For the second year in a row, my wife and I flew out to Scottsdale, Arizona in early November for the First Pitch Arizona fantasy baseball conference put on by BaseballHQ. It’s basically four days of expert panels and breakout sessions covering scouting reports on the top prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League, fantasy league roster construction strategy, command vs. control for pitchers, using xwOBA in fantasy baseball, and much more. Add on top of that, tickets for Fall League games at the various ballparks around Phoenix and the Fall Stars Game. It’s an unbelievable experience that I recommend to any baseball fan, regardless of whether or not you do fantasy baseball.
I had a chance to attend some of the regular Fall League games plus the Fall Stars Game. Taylor Trammell, Shed Long, and Alfredo Rodriguez represented the Reds for the Scottsdale Scorpions, and I was able get looks at all three. I was particularly interested in Trammell, as I have him ranked #1 on my top 50 Reds prospects. Here’s how they ended the season in Arizona.
Trammell got off to a slow start at the beginning of the Arizona Fall League, hitting just .214/.267/.286 from October 9-19, but really turned it on coming down the home stretch (.375/.444/.500 with 3 stolen bases from November 1-14). I continue to like what I’m seeing from his plate approach. He doesn’t feel the need to press, and swing at every pitch he sees. When he does swing, it’s a very controlled swing, not too long.
Stolen bases have been Trammell’s calling card so far through his three minor league seasons with no less than 24 and as many as 41, and thought I would see more of that in the Fall League but six is all he managed. However, I continue to see Trammell as a top 3 prospect in the Reds system and I don’t think it’s a stretch either to say he has real MLB All-Star potential.
Though not quite on the same level as Trammell, I feel Shed Long will be a solid contributor at the major league level. I didn’t get to see as much of him during my time in Arizona but I liked what I did see. Like Trammell, he shows patience and a willingness to take pitches. He gets out of the box quickly and on a routine ground ball to second base, he made the throw to first a rather close play. I didn’t see much speed or power from him, which again I was hoping to see, but the Fall League season is only a month and a half so I’m not terribly concerned. Long has a track record of a modest amount of both stolen bases and home runs in his minor league career so far.
I also had a chance to see a little bit of Reds shortstop prospect Alfredo Rodriguez, but my feeling is that the Reds had him at the Fall League to help make a decision as to whether they want to release him or trade him at some point. As you can see from the stats box above, he didn’t perform well at all, and that’s more or less in line with his stats from the past few seasons. As you’ll see when my top 50 Reds prospects drops in January, I’m not optimistic on him. When I saw him in Arizona, he was striking out left and right. And his past stats don’t suggest much if any speed or power to make up for the high strikeouts.
Here’s one more little tidbit I learned while at the First Pitch conference. I asked one of the panelists during the “Prospects Q&A” session about Jose Siri’s abysmal season. He hit a paltry .229/.300/.474 with a strikeout rate of 32.2%. I wanted to know what was behind that, and was told that a lot of his struggles this year had to do with him being “unteachable” and having some attitude problems. Basically the coaches were trying to work with him on changing his approach/mechanics and he just was not responding well to that. This is unfortunate to hear because I feel like with some changes he is still very much a top prospect in the Reds system.
In summary, the Arizona Fall League provided a great opportunity for me to have a good “up close” look at some of the guys I’ve been covering, and it mostly reaffirmed how I already felt, particularly about Trammell and Long. I’m really looking forward to next season and seeing these guys take the next step forward in their budding careers!
Featured image of Shed Long – via Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com