Thursday, September 06, 2007

Arizona Fall League

If you haven't seen the AFL rosters, they've been pretty much released. Most teams announced all of their rosters. There are only three teams that have more than 2 players yet to be determined, the Rockies, the Red Sox (3 players TBD), and the Mets (all players TBD). So here's a look at the Yankees and the already announced Red Sox.

Reggie Cornoa: Corona, known for his very slick-fielding, will be the youngest player in the AFL this season. He started the year in Tampa and was promoted to Trenton. Depending on how he does in the AFL will likely determine if he starts next year with Trenton or Scranton. He's a shortstop, and at age 20, the Yankees could be looking at him in the long-term, with Jeter eventually moving to first base, but more than likely they are sending him there to increase his trade value.

Ross Ohlendorf: After a terrible time starting in AAA, plus injuries, the Yankees moved him to the Scranton bullpen. His last couple of outings were strong. Chances are he's on a short Yankee leash at this point. My guess is the Yankees have given up on him as a starter, and are looking to see if a bullpen transition could increase his effectiveness.

Steven White: At age 26, White will be one of the older players in the AFL. This is not White's first trip to Arizona. I'm not sure if the Yankees are sending him there to see if he could be a viable, injury replacement for next season, or to see if he can pitch well enough to have some trade value after a decent season (6-4, 3.34) at Scranton.

Steven Jackson: Jackson, 25, was supposed to be in AA this season, but injuries moved him up to AAA, where he got clobbered. They sent him back down to AA as a reliever, where he was okay. He'll most likely stay a reliever, but the team needs to work on his ability to get lefthanded batters out. You don't hear of the "Righty Specialist" too often, but in AA, lefties were batting .417 off of Jackson, compared to a measly .185 by the righties.

Kevin Whelan: I know the Yankees like 23-year old Kevin Whelan, but I don't think they know what to do with him yet. Whelan hasn't pitched much in his career, as he was originally a catcher. He was doing well at AA in relief, which is the only way he had pitched. The Yankees then moved him down to A-ball as a starter, in which he started 7 games, and had a 1.93 ERA. However, those seven starts only totaled 28 innings, and his K-rate dropped to 9 per 9 innings from 11.3 as a reliever at a higher level. So the Yankees moved Whelan back up to AA as a reliever again. I'm not sure if they are sending him to Arizona to be a starter, or to get more work to be ready for AAA as a reliever to start the season, and a possible callup to the big league club when a reliever is needed. I'm sure this is not a move for trade value, the Yankees intend on keeping him (although he's hardly untouchable).

Juan Miranda: The 26-year old Cuban is taking up space on the Yankee 40-man roster. He hit 16 home runs and drove in 96 runs this season, but for his age, at his position, he's got no chance. This is purely the Yankees hoping he has a big AFL to get him to be the extra player in any trade the Yankees need to throw another player into this offseason.

Brett Gardner: The very speedy outfielder just turned 24. I think the Yankees view Gardner as a very capable fourth outfielder. He's very fast, a very good fielder, and walks a lot. At every level Gardner has had a rough adjustment period before taking off. The more playing time he can get the quicker his adjustment will be. Gardner is in the wrong organization, and it might kill his career. He may never get enough at bats with the Yankees to adjust, making him not a good fourth outfielder. He needs a bad team where he can adjust, maybe hold onto a full-time job, or become a fourth outfielder. The AFL may be his only way to succeed as a 4th Yankee outfielder. I expect he'll be back in the AFL next season too.

Red Sox:
Kyle Jackson: The Red Sox are sending the 24-year old there for what they hope is to get straightened out. In 2006, Jackson unexpectedly got onto the radar screen with a huge year split between A and AA. In 82 relief innings he had a 1.98 ERA while striking out 103. He got crushed in AA this year, pitching 70.2 innings at a 5.99 ERA. He gave up 9 home runs and walked 48, however, he did still strikeout 83 batters.

Hunter Jones: Not a big prospect, the Red Sox are probably trying to figure out what they have in Hunter Jones. The 23-year old had a good start the the season in A-ball, where he threw 47 relief innings at a 2.11 ERA. As he moved up to AA his ERA went up to 3.11. Lefties hit the southpaw better than righties did, which takes him out of being a situational guy. The Red Sox may be hoping to deal him if he does well.

2 Pitcher TBA. My guess is they are both either relievers or non-prospects, as the Red Sox will probably want to be careful with their best arms.

Aaron Bates: There's no questioning the 23-year old's power, as the NY native clubbed around A-ball pitching this season. In just 98 games he hit 24 home runs and had a 1.044 OPS. He was then promoted to AA, and he watched his average plumet as he batted only .198. This is most likely a move to get him to see more higher quality pitching so he'll be ready to face AA pitching next year, and if all goes well get called up to AAA.

Jed Lowrie: The 23-year old switch-hitter had a big year at AA, with a .911 OPS before being promoted to AAA. In Pawtucket his average remained high (.300) and his power remained strong (21 extra base hits, 5 of them HR in 40 games), but his walks dropped of dramatically. After having 65 walks and 58 K's in AA, he had 12 walks and 33 K's in AAA. Despite the fact his average was 3 points higher, his OBP dropped 54 points. No doubt the Red Sox are sending the offensive-minded shorstop to the AFL to get his patience back, and be the Red Sox SS of the future as early as next July, and give the Red Sox a very young and offensive keystone combo.

The Red Sox are supposed to be sending a catcher as well.

No comments: