Arizona Fall League numbers are not something to be trusted. However, good performances are still something to be noted, and so far the Nats have seen some pretty good performances from the impressive list of prospects that they sent.
Pitching is of course always the first thing to talk about now, especially since a certain San Diegan was drafted. Obviously, Stephen Strasburg is getting more attention in the AFL than most players do. So far, his numbers look unimpressive – 6.97 ERA, 10 1/3 IP with 10 H and 3 HR. But, in three appearances, the damage comes from only one. In the other two he compiled 7 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. The numbers aren’t the whole story in this league. According to Mark Zuckerman, “he certainly lived up to the hype.” His approach, his stuff, his delivery, everything looks good. These guys are working on things right now, so perfection isn’t expected or even thought about. Strasburg is still getting rave reviews, it’ll be really exciting to finally see him play.
As for the other guys, Josh Wilkie, a potential back of the bullpen guy, has let his strong performance in AA and AAA carry over to the fall. In 4 appearances, he’s pitched 7, given up 9 H, but struck out 8, with only 2 BB. No ERs, although he has let some in – he gave up a triple in relief of Strasburg to give the #1 pick an ER. Drew Storen, meanwhile, has also been impressive. 6 games so far for him, and he’s got 1 K for each of his 6 IP, with 1 BB. There is another pitcher, Jeff Mandel, who is less well-known than the others. He hasn’t done quite as well, his line is 6 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 ER. But he’s not a strikeout guy, and he has looked decent.
Chris Marrero is the big name position guy for the Nats, and he hasn’t disappointed. In his 10 games, he’s hitting .333/.435/.564, with 2 HRs. Remember, the stats her must be taken with a grain of salt, although it’s nice to see this 21 year old hitting so well against some of the biggest AA and AAA prospects. People have always liked his bat, as evidenced by what Jim Callis said yesterday “Marrero has a legit bat. He has hit as long as he has been healthy, and that should continue.”
The other position player in Arizona is Danny Espinosa, a Carolina League All Star this year with a great glove. He is a 2008 draftee out of Long Beach State and has looked great in the field all year. He’s hitting .314/.381/.343 in 35 ABs – powerless but very good otherwise, and Zuckerman said he “looks like a complete package at shortstop. He’s got a great arm, and he’s an accomplished hitter from both sides of the plate.” Also according to that article, his A coach was impressed with his fielding talent, it bodes well for him to be some sort of impact, especially if he can hit enough.
Then again, there are some like Keith Law who say it shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt, but a whole pillar:
Joe (Frozen Tundra, N. Colo) What conclusions–if any–do you draw from S. Strasburg’s performance in the AFL thus far?
Klaw (1:10 PM) None. AFL performance is not meaningful.
Later he clarifies and expounds a bit:
And the reason the stats there aren’t meaningful is that the level of competition is really broad. You have top-flight guys (Strasburg, Scheppers, Cashner) and you have non-prospects. Even within one game, a hitter might see four pitchers all across the talent spectrum…. It’s valuable experience. I think just about any reps are good reps for a prospect, and within an AFL stint every player will face a few good pitchers/hitters. I just don’t read anything into the overall stat lines.