AFL Report - Week 2: Pitchers Outshine Hitters
Image courtesy of Linwood Ferguson (photo of Griffin Jax)As a staff the Twins pitchers combined for a 1.80 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 10 total innings pitched, while the hitters managed only a .153/.214/.192 slash line with three RBI, two walks, and eight K’s on the week.
To find out everything that happened in week two of the AFL season for the Twins prospects, keep reading!
(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)
Brent Rooker: Did not play (ankle injury).
I haven’t heard any updates on Rooker’s status since the injury news broke before opening day last week, so we’ll still have to wait and see if he gets healthy enough to play some games in Arizona.
Griffin Jax: 1 start, Loss, 3.0 IP, 3 H, BB, 1 ER, K; 4.50 ERA, 1.75 WHIP (overall).
After making a single relief appearance in week one, Jax got a starting opportunity on Friday of week two. He did well as far as the box score goes, but nonetheless was charged with the loss as he allowed the only run of the game in Salt River’s 1-0 loss to Glendale.
He went one-two-three in the first inning, but the Desert Dogs got a two-out double to score a runner from first for the 1-0 lead in the second, and that would be enough as the Rafters were only able to muster five singles as a team. Back out for the third inning Jax allowed a single, but then finished his day with a double play ball.
In the outing 26 of his 44 pitches went for strikes including three swinging, and he walked one and struck out one.
Luke Raley: 1 game, 0-for-2, R, BB, K; .214/.333/.357 (overall).
Raley began the week for Salt River on the right foot by leading off their game on Monday with a walk and scoring the game’s first run, but from there it went sideways for him and his team in a 13-4 loss to Peoria.
After reaching first base, two wild pitches put him on third and a sacrifice fly brought him in for a 1-0 lead. The Rafters would stretch that to 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, but it was all Javelina’s from there.
Raley got two more at-bats including a strikeout and a ground out before he would be removed the game heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. There has been no status update I’ve been able to find, but since then Raley has not appeared in any more games.
Whatever ails him, hopefully he is back in the Rafter’s lineup soon!
Hector Lujan: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, K; 10.13 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall).
Lujan bounced back well from his first appearance in the AFL last week, delivering scoreless outings in both of his appearances during week two.
The first of those came in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Mesa Solar Sox. He pitched the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied at one, setting down the opposition in order. Of his 12 pitches, nine went for strikes and he struck out the final batter he faced.
His second outing of the week came on Friday against Glendale, and he pitched a scoreless sixth inning to keep his team within one run. He did allow singles to the first two hitters he faced but got a lineout and a double-play ball to erase the threat. He also threw just eight pitches to the four batters he faced, with seven of them going for strikes.
Of interesting note for me, is the Twins relief pitchers each appeared in the same games on the week with Adam Bray going before Lujan, and Devin Smeltzer after, each time.
Travis Blankenhorn: 4 games, 3-for-13, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K; .150/.261/.200 (overall).
The infielder was a busy man in week two as he appeared in four of Salt River’s six games on the week, including three in a row from Thursday through Saturday.
In Tuesday’s game against Mesa, Blankenhorn played second base and hit in the seventh spot in the order. He finished 0-for-3 with a walk and stole a base, but was still looking for his first hit of the fall after their win. He did get close, as his final at-bat of the day was a deep fly ball to center field that got run down, but also advanced runners to second and third.
He would finally get that hit on Thursday in his first at-bat against Glendale in their 2-1 extra-inning win, a single up the middle with one out in the third inning. He’d go 0-for-2 including a strikeout in his other at-bats, but he got things moving in the right direction on this day. He was also the man in the batters box when the Desert Dogs pitcher balked in the winning run.
The entire Rafter lineup was pitiful on Friday, but Blankenhorn did collect one of their five singles on the day in the 1-0 loss. He also stole his second base of the AFL season to put himself as one of the only runners to get in to scoring position on the game.
Blankenhorn would make it a hitting streak on Saturday batting out of the leadoff spot, and nearly was able to tie the game for his team in the bottom of the ninth. With the score 6-3 in Peoria’s favor and a couple ducks on the pond with nobody out, he lined a double into left field to score them both and make it 6-5. In scoring position representing the tying run, he unfortunately was left stranded as the next three hitters went strikeout, fly out, fly out to end the game.
I’m watching to see if he can continue the momentum he built in week 3.
Devin Smeltzer: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, H, BB, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP (overall).
As mentioned above, Smeltzer followed Lujan out of the bullpen in the Rafter’s games on Tuesday and Friday.
In the win on Tuesday against Mesa, that meant he came on for the eighth inning with the game still tied at one. After two quick outs it got a little interesting as he gave up a single and a walk, but got the next batter to fly out to right field to give his offense the chance they needed in the ninth. Smeltzer threw 15 pitches in his inning of work, with nine going for strikes. He also picked up the win thanks to his offense in the top of the ninth.
Following Lujan in Friday’s pitcher’s duel in Glendale, Smeltzer delivered a dominant one-two-three seventh inning. He needed just 10 pitches (seven for strikes) and struck out the first two batters he faced swinging before getting an infield popup on his first pitch to his final batter.
Jaylin Davis: 3 games, 1-for-11, R, RBI, 5 K; .250/.250/.250 (overall).
Week 2 didn’t go nearly as well for Davis as week 1, but he still made a big impact in one his games.
On Monday Davis got the start as the designated hitter batting seventh in the lineup. He ended up 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, but there wasn’t much to talk about all around in the 13-4 blowout loss to Peoria where Salt River collected just three hits as a team and struck out 13 times.
It was better for Davis and the Rafter’s on Thursday, as he singled in the eighth inning before being stranded on second with the score knotted at zero, before getting another opportunity in the tenth. With the bases loaded, one out, and his team now down 1-0, Davis managed to tie the game at one with an RBI grounder to short. It was of the RBI variety because he beat the double-play turn to first that would have ended the game. The balk with Blankenhorn at the plate to win it for Salt River came next.
Friday’s 1-0 loss against Glendale was again a tough one for all the Rafter’s lineup, with Davis contributing an 0-for-3 effort along with two more strikeouts. Davis will look to get back to his early hitting ways in week three.
Adam Bray: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 K; 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall).
Bray’s first appearance on the week preceded Lujan and Smeltzer in Wednesday’s 2-1 win against the Solar Sox. He was the first reliever summoned with a 1-0 Salt River lead after their starter went five innings. He ended up charged with a blown save as a one-out triple was followed by a single to tie the game before he got the next two hitters. Of his 11 pitches, eight went for strikes and he also threw a wild pitch.
It was nearly an all-Twins-pitchers game on Friday with Jax making the start and the relievers following him, and they were all very good, but the Glendale staff was just a little better in the 1-0 loss. Bray came on in relief of Jax for the fourth inning and went the next two frames. He allowed just one hit and struck out two. He retired the side in order in the fourth and faced only seven hitters total in his two innings. 20 of his 28 pitches went for strikes, including five swinging.
Other AFL and Minor League Links:
- The highly regarded John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com, has started his offseason top 20 prospects lists like he always does, by leading off with his look at the Minnesota Twins. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff get A grades. Also higher on 2018 first round pick Trevor Larnach than I’ve seen elsewhere and mentions that the system is loaded.
- Travis Blankenhorn talks about working on his consistency in the AFL with MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
Also some unfortunate updates on a couple of players included in that link:
Luke Raley has been removed from the Rafters roster but the reason is not specified (I would assume an injury). The Twins have also decided to shut down Brent Rooker, so he will not participate as hoped.
Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
- nclahammer likes this