There was no Arizona Fall League action again yesterday, but, with the league being underway, there is a fair bit of prospecting goodness to discuss …
- Ben Lindbergh has been writing a Scouting School series for Grantland while he’s out in Arizona, and you should just read the whole damn series. It’s good. For my purposes here, I’ll highlight just two small sections. First, while checking out Instructional League, Lindbergh confesses to falling for his first in-person prospect crush, and it is none other than the Cubs’ Gioskar Amaya. As a second baseman for Kane County, Amaya, 20, was something of a disappointment this year after lighting up our collective prospect radars last year at Boise. Amaya’s numbers were up and down over the course of the year (he finished with an unimpressive .252/.329/.369 line), but at least his K rate plummeted as the season went on. There is talk of the Cubs trying Amaya out at catcher this offseason (something Lindbergh’s review would support – he saw a second baseman with a good arm and an incredibly quick transfer), where his offensive upside would play even better. Lindbergh asked two scouts if he was right to have fallen for Amaya, and both responded positively.
- The other bit from Lindbergh I’d like to share is a write-up of Albert Almora, who raked in his first two AFL games – his first action since early August. Lindbergh’s reaction to what he saw, even after trying to divorce himself from everything he knew about Almora, was that this was a special player. You get a full scouting report, too, which similarly confirms many things we already think to be true about Almora.
- Keith Law was also out in Arizona checking out the Fall League, and had pleasant things to say about a number of prospects out there. His piece is worth checking out for bits on a large number of non-Cubs prospects, but his praise for the Cubs out there is obviously the most intriguing piece ’round these parts: “Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler all look great right now, with Soler visibly bigger and stronger than he was when I saw him in the Arizona Rookie League last year. I missed Almora’s four-hit performance Wednesday, but saw him get two hits Thursday, including a hard-hit triple to the left-center gap off Blue Jays reliever John Stilson (who hit 96 mph, but was getting squared up left and right). Bryant homered twice after a three-hit performance on Opening Day, squaring up 97 like it was 87 and showing huge, raw power in BP. Soler looked the most improved of the three, but that’s also a function of how advanced the other guys were coming into the fall.” Whether meaningful or not, Law mentioned the Cubs trio first in his long write-up.
- John Arguello over at Cubs Den wonders whether there are parallels between Kris Bryant and Dustin Pedroia – despite their obvious differences. Pedroia was a High-A/AFL guy in his first year after being drafted out of college, and then a AA/AAA guy in his first full professional season. He reached the bigs the next year, and has been a Boston mainstay ever since. Does that time line work for Bryant, as well? I do think it’s likely Bryant starts out at AA in 2014, and I think he probably doesn’t quite reach the bigs next year, even if it’s possible. If so, then he’s probably on a Pedroia-like track, with an early-mid-2015 debut. Unless he looks ready to contribute in the second half next year, I don’t think we’ll see him up as a development exercise – that is to say, I don’t see a September call-up as making much sense (for 40-man and service time reasons). That’s not to say that he’s not going to look great for the rest of the offseason, then Spring Training, and then tear up the upper minors for a half year in 2014 before the Cubs have no choice but to call him up. It could happen. Polished college hitters can move very quickly through a farm system.