At the request of user reillocity
"Once the AFL wraps up play, I’d enjoy reading a Fanpost where you briefly discuss some of the players you’ve seen there."
I saw thirteen games live, and each team at least once. I saw at least one game on each day of the week, which afforded me the opportunity to see the part time "taxi squad" guys who only played on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I saw games at four different parks; Mesa, Salt River, Surprise and Glendale. I saw pretty much every player I wanted to see with the obvious exception of Jameson Taillon and Tyler Austin, who were both pulled pretty early due to injuries.
Which otherwise anonymous players impressed you?
I never go see a player with a pre-conceived notion of what he should be. I look at video and read scouting reports just like everyone else, but I've learned over time that anonymous reports are mostly innacurate and video can be deceiving. During Spring Training, I see many prospects here in Arizona, half the major league teams train here and their minor league bases are here as well. During the season I watch MiLB.TV to keep track of some guys I liked when I saw them. For the teams that train in Florida, I have a few trusted contacts who keep me up to date on guys they like, so when I watch the International League or Eastern League on-line I have a game plan before game starts.
Every year I see a guy here who I don't know much about who catches my eye, and who ends up with my "sleeper' award for the next season. Sometimes, like with Danny Espinosa, they work out. Sometimes, like with Andrew Lambo, they take awhile to develop, and sometimes, like with Brandon Wood, they just don't go anywhere.
The league seemed deeper this year, especially when compared to the last two or three, and more balanced as well. There were top prospects on every team, so it was easy to get excited going to the ballpark everyday because I knew I'd be seeing a handful of top tier players. There were some pretty good second tier players too, guys like Taylor Lindsey, Alen Hanson, Mookie Betts and Mitch Haniger, but the guy who got to me the most was Kenny Wilson of the Blue Jays who played for Salt River. Wilson's a little guy, about 5'10", the Jays' second rounder in 2008 out of Sickels (seriously) High School in Tampa. He's old, 23, and has struggled with the bat throughout his career, but the guy can really run and go after them in centerfield. He only has 55 games above A ball in five years (all this year) and the door is closing on him pretty rapidly, but he was fun to watch.
Which better-known guys disappointed you?
Again, watching without expectations prevents over or under-predicting players, but you can't help reading sites like this every day and coming across something that sticks with you despite best efforts otherwise. One guy I saw on the first day I didn't like was Colin Moran, he has a really long swing and a leg kick which advanced pitching will exploit. Another guy I wasn't high on was Garin Cecchini. I heard on the Championship game a comparison to Wade Boggs. I worked for the Eastern League when Boggs played for Bristol and other than them playing the same position there aren't many similarities elsewhere. Some others I'll list here and if you have specific questions ask in the comments: Jorge Soler, Corey Seager, Jason Rogers, Taylor Jungmann, Delino DeShields, Kyle Parker, Alen Hanson, Richie Schaffer, Jonathan Schoop, and AJ Achter.
Who seemed about as advertised?
I think a better way to address this question is maybe who seemed better than advertised, because, after all, to be here in the first place you're already advertised, no?
I could have gone to opening day at Camelback Ranch and not seen another game all year and would've been happy, what with Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Colin Moran, Corey Seager and Byron Buxton all in the lineup. My friend Bernie Pleskoff called Bryant the "player in the league with the most tools" and he's probably not too far off with his assessment. I admit to having a negative opinion on Bryant's defense after watching a video of him taking infield before a college game, but like I said in the opening, video is misleading. Scott Rolen is a Gold Glove, in the Hall of Fame discussion player and is bigger than Bryant, and while not quite in Rolen's class as a player, so is Troy Glaus, who was pretty good in his own right. Bryant has a cannon arm, and his small for his size feet won't have any problems with the quick movements needed to play the position. I found out after the season ended Bryant was working on a new setup in the box and he still won MVP, so that says a lot about his makeup and desire to be great.
I agree also with Bernie's opinion on Buxton (and a few others here) that he's a good player, but he's "not a game changer." His speed is a legit 80, but I wouldn't go higher than 60 on him right now anywhere else.
Some others I liked, and questions in the comments here too; Russell, Eddie Rosario, Tyler Naquin, Ryan Rua, Keone Kela, Tim Berry, Steven Souza, Albert Almora, Jorge Alfaro, Michael Ohlman, Cory Vaughn, Dariel Alvarez, James Pazos, Micah Johnson, Mitch Haniger, Chris Taylor, Matt Heidenreich, Kenny Wilson, Steven Piscotty, Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez, Mike Montgomery, Devon Travis, Aaron Altherr, Hansel Robles, Keyvius Sampson, Dominic Leone, Chris Taylor, and Sammy Solis.
Sorry to list so many names, and sorry if I missed someone you may be interested in. There are some guys I didn't list intentionally just because I don't have a feel either way on them, like Mason Williams, Tim Wheeler, James Ramsey and Matt Purke.
Again, questions in the comments, and thanks.