Arizona Fall League Recaps: Scottsdale Scorpions

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The champions of the Arizona Fall League were the Scottsdale Scorpions, knocking off the Surprise Saguaros 6-4 in the title game. They had the second best record in the regular season, going 18-12, while leading the league in team ERA and scoring the second most runs in the league. They had the most dominant bullpen all fall and had a good mix of power hitters, but enough contact hitters to lead the league in average.

Pitchers

The story of the Scottsdale season on the hill is all about the big three at the back of the bullpen, Ray Black, Jake Reed, and Nick Burdi.

Black might have the biggest fastball in all of Minor League Baseball, regularly hitting triple digits. There are reports of him hitting 103 and 104 mph depending on the scout you talked to. His best secondary offering is his slider, which has been inconsistent in the past, but when it is on it is a pitch that gets plenty of swings and misses, which could lift him to an elite reliever level. His story is fascinating and makes him an easy player to root for. If he keeps striking out 16 batters per nine innings like he did in Arizona, he will be someone to root for at the big league level soon.

Jake Reed was one half of the Minnesota Twins’ relief duo, with a lower upside but every bit the production of Nick Burdi. Reed throws in the mid-90s with a quality slider that projects him to be a seventh- or eighth-inning man in the future. He pitched 10.2 innings in the fall without surrendering an earned run, but he is not the massive strikeout guy, as he struck out just under a batter per inning.

With all the buzz about Ray Black’s fastball, Nick Burdi could have slipped under the radar. He might have the highest upside of any relief pitcher in the Arizona Fall League. He also has a fastball that reaches triple digits, which is complemented by a devastating slider that works into the 90s. He mixes in a show-me changeup, but will work fastball-slider the majority of the time. He pitched in just eight games and logged eight innings, but he allowed all of three baserunners and struck out 11 for a WHIP of 0.38. He did not get credited for a save during the season, but did get credited for one in the championship game as he was on the hill to close out the game.

Hitters

When Adam Brett Walker II stepped to the plate, there was a good chance one of two things were going to happen, he would launch a tape-measure home run or he would strike out. He finished second in the league with five home runs, with at least three likely 450+ feet, but he also tied for the league lead with 35 strikeouts. He has no two strike approach, often swinging out of his shoes and finishing his swinging third strike with his knee on the ground, so that definitely needs to be adjusted. However, the raw power might be the best in the Twins’ system, big leagues or otherwise. In the field, he is an average defender who will have to play a corner and, given his lack of a great arm, will fit best in left field.

The fastest bat in the AFL belonged to Clint Frazier, who has some of the best bat speed in all the minor leagues (Scottsdale really was the all-tools team) and he was productive at the plate all season. He hit .281 with three home runs while sealing four bags. He played an average center field and may be best suited for a corner, but does have enough of an arm that he could be decent in right field.

Mac Williamson was third in the league in batting average, hitting .370, while showing good power, hitting a pair of home runs and three doubles but regularly hitting the ball hard. Williamson looks every bit the part of a power-hitting right fielder, 6’4” and 240 lbs., and moves pretty well given his size. He is a protypical right fielder, as he will be able to hit for power and has a strong arm that is only getting better as he gets further and further removed from Tommy John Surgery a couple years ago.

While Kyle Schwarber was hitting long home runs in the big leagues this year, he was not the leading home run hitter when he was at Indiana, instead Sam Travis led the team in home runs. Since reaching pro ball, Travis has not been much of a home run hitter, hitting just nine during the Minor League Baseball season and one in the AFL, but he has shown an excellent hit tool. He hit .344 while still showing the ability to provide some pop, leading the league with ten doubles and finishing third in the league in total bases. Travis looks to hit line drives into the gaps, and should definitely be able to continue hitting for a very good average.

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