Arizona Fall League Preview: Peoria Javelinas
Let’s not beat around the bush here. There are no Vladimir Guerrero caliber prospects on this team like we had with the Surprise Saguaros. Well, there’s not Vladdy-caliber prospects anywhere as he’s on his own planet, but you get the point. Even without the huge name, there’s a lot to like about this Peoria team, mostly offensively. They might not be the most stacked team in the Arizona Fall League this year, but they’re going to score plenty of runs and be exciting to watch.
Also, have you ever seen a Javelinas? I had to google it, because I had no idea what it was. It looks like a cross between a pig and a shaggy dog. Quite the interesting looking animal.
All of our Arizona Fall League Team Previews
|Surprise Saguaros||Peoria Javelinas||Glendale Desert Dogs|
|Mesa Solar Sox||Scottsdale Scorpions||Salt River Rafters|
Arizona Fall League – Peoria Roster Breakdown
MLB Team Affiliations: Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays.
Austin Allen (SD), Joe DeCarlo (SEA), Mario Feliciano (MIL).
Not an overly exciting bunch behind the plate for Peoria. Allen is a big hulking catcher that makes consistent hard contact with average to above average power. However, a lot of work needs to be done defensively if he wants to stay behind the plate long term, especially with his receiving and game calling. Allen spent all of 2018 with Double-A San Antonio, hitting .290 with 22 home runs in 451 at-bats. A move to first base could be in his future.
DeCarlo is one we can gloss over as he’s a 25-year-old prospect with a limited offensive profile that has struggled to get past Double-A. Instead, let’s discuss the more exciting Feliciano for a second. The Brewers took Feliciano in the Competitive Balance B round, 75th overall in the 2016 draft out of Puerto Rico. The numbers haven’t shown up yet, but the overall offensive profile is solid. Feliciano generates hard contact from the right side of the plate and should grow into more power as he matures.
This is a sneaky good infield. The big name that everyone will recognize is Keston Hiura. The second baseman with the plus-plus hit tool just finished his first full minor league season, climbing as high as Double-A Biloxi in the Southern League. In 485 at-bats, Hiura slashed .293/.357/.464/.821 with 34 doubles, 13 home runs, and 15 steals in 26 attempts split between Biloxi and Carolina in the high Single-A Carolina League. His average did dip from .320 with Carolina down to .272 with Biloxi, but Hiura raised his walk rate from 6.1% to 7.2% and lowered his strikeout rate from 20.6% to 18.2% in Double-A.
Keston Hiura second round of pre-Futures Game BP. pic.twitter.com/XjTcAiazGx
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 15, 2018
If you’re looking for a fantasy stud that is going to post huge numbers, Hiura isn’t your guy. But what he does do is hit the snot out of the ball thanks to elite bat speed and strong strike zone coverage. Plenty of .300-plus seasons in the Majors are in Hiura’s future and that future in the show should begin later next season.
Joining Hiura in the middle of this Peoria infield is Rays shortstop prospect, Lucius Fox. Like Hiura, Fox struggled a bit after his promotion to Double-A, but possesses the tools to become a top of the order speedster in time due to his plus-plus speed and ability to get on base at a reasonable clip. In 351 at-bats with Port Charlotte in the high Single-A Florida State League, Fox had a 10.4 BB% and .371 OBP before slowing a bit after his promotion to Double-A.
Hey, don’t forget about the corner spots. That’s where thump is for this Peoria squad. At first base is one of the Mariners top hitting prospects, Evan White. Now, White isn’t your stereotypical mashing first baseman. He’s more of a line drive hitter that will hit for a high average along with plenty of gap shots. There’s some modest over the fence power here too, but more in the 15-25 area than 30-plus. On top of that, he has some decent wheels that could lead to some 20/20 seasons in his future.
Lost in the deep and talented San Diego system is a powerful third baseman with enticing middle of the order upside. A former first-round pick, Hudson Potts reached Double-A during his age 19 season, displaying plus raw power and nearly doubling his walk rate from 4.4% to 8.7%. His hit tool lags behind the power, but Potts has made strides since being drafted and should maintain a respectable batting average moving forward.
Those aforementioned four will likely be the starting infield, but there’s one more prospect I wanted to mention before we move on to the outfield. Entering the 2014 June Amateur draft, Braxton Davidson was an intriguing prospect due to his massive raw power. Unfortunately, the rest of his game was, and still is, a massive question mark. In each of the last three seasons, his batting average has gone down while his strikeout rate continues to rise. Both those marks hit rock bottom in 2018 as Davidson hit just .171 with a puke-worthy 44.3% strikeout rate. Yikes.
Without a doubt, Cristian Pache is becoming one of the most exciting outfield prospects in the game. In addition to his stellar defense, Pache possesses plus speed, an above-average hit tool, and budding power. The 2018 season was a mixed bag for the 19-year-old Dominican native. While his power started showing up more in games, he regressed some at the plate and a bunch more on the base paths. After swiping 32 bags in 2017, Pache could only muster seven in 15 attempts this season. At the plate, his walk rate was cut in half and his OBP dropped to .307 as a result.
Now, there’s a ton to like here. The 30-plus steal wheels are still there and he should settle in the 15-20 home run range down the road with some added strength and loft. Pache has quick wrists and generates plus bat speed through the zone. However, he has a tendency to get a tad aggressive at times and get out on his front foot too early. Toning down the aggressiveness, becoming more patient with pitch selection, and reading pitchers moves on the bases are what I’m going to be focusing on during the Arizona Fall League for Mr. Pache.
— Looting is a sign of rebellion (@Jasenelpartido) April 27, 2018
Pache isn’t the only exciting outfielder this year for Peoria. Far from it actually. While splitting time between the California League (A+) and the Texas League (AA), Buddy Reed put together one heck of a season for himself. In 494 combined at-bats, he finished with 51 steals, 44 extra-base hits, and a .271 average. He’s far from a finished product though. Reed’s plate approach needs a fair amount of work if he wants to get on base enough to utilize that blazing speed of his.
Beyond those two, Joe McCarthy and Trent Grisham are two others to keep an eye on. The artist formerly known as Trent Clark has disappointed so far in his minor league career. One thing he has going for him is a strong approach at the plate. Grisham walked in 15.6% of his plate appearances this season which helped him record a .356 OBP even while hitting just .233.
That’s been the story throughout his career. He doesn’t make enough consistent contact to hit for a high average but salvages that with good pitch recognition. There’s barely any power to speak of here and his speed hasn’t fully come back after a hamstring injury. There are still some intriguing tools here though, making him a player worth monitoring in the Arizona Fall League. Dynasty league owners should keep him on their radar as well.
McCarthy has a strong plate approach but doesn’t do enough outside of that to signal that he’s going to be a big league starter. He’s best served as a decent bat off the bench right now.
Daniel Brown (MIL), Thomas Burrows (ATL), Bubba Derby (MIL), Matt Krook (TB), Brandon Lawson (TB), Adam McCreery (ATL), David McKay (SEA), Wyatt Mills (SEA), Anthony Misiewicz (SEA), Dalton Moats (TB), Kyle Muller (ATL), Jon Olczak (MIL), Hansel Rodriguez (SD), Miguel Sanchez (MIL), Phoenix Sanders (TB), Jeremy Walker (ATL), Matt Walker (SEA).
Luckily Peoria has a solid offense because this pitching staff isn’t going to win them many games. The alpha dog here is Atlanta’s, Kyle Muller. A big 6’6 southpaw, Muller doesn’t throw as hard as his big frame might let on. He sits more in the low 90’s with arm side run and commands the pitch well. Both his curveball and changeup are average to above-average pitches for him, with the curveball showing more movement lately. Muller often gets overlooked due to all the other big name pitching prospects in this system, which is a shame. Overall, there’s SP3 upside here.
After some setbacks in 2017, it’s been a great season for #Braves LHP prospect Kyle Muller. He’s advanced across three levels, posting a 10-2 record with a 2.94 ERA and 43BB/121K in 128.2 IP. That includes a 3-0 mark with 19K in 18 IP in three starts with Double-A @mbraves.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) August 21, 2018
Joining him in Peoria is his Mississippi teammate and southpaw, Thomas Burrows, who looks to sharpen his command in hopes of a 2019 debut in Atlanta’s bullpen. His plus fastball and slider combination could be lethal out of the pen if his command improves. Everything I just said rings true for Wyatt Mills as well. The only difference is that he’s a right-hander.
The last name to monitor here is Matt Krook of the Rays. A failed starter in the San Francisco system due to piss-poor control, Krook is looking to reinvent himself as a reliever. He has a good enough heater and slider to succeed, but that control needs a ton of work. For his minor league career, Krook’s walk rate sits at 6.6 BB/9.