’11 Arizona Fall League Rosters Announced
Or at least the Mariners part is, i.e. the only part we care about. Hit it, Twitter.
The four pitchers we’ll be sending are LHP Danny Hultzen, LHP Brian Moran, RHP Forrest Snow, and RHP Steven Hensley. For catcher, we have C Adam Moore, on the infield, SS Nick Franklin, and OF Chih-Hsien Chiang in the outfield. Since someone asked yesterday, that means I got two names right. Thinking about mentioning Chiang accounts for nothing.
Hultzen would figure to be a member of the rotation down there, which would mean about six starts or so. I’d say he’s getting his feet wet, but in Arizona the term isn’t especially applicable. I can’t say he’s getting his uniform dirty either because as a pitcher he’d probably be doing something wrong if that were the case. The broader strokes we’ve already talked about here: Hultzen was regarded as perhaps the most major league-ready talent in the draft, commanding a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and throwing quality change-ups and sliders in addition to that. While the secondary offerings can be improved a little, the breaking ball notably, there isn’t a lot that is holding him back right now unless you want to talk about arm slot consistency or some such thing. The Mariners said when he signed that Hultzen would be given the opportunity to compete for a job in the starting rotation, and with Fister and Bedard gone, he’d figure to have a legitimate shot. However, if he doesn’t light the world on fire down there (we’ve been spoiled by Ackley in the AFL the past couple of years), it’s not going to hurt his case much. Arizona is a bad place to pitch and it’s only a few games.
Snow would probably be the surprise pick for me though not because he’s not talented. If we pointed out something like “most improved player” after a draft class got its chance to settle in, Snow would be at the top of the list for the 2010 crop, adding velocity and moving rapidly through the system, even pitching so well in spot starts in Tacoma that they allowed him to stick around full-time. No, what surprises me about it is that the past week or so, Snow hasn’t been in the rotation, losing his starting spot to Luke French of all guys. I would view that kind of move broadly as something to be done to limit innings, but now they’re sending him to the AFL and I don’t know what that’s supposed to signal. Do they intend to start him down there, or will it be more relief and bullpen work, trying to refine command and secondary offerings? I guess we’ll know once they get rolling.
I highlighted Moran a couple of weeks ago as a relief prospect that I had been tracking a bit and seemed to have put things together in the second half. Right now, we’re looking at a .195 average since the all-star break compared to a .337 before, a 10.42 K/9 compared to 7.77, and a 2.94 BB/9 to 3.70, and that doesn’t even get into him chopping his HR rate by more than a third. The perplexing thing for me is that left-handers are having a much easier time hitting him and drawing walks when before he was regarded as a left-on-left guy, and because I can’t avoid repeating myself, left-handed relievers who can only get right-handed bats out aren’t so valuable. He didn’t pitch much to start the year, so I’d say this is more about innings than anything.
For Hensley, it’s also about innings, and regaining command, and demonstrating that he’s healthy, and other things that come accompanied by innings. He pitched 28.0 through six starts spanning the first three months. That’s pretty weak. He also had a rough time in July, but his command has started to clean up a bit in August, while still not being at acceptable levels. Hensley’s due to need to be added to the 40-man in the offseason. This might make an impression to the higher ups, but I wouldn’t have him on the short list at this point. Injury history and all, plus any team that would want to take him only has 2009 as the really strong year to go off of with him, and there would seem to be better investments.
I don’t know what to say about Moore that hasn’t been said already. He’s been up the high minors for what feels like forever, wrecked his knee in the early part of the season, and somehow in spite of these realities may be one of the better options we have internally, in the high minors or elsewhere (because, you know, Marder is hurt and Baron still can’t hit). This will be a glorified rehab assignment after the minor league season for a guy who has reportedly been working on the side with the major league club for some time now. Will he hit? Will his knees not explode? Will we have to go another year with a tandem of Miguel Olivo and either Chris Gimenez or Josh Bard? All of these are relevant question for a team that has a history of terrible hitting catchers.
Stamina would be one concern of mine in sending Franklin to the AFL, since he was out with mono for a while after getting a concussion. This seems like a very Mariners thing to have happen to a prospect, but hey, I don’t pay all that much attention to other team’s farm systems and it’s still got nothing on Grant Desme leaving for the priesthood. Franklin opened the season hitting .275/.356/.411 with half his games in High Desert, the same place that saw all the insanity last week that I already addressed and a game back in 2009 in which fifty-one runs scored. We’ve never seen a good prospect not hit in Adelanto, so it was a little disturbing for us, even if his plate discipline was improving greatly. Since rejoining the Generals he’s been hitting .280/.308/.440, which is still lacking somwhat in power and discipline, but not half bad considering. I could see Franklin opening next year in Jackson, but the org has been aggressive with him and other prospects in the recent past and for all I know this is a Rainiers audition.
Chiang is a guy that I sort of anticipated going to the league so I’ll just explain why right now. Chiang has been horrible since arriving in the Southern League. The broad strokes would be that he went from .340/.402/.648 in Portland to .211/.269/.275 in Jackson. The micro stuff is that he went from 54% of his hits going for extras to 27%, a .376 BABIP to a .275 BABIP, 17% of his plate appearances resulting in strikeouts to 21.7% Ks, and roughly 7% walks in his plate apperances to 5.2%. Everything has gotten worse since he got here and I haven’t heard any reasoning yet for why. One would think that if he had the nutritional information to work with and that was what had previously held him back, he’s just adhere to that gameplan and be aces from here out, but something is obviously amiss here. I don’t know what they expect to see out of him, but I hope they figure something out.
Overall, it’s a good crop of mostly interesting players some of whom will be playing nearly every day. If the playoffs aren’t your thing, feel free to partake in one of the other joys of October baseball.