The Arizona Fall League wrapped up play on Saturday, and for the participating Dodger prospects there were rousing successes as well as some question marks.
First, the good.
Andy Pages enjoyed his time in the Copper State, as the Launch Angle Unicorn’s five homers left him just one shy of the league leaders:
The 21-year-old Cuban ended up with a .904 OPS, which ranked 14th in the league, along with a very impressive 12.2% strikeout rate.
Pages used to employ a large leg kick, not unlike Justin Turner.
Toward the end of May, however, Pages cut that down quite a bit.
And, as is evident from Saturday’s BP, he continues to employ this slightly more modest approach.
Additionally, Pages was the lone Dodger representative in the Fall Stars Game, during which he went 1-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. He also participated in the Home Run Derby, and he made it to the second round.
All in all, Pages’ AFL went about as well as one could hope.
Emmet Sheehan put together a strong AFL showing, finishing his season on an exceptionally high note, as he turned in the most impressive start of the 2022 circuit.
The former 6th-round pick out of Boston College put the world on notice with his 70-grade vertical approach angle on his mid to high-90s fastball, along with a 70-grade changeup that is also drawing rave reviews.
The 6-foot-5 righty wrapped up his campaign with 20 1/3 innings and pitched to a 3.54 ERA. He struck out 24 and walked eight and held opposing hitters to a paltry .169 batting average. Sheehan is 1.2 years younger than the average AFL pitcher, which makes his showing all the more impressive.
Jose Ramos got off to a little bit of a late start in the AFL due to an unspecified injury, but he made his presence known, posting very loud exit velocities of 111 and 114 MPH in his AFL debut. The latter figure is higher than any Dodger reached this season and would rank in the Top 30 in all of MLB. And, it isn’t just pull power, either.
Still just 21 and 1.1 years younger than average for the AFL, the wiry Panamanian outfielder hit .275/.326/.463, but struck out four times as often as he walked (20:5 K:BB). Despite that, there is no question that his tools are top shelf.
Jorbit Vivas got off to a hot start in the AFL, slashing .333/.471/.407 through seven games, and the line drive machine showed off his plus hit tool.
Unfortunately, the Venezuelan second baseman saw his campaign cut short by injury, as he landed awkwardly on first base while reaching on a fielder’s choice on Oct. 17. Just the same, and as is a theme of the Dodger prospects who found success in the six weeks or so, Vivas is 1.1 years younger than average, and in his brief sample he was clearly unhindered by the step up in competition.
And now, the … less good.
Left-handed reliever Ben Harris, 2021 8th-round pick from University of Georgia, made headlines this past season due to his massive strikeout numbers. He led all minor league pitchers (minimum 50 IP) in strikeout rate (45.2%) and strikeouts per nine innings (17.3). That’s 1,343 pitchers, and he was at the top of the heap, so it’s rather impressive to say the least.
The challenge that the AFL offered proved to be a bit too much, however, as the southpaw’s disappearing heater was found by a few too many bats, and he found the zone all too infrequently. For the campaign, he had an ERA of 6.35 with 10 strikeouts and 14 walks in 11.1 innings.
Tanner Dodson, a righty reliever whom the Dodgers acquired in March for Luke Raley, had a rough go of it this past season for Tulsa. An ERA of 8.39 with 29 strikeouts and 36 walks in 34.1 innings is nothing to write home about. But, a common refrain is to throw hard in case it’s a strike, and he can reach the high-90s.
That said, his results in the AFL weren’t great. He had a 6.57 ERA in his 12.1 IP and struck out just eight, so right out of the gate it was clearly a bit rough. But, he cut the walks dramatically, issuing just six free passes, which amounts to a walk rate of 9.7%. Considering he issued free passes at a 19.8% clip with the Drillers in 2022, it’s a start.
The last Dodgers representative to participate this Fall was righty Hyun-il Choi. Following up a fantastic campaign that saw Choi named the Dodgers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, 2022 was a relative nightmare. Between High-A Great Lakes and a single outing with the ACL Dodgers, he tossed all of four innings, so even getting back on he hill at this point is a bit of a victory.
That said, he had a bit of a rough reintroduction to live action. In 13.1 IP, he had an ERA of 5.40 with eight walks, eight strikeouts and allowing a whopping five homers in that brief time on the bump. Yeesh. Additionally, the South Korean hurler has yet to see his velo bounce back. He had topped out at 95 MPH in the past, but was sitting in the 89-91 MPH range in AFL.
As for how the season ended up, the team with whom the Dodgers are partnered, the Glendale Desert Dogs, made it to Saturday’s league championship game, which they ultimately lost via a walk-off single in extras. To add insult to injury, an Astros prospect got the game winning knock off a Dodger prospect. As the saying goes, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
And that closes the books on affiliated, state-side baseball action for 2022. Though the season ended in disappointment, the journey was a ton of fun, and I thank you all for reading my words now and then. Go Blue, and may next October be a damn sight better than the last one.
Enjoy your Monday, folks.