AFL Scouting: Day 1

November 14, 2011
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper

Rising Stars Game / Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Championship Game


It's no secret that players at the Arizona Fall League are typically running on fumes, especially at this point of the season. Teams are running short on arms who have innings left. And even elite athletes are clearly worn down. There's still plenty of value in scouting out here, though, especially when it's the difference between having no looks at a guy and getting a few.

Jean Segura

Segura caught my eye as much as any prospect I saw today. Built a little like Rickie Weeks, Segura is a high-energy talent with swagger, an aggressive approach at the plate and surprisingly smooth defensive actions given his build. He has quick feet and a quick exchange. While he looks the part of a second baseman, he's a good enough defender to play shortstop in the big leagues.

At the plate, Segura isn't afraid to let it fly. He's also a good contact hitter with a small strike zone -- he's not that tall. He's selective in that he won't chase a lot of pitches he's not looking for, but he'll take some big cuts early in the count. Though he's largely a front-foot hitter, Segura gets his lower body involved in his swing, utilizing his hips to generate power.

Known for his speed, Segura didn't appear to be running at full speed when I saw him today -- he has 5 stolen bases in 8 AFL attempts. He has only been solid through 20 AFL games, but he has the skill set to become an above-average big leaguer. I'll be surprised if he doesn't surface as at least a utility man.

Bryce Harper

As a 19-year-old who had his first full season cut short in August (hamstring), Harper should have more left in his tank than most of the guys out here. Not that he ever has been a deer-in-the-headlights in pro ball, but he definitely is in a comfort zone in the fall league -- it's his second tour through.

Harper swings with plenty of conviction and likes to take a huge hack at the first pitch he sees. He'll also show as much patience as any player his age I've ever scouted. And it's not uncommon for him to attempt to sneak down a bunt.

I wrote in my Rising Stars Game notes that I thought Harper was pressing a lot. Seeing him in action for another day, I'll add that his game speed is a notch above the typical player, but I continue to see a guy who is trying to be a game-changer every time the spot light is on him. He is proving prone to chasing the high fastball. He's also one to overthrow a cutoff man with regularity.

Harper is a lot of fun to watch; you get your money's worth when you see him. He's also one of the best bets in the minors to surface as an above-average big leaguer, but he's not bulletproof. He is going to struggle in the big leagues, especially early on. I have no doubt that he'll figure things out over time. He's still plenty raw, though.


Every aspect of baseball seems natural and easy for Mike Trout. He also shows elite pitch recognition and has impressive natural loft. Unlike some hitters his age, he isn't so fastball hungry that he'll try to turn on pitches that are up-and-in. As a result, he takes a lot of pitches. That said, he's clearly fatigued and not playing at full speed right now.

Tim Wheeler is a tall hitter who can easily drive low pitches into the gaps, creating excellent leverage. His build reminds me of Charlie Blackmon's, but Wheeler is faster and more projectable than Blackmon.

I continue to be impressed by Joe Panik. He has a smooth, easy swing and a professional approach. He's bigger and more of a physical presence than I expected, able to loft balls into the gaps. What's more, he plays within his abilities and doesn't try to do too much at the plate. Panik showed soft hands and natural ability turning the double play from second base. I haven't seen his range tested at shortstop, but given what I've seen so far, second base looks like a more realistic long-term home for him than shortstop -- he's not super athletic with plus arm strength.


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