Arizona Fall League Observations Part 2
By Rocco Minsk This is the second part of our series on the Arizona Fall League and notable performances that have implications for dynasty leagues. The first part looked at hitters and this part will be our first glance at pitchers. Often times, prospects serve notice in Arizona of a coming leap forward (see, e.g., Josh Hader last year). The following are the first four pitching names to take a look at
Max Fried – Fried has always been an interesting prospect, appearing towards the tail end of prospect rankings despite shaky minor league stat and never really breaking through. Fried endured a brutal stretch at AA, but nevertheless got the call to Atlanta where he accorded himself well despite outpitching his peripherals. You can make an argument that his awful numbers at AA was due to an abnormally low strand rate. Fried was beyond dominant in the AFL – throw out one bad start and he allowed 2 ER in 22 IP and his K Rate exploded with 32 K in 26 IP and his control (which is his Achilles heel) improved noticeably. Fried has served notice that he can be a frontline starter for the Braves next season as his AFL numbers were noticeably better than any of his minor league numbers to date.
Justus Sheffield – One of the accompanying pieces in the Andrew Miller deal, Sheffield has quietly moved up the prospect rankings in the Yankees farm system. The thing I lie about Sheffield is his control and that was on full display in the AFL as he had a 22:3 K/BB ratio in 20.1 IP and did not allow a single home run in that time. Sheffield is only 21 years old and he is more of a 2019 proposition than a 2018 one, but performances like this may have him going down as the premier return from the Miller trade, surpassing Clint Frazier. Sheffield continues to prove that he can be a solid #2 starter at the major league level.
Mitch Keller – He is certainly not an unheard of name, but further improved his stock in the AFL. Like Sheffield, Keller thrives on control and his K rate exploded upon his promotion to AA and his numbers should have been even better because his FIP after his promotion was 2.5. He only struck out 13 in 23.2 IP in the AFL, but Keller benefited from a high strand rate in the AFL. Keller profiles as a complete pitcher and after another year of seasoning may turn out to hit in a way that Tyler Glasnow never did.
Keegan Akin – Akin is an Orioles pitching prospect not getting a lot of press yet in an organization bereft of pitching talent. He put up a decent showing for himself in the Carolina League in his first extended taste of minor league baseball with a 10 K/9 ratio. Akin pitched in long relief in the AFL and he has not yet stretched out into a full starter yet, averaging under 5 IP at Frederick last year. Nevertheless, Akin put up one of the better pitching performances in the AFL with a 2.70 ERA in a year where the hitters had primacy. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him as the second best Orioles pitching prospect after the re-emerging Hunter Harvey