Having had the pleasure of watching the Arizona Fall League Championship game yesterday in its entirety, it was a great way to see some of the Jays prospects playing with the rest of the league’s most talented prospects. Marc Rzepczynski was supposed to have started the game, but left the Arizona Fall League before the Championship game due to personal reasons.
There were a total of 4 Jays prospects on the Peoria Javelinas who played against the Scottsdale Scorpions, who were managed by former Blue Jay Randy Knorr. Here’s a look at what they did:
RHP Alan Farina: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Farina pitched a scoreless 6th inning for the Javelinas and, on paper, it looked like he cruised through the inning, where highly touted Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper led off. Farina threw all 5 of his pitches in the at bat for strikes, because Harper swung at every one of them. Harper only managed to foul off 2 pitches though, which allowed Farina to notch his first strikeout of the inning.
Farina then gave up a single and a walk, but managed to focus and get a ground out after that. A runner advanced to third base after the ground out, but Farina wasn’t phased at all and struck out the next batter to end the inning.
RF Adam Loewen: 3-for-3, 1 BB
Loewen was easily the most impressive player on the entire Javelinas roster in the game. In the 2nd inning, after Loewen hit a bloop single, teammate and fellow Jays prospect Michael McDade hit an easy double play ground ball to first base. Loewen used his large 6’6”, 235 lb frame and applied an effective and aggressive take out slide into second base. This forced an errant throw to first base and allowed the Javelinas to take the lead and score their first run of the game.
In the 4th inning, Loewen quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. He battled back to 3-2 while fouling 2 balls off, and then impressively hit a single to right field.
Loewen fell behind 0-2 again in the 6th, but fouled off a pitch to stay alive. Showing great patience at the plate, Loewen battled back to a full count, and then checked his swing on the final pitch to draw a walk.
Then, in the 8th with his team down by one run, Loewen hit a 2 out, 2-2 pitch to left field for his third single of the game.
As a left-handed hitter, not only did Loewen hit the ball to all parts of the outfield, but all of his at bats were against left-handed pitchers.
Overall in the Arizona Fall League, Loewen ranked 5th in OBP (.438), tied for 1st in home runs (11), and tied for 2nd in slugging percentage (.667). He’ll likely be passed over in the Rule 5 Draft, but hopefully nobody steals him!
1B Michael McDade: 1-for-4
The switch-hitting McDade put the ball in play on the first pitch in 3 of his 4 at bats, but only had something to show for it once with an 8th inning single to left field. He struck out in his other plate appearance. He did, however, make a few interesting defensive plays including one where he dove down the line while keeping his foot on the bag and caught an errant throw before laying flat out on his stomach.
During one inning the commentators were discussing how it was clear McDade had raw power in batting practice because he hit some big home runs, but it didn’t necessarily translate into in-game power very well (only 1 HR in the AFL this year).
Overall, McDade finished the Arizona Fall League 3rd in batting average (.375), 3rd in hits (33), tied for 1st in doubles (11), tied for 2nd in runs (22), and 4th in OBP (.450).
LF Eric Thames: 0-for-3, 1 BB
Thames wasn’t exactly stellar in the game, but did manage to draw a walk in the 7th, and it was interesting to hear the commentators talk about Thames in the 2nd inning. They said that despite putting up impressive numbers at Double-A New Hampshire in 2010, the main knock against Thames was the amount of times he strikes out and that he will need to improve his plate discipline and pitch recognition in order to have success at the Major League level. He averaged over four pitches per at bat in the AFL Championship game.
Overall in the Arizona Fall League, Thames had a .264/.369/.448 line in 23 games with 3 HR and 16 RBIs, while leading all Jays prospects with 24 strikeouts.