Texas Rangers’ catcher Jorge Alfaro displayed his strong throwing arm and excellent bat, hitting .386/.438/.500 over 70 at bats in Surprise. Most of his season was spent in the Class-A South Atlantic League and Alfaro is only 20 years old, making his great showing even more exciting for Rangers fans. Like many young players, Alfaro strikes out too much (122 times in the regular season and 17 times in the AFL) but fans are hoping that he can become the second coming of Ivan Rodriguez.
Brewers outfield prospect Mitch Haniger and Rangers product, third baseman Ryan Rua each hit four home runs but did so in decidedly different fashion. Haniger hit .280/.354/.480 with eight doubles and 11 walks and only 18 strikeouts in 100 at bats while Rua hit .175/.268/.365 with an “all-or-nothing” approach that led to no other extra-base hits and a team-leading 24 strikeouts in just 63 at bats.
I was hoping for more from Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop who cracked the major league squad in 2013 and had some decent numbers in Triple-A, especially considering that he played the entire season as a 21 year old. In 62 at bats in Arizona, however, Schoop only hit .177/.271/.323 despite hitting three home runs.
The pitching was not this club’s strong point. One of the strongest was Tim Berry from the Orioles who posted a 1.84 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 14 2/3 innings with just three walks and 11 strikeouts. Another strong reliever was Tyler Cravy of the Brewers who had a 2.76 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 16 1/3 innings with 9 walks and 16 strikeouts.
Boston’s Noe Ramirez was very good, using his excellent changeup effectively for Surprise. He threw 14 innings and had a 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, three walks and 11 strikeouts while Milwaukee’s David Goforth was one of the most dominant relievers and picked up four saves in 12 innings, putting up a 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP with four walks and 15 strikeouts.
Finally, Keone Kela, from the Rangers, had the team’s most innings without any earned runs against, throwing 8 2/3 innings, giving up just one unearned run while walking five and striking out 10.
MVP goes to Travis Shaw and Best Pitcher goes to Noe Ramirez.