Winter Ball Notebook: AFL season closes shop
It’s hard to believe, but the Arizona Fall League is set to conclude Saturday with the AFL Championship Game.
Unfortunately, the Salt River Rafters clinched the AFL East Division on Wednesday, so that means that the Scottsdale Scorpions and Cleveland Indians prospects will not get a chance to play for the league title.
Overall, the Scorpions team, composed of players from the Indians, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants, finished 15-16.
Because so many players made up the squad, playing time was limited for Indians prospects, and shortstop Ronny Rodriguez led the way by appearing in 18 of the team’s 31 games.
However, because playing time was so limited for the Indians on the Scorpions, it’s hard to draw any solid, concrete conclusions. That’s not saying that progress was not made. A handful of players put together very solid fall campaigns. But the limited playing time does serve as a reminder that we should not buy in too much to any player’s negative or positive performance in the league.
With that said, it’s still always fun to recognize players for their efforts, so here are my top three 2012 Indians performers in the AFL.
3. Rodriguez, Ronny, SS: 18 G, 16-for-67 (.239), 8 R, 3 2B, 3 3B, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 17 K, 6 SB
The numbers for Rodriguez in the AFL are not perfect by any means. He had too many strikeouts and not enough walks, but there are also a handful of positive signs. While he did not hit a home run in his 18 games played, he did get an opportunity to display some of his other tools, including his speed, which is evident by his three triples and six stolen bases. Plus, he also recorded an eight-game hit streak from Oct. 20 to Nov. 7 where he went 11-for-33. Aside from the strikeouts and lack of walks, there’s really no reason to knock his performance. He ended his season as one of the Tribe’s most promising young prospects, and that remains the case moving forward.
2. Holt, Tyler, OF: 17 G, 18-for-60 (.300), 8 R, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K, 4 SB
Holt had a very nice fall season with the Scorpions. Like Rodriguez, he was not perfect as it would have been nice to see even one extra-base hit, but it’s hard not to like just about everything else that he brought to the table. Out of the 17 games that he played, Holt only went hitless in three contests. Also, he ended the season on a nine-game hit streak, which is a nice sign. It’s only 17 games and as stated earlier, it’s hard to buy too much into any of the stats because it is such a small sample size, but Holt’s performance seems to standout especially after he had an underwhelming 2012 campaign between High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron.
1. Monsalve, Alex, C: 13 G, 16-for-47 (.340), 8 R, 5 2B, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 SB
Monsalve started out relatively slow in the AFL as he went 3-for-22 in his first six games. However, since then Monsalve really heated up and never slowed down. The right-handed hitter ended the season on a seven-game hit streak. Also, within that span, Monsalve put together a dominant 4-for-4 performance on Nov. 8 where he drove in two runs. Monsalve remains a popular prospect because of his ability to possibly be a right-handed hitting catcher with some power. While he did not record a home run in the AFL, he did collect a few doubles, and most of them came within his hitting streak. The streak helped illustrate what Monsalve is capable of when he gets into a zone at the plate, and hopefully it’s a sign of more good things to come from Monsalve in 2013.
While the AFL season will be officially over Saturday, there are still a handful of other players competing in various winter ball leagues. Also, there are other Indians players who just wrapped up their time in the AFL but did not make my list of top performers. So with that being said, some thoughts deep and shallow in regard to last week and some of the fall and winter ball participants…
— What more can be said about second baseman Jose Ramirez. It’s simply become exciting to check the box scores each night and see what kind of line he racked up for Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League. So far, the switch-hitting Ramirez has gone 18-for-47 with two doubles, eight RBI, nine walks and just six strikeouts in 15 games. Ramirez is a rarity because he’s a young Dominican player, but he’s also a young, disciplined Dominican player. It often takes players years to develop plate discipline, but Ramirez already seems to have it. History would tell you that his lack of power prevents him from ever becoming much more than Major League filler, but Ramirez can also prove that notion wrong as long as he continues to hit at such an astonishing rate.
— The Australian Baseball League began play last week and while none of the Indians players in the league are really prospects, there is one that I’ll be keeping a close eye on: catcher Ryan Battaglia. In 29 games with the AZL Indians this past summer, Battaglia hit .214/.382/.417. The interesting thing about the 20-year-old right-handed hitter is that nine of his 18 hits went for extra bases. So far, Battaglia has gone 0-for-3 in one game in the ABL, but it will be interesting to see if he starts to show the power output that he displayed over the summer.
— Outfielder Carlos Moncrief is another Indian who just ended his season in the AFL. Unfortunately, unlike the players referenced above, Moncrief’s results were less than stellar. In 11 games, the left-handed hitter went 7-for-42 with one home run, one RBI, six walks and 19 strikeouts. In fact, Moncrief struck out at least once in every game that he played this fall. It’s a shame to see Moncrief struggle especially because of some of the nice tools that he possesses, but he’s 24-years-old, and time is not on his side. Plate discipline that poor unfortunately does not translate to the Major Leagues. However, it is only 11 games, so there is hope that he just went through a rough stretch.
— Right-handed reliever Hector Rondon has now appeared in 12 games this winter, which is more than any other Indians pitcher. Aside from his first brutal start where he allowed four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning, Rondon has been simply outstanding. He has now gone 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run, and his ERA is down to 5.23. The only negative is the lack of strikeouts as he has only punched out four in 10 1/3 innings of relief work. However, the lack of strikeouts could be attributed to the fact that he is focusing more on getting a feel for all of his pitches, especially since he is still working his way back from a major surgery.
— Ezequiel Carrera made his debut Thursday with Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League and went 1-for-4 with a RBI and stolen base. Carrera is one of those players I have soured on just because he seems to be not much more than Major League filler. Nonetheless, he’s playing winter ball, which seems to indicate he wants to get better, so perhaps there is some hope for him to solidify himself as a solid fourth outfielder in the future.
Stats as of 11/16/12
Steve can be reached via email at email@example.com.