Tonight marks the end of professional baseball in the United States for 2012, as the Arizona Fall League held its title game at Salt River Fields. The Salt River Rafters, including a number of D-backs prospects, lost 4-3 to the Peoria Javelinas.
All the scoring here was over by the bottom of the third inning, with Peoria clinging to a one-run lead over the final six innings. The Rafters wasted almost perfect chances to score in both the seventh and eighth frames, having the tying run on third with no outs, but came up empty in typical Diamondbacks' style. Arizona's Chris Owings apparently did tie the game in the seventh, with a sacrifice fly, only for the runner to be called out for leaving the base too early. Still, Owings got two hits, while relievers Kevin Munson and Evan Marshall each worked a scoreless inning for the Rafters.
How did our prospects - all bar one of whom were part of the Mobile Baybears championship winning team - do overall in the league? Obviously, we're dealing with very small samples here; with that caveat, let's see what the stats say about our (more or less) Magnificent 7. I'll leave it to the more qualified to chip in with their analyses!
Chase Anderson: 3.47 ERA, 23.1 IP. 1.20 WHIP, 26:9 K:BB
Probably the breakout performance from a Diamondback in this year's Fall League, the ninth-round pick was good enough to be selected for the Rising Stars game, where he worked two scoreless innings. His change-up in particular was drawing praise, Rafters' manager Matt Williams saying, "It kind of seems as if right now he's able to throw it any time he wants to for a strike." Getting his fastball command to the point where the change-up becomes all the more devastating is key When it does, he'll have outings like the one on October 27, where he struck out eight batters and walked none. Will probably start for Reno next year, part of our impressive pitching depth.
Tyler Bortnick: .267/.404/.356. 0 HR 5 RBI
This is the one non-Mobile guy; he was actually playing for rivals Montgomery, up until we received him from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Ryan Roberts. He then spent the end of the 2012 season enjoying Triple-A baseball for the first time. Though "enjoying" may be the wrong word, since he hit .212 with a .603 OPS, over 39 games. And that's playing for Reno, don't forget, where Josh Bell had an .881 OPS. Bortnick did show a decent eye for the Rafters, with a K:BB ratio of 10:8, and scored as many runs as he had hits, but the second-baseman did make four errors in only a dozen games. He may end up back in Double A come next season.
Matt Davidson: .200/.283/.350. 2 HR, 6 RBI
If our top position prospect is going to remain a Diamondback and make the majors, it's now likely going to have to be at his current position of third base, the possibility of Davidson moving to first no longer seeming a realistic option. He should probably also learn - sooner, rather than later - not to try and field ground-balls with his forehead. Matt was struck there by a one-hopper late in October, triggering dizziness and a light head, and that's largely why Davidson could only manage 11 games for the Rafters. We did get to see one of his two home-runs however, hit in the 9th inning of SnakePitFallLeagueFest.
Evan Marshall: 2.19 ERA, 12.1 IP, 1.22 WHIP, 6:0 K:BB
Reliever Marshall also had a fairly good AFL, not walking a batter. Though his very solid ERA was in part due to three of the five runs he allowed being unearned - the .294 average he allowed to hitters facing him, wasn't much to write home about either. It is about in line with the .284 figure he put up over 42 appearances for Double-A Mobile this season. saving 16 games for the BayBears. Marshall had two more saves for the Rafters, though few things are probably more meaningless than an AFL save.
Kevin Munson: 6.75 ERA, 9,1 IP, 2.04 WHIP, 12:6 K:BB
2012 definitely seems to have been a year Munson will want to forget, compared in particular to to last season's Arizona Fall League, where he had a 1.32 ERA with a K:BB ratio of 16:3. He struggled with Mobile, walking 27 in 53 innings of work, on his way to a 6.28 ERA, and did little better this AFL - we saw that in person, as he loaded the bases without retiring a batter at SnakePitFest, then allowed a two-run single. There's some suggestion his command may have been affected by a comebacker which hit his foot early on, but there's little doubt that Munson's stock has dropped a bit from where it was this time last year.
Chris Owings: .275/.275/.429. 1 HR, 9 RBI
Yes, you read that line correctly. Owings didn't walk once in 21 games and over 90 trips to the plate. No major-leaguer has done that for a season since Jim Adduci had 97 walkless PAs in 1988. Now, obviously, Fall League is developmental, so stats don't "matter" in quite the same way. But this was not much of an aberration for Owings: between High-A and Double-A this year, he had only 24 walks in 567 PAs. That would have ranked him 103rd for walks, of the 106 MLB players with that number of chances this year. Now, he is young - Chris only turned 21 in August. However, his plate discipline is definitely something which needs to improve, much more so than defense which appears close to ready for the big show.
Eric Smith: 3.46 ERA, 13 IP, 1.77 WHIP, 4:7 K:BB
Like Munson, Smith was enjoying his second trip to Arizona in November, and the results were a little more mixed. He did succeed in dropping his ERA from last year's figure of 5.12, but it's rarely a good sign if you walk more batters than you strike out. His WHIP was also six points higher than in 2011, and as with Marshall, the ERA is at odds with the opponents' batting average, which was .302 for Smith this time around. I'd guess he will likely return to Mobile come next April.