AFL Thoughts, Part 2: Meadows, Profar, etc.

In case you missed Part One of my AFL notes, I covered Clint Frazier, Dominic Smith, Ian Clarkin and five other interesting prospects playing in this year’s Arizona Fall League. Just a disclaimer: I was out in Arizona for fun, and I wasn’t paying too much attention to defensive ability for any one player. These scouting reports would be more complete if I was actually scouting for an MLB organization.

Austin Meadows, L/L OF (PIT)
He’s 6’2″/200 and a plus athlete. He hit .307/.357/.407 in the Florida State League (High-A) and won’t turn 21 until next May. I was excited to watch him play, given the hype around his name, but I wasn’t impressed. Maybe he’s tired, or maybe he doesn’t care about the Fall League, but in those eight PAs, there wasn’t a single one that instilled faith in me. Despite a noticeable confidence approaching the box, he seemed almost apathetic at the plate. I can’t remark on him as a defender, but he’s clearly a good athlete, so I doubt corner outfield would give him too much trouble. With McCutchen, Marte, and Polanco ahead of him though, he’s got a tough road to major-league playing time. In my opinion, the Pirates would be smart to trade him during the offseason and improve their 2016 MLB roster.

Yandy Diaz, R/R 3B (CLE)
Pretty impressive stature; listed at 6’2″…weight could be anywhere between 185-205, but he has above-average athleticism for his size. A Cuban-born defector with fairly natural motions at third base, and good arm action making the throws across the diamond. He turned 24 in August, but he had a pretty solid year at AA (.315/.412/.408). With his size, you’d expect him to hit for more power, but he compensates with the type of plate discipline that may allow him to stick around until something clicks. Based on body alone, I’d compare him to a young Edwin Encarnacion (not anywhere the raw power, though). By no means is Diaz a surefire MLB contributor, but his main detractor is something he has a real chance to build upon. With the frame he has, I still see room for the power to develop, and he could turn into a quality everyday MLB third baseman.

Alex Blandino, R/R INF (CIN)
I just didn’t see the ballplayer in this guy. He made one fairly challenging play at second base, but he had so many empty plate appearances; swinging at first-pitch breaking balls, or taking called third strikes down the heart of the plate. In a hitter-friendly league, he seemed like an automatic out. Blandino was a first-round pick in 2014, and had a pretty solid year at High-A in 2015, but he’ll be 23 to start the season next year. I’d be surprised if Blandino ever lives up to his first-round price tag. Insert pun about him being a ‘bland’ prospect.

Brett Phillips, L/R OF (MIL)
One of the key pieces in the deal that brought Carlos Gomez to Houston, Phillips has a shot to contribute for the Brewers as soon as Opening Day 2016. He’s similar to Clint Frazier, with slightly less muscle mass (and power). As one of my friends noted, “He’s a good downhill runner.” As with Frazier, Phillips strikes out a bit too much, and it could easily be the difference in Phillips being a Quad-A player and an MLB regular. The tools are impressive, though; I could see some Alex Gordon seasons in him.

Adam Brett Walker II, R/R DH/1B (MIN)
Built like a tight end; 6’4″/230+. Great athleticism for his size, yet he was limited to DHing in the AFL. He needs to shorten his swing. His hands drop, causing the barrel of his bat to loop through the zone. He swings and misses at way too many pitches because of a weak top hand. I had essentially written him off after 11 PA…and then he hit a ball over 450 feet.

Photo Credit: Buck Davidson (@BuckDavidson)

The raw power is enormous. At least a 7. When he gets his pitch, he hits it a long way. He hit 31 HRs and stole 13 bases at Double-A Chattanooga, showing the power and athleticism are very real, but only to the tune of a .239/.309/.498 triple-slash as a 23-year old. He lead the Southern league in K-rate, striking out 35% of the time. He’d be lucky to hit .150 in the Majors right now, but he’s not unfixable. If Minnesota’s player development staff can get him to fix his swing plane, this guy could theoretically hit 40 home runs.

Gary Sanchez, R/R C (NYY)
Another big guy, Sanchez looks the part of a major-league catcher. 6’2″/220+, with decent athleticism and an average arm. He’ll never be a stud defensively, but he could theoretically stick as a 120-game catcher. He displayed some pretty lively power, driving home runs to left- and right-center. I spoke with a cranky, yet knowledgeable, Yankees fan who didn’t think much of Sanchez, but I’d be happy to have him in my system. He turns 23 this December, and he’s already posted a .295/.349/.500 slash at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Berre. He could become more of a 1B/DH type with age, but his bat seems good enough to be around average for a DH. If he can stick behind the plate, the Yankees have a very valuable asset on their hands. He could develop into a .260/.340/.450 catcher.

(UPDATE) Jurickson Profar, switch-hitting MI (TEX)
I had the pleasure of seeing his first PA back my first day out there…and (true story), he laced a double to right field and as he was sliding into second base, Nate Orf turned to the dugout and simply said, “He’s back.” The respect this guy gets from his peers is enough to justify the hope alone. Profar’s already had a taste of the dream, whereas many of these guys are working to get there. His swing looks as natural as ever. When I was in attendance, it was a hit parade for the former LLWS Champion. Texas will have a very nice problem come Opening Day 2016, with Odor, Andrus, and Profar. Where he’ll play defensively, I’m not too sure (left field?), but I’m fairly certain he’ll be right back on track come April of next year. Kid’s a special talent.

Overall general thoughts on the AFL from a fan’s perspective: it’s incredible. I stayed with a few friends in the greater Phoenix area, and we split a $120 ‘family pass’ — which permits entrance for up to six people to any and all of the AFL games for the season (including the Fall Star Game and the championship). The four of us were able to attend nine games each in a seven-day span, and we sat in the first row behind home plate or the dugout every time, all for $30 a piece…that’s a little over $3 a game(!). I was able to witness a literal team-wide drum circle going on in the Surprise Saguaros dugout, which rallied them to a dominant 18-3 victory over the Glendale Desert Dogs. The entire week was a fantastic experience at such a reasonable price. If you have a family and want to take your kids to a bunch of professional baseball games, and take in ‘the future of baseball’, do yourself a favor and book a trip for the Arizona Fall League for the same price as taking the family to a regular season MLB game.

I have some more thoughts, particularly on a handful of pitchers, so I’ll be writing up another (shorter) post in the next few days. Again, thanks for reading.





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Leo Walter
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Leo Walter

Your take on Austin Meadows, a player I did see personally in a SSS in AA,is such an outlier compared to the almost unanimous opinions of analysts and scouts, makes me distrust any thing you have to say at all.

maguro
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maguro

Hey, anyone can look bad in 8 PAs.

dgrussel
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dgrussel

Thanks again, nicely done again, I appreciate the write-ups.

Leo Walter
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Leo Walter

Your reply to my comment just verified my original thoughts. Clueless.” He walks around like he owns the place “. Laughable, and a great addition to scouting criteria.