AFL Report – Week 1: Paul, Jay, Vasquez Stand Out In AFL Season’s First Week
Image courtesy of Linwood Ferguson (photo of Andrew Vasquez)With that, let’s check out how Twins prospects fared in the first week of the 2017 AFL season!
(links provided to each player’s overall stats by clicking their name)
Tyler Jay: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K’s.
Jay made two appearances in the first week of the AFL season, pitching in the season opener against the Salt River Rafters on Tuesday the 10th, and the fourth inning on Friday the 13th versus the Glendale Desert Dogs. Both games were losses for the Saguaros, but not because of Jay’s performance.
Against the Rafters on Tuesday, Jay came out to start the 7th inning and needed just 10 pitches to set the 9-1-2 hitters down in order. The first two outs came on strikeouts, both of the looking variety, before Jay fielded a bunt attempt for the final out on his first pitch to the number two hitter in the Salt River lineup. Covering the AFL for ESPN, Keith Law noted that Jay “looked electric” in the outing and wouldn’t close the door on him starting in the future.
Against Glendale on Friday, Jay came on for the start of the fourth inning with his squad already down 4-1. It looked like it would get worse than that after the first batter doubled to right field and advanced to third on a fielding error on his first pitch of the inning. But on a 3-2 pitch to the next hitter Jay induced a groundball to third base and the runner was nabbed at home for the inning’s first out. Jay then got a flyout for the second out before picking up another backwards K to end the frame.
LaMonte Wade: 4 games, 2-14, R, 2B, RBI, 3 BB, 2 K’s.
Wade played in four of the Saguaros five games during the week, making the start in right field for three of them and DH-ing in the fourth. He batted sixth in the lineup in three of those games, and was in the two-hole for the other.
In the season opener, Wade picked up his first AFL hit in the bottom of the eighth inning when he doubled to center field with one out. At that point he represented the tying runner for Surprise, but that was as far as he would get and they fell to Salt River 4-3.
The Saguaros would get back at the Rafters the next day in 3-1 win, and Wade drew his first walk of the AFL season in his first at-bat of the game. His next three plate appearances resulted in a sharp groundout to second, a comebacker to the pitcher, and a fly out to center field as he finished that one 0-3.
On Thursday as the DH, Wade was 0-4 with a strikeout, a fly out to center, and two ground balls to the right side in an 8-2 loss to Glendale. Of note in this one, is Wade saw just eight pitches in those at-bats, which was very uncharacteristic for such a patient hitter.
He regrouped on Saturday in an 11-1 drumming of the Scottsdale Scorpions that improved their record as a team in the first week to 2-3. In six plate appearances in the two-hole, Wade drew two walks and saw a total of 26 pitches. His first RBI in the AFL came in the seventh inning for Surprise, when he drew a bases loaded walk for their seventh and final run of the frame. He had singled earlier in the same inning (on the first pitch of that at bat, ironically) and scored a run.
Chris Paul: 3 games, 5-12, 2 R’s, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, K.
Playing first base for Surprise, Paul saw action in three games during the season’s first week, and batted cleanup in each.
In the opening game against Salt River, Wade racked up three singles in four at-bats with RBI’s coming in the first and seventh innings. Had the runner in front of him in the seventh not been thrown out at third for final out on that hit, the Saguaros would have had at least one more at bat with a runner in scoring position to try and tie the game.
In Thursday’s tilt against Glendale, Paul was 0-4 but the rest of his team didn’t fare much better in the 8-2 loss. They didn’t score a run until the eighth inning and that was the result of a hit-by-pitch, three walks, a throwing error, and a passed ball. Paul did reach base in the fourth inning on a fielder’s choice.
Paul got back on the hit-parade on Friday in the Saguaros 7-6 loss to Glendale. He finished 2-4 with two runs scored, a double, RBI, and a walk in five plate appearances. His double in the seventh inning closed the Desert Dogs lead to 6-4, and he would later score to bring his team within one. In the bottom of the ninth he drew a two-out walk to put the tying runner on base. He was replaced by a pinch runner that made it all the way to third base, but wasn’t able to scamper the final 90 feet.
Andrew Vasquez: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, H, 3 K’s.
Like Jay, Vasquez also made two appearances in the first week of the AFL season, and made short work of his competition in the same games as his counterpart.
He directly followed Jay for the eighth inning in the season opening loss against Salt River. Of note during his 2017 campaign with Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers, is Vasquez did not allow a single extra-base-hit to a left-handed hitter the entire season (75 plate appearances). It’s notable here as the third hitter he faced in his AFL debut was a lefty, and they connected for a double on an 0-1 pitch. Vasquez recovered from that and picked up his second strikeout of the Fall season to end the inning.
On Friday Vasquez was the first reliever summoned from the Surprise bullpen in the third inning with the score 4-1 Glendale. He needed just nine pitches in a one-two-three frame and added another K to his early season AFL total.
Ryan Eades: 2 appearances (1-0), 2.0IP, 2 H’s, R (unearned), BB, K.
Unlike Jay and Vasquez, the two appearances Eades made during the season’s first week came in victories. He even picked up the first pitching win of the season for his Saguaros team.
That was on Wednesday in their 3-1 win over Salt River. He came on for the bottom of the fourth inning with the game still tied at zero and pitched a scoreless frame, walking one. His teammates went on to score two in the top of the fifth which put him in line to be credited with that win.
On Saturday in their 11-1 win against Scottsdale, Eades pitched the eighth inning. The Scorpions one run was scored with him on the mound, but it was unearned due to a missed-catch error by Eades as he went to cover first base. That runner later scored on a double but Eades also picked up his first AFL strikeout.
Tom Hackimer: 1 appearance, 1.0IP, BB, K.
The sidewinding righty got in just one game in the first week of the AFL season, and it came on Thursday against Glendale. He was the first reliever in the game for Surprise, coming on for the bottom of the fourth inning.
He struck out the first batter he faced in his debut and then got a groundout for the first two outs before he had a little trouble. He walked a batter and then gave up a single through the middle that put runners on the corners before coaxing an easy fly ball for the third out and a scoreless AFL inauguration.
Sean Miller: 2 games, 1-9, 2 R’s, RBI, 3 K’s.
Miller saw action in two games on the week, playing 2B in each.
Batting 2nd in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-1 win for his AFL debut, Miller went 0-4 and struck out twice. On defense he made every play that came his way, including three putouts and three assists.
Against Scottsdale on Saturday, Miller batted eighth in the lineup and scored the first run of the game in the third inning after he reached base on a throwing error from the Scorpions shortstop. In the seven run seventh inning, Miller picked up his first AFL hit and RBI with a single, and would later score his second run of the game on the walk to LaMonte Wade.
Other AFL/Minor League Links:
- In a front office move that I’m extremely excited for, the Minnesota Twins hired Baseball America editor John Manuel to work in their pro scouting department. While I’m disappointed I won’t be able to interact with him in the same way on Twitter and elsewher to talk about prospects, I couldn’t be happier that he’s joining our favorite team!
- Despite the fact he played in only half the games as most everyone after being drafted in June of this year, Brent Rooker was named MLBPipeline.com’s Minnesota Twins Hitting Prospect of the year. Stephen Gonsalves was is also recognized as their Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. Here’s to hoping we see both at Target Field during the 2018 season!
- In the season opener for Surprise, four Twins prospects made an impact on the game.
- While MiLB.com lists the Saguaros roster dead last in “toolshed power rankings,” Tyler Jay is singled out as their Wild Card due his potential for increased optimism or head scratching heading into the 2018 season depending on his AFL performance.
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the last week!
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