The annual Arizona Fall League wraps up Saturday with the championship game between the Mesa Solar Sox and the Surprise Saguaros. Unfortunately the team that our Milwaukee Brewers sent their prospects to play for, the Salt River Rafters, was eliminated yesterday after a 4-2 loss to Surprise. Salt River finished with a 15-15-1 record in the AFL, a half game back of Mesa in the East division. Now that the Rafters season is officially in the books, let’s take a look at how the six farmhands that represented Milwaukee performed in the league:
OF Brett Phillips
Phillips didn’t hit much or for much power in the AFL, and struck out nearly in 30 percent of the his plate appearances. But his high walk rate from the Biloxi carried over with the Rafters, drawing 18 free passes in 19 games played.
Mauricio Rubio of BP noted that Phillips has a “leveraged swing with bat speed, double-plus arm strength in the outfield…good defensive skills” but that he “was pulling off fastballs on the outer half, swinging and missing through velocity, didn’t show much extension,” adding that he wasn’t impressive at the plate in a limited look.
Brett Phillips’s Contact Issues
C Jacob Nottingham
Nottingham struggled during his first season in the Brewers’ system and his results were even worse during the fall league. His .505 OPS was better than only three other hitters in the AFL and he struck out in nearly a third of his appearances at the dish.
Rubio said of Nottingham during the AFL: “Bat flashes promise, could be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter with power, I didn’t see much to convince me he can be a full-time catcher…Limited athleticism shows up on defense behind the plate, average arm strength, slow up the chute on throws to second, secondary defensive home is limited to first.”
2B/SS Isan Diaz
Diaz was Milwaukee’s minor league player of the year in 2016 and he showed rather well in the AFL, at least compared to the other Brewers that were sent. He struck out an awful lot, but that probably has something to do with the fact that he was one of the youngest players in the league, and was facing pitching advanced well beyond what he saw in low-A Wisconsin this year.
Rubio has long praised Diaz, and in a Minor League Update early on in the AFL season he described the 20 year old as having “great strike zone command, swing and miss concerns, above average game power, plus hit tool, definitely moving to second.”
RHP Tyler Spurlin
Spurlin spent most of his season in AA Biloxi, where he worked to a solid 3.48 ERA in 41.1 innings out of the bullpen that was not at all supported by his 6.07 DRA. He was better in the AFL, allowing a minute 0.81 WHIP and a strikeout to walk ratio of better than 3:1 while giving up five runs across his 11 appearances.
Scout Aaron Thorn posted this video of Spurlin and his sidearm delivery. Here, the fastball is in the 89-91 MPH range, changeup in the 79-80 MPH range, and a breaking ball sitting 75-77 MPH.
RHP Javier Salas
Salas has never been regarded as a very notable prospect and after posting a 6.75 ERA in 66.7 innings combined between three levels in 2016, it was somewhat of a surprise to see him get selected for the AFL. His struggles continued in Arizona, where he was rocked for 13 earned runs and walked more batters than he struck out across six appearances.
In a Minor League Update, Rubio notes that Salas “hits the low 90s with his fastball and his secondaries aren’t quite there.” Alec Dopp of 20-80 Baseball graded his slider at a 50-55, noting that his poor command limits the pitch from being a plus offering.
RHP Tayler Scott
Scott originally began his career in the Cubs organization, but washed out of affiliated ball for a time before Milwaukee purchased his contract from the Sioux City Explorers over the summer. Scott managed only a 4.39 ERA and 5.01 DRA in Biloxi before heading to the Fall League. He wound up as one of the top preventers for Salt River, finishing second on the team in ERA while allowing just three runs, and zero homers, in nine appearances.
Here’s another video from Aaron Thorn, this one of Scott pitching (with Shuckers teammate Jacob Nottingham receiving) during the AFL:
RHP Josh Uhen
A native of Oshkosh and a product of UW-Milwaukee, local boy Josh Uhen enjoyed a solid season out of the bullpen for Brevard County and Biloxi before heading to the AFL. Unfortunately, his results in the Fall League weren’t quite as good, as he allowed nine runs across nine appearances with a WHIP of 1.50.
From a scouting standpoint, however, there is some reason to be hopeful about Uhen’s future. He’s always featured a plus fastball, and according to Alec Dopp was showing of an “easy 60″ grade slider during the AFL.
AFL statistics courtesy of MLB.com