As a member of the Scottsdale Scorpions’ “taxi squad” Bryce Harper has been limited to playing twice per week in the Arizona Fall League, but the No. 1 overall pick has been extremely impressive when in the lineup, batting .343 with six extra-base hits and a 1.039 OPS in nine games.
Not bad for the second-youngest player in Arizona Fall League history.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com notes that Harper is expected to begin next season–and make his official professional debut–at low Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, where he’ll still be younger than the average player by two years.
Last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Dustin Ackley, had modest numbers this season, hitting .267 with a .368 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage in 134 games.
However, his season totals were dragged down by an awful first month that saw him hit just .147 in April and as a 22-year-old in his first pro season Ackley was very young and inexperienced to be making the jump directly to Double-A (and then Triple-A).
And now he’s crushing the ball in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .429 with four homers, six doubles, 17 RBIs, 22 runs, and twice as many walks (17) as strikeouts (8) through 14 games.
Opinions are mixed on how much power Ackley will develop, but the consensus seems to be that he’s a potential .300 hitter and combined at Double-A, Triple-A, and the AFL he now has a 77/92 K/BB ratio that shows excellent plate discipline and control of the strike zone. Ackley moved to second base as a pro after playing first base and the outfield in college, so ultimately his defense may determine how quickly he arrives in Seattle.
Cubs prospect Brett Jackson headed to the Arizona Fall League last week after being limited by a right ankle injury while playing for Team USA in the Pan American Games qualifying tournament, but now the 2009 first-round pick has been hospitalized with a bacterial infection in the same leg.
He appeared in just four games for the Mesa Solar Sox before being shut down with what Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports is “cellulitis with an abscess in his shin, which is similar to a staph infection.” He’s expected to be released from the hospital today, but won’t return to the AFL.
Jackson, who played in the Futures Games at Angels Stadium during the All-Star break, hit .297 with a .395 on-base percentage and .493 slugging percentage in 128 games split between high Single-A and Double-A this season, smacking 58 extra-base hits, stealing 30 bases, and drawing 73 walks at age 21. He’s among the top center field prospects in baseball.
Hired as the Dodgers’ manager despite having zero actual managerial experience, Don Mattingly headed to the Arizona Fall League to get some games under his belt skippering the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
And as Scott Merkin of MLB.com writes, he ran out of pitchers in a blowout loss yesterday.
The game was originally ruled a forfeit after the top of the eighth inning ended, but then the statistics amassed would not have counted. A decision was made by the AFL to call this game due to a lack of pitching in order to avoid extending any fall league pitcher and lessen the chance for injury. The move came after Mattingly met with the umpiring crew on the field before the bottom of the eighth, and the crew then talked with Saguaros manager Ted Simmons.
Things were going OK until the seventh inning, when Dodgers prospect Steven Ames came into the game and allowed all seven batters he faced to reach base. Mattingly then used two other pitchers to get out of the inning, at which point the bullpen was apparently empty with six outs still to record.
Not exactly what Dodgers fans were hoping for as Mattingly tries to learn on the job, particularly after he had two embarrassing gaffes this season while managing following a Joe Torre ejection, allowing the team to bat out of order and being forced to remove closer Jonathan Broxton following an accidental visit to the mound.