We interrupt your regularly scheduled agony that is the 2021 National League Division Series for some prospect-y news.
The Arizona Fall League begins today, after not being around last fall because, you know, pandemic. The Dodgers have seven players representing them as part of the Glendale Desert Dogs.
It isn’t rare to see top prospects going to the AFL — especially those who were either limited by the team’s choice or by injury. It also isn’t rare to see guys who struggled (and missed time) to get a look. It’s also a bit of a proving ground for prospects to see if they’re GUYS or just guys.
LHP Jeff Belge
The 23-year-old southpaw spent the entire season with High-A Great Lakes and, while the results were a bit ugly, there was some good in his numbers. He had a 5.61 ERA across 43 1/3 innings. He also had an ugly 16.8 BB%. However, his 31.2 K% is something to be desired. We’ll see how much he actually pitches in the league, but 2022 will be a big year for him.
RHP Kyle Hurt
Acquired in the Dylan Floro–Alex Vesia deal, Hurt, 23, logged just 21 innings in 2021 (all with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga), so it isn’t surprising to see him getting some extra work in the AFL. He struck out 36 in those 21 innings against just 10 walks. Despite a 4-pitch mix (low-90s fastball, curveball, slider, changeup), he’s probably a reliever in the long run, but he’s worth keeping an eye on going forward.
RHP Landon Knack
Knack, 24, was one of the most impressive pitchers in the Dodgers’ system this season. Between High-A Great Lakes and Double-A Tulsa, he posted a 3.18 ERA, a 3.2 BB% (eight walks in 62 1/3 innings) and struck out a third of the hitters he faced. I wrote in my midseason Top 30 update that if he were a a year or two younger, he’d probably he a Top 5 prospect in the system. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles AFL hitters. He could, conceivably, make his MLB debut at some point next year.
RHP Bobby Miller
My No. 1 midseason prospect and my top MiLB pitcher, Miller, 22, had a fantastic 2021 campaign. In 56 1/3 innings between Great Lakes and Tulsa, he had a 2.40 ERA, a 5.6 BB% and 30.4 K%. He’s firmly entrenched as a Top 100 prospect and, with a strong showing in the AFL, could be pushing the Top 50 — if not higher.
SS Jacob Amaya
Amaya, 22, struggled as he changed his hitting approach rather dramatically. He was more of an on-base, contact guy. In ’21, he sold out for power, and it didn’t go that well for him. He hit just .216/.303/.343 with a career-best 12 home runs, but he also saw his walk rate dip by more than 3 percentage points and his strikeout rate jump by more than 4 percentage points. He might need to go back to being the former rather than the latter if he wants to maximize his potential, because he’s a legitimate shortstop with the glove.
3B Kody Hoese
Hoese, 24, had a miserable showing that was saw him mired in a season-long slump thanks to injury. He hit just .196/.247/.250 in 283 plate appearances, including just .188/.241/.245 with Tulsa. The AFL won’t determine his overall prospect status (that’ll happen next year), but it’ll be interesting to see how Hoese — especially coming off a down year — handles the pitching in the league.
OF James Outman
Outman, 24, had a strong showing between Great Lakes and Tulsa. Overall, he hit .266/.379/.490 with 18 home runs, 21 doubles, nine triples and 23 stolen bases. He played mostly center field and showed off his premium athleticism. The AFL will be a nice test for him ahead of an assignment, presumably, to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
OK, now you can go back to fretting about Game 5.