Nov 182013

Arizona Fall League logoLast week, the Arizona Fall League wrapped up its 2013 season.  Unlike last year, Phillies players did not win the AFL Championship or even play in it.  In fact, they weren’t even close.  Peoria finished last in the Western division with a 12-19 record.  That wasn’t the worst record in the league, but they were last in runs scored and runs allowed.  What really matters though is the experience gained by the players, and in the grand scheme of things, even the individual stats don’t mean much.

CF Aaron Altherr (49 PA, .200 BA, .265 OBP, .267 SLG, 6 R, 3 RBI, 2/3 SB)

Until the end of the season, Altherr played pretty sparingly.  When he did play, he wasn’t really good.  He did strike out at a bit of a lower rate than he has since he was in short-season ball, but he didn’t walk much either.  I can’t imagine this will actually affect the team’s decision when it comes to adding him to the 40 man roster though.  He got some experience against upper level pitching which will act as a nice preview for 2014 with Reading.

RHP Ken Giles (10.1 IP, 5.23 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 16 K, 8 BB)

Two oblique injuries limited Giles’ innings in 2013, so a stint in the AFL helped him recoup some of the lost innings.  In those 10 innings, he was pretty much the same pitcher he has been in his pro career so far: lots of strikeouts but also lots of walks.  He still impressed scouts with his stuff though, throwing several pitches at 100 MPH or better, including the league’s hardest pitch this season at 101.

RHP Mike Nesseth (14.2 IP, 9.20 ERA, 1.98 WHIP, 9 K, 8 BB)

Nesseth pitched at three levels in 2013, mostly unsuccessfully.  His 1.64 ERA with Reading looks nice, but his strikeout rate, a key indicator of future success, was low, and he didn’t have an outstanding walk rate either.  He has to rely on getting ground balls with his sinker since his slider is his only pitch that can generate some swings and misses.  He mixes in a changeup against lefties, but if a reliever needs a third pitch, something is probably wrong with one of the other two.

OF Cameron Perkins (61 PA, .216/.333/.373, 8 R, 3 RBI)

Perkins was a late addition to the AFL roster when Kelly Dugan was scratched with a toe injury.  It would’ve been nice to see some power from him, especially in Arizona where the ball carries better, but he continued to live gap to gap with Peoria.  The Phillies probably would’ve liked to see him get to Reading in his first full season like Cody Asche did in 2012, but a broken wrist slowed his progress.  He boosted his walk rate to a more adequate level and maintained a good strikeout rate.

C Cameron Rupp (59 PA, .278/.339/.444, 7 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI)

With a cup of coffee in the majors this year, it would make sense that Rupp would perform better than the other Phillies hitters, but he really didn’t tear things up either.  He has always struck out too much, and it reached ridiculous heights in the AFL with a 32.2% rate.  Otherwise, he continued playing the way he normally does, walking enough and hitting for above average power for a catcher.  The extra reps for him this fall will help him going into spring training next year as he’ll compete to make the Opening Day roster.

RHP Kyle Simon (14.1 IP, 3.14 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 11 K, 6 BB)

Simon missed a couple weeks this year with an elbow injury, but he didn’t miss that many innings.  He was completely ineffective though, and the Phillies probably want to see if he can get on track to join their bullpen in 2014.  Comparing Pitch F/X data from this year’s stint in Arizona to last year’s, it looks like the elbow injury could still be affecting him.  His velocity was down a little bit, and his fastball didn’t have quite as much movement.  In limited innings with Peoria, he got his strikeout rate back near its 2012 levels after the Phillies acquired him, but he needs to throw more strikes.

LHP Austin Wright (10.2 IP, 5.91 ERA, 2.06 WHIP, 11 K, 6 BB)

Wright had a disastrous 2013 season with Reading, walking 13.5% of opponents.  He improved on that a little with Peoria, but 11.1% is still pretty poor.  When he actually was working in the zone, his 92 MPH fastball was getting hammered to the tune of a .333 average and .667 SLG.  Maybe an off-season off will help him clear his head and get ready for 2014, but i the problem is mechanical, it’s going to take a lot more than some time off.  He uses a slider against lefties and righties and a changeup against righties.

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Scott Grauer writes for PSC and Bus Leagues Baseball – check him out! Scott also regularly updates the PSC Minor League Thread with player stats, game results, and more…