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Diamondbacks Minor League Season in review: Arizona Rookie League

I always keep thinking I should make more effort to go to an AZL game, especially since they are free. But then, I look at box-score and see things like "Game temperature: 108 degrees", and I realize exactly why I have lived here for 15 years without ever seeing an AZL game... Hey, when does the Fall League start? The location, right here in Arizona, also makes it ideal as a first stop for rehabbing players. Phil Gosselin, Ender Inciarte and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all had stints with the AZL D-backs this year. Bear that in mind, especially with regard to things like squad age: it doesn't take many games from the 39-year-old Cody Ransom to start affecting season totals!

Overall
  • Team record: 25-30 (3rd of five)
  • Runs scored: 230 (4.18 per game)
  • Runs allowed: 244 (4.44 per game)
Hitting
  • Age: 20.6 (league average: 19.8)
  • BA: .250 (.250)
  • OBP: .318 (.324)
  • SLG: .330 (.347)
  • OPS: .647 (.671)
  • SB/CS: 63/18 (73/31)

The shortest of the short-season league, the D-backs playing 55 games here from about mid-June through the end of August at Salt River Fields. They have sole use of the complex; for some reason, the Rockies do not field a team in the AZL, the only Cactus League club not to so so. The D-backs finished seven games back of the Cubs in their division, and it was mostly their hitting responsible for the sub-.500 record. The Diamondbacks managed only nine home-runs, tied for the league's lowest total, over 1,831 at-bats - and Gosselin hit two of those! Their walk and K-rates were 7.9% and 21.1% respectively, compared to 8.3% and 21.6% across the AZL.

Leaders (min 50 PA for rate stats)
  • Runs: Alvaro Rondon (36)
  • Hits: Rondon (55)
  • 2B: Francis Martinez (7)
  • 3B: Max Brown (5)
  • HR: Ismael Pena (3)
  • RBI: Rondon (20)
  • BB: Daniel Comstock (21)
  • K: Eudy Ramos (38)
  • BA: Rondon (.313)
  • OBP: Jose Herrera (.415)
  • SLG: Luis Silverio (.430)
  • OPS: Herrera (.795)
  • SB: Rondon (20)

Gaudy though, for example, 20 SB in 21 attempts may seem, Rondon's numbers are less impressive when you learn the infielder is 24 (older than Inciarte!). However, his was not the typical Dominican path, being an undrafted free-agent who went to Texas A&M International. Another Dominican is Silverio, who was drafted in the 33rd round this year out of Eastern Florida States, and had some pop, seven of his 21 hits going for extra-bases. However, the best numbers overall go to Jose Herrera, a left-handed hitting catcher, who batted .304 and walked more often than he struck out (11:13 K:BB). He's still only 18, but given the dearth of our catching prospects, I'm crossing my fingers.

Pitching
  • Age: 20.4 (20.3)
  • ERA: 3.68 (3.67)
  • WHIP: 1.303 (1.315)
  • K/9: 7.9 (8.4)
  • BB/9: 3.1 (3.2)
  • K/BB: 2.58 (2.61)

Pretty close to league average here; and not as much impact from rehabbing players on age here, as with hitting - only 10 innings pitched, and the oldest was Chase Anderson, at 27. A fairly low strikeout rate, but that was offset partly by a lower than average walk-rate, and also by respectable defense, which kept the unearned runs off the board. The D-backs had 50 of those, six fewer than AZL average, with fewer errors as well (89 vs. 92). They kept the running game in check too, allowing 63 SB, compared to a mean of 73. That all helped bring their runs allowed per game 17 points below league average of 4.61.

Pitching leaders (min 15 IP for rate stats)
  • Wins: Three players tied (5)
  • Losses: Luis Madero (5)
  • ERA: Erbert Gonzalez (0.95)
  • Saves: Merkis Montero (3)
  • K: Emilio Vargas (49)
  • BB: Oliver Polanco (24)
  • WHIP: Justin Donatella (0.600)
  • K/9: Gonzalez (11.4)
  • BB/9: Donatella (1.0)
  • K/BB: Donatella (7.50)

Gonzalez had the best strikeout numbers, fanning 24 with 19 innings, but seemed to have trouble harnessing his stuff, also walking a dozen. Donatella was our 15th-round pick this year, and gradually worked his way up in length; he finished the year with Hillsboro, tossing five scoreless innings in his last outing and only start there. But it's a pair of 18-year-old pitchers who caught my eye. They particularly excelled at keeping the ball in Salt River Fields, tossing a total of 108 innings between them without allowing a home-run. Luis Madero had the better ERA (2.30 vs. 2.53) but honors here go to Emilio Vargas due to his better peripherals, with a K:BB of 49:13 in 53.1 innings.