Arizona Fall League Top Prospects: Middle Infielders
Second base was the most well represented position on BA’s top prospect list with four candidates finishing in the top dozen players, led by league MVP and batting champ Dustin Ackley, who also managed to set league records in OBP and SLG. Ackley showed improvement defensively at second and while the jury is still out on his ability to play the position at the highest level, he showed is offensive game is more than ready.
Jordany Valdespin (Mets), Eric Farris (Brewers), Jason Kipnis (Indians), Davis Stoneburner (Rangers), Steve Lombardozzi (Nationals), Johnny Giavotella (Royals), Dustin Ackley (Mariners), Charlie Culberson (Giants).
Cleveland and San Francisco each sent prospects to the AFL with the intention of them moving positions, outfielder Jason Kipnis and shortstop Charlie Culverson, respectively. Both performed well offensively but Culberson especially really struggled on the opposite side of the keystone.
Steve Lombardozzi was honored by his peers as the winner of the 2010 Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award, given annually since 2004 in honor of the Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect who was murdered during the 2003 AFL season.
Jordany Valdespin showed good athleticism at both second and short although his problems most come from between his ears. He’s had numerous run-ins with teammates and insubordination issues with authority figures during his time in the Mets’ system with his appearance here being considered a forced maturation. He did finish inside the top ten in hitting and was a perfect seven for seven in stolen base attempts, so maybe hanging around older players paid off.
Each year I end up with an under the radar “favorite” player, a guy who I may not know well or even at all. I’m well aware of the stars and high draft picks, but maybe not as many of the under the radar guys, although to be in Arizona they are no less deserving.
This year that player is Eric Farris. Despite playing just seventy games this year due to injury, Farris showed the Brewers enough that they jumped him from A to AAA where he more than held his own, hitting .270 in sixty games. Farris was among the league leaders in hitting in Arizona before tailing off, although his .351 mark was good for eighth place and his nine stolen bases was good for third. Farris showed good hands and aggressive footwork around the bag. Farris sits behind top prospect Brett Lawrie on the Brewers’ depth chart at second, so even when Rickie Weeks’ days in BrewCrew Blue come to an end there still might be room for him other than as a backup. But he’d still be fun to watch.
While I’m not nearly as high on him as some others, the clear choice here is Ackley. Unlike the others, at least part of Ackley’s repetoire is ML ready.
For that reason, my choice is Dustin Ackley.
Eric Miclat (Baltimore), Jose Iglesias (Boston), Matt Lawson (Seattle), Thomas Field (Colorado), Eduardo Escobar (White Sox), Cale Iorg (Detroit), Jordy Mercer (Pittsburgh), Pete Kozma (St. Louis), Tyler Pastornicky (Atlanta), Andrew Romine (Angels).
While listed here as a shortstop, Eduardo Escobar is really a second baseman who made a token appearance as a late inning replacement. The 5′8″ Escobar came into the AFL with ten career homers in 440 minor league games and promptly hit four in his first week, which obviously opened some eyes. Well, you can go ahead and close them, because they were an aberration. Escobar’s a nice story, short guy perseveres and reaches the major leagues, but we’re not talking Dustin Pedroia here.
Pastornicky is considered a top prospect, he went to Atlanta in the Yunel Escobar/Alex Gonzalez deal, which leaves him essentially in the same spot, no place to play. Most of the other guys are reserves at best, although I really liked Thomas Field. With Troy Tulowitzki signing his long term deal recently though it appears Field’s best bet for ML experience is somewhere outside Colorado.
The last thing I want to do single out a player for negative reasons but I feel I must do so here. Some of the hype surrounding past players in Arizona; Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton is at least in part well deserved. While for the most part their career experiences have been as amateurs, it doesn’t take a genius to see their potential. At the same time there have been other players who have gotten the hype who have shown none of the ability and or statistics to warrant the attention or press they’ve received.
One of those players is Jose Iglesias.
He’s not that good. He won’t BE that good I made the comment to someone the other day I thought Iglesias’ major league career would mirror that of Rey Ordonez, a guy known for simultaneous flashes of brilliance and stupidity defensively who couldn’t hit his weight if you combined TWO years of batting averages and added them together. If you’re a Red Sox fan and are looking at Iglesias to be your future infield savior, take my advice. Look somewhere else.
Without a true major league prospect it’s difficult to make a choice, but I have to. Just from what I saw I’ll take Field, although at this point he really is a man on an island.
Tags: Arizona Fall League