Down On The Farm: Arizona Fall League – Bellinger shines, Broussard intrigues

With the Arizona Fall League now finished, and with Dodgers players done suiting up for the Glendale Desert Dogs, it’s about that time to review the performance of the four position players and four pitchers the Dodgers sent.

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Who else to start this but Cody Bellinger? Still technically in his age-20 season, he put up a .314/.424/.557/.981 line in 20 games, including 11 extra-base hits and three homers. The best part might’ve been that the line was sustainable, with Bellinger striking out 18 times and taking a free pass 14 times.

If the Dodgers want to continue along the big-market rebuild path, retaining Bellinger and grooming him to take over for Adrian Gonzalez seems like a no-brainer. With every year of experience Bellinger gains, it grows increasingly likely that he’ll at least be an above-average regular at first base thanks to his power and defense combination, with obvious potential for more.

Willie Calhoun was another one of the top position-player prospects the Dodgers sent to the AFL, though he didn’t fare quite as well, posting a .255/.300/.340/.640 line in 14 games. Calhoun surprisingly only had two extra-base hits and one homer, but he didn’t appear overmatched, striking out five times and walking thrice.

Honestly, though? I don’t care about any of that. I have confidence that his bat will play. What I don’t have confidence in is whether he can eventually handle a defensive position anywhere, much less at second. I see him as trade bait because all it takes is one team to believe in his defense and he could get valued as a potential above-average regular at second. Me? I’m less convinced, but we’ll see.

Alex Verdugo was the other part of the trio of top hitting prospects sent by the Dodgers, and he struggled, posting a .140/.213/.233/.445 line in 13 games. Verdugo had three extra-base hits, struck out eight times, and walked four times. He also admitted to being tired, which is unsurprising and understandable, and Corey Seager has admitted similar while playing in the AFL.

So that wasn’t great, but it also didn’t mean much, and he did kill it over in Japan while playing for Mexico, as Daniel highlighted.

https://twitter.com/clubtomateros/status/797037869223157760

Joe Broussard wasn’t a guy I was paying a ton of attention to, but his showing in the AFL made me wonder a bit. Broussard put up a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings, striking out nine, walking none, and notching five saves and six chances. Broussard is already in his age-25 season and has only pitched two innings in AAA, but his career 10 K/9 against 2 BB/9 is interesting, especially when it’s backed by a mid-90s fastball and a power curve. He was already 23 when he started his professional career, so it’s not like he was crap and then just started coming on now or something. I’m not saying he’s a major prospect, but I don’t think it’s a stretch that he could find his way into a major-league pen.

In 13 games, Tim Locastro hit .303! Hype! But the complete line was .303/.351/.303/.654, and the batting average came with no extra-base hits and just one walk. The seven strikeouts were also a bit much, but the rest basically tells the story of Locastro, who showcases a solid hit tool and the ability to play a bunch of positions, but not a ton else.

The fact that Chris Anderson is one of the last guys to be covered speaks to his fall from grace. Things didn’t go great for him in the AFL, as he put up an 11.88 ERA in 16 innings across six games, allowing 12 walks and hitting three batters. I mentioned on social media that it’s amazing how only a couple years ago people were wondering if he could tap into his potential and become a #2 starter, whereas now it would be considered a win if he could make it into any bullpen role. Not sure what went wrong either, because while his command was always a problem, the concerning thing is that his stuff backed up as well.

Ralston Cash had a 4.32 ERA in 8.1 innings, striking out four and walking seven batters. Already in his age-24 season and in the pen, that speaks to his continued control problems that’s holding him back. His cut/slider combo has MLB potential, but his stuff isn’t special enough where he can walk a batter every other inning and get results in the long run.

Corey Copping is in sort of the same boat (except for being 22), showing swing-and-miss stuff in relief but issuing too many walks. The AFL was rather typical, as he posted a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings and struck out 11 but also walked five. The fastball/change combination has some promise, so I get the assignment, but it’s tough when you’re a potential middle relief arm trying to crack the majors.

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Overall, I didn’t expect to get a ton out of this, and that remained the case besides getting to focus on Joe Broussard. If you’ve followed the prospects all year, then seeing them in the Arizona Fall League is not all that rewarding. However, it appears to be a good experience for the prospects themselves (most important) and it helps to expose certain prospects to a broader audience than normal, so it’s necessary anyway.

Sorry for the downer of a conclusion, but I can’t hype the results here while being honest.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama

I get paid millions by the Dodgers.

MILLIONS!