The first full week of the Arizona League is in the books, and there are plenty of quality prospects scattered throughout the greater Phoenix area.
Alex Jackson, the sixth overall pick in the year’s draft, has been assigned to the AZL Mariners this week, and has three games of pro ball under his belt now. While at the game against the Reds on Saturday night, I got to see Jackson go 1-5 with a strikeout, but the one hit really stood out. While his swing does get long at times and I would like to see how he does against a quality breaking ball, when he stays compact in the swing, it is a real plus tool.
On Saturday, he got an 88 MPH fastball on the outside corner, tracked the ball extremely well, and ripped a single up the middle just past the second baseman. The ball really jumps off his bat is a way it is rare to see at this level, and there really is a chance he can be special. He played left field, as he is not likely to see much time behind the plate, and he looks a bit lost in the outfield, even turning in a fielding error. He is still very young, just 18, so there is plenty of time for him to improve, but his bat-to-ball skills and power will be his carrying tools.
While Jackson is the highest profile recent draft pick in the AZL, he has a teammate that just might be the best player in the league. Luiz Gohara is a 17-year old lefty out of Brazil that struggled as a 16-year old last season in the Appy league, but is off to a fantastic start so far in the AZL. In his two starts, he has gone 12.2 innings and allowed just three earned runs, a 2.13 ERA, and struck out 16 batters while walking just two.
There are others who have a strikeout rate that can challenge Gohara, Jesus Zambrano of the Athletics and Luis Martinez of the White Sox, but both are having trouble preventing the opposing team from scoring given the best ERA between the two is 4.50.
Angel Ventura of the Brewers isn’t striking many people out, but he has managed to post an ERA of 1.80 and earn a win in both his starts thus far.
At the plate, nobody has more extra base hits than Jonas Lantigua and only Sthervin Matos has the same amount. While Matos has a mix of four doubles and a pair of home runs, all of Lantigua’s extra base hits, and ¾ of all his base hits, have come via the double. Lantigua is listed as 6’5” and 205 lbs., but seems much larger. He will struggle to hit for much of an average, currently hitting .242, but that double power will almost certainly turn into home runs in the near future. I have written up a full first hand report on him during Extended Spring Training.
There is little argument that the best infield in the AZL belongs to the Rangers, with Ti’Quan Forbes, Yeyson Yrizarri, and Josh Morgan often manning third, short, and second respectively. Between the smooth fielding infield and a mix of some quality players coming through on rehab assignments, the Rangers remain the only unbeaten team in the league with a record of 6-0.