The Arizona League season is just two days old, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any performances of note.
There are several big name prospects in Arizona on rehab assignments. Jorge Soler, Archie Bradley, Taylor Lindsey, and Nick Williams have all made AZL appearances already, and are making impacts across the league.
Bradley went four innings on Saturday night, giving up five hits and two runs, but he did strike out six. Soler went 3/5 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs in his lone game thus far, and Lindsey went 1/3 in his only AZL game before moving up to Orem in the Pioneer League to continue his rehab.
I was at the Rangers season opener as they hosted the Padres, and Nick Williams was in the lineup for the Rangers. He went 1-4 on Friday night and drew a walk, followed by another 1-4 night on Saturday. He assisted throwing out the first batter of the game who doubled, but was caught trying to stretch it into a triple. He also scored two runs in the season opener, including scoring on a sac fly to shallow right field where appeared to hurt his ankle on the catcher’s shin guards, but stayed in the game and is no worse for wear.
The Friday night game saw the first pro hits from high draft picks Ti’Quan Forbes, Josh Morgan, and Michael Gettys, with Morgan’s first technically coming on a scoring correction. In his second trip to the plate, he was hit by a pitch in his firsts, Morgan hit a sharp ball to the third baseman on a ball that certainly could have been fielded but would have been a very good play. I was sitting in the press box with the official scorers of the game, and they originally gave an error on the play, but after much deliberation and thought, changed it to a hit after the game.
Luke Lanphere got the start that night for the Rangers, and he looked really good over four scoreless innings. He struck out six, walked one, hit a batter, and gave up four hits. He started to lose his command in the third inning, hitting the first batter of the innings, and getting deeper into counts than in previous innings, but bounced back by striking out the last two batters of the innings. Lanphere is not a hard thrower, topping out at 89 MPH on the stadium gun although I have seen him touch as high as 92 in Extended Spring Training, but his best pitch on Friday was clearly the curveball. It is a slow curve, 70-73 MPH, but it is big and had batters off balance all night. It is an average pitch right now, but is his only pitch that has plus potential and will probably be the pitch that carries him to higher levels of the Minor Leagues.
The best pitching performance in the league thus far belongs to Seattle Mariners prospect Luiz Gohara. The lefty went 6.2 innings against the White Sox Saturday night, allowing five hits, one walk, and a single unearned run, but also struck out nine in the process.
There will be plenty of first hand reports to come from the Arizona League this summer, along with a weekly recap every Sunday, so stay tuned for more notes on prospects from the lowest rung on the Minor League ladder.