AFL Team Review: Scottsdale Scorpions


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Scottsdale | Surprise | Salt River | Glendale | Peoria | Mesa

2080 Evaluators on Coverage
Jeff Moore | Tucker Blair | Chris Rodriguez | John Arguello | Mauricio Rubio

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Scorps Bats, Pen Lead Scottsdale to AFL Title

The Scottsdale Scorpions claimed the 2015 Arizona Fall League Championship with a 6-4 victory over the Surprise Saguaros, capping an impressive fall for the AFL East champs. The Scorpions offense led the league in batting average (.278), on-base percentage (.355), and triples (11) over their 30-game slate, while the pitching staff – driven by a dominant bullpen – paced allowed the fewest hits per game (7.6), homeruns per game (0.6), and runs per game (3.2).

Christian Arroyo (SS/2B, Giants), Mac Williamson (OF, Giants), Sam Travis (1B, Red Sox), Carlos Asuaje (SS, Padres), and Mitch Garver (C, Twins) each sported batting averages on the happy side of .300, with Williamson (.370) and Travis (.344) each finishing in the top five league-wide. While power wasn’t a focal point for the offense, the Scorpions placed three bats in the top ten league-wide in OPS, as well – Williamson (.935), Travis (.900), and Arroyo (.848).

The bullpen was filled with effective arms capable of missing bats with regularity, as Nick Burdi (RHP, Twins), Ray Black (RHP, Giants), Dan Slania (RHP, Giants), Chandler Shepherd (RHP, Red Sox), Perci Garner (RHP, Indians), and Jeff Ferrell (RHP, Tigers) all averaged over a punchout and inning. Further, Burdi, Ferrell, Jake Reed (RHP, Twins) and T.J. House (LHP, Indians) each finished their AFL seasons without allowing a run, combining for 26.2 innings in which they struck out 31 batters while giving-up just 11 hits and eight walks.

Who ya got?

Three 2080 evaluators each make the case for one of their “guys”

Nick Burdi, RHP, Twins

Nick Burdi, RHP, Twins (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’5″/215 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  22y, 9m
While some may have soured on Burdi after his first half struggles at Double-A Chattanooga in 2015, His strong showings that closed out his year in the High A Florida State League, followed by his dominant outings in Arizona this fall, have kept my faith strong. Featuring an upper-90s fastball that hits 99 mph, his average command for the pitch to be a already has him at the plus to double-plus benchmark. He pairs his fastball with a plus slider that features sharp break and is especially dangerous to right-handed hitters. It’s going to be about consistency for Burdi, and outside of his slow start in 2015, he’s shown enough of it for me to think he can move quickly? through the remainder of his minor league development next year. It’s a relief profile, but it’s a profile capable of handling high-leverage situations in Minnesota as soon as mid-2016.  –Jeff Moore

Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (High A)
Ht/Wt:  6’1″/190 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  21y, 3m
I saw nothing different in the AFL than I did during my looks at High A Lynchburg during the regular season. I continue to see a player with more positives than negatives in his profile. Frazier has premium bat speed and a short swing, which allows for him to connect with high-end velocity and create damage. The plus raw power is easily his most prolific weapon, playing to all fields and in any count. While his struggles with spin and inability to make more consistent contact are certainly concerns, I view Frazier as a low average, higher power producer. Add the fact that he continually displays the ability to play at least an average center field and I’m willing to overlook the deficiencies at the plate in favor of his complete profile.  –Tucker Blair

Christian Arroyo, SS, Giants (High A)
Ht/Wt:  6’1″/180 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  20y, 6m
Arroyo impressed all season at High A San Jose, showing a solid stick at the plate and a dependable glove at shortstop. He continued his hitting barrage against AFL opponents this fall, against players whose average age was around four years senior to his. Arroyo’s swing is designed for line drives to all fields and he possesses the bat speed to catch up to anyone’s best fastball. Questions still remain as to whether he’ll stick at shortstop or move to second base, where his arm and range could play much better. Still, there’s a lot to like in this package and there’s a comparison that pops to mind every time I see him play: current Giants second-baseman Joe Panik.  –Chris Rodriguez

You should know about…

Aggregate write-ups based on in-person AFL views by 2080 evaluators and industry contacts

Jake Reed, RHP, Twins (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’2″/190 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  22y, 2m
One of the top relief arms available in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Reed dazzled evaluators during last year’s AFL season before struggling to maintain his success during 47 wildly inconsistent innings for Double-A Chattanooga this summer. He flashed his previous form in his return to the AFL this fall, with the whippy-armed righty bringing mid-90s heat with solid dance and good angles. His breaking ball of choice is a short mid-80s slider that lacks consistent bite at present but could play to average or better with continued honing. His changeup is a mid- to upper-80s offering with dive when he works it down in the zone. Too often, however, he can let it float, leaving it flat and accessible to barrels. It was good to see Reed back on track after a 2015 that was, at times, trying for the former Oregon closer. There is still work to be done smoothing out the rough edges, but the upside is a quality set-up man for future closer Nick Burdi, and the makings of an impressive homegrown pen for Twins.

Ray Black, RHP, Giants

Ray Black, RHP, Giants (High A)
Ht/Wt:  6’5″/225 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  25y, 5m
One of the more entertaining arms to watch in this year’s AFL, Black lit-up the radar guns with his upper-90s fastball that regularly topped triple-digits. It’s a true “80” offering on velocity alone, though it comes fairly straight up in the zone and can be squared-up if he’s too loose with the pitch over the meat of the plate. His go-to secondary is a mid-80s slider with sharp, sweeping action and good depth that plays both in and out of the zone. There’s no question Black has the pure arm to play in the back of the pen, as well as some of the best pure swing-and-miss stuff at any level of the game (he averaged an eye-popping 18.4 strikeouts per nine in 2015 and 16.0 over his 9 AFL appearances). But Black’s well below-average control can be problematic in high-leverage situations – he walked two or more batters in over 30% of his 29 appearances between the summer and the fall. He will likely need to rein in the control to a more manageable level before he’s trusted with innings of import in San Francisco. An invite to major league camp this spring would make sense and provided he continues to miss bats at a dizzying rate, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 2014 seventh-rounder logging innings for the Giants at some point in 2016.

Mac Williamson, OF, Giants (MLB)
Ht/Wt:  6’5″/240 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  25y, 5m
After missing most of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, Williamson bounced back in 2015 with quality showings at Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento, as well as USA Baseball’s Pan Am Team, before making his Major League debut in September. The big-bodied thumper has above-average to plus power from the right side and some feel for the barrel, though his long limbs and sizeable strike zone tend to lead to more than his fair share of strikeouts. He showed a patient approach during the fall league, finding pitches to drive more regularly and cutting down on the empty swings with better plate coverage. He continues to move well in the field for his size and his arm plays well in right field. Williamson should get a long look this spring and could be ready to contribute in San Francisco as early as 2016.

Sam Travis, 1B, Red Sox

Sam Travis, 1B, Red Sox (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’0″/195 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  22y, 3m
After being selected by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft, Travis gave a quality performance across two levels in his first full professional season, slashing a combined .307/.381/.452 between High A Salem and Double-A Portland. The former Indiana Hoosier maintained that high level of production through his 23 AFL games, slashing .344/.394/.505 and impressing evaluators by routinely driving the ball from line-to-line and showing flashes of pull-side power. Travis is a little undersized and lacks the traditional plus raw power expected of a top first base prospect. Still, his feel for hitting stands out. It isn’t difficult to picture him peppering the Green Monster with line drives and racking-up enough extra bases to qualify as at least an average power producer. With David Ortiz announcing his retirement after the 2016 campaign, Travis is well positioned to enjoy another year of development between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket with an eye towards competing for a 1B/DH spot with the Sox in 2017.

Chandler Shepherd, RHP, Red Sox (High A)
Ht/Wt:  6’3″/185 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  23y, 3m
Shepherd makes good use of his 6-foot-3 frame thanks to a high three-quarters release that helps him drive the ball down in the zone on a solid downward plane. The heater sits 93 to 95 mph and is a true plus offering when he’s commanding it to both sides of the plate. His best secondary is an above-average slider that comes with good tilt and deception, matching planes with the fastball out of his hand. Chandler struggled at times to find the zone during his AFL stint, belying his usual above-average command and plus control, though evaluators were generally unconcerned by the anomaly. The University of Kentucky product should make the jump to Double-A Portland in 2016 and could be ready to contribute in Boston by late-2016 or early 2017.

Notes from the stands…

Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Giants (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’3″/195 | B/T:  R/L | Age (as of 12/1/15):  22y, 5m
Big, thick legs; not all the weight he currently carries is good weight; three-quarters arm slot; fastball 90 to 93 (T94) with below average command; slider 79 to 82 with sharp, short break; changeup 82 to 86; wide variances in velocity on all three pitches due to inconsistent mechanics; back-end profile with mid-rotation upside. –-Jeff Moore

Austin Slater, 2B/UTL, Giants (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’2″/215 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  22y, 11m
Big, strong frame; long limbs; not a second base body but fundamentally sound at position; average bat speed; utilizes whole-field approach; gap power to all fields; utility profile.--Jeff Moore

Adam Ravenelle, RHP, Tigers (Low A)
Ht/Wt:  6’3″/185 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  23y, 2m
Two-pitch relief profile; wide three-quarters arm slot; fastball 91 to 94 (T96) with average arm-side run, below-average command; slider 84 to 86, sweeping with average depth and command. –-Jeff Moore

Mitch Garver, C, Twins

Mitch Garver, C, Twins (High A)
Ht/Wt:  6’1″/220 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  24y, 10m
Quiet hands; two-hand finish; short, compact swing; above average contact skills; average raw power, plays in games to pull side; gap power to opposite field; average bat speed with power generated from strength; below-average arm. –-Jeff Moore

Kyle Martin, RHP, Red Sox (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’7″/220 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  24y, 10m
Big body; long arm action on back end; good deception on arm action; fastball 91 to 93 with average command; slider 83 to 86 is loose and sweeping offering that flashes average; changeup 79 to 81 with below average command, misses down frequently; relief profile. –-Jeff Moore

Yandy Diaz, 3B, Indians (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’2″/185 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  24y, 4m
Lean frame; long legs; deep load in swing, leads to inconsistent swing path; above-average bat control; above-average bat speed; stays tall in stance; strong understanding of strike zone; below-average power; good range at third base, above-average arm. –-Jeff Moore

Tzu-Wei Lin, SS, Red Sox (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  5’9″/155 | B/T:  L/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  21y, 9m
Small frame, little growth potential; average bat speed, well below-average power; average defender at shortstop; most of value will come on defensive side of ball; fringy profile. –-Jeff Moore

Carlos Asuaje, SS, Padres

Carlos Asuaje, SS, Padres (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  5’9″/160 | B/T:  L/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  24y, 1m
Undersized; short with limited projection left. Line drive swing; above-average bat speed; below-average power; whole field approach; second base profile; bench/role player. –-Jeff Moore

Justin Haley, RHP, Red Sox (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’5″/230 | B/T:  R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  24y, 5m
Tall and lean frame; stabbing action on back end; hitchy delivery; fastball 89 to 91; curve 76 to 78, loose and loopy; changeup 81 to 82, flashed fade, inconsistent action. –-Jeff Moore

Dominic Ficociello, 1B, Tigers (Double-A)
Ht/Wt:  6’4″/205 | B/T:  S/R | Age (as of 12/1/15):  23y, 8m
Long limbed, very narrow frame; average bat speed from both sides; swing gets long; average power when he gets his hands extended; gets out front, susceptible to rolling over on right side; below-average runner; average defender, first base only profile. –-Jeff Moore