Sunday, September 11, 2016

Down on the Farm: 2016 Arizona Giants Season Review Part 1

The 2016 Arizona League Giants started off slow, 12-16 in the first half, and finished strong, 16-11 in the second.  The second half record fell 0.5 games short of their second half division title and kept then out of the the AZL playoffs.

The Arizona League is a rookie league mostly populated by HS draftees getting their first pro action, later round college draftees, often from smaller college programs, and DSL graduates getting their introduction to stateside baseball.  In recent years, the Giants have tended to parade their higher round college draftees through for a few games before sending them on to Salem-Keizer in the college draftee heavy Northwest League.  Most true prospects in the AZL are age 20 or under.  Occasionally you will get a small college draftee or a guy who has spend 2 or 3 seasons on the DSL who beats the odds, but in general, players over the age of 20 are long shots to ever make it to the majors, which is not to say there aren't intriguing prospects in that group.

The AZL is a hitter friendly league and you will typically see a lot of high batting averages.  The ballparks are huge and the kids young, so you won't see so many HR's. With that background, let's dive into some names that I think are worth noting.  It's a long list so we'll divide it between hitters and pitchers.  I did not include players who spent only a few games in Arizona and most of their season at a higher level.  If there is one takeaway name from the 2016 AZL season it's Sandro Fabian, an 18 yo OF out of the DSL.  He dominated the league like no other 18 year old I can remember, at least in the Giants organization.  He is, by far, the top prospect from this team.

Nick Hill 3B.  DOB: 8/2/1994.  B-R, T-R.  6'4", 190 lbs.  .263/.330/.343, 8 2B, 3 3B, 17 SB, 2 CS, 9 BB, 47 K's, 175 AB.  Very intriguing player! Drafted in round 26 out of tiny Eckard College(FL) although he apparently had offers from larger programs like Maryland.  The Giants drafted him as a CF but he's listed as a P/1B on the Eckard website.  He played mostly 3B in Arizona.  Two things that stand out here are the size and the SB's.  He'll have to learn to control the strike zone better, but the tools are there.  BTW, he was hitting .297 on 8/17 but slumped down the stretch.  He got a late promo to S-K and went 3 for 13 in 3 games there.

Brandon Van Horn SS.  DOB:  12/18/1993.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 175 lbs.  .231/.328/.300, 7 2B, 2 3B, 24 BB, 47 K, 160 AB.  One of 2 Giants draftees out of The Masters College in Santa Clarita, CA, picked in Round 19. Van Horn has a reputation for being a slick fielding SS, but obviously doesn't have much of a stick.  His D may buy him some time to develop the hitting.

Sandro Fabian OF.  DOB:  3/6/1998.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 180 lbs.  .340/.364/.522, 13 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 7 BB, 28 K's, 159 AB.  There is a video out on the web of Fabian hitting a HR and flipping his bat that is worth searching for.  Beyond that, he hit for average and power while keeping his K rate well below 20% and garnered several assists from the OF all at age 18. If you are looking for negatives they would be a low walk rate and and a lack of projection in the body.  Of course it is the Arizona League and the big test will come when he hits Augusta, which should be next spring, but this is a kid to get excited about!

Michael Bernal 2B.  DOB:  9/6/1992.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 190 lbs.  .260/.337/.473, 11 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 11 BB, 44 K's, 146 AB.  Older player drafted out of Arkansas in round 29.  Showed some pop in the bat, but not a whole lot else.

Mikey Edie OF.  DOB:  7/3/1997.  B-R, T-R.  5'11", 175 lbs.  .217/.287/.280, 5 2B, 2 3B, 10 SB, 8 BB, 44 K's, 143 AB.  Very disappointing season for Edie after he hit .290 in the AZL last year and .298 in the DSL in 2014.  He's still young enough to recover, but the road ahead is unclear at this point.

Beicker Mendoza OF/1B.  DOB:  2/14/1998.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 185 lbs.  .272/.300/.316, 4 BB, 31 K, 114 AB.  Kind of a nondescript line here.  You would hope a kid his size would show more pop in the bat.  Just 18 yo, so has time.

Jacob Heyward OF.  DOB:  8/1/1995.  B-R, T-R.  6'3", 210 lbs.  .337/.488/.579, 10 2B, 5 3B, 1 HR, 10 SB, 24 BB, 30 K's, 95 AB.  Heyward is the brother of Jason Heyward.  The Giants drafted him out of Miami in Round 18 after his stock fell due to a subpar junior season.  These are great numbers, but a draftee out of a major college program has no business playing in the AZL.  I think the Giants just had so many OF's there was not room at higher levels so he stayed in Arizona just to get AB's.  I think he missed some time with an injury too.  He did hit .286 in 4 games after a late promotion to Salem-Keizer.  Very intriguing prospect, but has to show it at higher levels.

Woody Edwards OF.  DOB:  4/2/1995.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 155 lbs.  .294/.360/.324, 8 SB, 5 BB, 11 K, 68 AB.  Woody is a new moniker for Edwards who was known as Roger last year.  He was drafted in round 40 out of JC ball in 2015 and hit just .198 for the AZL Giants in his pro debut, so this is an improvement.  He also hit .269 in 7 games after a late promo to S-K. Seems like a plucky guy, but the odds are against him.

Malique Ziegler OF.  DOB:  9/8/1996.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 170 lbs.  .290/.384/.419, 4 2B, 2 3B, 4 SB, 10 BB, 15 K, 62 AB.  Drafted out of JC ball in round 22.  He's a project, but I really like this kid.  Nice size, with both speed and a bit of pop.

Jose Layer OF.  DOB:  5/28/1997.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 160 lbs.  .283/.356/.377, 5 2B, 5 BB, 7 K, 53 AB.   Puerto Rican HS pick in round 13.  Giants have not had a lot of luck with their Puerto Rican HS draftees but Layer is off to a nice start.  He hit .321 over his last 10 games in which he took 34 of his total of 53 AB's on the season.

Jeffery Parra C.  DOB:  1/24/1998.  B-R, T-R.  6'0", 195 lbs.  .275/.370/.375, 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K, 40 AB.  HS draftee in round 24.  Great story of a hard working kid from a hard working family.  Didn't see much action but performed well when he did.

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