The Salt River Rafters improved their record to 9-7 with a thumping 17-2 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox this afternoon. Those two sides are locked in a battle for the East division, with just one-half game separating them, in Salt River’s favor - the Scottsdale Scorpions sit a very long way back in third. The Rafters pounded out 20 hits this afternoon, led by Arizona’s own 3B Dawel Lugo, who had four hits, driving in and scoring a pair, while 1B Kevin Cron got two hits, including his third home-run, and had three RBI. The D-backs’ Josh Taylor got his first W, allowing a run over four innings, while our relief arms Gabe Speier and Joey Krehbiel each threw a frame.
Rosters for the Arizona Fall League All-Star game were also announced today. The event takes place at Surprise Stadium this Saturday, the first pitch scheduled for just after 5pm local time. It will be screened live, both on MLB.com and on the MLB Network, so you’ll have the chance to see some of the game’s top young players. Selected for the Diamondbacks were first-baseman Kevin Cron, third-baseman Dawel Lugo and left-handed reliever Jared Miller, so congratulations to them. But how have all our prospects done so far?
Leading our hitters is 2B Jamie Westbrook, who has appeared in eight games for the Rafters and is batting .312 with a .790 OPS. He has been a master of putting the ball in play, with only two strikeouts in 32 at-bats, the lowest rate on the club, though he has the same number of walks. Dawel Lugo’s numbers got a nice bump with his four-hit performance, and he’s now hitting .283 in the AFL. However, he is the only Rafter without a single walk, despite 53 at-bats - this continues his minor-league season, where had 19 BB in 510 PA this season.
The good news: Kevin Cron now leads the Rafters in home-runs. The bad news: Kevin Cron is last on the Rafters in batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .157, with a .214 OBP, though a better slugging percentage (.373), lifts his OPS above a couple of team-mates. It may be a BABIP issue: while AFL stats aren’t complete, it looks like Cron is at about .135, which is terrible luck if he has anything like a normal batted-ball profile. We’ll see if that normalizes as Salt River hit the November stretch of the schedule.
After a rough first outing, Josh Taylor has settled down nicely. He looked very good when we saw him on October 19, and over his three starts since that rocky debut, has allowed four earned runs in 12 innings. His K:BB has been particularly impressive over that time, at 13:2, in a league that’s generally regarded as very hitter-friendly. Of our relievers, Joey Krehbiel has struck out 12 over seven innings, and opponents are hitting below the Uecker line in the AFL, at .192. Left-hander Gabe Speier has managed a solid 4.05 ERA over his 6.2 IP, though hasn’t struck out anyone since his first appearance on October 12.
But the real star among our AFL prospects has been southpaw Jarred Miller, who has tossed a total of 11 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk, while fanning nineteen. Over his first three outings, he retired 16 batters, 12 by the strikeout, and has hardly slowed down much since. Miller had held all batters to a .108 average, and has been particularly tough on right-handed hitters; they have managed an .083 average, as they have gone 2-for-24 with a dozen K’s against him. It’s not impossible that he’ll compete for a bullpen spot with the big-league club come spring training.
Finally, a quick reminder. AFLSnakePitFest will be taking place at Salt River Fields on Saturday November 12, when the Salt River Rafters host the Peoria Javelinas. First pitch is at 6:08pm. I think that game is also scheduled to be on the MLB Network and MLB,com, so you will be able to join us, even if you can’t join us!