I know it’s been quiet ’round here, but the lights are still on. We’re just waiting for something to happen.
AFL TO BEGIN ON TUESDAY
After announcing the roster with all the fanfare of free shuttle, the Nats octet of minor-leaguers begin their six-week sojourn in the Phoenix suburbs with an afternoon game in Surprise. While we can be assured of Carter Kieboom playing often, the rest of the crew is a little harder to predict (aside from Tres Barrera, who, as one of four catchers will probably play once or twice a week, max). My guess is that Luis Reyes will be one of the starting pitchers, continuing his late-season rehab, while the three southpaws work in relief with Ben Braymer getting the most work and Taylor Guilbeau getting the least.
LUIS GARCIA NAMED TO ANOTHER BA TOP 20 LIST
As predicted last week, Baseball America double-dipped again and named Luis Garcia to another Top 20 List, making the 18-y.o. SS its #2 pick for its Sally League Top 20. There was also this mention in the Q&A:
Garcia is one of the more advanced young hitters in low Class A. He has a little bit of a thicker lower-half, so picture a well-built second baseman as far as a body comp more than a quick-twitch shortstop.
TJ FOR YASEL ANTUNA?
In the Sally League Top 20 Chat with J.J. Cooper, there was this bombshell on Yasel Antuna:
Injuries ruined his season. He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, but even before the surgery it seemed to affect him both in the field and at the plate. There is legitimate hitting ability buried in there, but he wasn’t as aggressive at the plate or defensively this year. It does make sense for him to return to Hagerstown, but there is some confidence than he is better than what he looked like in 2018. He has the tools to be an everyday MLB regular, but he has a lot of work to do physically and mentally to get there.
I searched high and low but couldn’t find any corroborating information, which is difficult because as far as I can tell Antuna is just the second position player (Matt Skole) to have had the surgery, so it’s extremely hard to parse from the parade of pitchers. Given that there was no mention in either the 2018 of 2017 books, the logical deduction is that he had the surgery in August as his last game was on July 19.
Still pretty light: Carlos Torres, Moises Sierra, and Tommy Milone all elected free agency.
THE AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS
For the first time since 2012, the Doubledays saw postseason action as the wildcard. Thanks to a quirk in scheduling, it was also the first time they faced the Renegades in 2018 was in the NYPL Playoffs and Hudson Valley easily dispatched Auburn 2-0 in the best-of-three semifinals.
Like the 2017 edition, Auburn could hit: 4.6 R/G was third-best in the circuit, but, thanks to a trio teenagers (Israel Pineda, Jose Sanchez, Ricardo Mendez), the team’s hitters were only a shade older than the league average (21.0 vs. 20.9) in age. The real improvement from 2017 to 2018 was in pitching and defense. The former allowed 4.30 R/G (4.36 R/G Lg. Avg.) and the latter was second-best in terms of FA (.975 vs. .970).
Just two of the pitchers surpassed 50IP – Francys Peguero and Angel Guillen. I suspect most eyes will be on this trio of portsiders: Tim Cate, Aaron Fletcher, and Carlson Teel. All of three spent time at multiple levels, with Cate making it up to Low-A for two good starts and two not-so-good starts.
Without further ado, the Top 5’s
|TOP 5 BATS||TOP 5 ARMS|
|1. Pablo O’Connor, LF
.266 GPA, 5HR, .460 SLG%
|1. Aaron Fletcher, LHP
2.48/1.79/1.14, 9.93 K/9IP, 0.93 BB/9
|2. Justin Connell, RF
.261 GPA, .420 OBP
|2. Angel Guillen, RHP
2.84/3.50/1.12, 11WP in 57IP
|3. Cody Wilson, CF
.257 GPA, 15 of 50 hits for XBH
|3. Gilberto Chu, LHP
3.66/2.70/1.22, 1.97 BB/9IP
|4. Jacob Rhinesmith, LF-RF
.256 GPA, 27BB in 63G
|4. Francys Peguero, RHP
2.93/4.27/1.00, 6.12 K/9IP
|5. Israel Pineda, C
.250 GPA, 41% CS
|5. Carson Teel, LHP
2.20/3.03/1.13, 1.65 BB/9
You may have noticed that I did not put an “S” or an “R” with the pitchers. This is because many of them started and relieved, which is something I’m quite cool with because I don’t believe in “roles” — a pitcher’s job is to throw strikes, after all.
An honorable mention goes to Niomar Gomez, who was the #5 pitcher in the GCL and put up much better numbers in the NYPL, as his FIP indicated he would. Likewise for Gage Canning, who was dominant in a short stint (.316 GPA over 14G) in the NYPL but not in the Sally Lg., though he was close to league-average (.235 vs. .237) which is not too shabby for a 21-y.o. in his first pro season.
Those interested in seeing the full team’s stats can find them here.