San Francisco Giants Prospects in the Arizona Fall League
Someone recently asked me to write something about what Giants prospects are doing in the Arizona Fall League this year. Reason enough for a post.
I generally don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the AFL. The main reason is that its schedule is so short (30-32 games), that it doesn’t leave me particularly confident about what it all means. Plus, there is a mix of higher minors and lower minors players in the league, which again tends to suggest that the stats generated don’t necessarily mean a whole lot, at least for those participants with more high minors experience.
What the AFL has going for it is that it is limited to 6 to 8 players from each MLB organization, meaning that it tends to be elite prospects that get a chance to play there. Thus, strong performance means something, even if not a whole lot (a strong season at the AA level means a great deal more in my opinion), and it gives promising youngsters a leg up on the next season compared to most minor leaguers, who spend the winter six months training on their own.
The Giants have seven prospects playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions this year. With the AFL season about three-quarters of the way through, the most impressive by far is 2013 1st round pick Christian Arroyo. In 16 games, Arroyo has hit .323 with an .891 OPS. For a minor leaguer who has yet to play above the A+ level, this is a strong performance indeed.
By and large, the Giants have made good selections with their 1st round picks during the Sabean Era. Arroyo seems to be another good one. Injuries limited him to 90 games during the regular season at A+ San Jose, so the Giants obviously figured he could use the extra play the AFL affords. The major knock on Arroyo going forward is that he doesn’t walk much, which may slow his development when he reaches the high minors next season.
Mac Williamson is actually having the strongest season of any Giants’ prospect in the AFL. He’s currently hitting .375 with a .999 OPS in 15 games played. However, Williamson is five years older than Arroyo, spent half of the last regular season at the AAA level and has already played in the major leagues.
Williamson is overqualified for the AFL in terms of experience, and one has to think the Giants sent him to the AFL mainly to make up for the almost full season he lost to injury in 2014. My guess is that the Giants are trying to give Williamson every opportunity to have a strong start to the 2016 so they can decide if he’s a legitimate prospect going forward, or just another marginal major league of the kind that is a dime a dozen.
Austin Slater is the third position player the Giants sent to the AFL this year. A 2Bman and an 8th round pick out of Stanford in 2014, Slater has hit well, at least in terms of batting average, in his two regular seasons of professional baseball. He doesn’t have much power or walk much, but the Giants apparently want to give him a chance to prove he’s a legitimate prospect. In 14 AFL games he’s slashing .255/.344/.333. No power, but at least he’s getting on base a little.
None of the Giants’ four pitching prospects in the AFL this year impresses me as much as Arroyo. Dan Slania has probably been the most impressive, in terms of looking like a guy who is ready to advance through the Giants’ system. He has a 2.70 ERA in seven relief appearances (10 IP). He has 12 Ks and only two walks allowed. Slania turns 24 next May and will presumably start that 2016 at AA Richmond.
Ray Black, who will be 26 next June, continues to show major league stuff without major league command. He has an ERA of 1.29 in the AFL based on a pitching line of 7 IP, three hits and six walks and 12 Ks. I presume he will also start the 2016 season at AA Richmond. It’s anyone’s guess if he’ll ever develop the command necessary to become a major league pitcher.
Adelberto Mejia has a 4.09 ERA after five starts with a pitching line of 22 IP, 18 hits and 13 walks allowed and 18 Ks. His command throughout his minor league career has been better than what he’s shown in the AFL, and he’ll be only 23 next year, so he’s still definitely a prospect.
Last and probably least, the Giants gave 27 year old lefty Phil McCormick an AFL opportunity, apparently because he’s pitched pretty well throughout his minor league career and appears to be an extreme groundball pitcher. After seven appearances, he has a 5.14 ERA because he’s allowed ten hits and four walks in only 7 IP.