Tuesday, October 29, 2013

UPDATE: Minnesota Twins in the AFL

Around the country, the weather continues to feel more like fall but in Arizona the weather is just right for playing baseball. The Arizona Fall League is a place for the top prospects in baseball to gather to continue to work on their baseball skills. This showcase of top level talent from multiple organizations helps scouts and front office evaluate the talent across the game.

The Twins sent players with very familiar names as majority of this year's AFL attendees rank near the top of the club's prospect list. Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario are two of the best hitting prospects in the organization. Alex Meyer and Trevor May are two starting pitching prospects that could help the Twins rotation as early as this coming season.

Let's head down to the "Valley of the Sun" and see how these big name prospects have performed so far in the AFL.

Byron Buxton, OF 
Stat Summary: .206/.263/.412, 2 HR, 1 2B, 6 R, 11 SO
Accolades have been thrown at Buxton for most of this season as he is widely considered the game's best prospect. There have been a few struggles for Buxton in Arizona. In seven games, he has been limited to seven hits over 34 at-bats. Close to half of those hits have been for extra-bases so his power continues to be better than expected. Since he is getting on base less than 27% of the time, he has been limited to one steal in one attempt.

Eddie Rosario, 2B
Stat Summary: .279/.304/.302, 0 HR, 1 2B, 1 R, 7 SO
Rosario has played in 10 games so far in the AFL. His 12 total hits rank him second on his team and this has helped to raise his batting average. There hasn't been much power from Rosario as he has one extra-base hit out of 12 total hits. He has multiple hits in four out of his 10 starts. Rosario has gone 6-for-13 versus left-handed pitching and 6-for-30 versus right-handed pitching. It would be nice to see some more power from Rosario as the AFL continues to go on.

Max Kepler, 1B/OF
Stat Summary: .250/.311/.350, 0 HR, 4 2B, 6 R, 6 SO
Kepler's four doubles are the most on the Glendale Desert Dogs and his six runs scored are good enough to rank him third. Facing many pitchers older than himself, Kepler has been able to control his strikeouts and still get on base over 31% of the time. His slugging percentage is over .200 points higher versus left-handed pitching as he has gone 4-for-13 with a double. Half of his six strikeouts came in the first game he played in the AFL so things have continued to get better for him as the season has progressed.

Alex Meyer, RHP
Stat Summary: 2-0 record, 3.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 18 SO, 5 BB, 17.1 IP
Reports have been impressive for Meyer so far in the AFL. He reportedly hit 100 mph in his first start. In his next start, he laid off his fastball and relied on his off speed pitches to be very effective. These are all good signs for a pitcher that missed a large chunk of the second half of the season because of some shoulder issues. There is a chance Meyer appears in Minnesota's rotation next year and his AFL season is helping to push him closer to making his big league debut.

AJ Achter, RHP
Stat Summary: 0-0 record, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 6 SO, 1 BB, 6.0 IP
After making it all the way to Rochester this season as a relief pitcher, the Twins wanted to see more of Achter in the AFL. Over six appearances, he has yet to allow a run and he is giving up a base runner an inning. He has six strikeouts in six innings pitched and opponents are hitting .217 with him on the mound. The Twins have made the most out of this 46th round pick and he could show up in the Twins bullpen at some point in the future.

Zack Jones, RHP
Stat Summary: 0-1 record, 13.50 ERA, 2.81 WHIP, 8 SO, 7 BB, 5.0 IP
Jones spent most of 2013 as the closer for the Fort Myers Miracle, one of the best minor league teams in 2013. His first appearance in the AFL was a little rough as he allowed five runs while only recording two outs. In his next four outings, he allowed one run or less before giving up four runs (two of them earned) in his last appearance. The AFL can be a tough pitching environment and Jones is going against some very good hitting prospects so his numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Trevor May, RHP
Stat Summary: 0-1 record, 7.20 ERA, 1.80 ERA, 4 SO, 3 BB, 5.0 IP
Like Meyer, May will be a familiar name to Twins fans because he was acquired in an important trade last offseason. May spent all of this season with New Britain in the Eastern League where he pitched the most innings of his professional career. In three AFL appearances, May has been getting progressively worse. He didn't allow a run in his first outing, he allowed one run in his next outing, and his last outing resulted in three runs being scored. After being used as a starter for most of this season, only one of his appearances has been in a starting role.

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