Colorado Rockies prospect Tim Wheeler (Photo by John Sickels, SB Nation)
Arizona Fall League Roster Review:Salt River Rafters
Major League Baseball announced the preliminary rosters for the Arizona Fall League last week Let's review the key prospects on each team, continuing with the Salt River Rafters.
Salt River is stocked with players from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations. Here are important players to watch. You can find the complete roster here.
Steve Ames, RHP, Dodgers: 23-year-old right-hander out of Gonzaga, posted a 2.06 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB in 48 innings this year between High-A and Double-A, collecting 14 saves. Sharp K/IP ratios stand out, and he could contribute in the major league pen next year.
Charles Brewer, RHP, Diamondbacks: 23-year-old UCLA product was limited to just 52 innings in Double-A by injury, but performed well with a 2.58 ERA and a 48/19 K/BB with 48 hits. He is an inning-eater type with a chance to surprise.
Casey Crosby, LHP, Tigers: 22-year-old lefty has plus power stuff but his career has been slowed by command problems and injuries. 4.10 ERA with 121/77 K/BB in 132 innings with 122 hits in Double-A. Sharper control could make him a dominator.
Steve Fife, RHP, Dodgers: 24-year-old out of Utah, traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers this year, 3.74 ERA with 95/52 K/BB in 137 innings in Double-A, 143 hits. Average stuff, but can be effective when he throws strikes.
Parker Frazier, RHP, Rockies: 4.50 ERA with 105/46 K/BB in 154 innings in High-A, 171 hits. The 22-year-old has always generated optimistic scouting reports about his projectability and feel for pitching, though the numbers have never quite reflected what scouts see in him.
Joe Gardner, RHP, Rockies: 4.31 ERA with 82/55 K/BB in 134 innings in Double-A this year, 139 hits, 2.30 GO/AO. Acquired from the Indians in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, this UC-Santa Barbara product has a killer sinker but has been hampered by so-so command. His style could work in Colorado.
Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Astros: A 23-year-old lefty from the University of Arkansas, Keuchel was effective in Double-A (3.17 ERA, 76/27 K/BB in 128 innings) but got killed in Triple-A (7.50 ERA, 15/12 K/BB, 52 hits in 36 innings). He gets grounders and throws strikes with average stuff and a smooth delivery, and is better than his Triple-A numbers indicate.
Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Rockies: The 22-year-old lefty was a first-round pick by the Indians in '10 out of Mississippi, then was traded to Colorado in the Jimenez deal. He posted a 1.78 ERA with a 119/38 K/BB in 101 innings this year between High-A and Double-A. He made an extremely quick recovery from an emergency appendectomy in mid-August, and has the stuff and composure to be a staff anchor.
Casey Weathers, RHP, Rockies: Age 26, Weathers is something of a forgotten man but was once a top closer prospect until injuries and command issues knocked his stock back. He posted a 5.32 ERA with a 48/48 K/BB in 46 innings this year in Double-A, obviously unacceptably bad control, but held hitters to a .199 average. There's still salvageable material here.
Bryan Woodall, RHP, Diamondbacks: Age 24, Woodall is an Auburn product who posted a 3.43 ERA with a 68/18 K/BB and a 1.80 GO/AO in 66 innings in Double-A. The ground ball/strikeout combination could make him a middle relief option if he maintains it going forward.
Gorman Erickson, C, Dodgers: A 23-year-old switch-hitter, Erickson hit .293/.379/.486 this year between High-A and Double-A, with 13 homers and an intriguing 52/64 BB/K in 368 at-bats. The combination of moderate power with a low strikeout rate is notable and he should be watched as a sleeper.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies: Just age 20, Arenado hit .298/.349/.487 with 20 homers, 47 walks, and just 53 strikeouts in 517 at-bats in High-A. He continues to improve his defense as well, and looks like a breakout candidate to me for 2012, capable of a truly outstanding Double-A season.
Kody Hinze, 1B, Astros: Little-known pre-season, the 24-year-old Hinze hit .306/.420/.541 with 29 homers, 94 walks, and 119 strikeouts in 484 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. Much of this damage came in the friendly California League, but he wasn't overmatched in Double-A and it will be interesting to see how he looks against fall league pitching.
Jake Lemmerman, INF, Dodgers: Age 22, this Duke product hit .293/.379/.420 in High-A but slumped to .234/.318/.390 in Double-A. He hit 10 homers and stole 10 bases overall. He could be a useful utility player with a bit of pop and speed.
David Nick, 2B, Arizona: Age 21, Nick hit .300/.342/.449 with 13 homers, 35 doubles, 30 walks, and 80 strikeouts in 564 at-bats in High-A. Mediocre range limits him to second base, but the bat looks interesting and he is young enough to improve considerably.
Ryan Wheeler, 3B, Diamondbacks: Age 23, hit .294/.358/.465 with 45 walks, 102 strikeouts, and 16 homers in 480 at-bats in Double-A. Loyola Marymount product, he is still adapting to third base but is more natural at first.
Jay Austin, OF, Astros: Age 21, Austin has good tools but has never put them to effective use on the field, hitting just .242/.313/.336 this year between Low-A and High-A, with 42 walks and 105 strikeouts in 438 at-bats. He stole 23 bases, but was caught 13 times. He is still young enough to improve but there is a lot of work to do.
Alex Castellanos, OF, Dodgers: Age 25, Castellanos was traded from the Cardinals to the Dodgers at mid-summer but had a terrific year in Double-A, hitting .320/.386/.573 with 23 homers and 14 steals. His plate discipline was spotty with a 39/118 BB/K, but the power/speed combo is intriguing from a guy who is just 5-11, 180 pounds.
Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks: Age 22, this University of Miami-Ohio product is a small guy at 5-9, 180, but swings a strong bat, hitting .318/.434/.463 this year between High-A and Double-A, with 10 homers, 72 walks, and 34 steals. He could be a David DeJesus type.
Jake Goebbert, OF, Astros: Age 23, his contributions were spread between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, making him easy to overlook, but he had a solid year hitting .290/.352/.438 with 12 homers. His tools are average but he has some hitting potential. From Northwestern University.
Kyle Russell, OF, Dodgers: Age 25, he has always intrigued scouts with his power and hit 20 homers this year, but hit .255/.343/.488 overall with 154 strikeouts between Double-A and Triple-A. He'll take a walk but his contact issues are severe.
Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies: Age 23, Wheeler had a breakthrough season in Double-A, hitting .287/.365/.535 with 33 homers, 59 walks, 142 strikeouts, and 21 steals in 561 at-bats for Tulsa. His glove is solid in center field and the power/speed combo is attractive, but we'll have to see if he swings-and-misses a lot against better pitching.