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Arizona Fall League Scouting Recap

The Arizona Fall League is a magical place filled with intriguing prospects as far as the eye can see. Thankfully, the First Pitch Fantasy Baseball Conference lines up with the AFL, creating a four-day baseball wonderland. While out in Arizona for four days, I saw six AFL games and one fall instructs game, getting a ton of video along the way. Below you’ll find a lot of that footage along with my thoughts on more than 20 prospects, including some rising names that make for great dynasty league targets right now

If you get to the bottom and think, “Hey, what about (Insert Player Name Here),” I’m only discussing players I actually saw live. I wasn’t able to see prospects like MacKenzie Gore, Nolan Gorman, CJ Abrams, and others, for a variety of different reasons. It also could be because I only saw them once in Arizona and don’t have much to report on them.

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Arizona Fall League Scouting Recap

Brett Baty (3B – NYM)

Out of all the impressive talent that I saw in the Arizona Fall League this year, Brett Baty impressed me the most. Baty had a solid 2021 minor league season that saw him slash .292/.382/.473 with 22 doubles, 12 home runs, and six steals in 91 games between Hi-A and Double-A. In the three games I saw Baty in Arizona, he appeared 100% in control of his at-bats, showing patience and the ability to drive the ball to all fields with authority, which included an 11 mph EV triple to right-center. While Baty doesn’t possess the sexy, high-ceiling upside that many covet, there’s an above-average hit tool and plus raw power in this profile with a solid plate approach as well. He’s a no-doubt top-50 fantasy prospect for me right now and is creeping into top-25 consideration in a hurry.

Spencer Torkelson (1B – DET)

Status quo for Spencer Torkelson in my three live looks. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see any Tork dingers, and he still doesn’t have an AFL HR while I’m typing this, but Tork has looked very impressive and has32 gotten on-base at a high clip, both via base hits and walks. I’m not adjusting my ranking on him at this time, but seeing Tork’s all-fields approach in Arizona helped slightly ease any concerns I had about his hit tool possibly not being as good as expected. He remains a back-end top-10 prospect in AVG formats and top-5 in OBP formats.


Marco Luciano (SS – SFG)

If you look at just his statistics, you’d probably think that Marco Luciano has had a good stint in the Arizona Fall League so far. And he has, but I still do have some concerns about his hit tool moving forward. Luciano struggled after his promotion to Hi-A in the 2nd half of the season, hitting .217/.283/.295 across 145 PA. I’ve bumped him down my rankings a bit but didn’t go too crazy as it was a small sample size at a new level.

My three live looks at Luciano didn’t do anything to alter my current thinking of him either. I’m not doubting the raw power at all. That’s double-plus and he could be a 30+ homer bat in time, but I’m wondering if Luciano is more of a .260-.270 hitter with 10-15 steals than a .280+/20+ steal threat. This is still a top-20 prospect overall, but not top-10 at the moment for me. His performance in 2022 will be very intriguing to watch.

Jeter Downs (2B – BOS)

As a Red Sox fan, Jeter Downs’ demise this season was difficult to swallow. Not only was I quite high on him entering the season (Ranked him top-25), but this was a key piece in the Mookie Betts return. And not only did Downs struggle, but he also looked downright lost for most of the season, finishing with a .190/.272/.323 slash line in a hitter-friendly Triple-A environment. On the bright side, Downs still racked up 14 home runs, 18 steals, and kept his walk rate close to 10%. He’s also having a solid AFL showing so far with three home runs and a steal through his first 20 PA. Included in that is a drive to right-center off Bobby Miller shown below.

However, Downs had immense difficulties against secondary offerings and was fed a healthy dose of breakers in his next few PA after launching that home run off a Miller fastball. Downs can hunt and demolish fastballs, but he’s really going to need to improve pitch and spin recognition in 2022 and beyond if he wants to hit above .240 or so. And I really hope he can do that because it’d be a shame for this 20/20 profile to be limited or go to waste.

Joey Wiemer (OF – MIL)

The legend of Joey Wiemer was born in the Saturday night AFL game on October 16th. With many other First Pitch Arizona attendees and I in the stands, Wiemer slugged an opposite-field blast with a 108 mph EV and has another 113 mph EV so far in the first week and a half as well. Wiemer just missed another home run in this game as well, driving one out to the warning track in deep left-center. On top of Wiemer flexing his power, his speed and strong arm were on display, rounding out his enticing prospect profile.

Seeing all these tools on display was huge and made me feel more confident in his breakout 2021 season where he posted 27 home runs and 30 steals in 109 games with a .295/.403/.556 slash line between Lo-A and Hi-A. Wiemer’s plus power and plus speed can make him an impact offensive outfielder at the highest level, and one that can provide plenty of value in both AVG and OBP formats due to his higher walk rate and solid contact skills. It’s time to get on the Wiemer hype train if you haven’t already. This is a top-100 prospect regardless of format and he might even sneak into my top-50 before too long.

Nick Gonzales (2B – PIT)

Nick Gonzales had several hard-hit balls in my three live looks out in Arizona. The two best were the double below and another double off the right-field wall later on. The 2020 #7 overall pick was having a quiet season through the end of July, hitting .265 with six homers and four steals in 42 games before cranking 10 homers in August with a robust .364/.419/.757 slash line. Overall, that hot end of the season pushed his season line to an impressive .302/.385/.565 with 23 doubles, 18 home runs, and seven steals in 80 Hi-A games.

Gonzales is doing his best to show that his dominant 2020 collegiate season before the pandemic wasn’t just a flash in the pan. He was very impressive in my live looks, driving the ball to all fields and just missing two home runs. After bumping him down my rankings initially back in July, Gonzales has since skyrocketed back up and now is in top-25 territory thanks to his above-average to plus hit tool and power with average speed. This could be a .280/25/10 type of second baseman in time.

Triston Casas (1B – BOS)

I’ll be honest, in my 15-20 (I’m guestimating) live looks at Triston Casas this season, I began to wonder if I was a bit too high having him inside my top-20. Casas started out hot in April with a .328/.400/.552 slash line and four home runs, but then proceeded to hit .243 with only a trio of home runs in 202 plate appearances in June-August. A trip with the US Olympic team appeared to awaken Casas’ bat though as the 6’4 slugger finished with a .323/.471/.754 line and seven homers in September. My live looks in the Arizona Fall League produced a few hits and an RBI, but no batted balls that wowed me. It was just several at-bats though and I’m highly encouraged at how Casas ended the 2021 season. If you can acquire him for ANY discount in your dynasty league since his overall 2021 line didn’t stand out, I’d definitely try to capitalize.

Bobby Miller (RHP – LAD) & Landon Knack (RHP – LAD)

Unfortunately, most of the top pitching prospects in the Arizona Fall League didn’t pitch while we were out there, but two that did were Bobby Miller and Landon Knack from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Outside of a mistake fastball that Jeter Downs drove out of the park, Miller looked good, showcasing a filthy slider shown below. The 6’5 right-hander is coming off a strong professional debut in 2021 where he posted a 2.40 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 30.4% strikeout rate in 56.1 innings. With a plus FB/SL combo, at least an average curve and changeup, and above-average command and control, Miller has a great combination of a high floor and the upside of a #2 starter.

Right after Miller’s two innings, Landon Knack entered the game and pitched very effectively for three innings. Knack might not have quite the same upside as Miller, but I came away impressed. He mixed his fastball, changeup, and slider well in this outing, getting a few whiffs on each secondary. Knack’s changeup is his best pitch and grades as plus, but I believe the fastball and slider are above-average as well. Knack is a prospect you can likely get for a reasonable price in dynasty leagues as he doesn’t have the big prospect pedigree attached to his name currently.

Richie Palacios (2B/OF – CLE)

Richie Palacios is going to skyrocket up many rankings in 2022. He already has in mine and Chris Clegg’s as well. Chris has him even higher than I do. After missing all of 2019 due to injury and then 2020 due to the pandemic, Palacios picked up where he left off in 2018 with a solid .297/.404/.471 slash line in 2021 to go along with 33 doubles, seven home runs, 20 steals (3 CS), and a 13.6% walk rate in 428 plate appearances. The power is still developing, but Palacios already displays a great approach at the plate, above-average to plus contact skills, and above-average to plus speed as well. These tools give him a solid floor to work with and the upside is intriguing if the power continues to develop. Palacios was one of the biggest surprises for me out in the AFL. Go get him now in dynasty leagues.

Michael Toglia (1B – COL)

While Michael Toglia (pronounced Tall-E-A, ignore the G) accumulated 22 home runs and 12 steals in 499 PA this season, his .228 average and 28.5% strikeout rate left a bit to be desired. There’s no questioning the power here. As you can see below, Toglia has easy power generated from his strong 6’5 frame and cranked two moonshots in the three games I saw of him. He also added two more hits while consistently working the count. This is a potential 30-homer bat that can also provide a bit of speed from the 1st base position as well. I’m expecting the AVG to bounce back in 2022 too. He’s a solid buy-low target in dynasty leagues.

JJ Bleday (OF – MIA) & Kameron Misner (OF – MIA)

Both JJ Bleday and Kameron Misner are targets of mine in dynasty leagues right now. Bleday’s .213/.323/.373 slash line in 2021 was highly disappointing, but he showed a 55-hit, 55+ power profile leading up to the 2019 draft. I’m not saying he’ll return to top-50 prospect status, but the skills are better than what he showed in 2021. And with Misner, his hit tool might never exceed 45-grade, but even with a .250ish AVG, Misner’s plus speed, solid power, and ability to draw walks at a high clip make him an intriguing prospect to roster, especially in OBP formats.

Here’s Misner ripping one of the hardest-hit balls of the AFL so far.

Frank Mozzicato (LHP – KCR) & Ben Kudrna (RHP – KCR)

This was technically at Fall Instructs, but I’m going to include this pair of 2021 Royals draftees anyway.

As for Mozzicato, he got hit less than Kudrna did but the stuff didn’t impress me as much. He was sitting around 89-90, topping out at 91 while mixing in sporadic secondaries. Mozzicato is an interesting one to monitor as the Royals made him a surprise top-10 pick back in July, leading some to wonder if Mozzicato had been overlooked a bit before the draft. That remains to be seen. It’s all about projection with Mozzicato.

He’s currently listed at 6’3/175 but that 6’3 feels a bit generous after walking right by him while leaving the field. I turned to Chris Clegg and said “Mozzicato looks like he’s 6’1.” Maybe my eyes need to be checked, who knows, but I’m not sure there’s a ton of projection in this frame. Some, absolutely. But I’m not seeing some mid-90’s southpaw hitting the upper registers some day. With that said, Mozzicato’s three-pitch mix could all be above-average offerings in time and the command is solid for his age. He’s a nice upside play after pick 30 in your FYPDs.

Juan Yepez (1B/3B/OF – STL)

Yepez enjoyed a nice breakout campaign in 2021, slashing .286/.383/.586 with 29 doubles and 27 home runs in 111 games between Double-A and Triple-A. While the numbers might have been given a slight boost by the hitter-friendly Triple-A West environment (PCL before 2021), I’m believing in the Yepez breakout and think he can at least be a 50-hit, 50+ power type at the Major League level.

Heriberto Hernandez (OF – TBR)

If you can, I’d recommend buying low on Heriberto Hernandez in dynasty leagues. The 2021 season was tough for him after an abnormal 2020 but Hernandez still managed 15 doubles, 12 home runs, seven steals, and a 15.3% walk rate in 320 Lo-A plate appearances. Hernandez consistently barrels up pitches at an exceptionally high rate and has shown an ability to work the count consistently at a young age. This is a great time to buy low in dynasty leagues as the skills are there for Hernandez to bounce back nicely in 2022.

Pedro Leon (SS/OF – HOU)

With Leon, the power/speed blend makes him enticing for fantasy purposes, but I’m still hesitant on his hit tool. We saw him improve exponentially after adjusting to professional baseball after nearly a two year layoff, which does give me hope he can hit for a respectable average, but it’s still early. Even at .250, I think Leon can flirt with 20/20, but the floor here isn’t overly high. He’s one of the bigger boom/bust prospects out in the AFL right now that I’m very intrigued to see more of in 2022.

Ji-Hwan Bae (SS – PIT)

Due to his below-average power, Bae’s prospect rankings often get suppressed, but he does a bit of everything which could make him a sneaky-good fantasy player down the road. Outside of his 8-12 HR power, Bae has shown above-average contact skills and speed with a 10.6% walk rate in the minors. He could get some run in Pittsbugh later in 2022 after some time in Triple-A to start the season. A .275/.350/10/20 profile might not be sexy for fantasy, but it’s still valuable.

Curtis Mead (3B/2B – TBR)

Seeing Curtis Mead for a few games in the Arizona Fall League made me even more confident that his 2021 performance was legit. Mead slashed .321/.378/.533 with 38 doubles, 15 home runs, and 11 steals this season across three levels with a solid 15.5% strikeout rate. This is the Rays we’re talking about, so who knows when or how they’ll use him at the Major League level, but Mead could be their next Joey Wendle type of player that provides late-round fantasy value while being eligible at multiple infield positions.

Ezequiel Tovar (SS – COL)

I’m not necessarily going to move Ezequiel Tovar down in my rankings after seeing him three times in Arizona Fall League action, but I do question if he impacts the ball enough to be a regular at the Major League level. He did shown some power progression in 2021 but looked mre like a slap hitter than one that can consistently drive the ball. Just something worth keeping an eye on moving forward.

Kyle Stowers (OF – BAL)

Although I didn’t get any great footage of Kyle Stowers, he’s definitely one to target in dynasty leagues right now. People inside the Baltimore org have said that he’s one of the most impressive bats in the entire system, and he certainly looked the part in 2021. Stowers slashed .278/.383/.514 with 27 home runs, eight steals, and a 13.8% walk rate in 530 plate appearances. There’s still a swing and miss problem in his profile that needs to be improved, but Stowers has the strength for 30+ homers annually at Camden with an average that shouldn’t kill you either. And in OBP leagues, he gets a nice bump thanks to that walk rate. His price appears to be reasonable in dynasty leagues right now, making him and ideal trade target.

Media Credit: Chris Clegg

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