Feature Photo: Aramis Garcia, C, Giants
2080 contributor Alec Dopp continues his coverage of the 2016 Arizona Fall League by spreading out his looks across ten top prospects from ten teams, including Pat Valaika (SS, Rockies), Franchy Cordero (OF, Padres), Giants catching prospect Aramis Garcia, and Indians outfielder Greg Allen. Check out our Prospect Video Library for our updated AFL video catalog!
2016 Arizona Fall League Prospect Video Highlights
Stockpiling 39 stolen bases, 23 doubles and an OPS of .706 across 133 games between High A and Double-A, Stevenson’s fall league introduction has paralleled his regular-season campaign in more ways than one, holding true to a .740 OPS with three stolen bases through eight AFL games. Stevenson’s swing features quick wrists and line-drive oriented trajectories to all fields, which enabled him to handle upper-end velocity last week in Scottsdale by squaring up both James Kaprielian (RHP, Yankees) and Rodolfo Martinez (RHP, Giants) on multiple occasions. While his raw power grades out as well-below average, his combination of average-or-better contact skills and above-average speed out of the box (4.15 HP-to-1B) suggests he could hit for a solid average as a leadoff-type at the next level.
Drafted and signed as a 35th-round pick in 2014, Bird’s pro career has been spent exclusively from the bullpen, most recently posting a 2.28 ERA and 8.1 K/9 with seven converted saves across 69 innings between High A and Double-A in 2016. The Flagler College product showed an average 90-to-92 mph fastball with slight arm-side boring action in a live look last week in Peoria. He leaned heavily on a 74-to-76 mph curveball, showing some feel for its gradual break on a 12-to-6 plane, and it appears to be his most trusted secondary at present. He also sprinkled in a show-me 83-to-84 mph changeup to right-handed batters along the way. Bird’s fastball was hittable in the zone, and he ceded a home run to Gavin Cecchini (SS, Mets) on the offering in the outing.
One of the older position prospects on the fall league circuit, Hayes finds himself in Arizona after missing the latter half of 2016 with a core muscle injury. The 26-year-old has yet to find his groove offensively against AFL arms, slashing .194/.265/.250 with one home run in 34 plate trips. Tall, broad-shouldered and filled out, Hayes creates average raw power with a high leg kick and slight uppercut in his swing, actively looking to pull the ball with topspin against an early array of Ted Williams-style infield shifts. Despite owning below-average speed that’s best underway, Hayes has displayed early-count patience thus far in Arizona, a skill he has shown by posting annually well-above-average walk totals as a pro.
Signed as a 17-year-old pup out of the Dominican in 2012, Cordero enjoyed a breakout campaign offensively in 2016, slashing .290/.344/.450 with 11 home runs and 23 stolen bases between High A and Double-A before getting a late-season bump to Triple-A El Paso. And while his fall league campaign has started rather slow (.243/.300/.297 in 40 PAs), the 22-year-old has showcased 65-grade speed down the line (4.02 HP-to-1B) and average raw power in BP. Cordero has been aggressive early in the count and has expanded the zone on pitches in the dirt, which is reflected by his 3:12 BB/K ratio at this juncture. With more selectivity, Cordero’s in-game power and contact should improve down the road.
Among a select few AFL players with big league service time to his resume already, Valaika’s hot start to the fall league has since tapered off, slashing .216/.237/.243 with one extra-base hit through nine games for Salt River. The 24-year-old was aggressive in his September debut with Colorado (0 BB/8 K in 19 PAs), and he has generally stayed within that approach in Arizona, posting a 1:5 BB/K ratio despite making hard contact with quick wrists and a level swing plane through the zone. Valaika’s plus speed and good burst down the line (4.2 HP-to-1B) gives him a shot to steal 15-19 bases annually at the next level.
After two consecutive seasons splitting time between short-season A ball and Class-A, Gohara’s early looks against advanced hitting in the fall league has yielded a mixed bag of results, posting a 6.35 ERA while also leading Peoria in strikeouts (12) across five relief appearances (6.2 IP). The 20-year-old lefty has validated the early swing-and-miss production with a double-plus 95-96 mph fastball that has been effective up in the zone, complimenting it with an effective 83-to-86 mph slider.
One of the more dynamic combinations of speed, contact and plus defense in the minors this year (he slashed .295/.416/.413 with 45 stolen bases between High A and Double-A), Allen hasn’t missed much of a beat in Arizona, mustering an OPS of .895 with five stolen bases though his first eight games with Mesa. The athletic, switch hitting outfielder has managed a near 1:1 BB/K ratio as a pro, and that theme has persisted in the fall league, walking (four) nearly as many times as he has whiffed (six). Sure-handed defensively, Allen’s plus speed and quality reads give him a chance to be a legitimate plus glove in the outfield, ultimately profiling best in center field.
Garcia’s first full season of pro ball in 2015 put him on a short list of offensively advanced catching prospects, with 15 home runs and a .264/.342/.431 slash line in 103 games split between Class A and High-A, but a facial fracture suffered in late May landed him on the DL, and derailed his momentum. The 23-year-old posted just a .545 OPS after his return, and his fall league debut has yielded similarly below-average results (.619 OPS in seven games). The former second round pick will likely wind up hitting for fringe-average power and average at the next level, attributes that hold value at the backstop position. Thus far, Garcia has shown average arm strength (1.90-1.97 pop times consistently) with accuracy, though his blocking skills still require some refinement.
One of only two fall league pitchers working from either a side-arm or submarine angle (along with Tyler Rogers, RHP, Giants), Dorris’ swift ascent through Houston’s farm system has been characterized by both whiffs (12.9 K/9) and walks (3.6 BB/9) alike. His brief time in the desert has followed a similar trajectory, striking out eight, walking six and posting a 2.08 WHIP through four relief outings (4.1 IP) for Glendale. The undrafted free agent pairs a well-below-average fastball (86-to-88 mph) and a double-plus slider with bite in the middle 70s as his go-to, swing-and-miss offering, along with an occasional 69-to-71 mph curveball that he can vary the shape and break on. Dorris’ short, quick arm action and angle to the plate presents a challenge for right-handed hitters, and with added command, he could see time in Houston’s bullpen in the near future.
Diaz’s first campaign in Milwaukee’s system was impressive on several fronts (.264/.358/.469 slash line, 20 home runs, 34 doubles and 11 stolen bases in 135 Class A games), and while his early fall league stint hasn’t been flashy production-wise, he has still managed to open some eyes. The 20-year-old pairs above-average raw power from the left side with an aggressive approach, which has incorporated some swing-and-miss so far (31% strikeout rate in 33 PA). Diaz has shown a more patient approach at the plate in recent looks, a sign that he is willing and capable to adjust when needed. Diaz has shown average range at second base despite otherwise fringy speed, which only adds to his value as a power-hitting second baseman.