There was a piece on the D-backs website at the start of the week, headlined "D-backs prospect Ahmed not listening to doubters." Says our young shortstop, "People that say I can't hit, I don't listen to that, because I know I'm going to hit. Just kind of throws some fuel on the fire and gets my engine going and fires me up a little bit, I guess." The sooner the better, I'd say: the doubters won't have been quietened by Ahmed hitting .219 for the Scottsdale River Rafters, though he did walk almost as many times as he struck out. No-one has any questions about his defense, but a .683 OPS in the minors makes you very fringey - as a rough yardstick, Cliff Pennington hit .722 there.
Lamb finished off a good 2013 campaign with the best numbers of a D-back in the AFL. The strikeouts were high, but basically in line with what he did for Visalia this year, and the batting average was close to the same as well. Rather less power - he had 13 home-runs in 64 games with the Rawhide - but the pitching he saw here was likely better than High-A quality. As Lamb only turned 23 last month, it'll be interesting to see what he can do at a higher level in 2014. Five errors in 21 games at third-base indicate that the defense is still a work in progress, however.
A lack of power was even more obvious for Freeman who, like Ahmed, slugged below his on-base percentage. Not that he had much to begin with: between Mobile and Salt River, he finished this year with a precise tally of one home-run in 149 games and 592 at-bats. That's positively Bloomquistian. Still, he's a middle-infielder, and you don't expect those to hit home-runs.
We spoke a little about Stites the other day, but worth discussing him some more, since it seems he'll be in the mix for a bullpen spot in 2014. After he'd shaken off the post-appendectomy rust in the first couple of games, when he may have been tipping his pitches, Stites settled down admirably. He finished the year with nine consecutive scoreless outings and was better yet later on. His final seven AFL innings resulted in only two hits and no walks, with six strikeouts. He has an upper-90s fastball, a good slider, and says he'll be working on a change-up during the winter to help him against left-handed batters.
Schultz was the most active of any pitcher in the entire league, his 32 innings of work being three more than the second busiest. The 3.09 is definitely laudable, considering the league-average figure this fall was 4.14. Of course, he is aged 28, and coming off his sixth season in the minor-leagues making Schultz one of the oldest and most experienced pitchers taking part, so you'd expect him to be doing better than average as well. Barrett's ERA doesn't look good, but four of those six earned runs came while retiring two batters in one game; the same goes for Garcia, who allowed all his earned runs in a single outing. The AFL is nothing if not a Petri dish of small sample sizes!
Baseball continues in other places round the globe. In Mexico, Derek Eitel still has an ERA of zero, after fourteen appearances for the Yaquis de Obregon, holding batters to a .140 average. Mark Serrano is also pitching well for Caribes de Anzoategui in Venezuela, where he has a 2.91 ERA over seven starts. The same league sees Ender Inciarte continue his good form, batting .323, though pitchers seem to be sussing him hit, with a K:BB ratio of 8:1 in his last ten games. Finally, in the Dominican League, Alfredo Marte is holding his own, with a line of .260/.305/.442, but Tuffy Gosewisch is still batting below the Uecker Line, though has a decent .327 OBP.