Feature Photo: Jared Miller, LHP, Diamondbacks
2016 AFL Fall Stars Game participants Jared Miller (LHP, Diamondbacks), Adam Ravenelle (RHP, Tigers) and Chris Stratton (RHP, Giants), and Taylor Ward (C, Angels) are part of my update to 2080s prospect video library. Our complete Prospect Video Library can be found here.
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Perhaps the most impressive fall-league pitcher to this juncture, Miller has yet to concede a run over seven relief appearances out of Salt River’s bullpen while maintaining league-best marks in strikeouts (24) and WHIP (0.38). The hulking southpaw is no stranger to gaudy production, though, garnering a 2.64 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 11.7 K/9 ratio over 61.1 innings between four different levels of the minors in 2016, which was his first campaign exclusively working in relief. Miller features an average fastball in the 91-92 mph range and compliments it with a mid-80s slider as his put-away offering that has baffled both righties and lefties alike, and, as 2080’s Mark Shreve writes, it may not be long before he gets his first crack at Arizona’s bullpen.
Munoz’s late 2015 breakout with High A Stockton (.852 OPS over 165 PAs) was greeted with some regression in 2016, slashing .240/.286/.367 with 9 home runs in 102 contests against Double-A arms. The beat has continued in Arizona, where the 21-year-old owns an underwhelming .562 OPS with two extra-base hits in 14 contests. Munoz has shown an average glove and plus arm at third base, with flashes of above-average range. An aggressive approach, and a clear willingness to expand the zone has been his undoing against advanced arms, though, ultimately leading to swing-and-miss tendencies (3:13 BB:K rate).
After a scintillating 2016 campaign that saw him collect a 2.06 ERA, 10.0 K/9 ratio and career-high 140 inning between High A and Double-A, Gonsalves has taken things slow in Arizona, logging just two appearances through the league’s first four weeks. The tall, lanky southpaw was tagged with two runs over two innings with one walk and no strikeouts last week against Salt River, struggling to spot his fastball and failing to miss bats with a fastball that topped out at 90 mph and sat 88-to-89 mph. Gonsalves’ curveball was his best offering in the outing, showcasing late downer action and good feel for the spin at 73-to-74 mph, though his low-80s changeup was used sparingly, with some average fade.
Acquired from Texas in a three-team swap this past August, Moore has contributed to Salt River as a taxi-squad member in Arizona and continues to make the most of his limited opportunities, hitting .333 with 2 home runs and a team-best 1.012 OPS through 33 plate trips. A defensive Swiss army knife, Moore has shown a plus range and arm at shortstop consistently with similarly-graded athleticism and instincts for the position. The 24-year old has shown average raw pop, but he has sprayed the ball to all fields effectively and has above-average bat speed without much swing-and-miss to his game. After chalking up 14 home runs and 42 stolen bases between Class A and High A in 2016, Moore’s prospect value appears to be on rise.
One of the more productive late-inning arms at any level of pro ball in 2016 (1.80 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 9 SV across 70 IP between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A), Broussard has anchored Glendale’s bullpen to the tune of a 2.45 ERA, two saves and five strikeouts in seven appearances in Arizona. The 25-year-old has been a true two-pitch reliever in live looks, owning an average four-seam fastball that will sit in the 91-to-93 mph band that he will pair with an 85-to-86 mph slider with tilt and late bite for whiffs low in the zone. Broussard works fast, fills the zone and historically is not prone to making many mistakes (career 0.4 HR/9), suggesting that he has a solid foundation with which to contribute to a big league bullpen.
Chicago’s foursome of position prospects has been underwhelming outside of Zack Collins thus far, and Michealczewski has been no exception, slashing .175/.313/.250 with three doubles in his first 48 PAs. Generating consistent contact from both sides of the plate has plagued the 21-year-old early on, leading Glendale hitters in strikeouts (16) just a few month after he’d witnessed his strikeout rate in Double-A balloon by five percent compared to High A in 2015. With below-average speed (4.34 HP-to-1B from the left), average raw power, questionable contact skills and a glove-arm tandem at third base that also looks to have an average ceiling, Michaelczewski’s long-term upside figures to be limited.
Among a select few of players with big league service time, Stratton’s AFL campaign has rekindled the spark that came with former first-round status from a production standpoint, going 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and impressive 16:1 K/BB ratio across 16 innings. The 26-year-old showed an average 90-to-93 mph fastball with slight arm-side sink last week in Scottsdale, complimenting it with an average mid-80s slider that serves as his best secondary offering. He’ll also show a high-70s curveball along an 84-to-85 mph changeup to left-handed batters, but both have been hittable and grade out as fringy offerings.
Ward’s first full season of pro ball left something to be desired from the former first-round pick, slashing .249/.323/.337 with 10 home runs and 11 doubles , in the High A Cal League, while throwing out 38 percent of would-be basestealers. The 22-year-old’s production in the desert has begun to stand out, though, hitting .342 with four doubles in 12 contests for Scottsdale. Ward’s lauded arm has registered as good as a 1.89 pop time to second, though it has hovered around 2.00 (average) in other live looks. His receiving skills will still require some refinement, but any catcher with fringe-average power and solid contact will hold value down the road. Here’s Dave Defreitas’ report on Ward from earlier this year.
Absent from the entire 2016 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2015, Molina’s first taste of live ball post-surgery has yielded a mixed bag, walking more batters (six) than he has struck out (five) in route to a 4.26 ERA across 12.2 innings. On the other hand, Molina has touched 94 mph regularly, and with added reps, could be back to scraping 97 mph as he did as a 19-year-old in the Penn League in 2014. Molina’s 83-to-84 mph slider has been both a source of whiffs and ground balls in my looks, with the changeup, sitting in the upper-80s, still a raw pitch at this juncture. He’s still recalibrating after 12 months off, but the ingredients for a mid-rotation arm are still there.
The fall league’s current leader in saves (four), Ravenelle’s second stint in Arizona appears to be going well, with no runs allowed alongside a 0.86 WHIP in seven appearances. Those baseline metrics are a bit deceptive, however, as Ravenelle’s command has been poor, leading to an even split of walks (five) to whiffs (five) thus far. The lean, flexible 24-year-old has touched 98 mph and sat 95-to-97 mph with a double-plus sinking fastball from his low 3/4’s slot, mixing in a hard 87-to-90 mph slider with sweeping action as his primary bat-misser.