The Arizona Fall League is gearing up for the season that will begin on October 7. Double A Pensacola Blue Wahoos manager Delino DeShields will manage the Surprise Saguaros, who will consist of prospects from the Reds, Red Sox, Padres, Mariners and Rangers. The Reds have announced that OF Jesse Winker (.917 OPS, A+, AA), 3B Seth Mejias-Brean (.786 OPS, A+, AA), 2B Ryan Wright (.700 OPS, A+, AA), OF Kyle Waldrop (.897 OPS, A+, AA), RH SP Nick Howard (4.08 ERA, A+, AA), and RH RP Ben Klimesh (4.77 ERA, A+, AA) will represent the Reds for the Saguaros.
The minor league seasons is soon drawing to a close. With that in mind, I’m going to name my hitter and pitcher of the year for each team. Nothing fancy here folks, the rough guidelines are that the player played at least about a half season with the team and he was either the best on the team, or really good and I just like him a lot. Whether you agree or not is not important, but please do feel to discuss the merits of these players and others not chosen here.
AAA Louisville Bats
The Bat’s hitter of the year goes to the invisible man, OF Felix Perez . The 29 year old Perez spent the entire season, and his third straight, in Louisville where he put up a .279/.325/.447/.772 line, which is his best season there. Many have scratched their heads wondering why the LH hitting OF has not gotten a chance at the bigs with all the injuries and the Reds need for offense. Perez is no longer a serious prospect, but could still possibly fill the 4th/5th OF role in the bigs if afforded the opportunity.
I’m going to with RH SP Chien-Ming Wang for Bat’s pitcher of the year. The veteran pitcher is no longer with the organization, but while here Wang (3.70) was the best starter we had down at AAA. One wonders if he’d be getting the start today over Axelrod if he had stuck around.
AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos
There are other valid choices here, but my pick is OF Kyle Waldrop. The 22 year old LH swinger Waldrop (.338/.388/.510/.897) put up a .863 OPS for the Blue Wahoos after a midseason promotion from A+ Bakersfield where he put up a .925 OPS. He was the only one of 5 players promoted from Bakersfield at midseason who successfully made the difficult transition to AA.
Really tough call here, but my pick is Jon Moscot (3.13). Michael Lorenzen pitched as well as he did and has the better upside, but I’m giving the 22 year old RH Moscot the nod based on his recent promotion to AAA. After 25 starts at Pensacola with a 3.13 ERA, Moscot was promoted to AAA Louisville where he has a 2.92 ERA over two starts. Interesting note, he has allowed 2 R in each of his two AAA starts. The interesting part is, that all four of those runs have come via a solo HR. Not only that, but two different players took him deep twice in the same game. Only in baseball.
High A Bakersfield Blaze
Best hitter goes to OF Jesse Winker (.287/.399/.518/.917) who is just 20 years old and the best hitter in the Reds system. After a great start in Bakersfield (1.006 OPS) he was promoted to AA (.677) where he was off to a slow start before a wrist injury derailed his season. He’s slated to play in the AFL and will probably begin the season next year back in Pensacola, and if all goes well, end it in Cincinnati. Apologies to Marquez Smith and his 27 HR and 1.053 OPS, but hey, that’s what 29 year old guys are supposed to do to A+ pitching.
RH SP Ben Lively (2.96) gets the nod here. He only put up the best SP performance for the Reds in the minors this year. He’s not got the highest upside as prospect, but has definitely put himself on the radar with a phenomenal 2.28 ERA in the high offense California league to start the season, and then followed that up with a very solid 3.76 ERA at AA Pensacola the second half of the season.
Low A Dayton Dragons
My pick for best hitter is 22 year old OF/1B Sebastian Elizalde (.290/.383/.476/.858). The LH hitter put up a .941 OPS in the first half at Dayton, and then a solid .786 OPS after a promotion to A+ Bakersfield.
Best pitcher goes to 20 year old RH SP Nick Travieso (3.10). He’s got a big arm and the potential to be a top of the rotation SP. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the high offense California league next season.
Rookie Billings Mustangs
Best hitter is 20 year old RF Aristides Aquino (.292/.344/.568/.912). The RH slugger has 21 2B and 14 HR in 279 PA. He will be fun to see at full season A Dayton next year.
I’m giving the best pitcher nod to 19 year old RH SP Tyler Mahle (4.02). He easily outpaced the high offense Pioneer league average ERA of 4.80. Apologies to Wyatt Strahan and his 2.97 ERA, but Mahle pitched a lot more innings with a better WHIP.
Rookie AZL Reds
Best hitter goes to 3B Gavin LaValley (.285/.375/.441/.816) who by far outpaced the AZL league average OPS of .680. The 19 year old RH slugging 3B, who is listed at 6′ 3″ 235 lb., also saw significant time at DH.
Best pitcher goes to 18 year old LH SP Ty Boyles. He posted a 3.35 ERA over 45.2 IP.