Week 4 was the week of the Rising Stars Game and the beginning of our in-person coverage of the Arizona Fall League.
"In the first few weeks of the AZFL, Freddie Freeman hit more balls hard right at defenders than I had seen in a while. Over the last week and a half, those hard hit balls have been finding the gaps for hits and he also hit an impressive opposite field homerun." -- Jeff Lyman
The AFL lost another notable player this week, as Nick Weglarz was sent home with a stress fracture in his right leg. He had a metal rod inserted to stabilize the area surrounding the stress fracture.
Matt Dominguez -- After a sluggish start, Dominguez' bat seemed to wake up this week. He had three extra-base hits and two walks in 12 plate appearances -- and only one strikeout.
Thomas Neal -- Neal really impressed us when we saw him on Friday. He made loud contact and had good patience at the plate. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is coming off a breakout year. And at first glance, I found his performance to be encouraging. His defense was impressive at first base: good instincts, footwork and glovework -- he didn't play any first base in San Jose but he's made his last two AFL starts there. He was a guy who we were surprised to see left off the Rising Stars Game roster.
Rising Stars Notes
Stephen Strasburg was scratched as the starting pitcher for the East Division in the Rising Stars Game due to neck soreness. We saw him in the Phoenix dugout Friday and he didn't appear to be hindered. The word around the AFL is that he will not be removed from the league due to whatever kept him out of Saturday's showcase event.
Grant Desme -- After his torrid pace out of the gate, Desme is beginning to slow down. He hasn't hit a home run in his last seven games, and only has one extra-base hit during that span. He looked awful at the plate on Friday, going 0-for-4 with three ugly strikeouts. His long swing is a big source of his power but also makes him very prone to striking out. Desme had one hit and a strikeout in three plate appearances on Saturday.
Mike Minor -- Minor had a rough go against a stacked lineup. In just two-thirds of an inning, he gave up seven hits, walked a batter, and had an errant pickoff attempt. His fastball sat in the 89-90 MPH range, topping out at 91 MPH. While he didn't look very good, this is too small a sample size to get too concerned over. Minor is still a promising pitcher.
Mike Leake -- Leake, on the other hand, fared fantastically well. He struck out three batters, while topping 90 MPH only twice. His off-speed stuff was stellar -- he had a lot of late break. Of his 17 pitches thrown, he generated four swing-throughs. Leake hit his spots well and was really impressive overall.
Tanner Scheppers -- Scheppers was just as impressive as Leake. His power fastball generated more buzz than any occurrence last night. The pitch sat around 97 MPH and touched 99 MPH twice. Nobody hit anything hard against him. And he was in control against all three of the batters he faced. Scheppers looked every bit the part of the fast-riser we predicted prior to the 2009 Draft.
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