Saturday, November 5, 2011

11/5/11 AFL East 2, AFL West 11

Surprise Stadium, Surprise, AZ
Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

The battle of the CENTURY!! Number ONE faces Number TWO!!

The “big deal” leading up to the 2011 AFL Rising Stars game (aside from Bryce Harper scheduled to participate this year, having missed the 2010 contest due to a ‘taxi squad’ technicality) was certainly the slated SP for each team. If you are living under a rock in Guatemala, #1 pick Gerrit Cole is starting for the East Division, and #2 pick Danny Hultzen is starting for the West Division.

For most of us, this would be our very first time seeing both of these guys in action, even if only for a few innings. For a majority of baseball fans and prospect watchers, it would be our very first time seeing lots of these guys in action for the first time.

Decidedly, the hype is all about Gerrit Cole. In this game, the hype went into a heap and was jumped on by Danny Hultzen and the West Division squad. It’s only a small sample size, and to be fair, Cole looked pretty good on the mound. However, Cole got into trouble early, was touched for 2 HR in the very first inning and was unable to retire a batter in 3 PA after 3 runs scored. Cole stayed in the game after only getting 2 outs and facing 7 batters; 4H 5R (all earned), a BB and a K. I agree with the consensus that this was an ‘exhibition’ game, and that his velocity and profile was great overall, just having a bad time with location.

On the other hand, tell that to Danny Hultzen. In 2 innings, he allowed no hits, no runs, walked one batter and struck out the side in the very first inning. If Cole “didn’t do too bad, showed some promise,” well, OK…that means Hultzen was triple-fantastic, then!! Seattle Mariners fans should have no trouble loving this guy, he looks and feels as major-league ready as he can on the mound.

The stud of the game offensively was, without a question, another Mariners prospect; SS Nick Franklin. Franklin had a stellar day in the batter’s box, 4-for-5 with a HR (courtesy of Gerrit Cole), 2 doubles and a single. Defensively, Franklin was charged with a hard-luck error that allowed Robbie Grossman to reach base in the 7th inning with 2 outs.

Honorable Mention goes to Marlins hotshot Kevin Mattison, but mostly for his fantastic facial hair and refreshing plate attitude.

I’m always happy to see Royals fireballer Jeremy Jeffress in action; he had some location issues this past season but struck out the side (3 batters faced, 3 batters down, 12 pitches total, all swinging strikeouts) in his 1 inning of work.Jeffress was one of the “oldest” players in draft age, having been drafted in the first round in 2006 by the Brewers. Royals pitcher Nate Adcock was selected in the 5th round of the 2006 draft by the Mariners.

First time seeing Cleveland Indians prospect Preston Guilmet, I love his outrageous delivery…he reminded me quite a bit of Josh Collmenter, but a little less effective. You can tell a great deal about his delivery by this photo…

It was also great to see a prospect I’ve been keeping my eyes on, the Atlanta Braves’ athletic Panamanian catcher Christian Bethancourt. I’ve only been able to follow him on paper until today.
Another Braves’ prospect I need to keep an eye on was Joe Terdoslavich, who was 3-for-3 with 3 RBI. Joe’s 1st inning HR was the second offered by Gerrit Cole.

Oh yeah…and Bryce Harper played today. He was 0-for-2 in 4 plate appearances; walked by Danny Hultzen, struck out swinging twice (once by Jeffress, once by Reds prospect Brad Boxberger), and credited with an RBI on a SAC fly.

On my scoresheet, I made notes next to each player in the lineup as to what MLB parent organization they belonged to. For posterity, here is a list of players that made appearances in the game, with their organization and their current draft information. 2011 draft picks are in boldface.

There were 5 MLB parent organizations for whom players did not participate in the game; not surprisingly those organizations were the Cardinals, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Tigers, and the Mets. All players on the East Division roster appeared in the game; there were 5 players listed on the roster that did not appear in the game at all:

Cory Burns (Cleveland Indians)
J.J. Hoover (Atlanta Braves)
Taylor Whitenton (New York Mets)
Matt Adams (St Louis Cardinals)
Mikie Mahtook (Tampa Bay Rays)

This leaves the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Detroit Tigers as organizations who had no talent on the 25-man roster for either team in the Rising Stars game. The Colorado Rockies led the number of talent with 5 prospects, the Kansas City Royals saw 4 prospects on the roster, and 5 teams tied with 3 prospects from each club (Cubs, Marlins, Angels, Padres, and Nationals).

The actual roster released on November 1 seems to have had a few scratches in the West Division lineup; I was unable to confirm who replaced who and why, but Kevin Mattison and Jedd Gyorko did not appear on the official roster released by AFL, yet they showed up as starters in the AFL notes released the day of the contest.

The West division used 11 pitchers total; this is the first time I’ve used all 8 slots for pitchers on my scoresheet, so you’ll note that I ran the last three directly underneath the pitchers faced section.

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