Oct 21st, 2009

Arizona Fall League Update

By Dan Santaromita

The Arizona Fall League is upon us. The prestigious league is a minor league scout’s dream. A collection of good prospects in the same league with games within short driving distance of each other.

The Peoria Javelinas, the club where the White Sox prospects are playing, is 5-3 with a league leading .332 batting average. Yes, .332 as a team. The AFL is certainly a hitters’ league and the White Sox hitters have contributed to that. Let’s start by taking a look at how the Sox hitters are doing through the Javelinas’ first 8 games.

C.J. Retherford: 6-15 (.400), 2 3B, 5 RBI, 2 R, BB, K, .438 OBP, .667 SLG, 1.104 OPS

Jordan Danks: 8-22 (.364), 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 1/1 SBA, .462 OBP, .727 SLG, 1.189 OPS

Dayan Viciedo: 6-18 (.333), 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, BB, 6 K

The three hitters the Sox sent to the Phoenix area are clearly the team’s best AFL prospects. All three are off to a hot start in the heat of Arizona. It’s nice to see Danks hit for power, even if it’s in Arizona. The same goes for Viciedo, but striking out in almost 1/3 of his plate appearances is a concern. Danks and Viciedo have a strong case to be the two most intriguing White Sox hitting prospects in 2010 because both are coming off disappointing seasons and are well regarded talents. As for Retherford, he continues to hit at every level. He could be a third contender for playing time at second base next year with a good spring and a hot start in AAA.

Meanwhile, the pitchers haven’t been as successful, which isn’t much of a surprise.

Justin Cassel: 5.2 IP, 9.53 ERA, 8 R (6 ER), 6 K, 2 BB, 11 H in 2 starts

Sergio Santos: 5 IP, 5.40 ERA, 3 R, 5 K, BB, 7 H (2 HR) in 3 games

Matt Long: 5.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 4 R, 5 K, 0 BB, 8 H in 3 games

Jacob Rasner: 1.1 IP, 33.75 ERA, 5 R, 0 K, BB, 6 H in 2 games

The Sox sent a bunch of fringe prospects to Arizona, but Santos is a more interesting case. The converted infielder has big time heat on his fastball, but needs to refine his stuff. If he improves he could become a high upside reliever. As for the others, Cassel and Rasner are running out of chances. An awful 2009 from Cassel bumped his prospect status and Rasner has been mediocre throughout his career. Long, a 2nd rounder in 2006, had a strong campaign for the Barons, pitching out of the bullpen for the first time since 2006. However, his fastball is only in the high 80s and the rest of his stuff hasn’t been as good as expected so it’s hard to see him as a top prospect.

Let’s not put too much stock into barely more than a week in a fall league, but the Arizona Fall League is a true hidden gem of baseball and is worth following if you are going through early offseason anxiety. For daily updates on the AFL follow us on our Twitter and check out the AFL home page.

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