Monday, October 10, 2011

Dozier heating up in Arizona

The Arizona Fall League (AFL) offers top prospects the chance to shine in the months following the minor league season. The Twins have sent many promising stars to this league in previous years. It also offers young players an opportunity to compete with and against some of the high level talent from other organizations. It is an honor to be selected to play in the AFL and some players take advantage of the opportunity while others can struggle against the tough competition

Brian Dozier was one of the hottest prospects in the Twins organization in 2011. As a budding young shortstop, Dozier helped to keep New Britain in the playoff hunt for most of the season. His play also caught the eye the organization and there was a chance that he could have been called up at the end of the season. That call up never came but it still does not take away from the great campaign Dozier put together for the Rock Cats and Miracle.

Dozier Stat Summary (2011)
Teams: Fort Myers and New Britain
9 HR, 12 3B, 33 2B
92 R, 56 RBI, 24 SB

The Twins decided that Dozier's performance this season was good enough to be selected to the AFL and in his time there he has carried over his great play from this season. After a four for four day at the plate on Thursday, Dozier has situated himself in the top ten in batting for all players in the AFL. This puts him ahead of big name prospects like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. It is a very small sample size but Dozier is showing he belongs with some of the best prospects in the game.

Dozier Stat Summary (AFL)
Team: Mesa Solar Sox
1 HR, 1 2B
4 R, 3 RBI

All of the Twins prospects in the AFL were assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox and the Sox are off to a rough start in their AFL season. The hot hitting of Dozier has not translated to victories and the Sox have failed to win a game in their five contests so far. The losses can be tough for a team that has only been put together in the last couple weeks. But for many of the players, it is about development for their future.

Dozier is joined in the AFL by a handful of other players from the Twins farm system. Chris Herrmann was a catcher for both Fort Myers and New Britain in 2011. He has caught two games so far in the AFL and continued to show some positive signs for the future. The other hitter for the Twins in the AFL is former first round pick Aaron Hicks who is entering the AFL season after a tough offensive campaign during the minor league season. Those struggles have followed him to the deserts of Arizona but he is playing against many prospects that competed at higher levels this season.

Other Hitters Stat Summary (AFL)
Hicks: .000/.071/.000, 1 BB, 4 K
Herrmann: .500/.750/1.000, 2 DBL, 1 RBI, 2 BB

The AFL has traditionally been a hitters league and this makes pitching in this league difficult. The pitchers the Twins sent to Arizona have followed this pattern so far in the AFL. All four of the hurlers from the Twins minor leagues have an ERA in the double digits but there is still time for them to improve those numbers. For most of them, the only place for their ERA to go is down. 

Pitchers Stat Summary (AFL)
Cole DeVries: 2.2 IP, 10.12 ERA, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 HR
Brett Jacobson: 1.2 IP, 16.20 ERA, 3 ER, 3 H
Bruce Pugh: 2.1 IP, 19.29 ERA, 5 ER, 5 H, 1 HR
Dakota Watts: 2.2 IP, 16.87 ERA, 5 ER, 4 H, 1 HR

The Twins season is complete but there are still plenty of players to keep an eye on during the fall season. These prospects can offer hope of a brighter future that does not include a 99-loss season. There is also a chance that names like Dozier and Herrmann could fit into the plans of the 2012 Minnesota Twins. The future could be now for these young men. 

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