Arizona Fall League: Week 1 in Review

October 16, 2006
Prospect Watch: Pitching

Despite its reputation as a pure hitting league, the AFL also yields insight into the progress of young pitchers. This year, especially, seems pretty packed with highly regarded prospects.

Opening day featured two stud right-handers making impressive entrances into Arizona’s hitting-friendly atmosphere:

Jeff Niemann - Three scoreless innings to start the game, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out four. The 2004 First-round pick (No. 4 Overall) threw 53 pitches with a 32:21 ratio.

Luke Hochevar - Three innings to start the game, allowing one run on two hits and one walk while striking out a pair. The 2006 No.1 Overall pick threw 41 pitches with a 23:18 ratio.

Twins prospect, Kevin Slowey, pitched a scoreless ninth, recording a save.

Kevin Slowey - Needed just 10 pitches (six strikes) to end the game, yielding a lone single. Surprisingly, Slowey came back Friday to pitch 2.2 innings in relief after entering the game in the third. He allowed one run on 3 hits, and posted a solid 27:16 ratio. For the week he went 3.2 innings, four hits, no walks, and one strikeout.


A good relief appearance by a Astros top prospect Troy Patton, as well as poor start by a Texas pitching hopeful John Koronka:

Troy Patton - Two scoreless innings after coming on in the third, yielding just one hit and one walk while striking out a batter. The 21-year-old lefthander threw 31 pitches for a 20:11 ratio.

John Koronka - Struggled in the first inning of his start, yielding four hits to his first five batters. The 26-year-old wouldn’t allow another baserunner but did allow three runs in his two innings of work, giving up four hits while striking out one, and throwing 36 pitches for a 19:17 ratio.

Three top prospects in starting roles and one in relief. Jordan Tata looked electric, The Mets’ duo of Phil Humber and Mike Pelfrey pitched solidly enough, while Gio Gonzalez suffered:

Jordan Tata - Allowed only a solo home run in three very strong innings while striking out five. The 25-year-old Tiger looked dominant while posting a 30:13 ratio.

Phil Humber - Struck out three batters in two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk in the process. He finished with a 20:13 ratio

Mike Pelfrey - Followed right behind Humber with an inning of relief. Despite struggling with his control (two walks, 8:9 ratio), Pelfrey struck out a batter and held the opposition scoreless.

Gio Gonzalez - Started, but only lasted one inning. The first three batters Gonzalez faced reached -- two hits and a walk; Gonzalez retired the next three in order, including a strikeout, but allowed two runs. He finished with a 20:13 ratio.

Prospect Watch: Hitting

As usual there are a bunch of recognized hitter names in the AFL, although in truth many top names didn’t make the trip. Here’s an alphabetical list of some of the week’s notable names and their performances:

Ryan Braun - Opened the short season with three RBI’s, including a two-run jack in the seventh inning of a tie game. For the week, the Brewer’s 3B prospect went 7-of-18, including two home runs and two doubles, knocking in nine runs. Braun posted a 1.283 OPS, although revealingly, for a prospect whose ability to field the position is in question, Braun hit from the DH spot.

Trevor Crowe - Cleveland’s speedy prospect debuted with a three-for-five hitting display… but then made two errors in the same inning -- the conversion to second base appears to be over. Crowe .476 over the week (10-of-21), with no walks. He did steal two bases.

Eric Duncan - The 21-year-old Yankee prospect did not look impressive, managing just four singles in 20 at-bats, with five strikeouts.

Jacob Ellsbury - Possibly the Red Sox future center fielder, Ellsbury struggled in the opening week, registering just three singles in 18 at-bats. He did walk three times, though, and stole two bases.

Joe Koshansky - After stroking 31 home runs this year in AA Tulsa, Koshansky entered the AFL on a high note. He registered just four hits in 15 at-bats, but included a home run and a double. He also walked a league-high five times, while striking out the same amount.

Kevin Kouzmanoff - The Indians’ masher got into just one contest, going 3-for-4 with a double. Business as usual for the guy who hit .380 in the minors this year.

Fernando Martinez - Celebrated his 18th birthday on opening day… but proceeded to go hitless in three at-bats. Actually, Martinez managed just a lone single in his 15 at-bats, striking out four times. The older competition is winning right now.

Nolan Reimold - The Orioles prospect turned 23 this week, and unlike Martinez, he celebrated in style. In three games he posted five hits (three doubles) and two walks, for an OPS of 1.299.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia - Committed three errors on opening day for a rough beginning. In his two games, he walked twice and went 5-of-9, although none went for extra bases.

Troy Tulowitzki - One of most highly regarded position prospects in the AFL this season, the shortstop appeared just twice, hitting a pair of singles in seven at-bats. He walked once and did not strike out -- music to Colorado’s ears.