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Article: AFL Report – Week 6: AFL Season Comes to a Close

lamonte wade chris paul tyler jay tom hackimer ryan eades
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#1 Steve Lein

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 10:40 PM

(This report includes the games played through 11/19 and the end of the AFL season)

Week 6 of the AFL season means that the circuit has come to an end, and for the first time in the last four seasons Twins prospects weren’t playing in the circuit’s championship game. The Surprise Saguaros finished their season with a 13-17 record, good for fifth place in the six-team league.

While there wasn’t the same upper echelon talent from the Twins organization that had contributed to those championship runs in the AFL this season, it’s better to know that’s because those players were helping the parent club to a playoff run this season. Mitch Garver, Nick Gordon, Stephen Gonsalves, and John Curtiss were there in 2016. Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, and Garver won it in 2015. Your 2017 “nothing but raindrops” outfield of Byron Buxton (though he didn’t play in AFL championship due to breaking his finger), Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler helped win it all in 2014.

The point here is these guys playing in the AFL are all players that have potential to help the Twins in the future in some way. LaMonte Wade will be on the shortlist to play outfield in a pinch in 2018. If Tyler Jay can remain healthy he may remind us of another Big Ten left-hander in a bullpen role soon. Ryan Eades, Tom Hackimer, and Andrew Vasquez all have bullpen potential if they can build on their performances here. There are lots of things to like about the bat of Chris Paul and glove of Sean Miller as well. Plus, these are our guys. We all want them to succeed as it means good things for our hometown team if they do.To find out how each of these guys wrapped up the AFL season’s final week, keep reading!

(links provided to each player’s overall AFL stats by clicking their name)

Tyler Jay: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, 3 H’s, ER, 2 K’s; 5.59 ERA (overall).

The left-hander’s first appearance of the week came in Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions. He came on for the seventh inning and faced the middle of the lineup. He gave up a single to the leadoff man, but worked around it with a fly out, strikeout, and ground ball to the second baseman. Of his fourteen pitches in the inning, seven went for strikes, including two swings and misses. The single allowed was one of only two hits on the game for Scottsdale, but thanks to a walk, a triple, and a sac fly in the second inning, the two runs were more than enough.

In the final game of the season on Thursday, a 10-5 win for the Sagauros against Mesa, Jay came on for the bottom of the sixth inning with his team out front 5-1. A nine-pitch battle with the leadoff hitter ended up with him clubbing a ground-rule double, and this time Jay wouldn’t come out unscathed. He got a swinging strikeout to the next hitter, but then allowed a single that put runners on the corners. A sac fly made the score 5-2 before Jay got a flyout for the final out. He threw 24 pitches in this outing, with 19 of them going for strikes (two swings and misses).

Jay didn’t finish his season with eye-popping numbers, but the important thing for him in the AFL was logging innings and staying healthy after his entire 2017 MiLB season was basically wiped out. In 9.2 total innings, he gave up 13 hits (two home runs), walked five, and struck out 11. It’s likely Jay is back in AA to start the 2018 season, but if he comes out hot a bump to AAA could happen quickly.

LaMonte Wade: Did not play (concussion); .238/.351/.413 (overall).

As detailed in the Week 5 report, Wade did not play this week as he recovers from a concussion. Overall, he played in nineteen games collecting three doubles, a triple, and two home runs while scoring nine runs and driving in eight. Of note (facetiously), is for the first time in any league he’s played as a professional, Wade struck out more times than he walked (10/9).

The on-base machine will be ready to take his talents to AAA next season, knocking on the door to his MLB debut.

Chris Paul: 3 games (2 starts), 4-11, 3 R’s, 3 K’s; .292/.329/.444 (overall).

In the shutout loss to Scottsdale on Monday, Paul entered the game in bottom of the third inning after the Saguaros right fielder, Michael O’Neill, was ejected after being picked off at first base. He took over in left field. He came up to the plate only twice the rest of the game as Surprise’s lineup wasn’t able to bunch any of their seven hits and three walks together. Paul flew out to center in the fifth and struck out leading off the eighth.

In his first start of the week in Tuesday’s 6-5 walk-off win against the Scorpions, Paul batted cleanup and was again manning first base. He singled in the bottom of the fourth inning and reached base on an error in the sixth, but was left stranded both times. In the bottom of the eighth, with the score 5-2 in favor of Scottsdale, Paul got a rally started with a one-out single. He later scored on a double that brought them within one before an RBI single tied it at 5 heading to the ninth. Paul was on deck when teammate Yanio Perez delivered the game winning single to finish off the Surprise comeback.

Paul’s final game of the AFL season came in Thursday’s season finale, and he again batted fourth and played first base. He and both his teammates in the second inning struck out swinging against Mesa starter Logan Shore (of Coon Rapids, MN), but they would get him back in the fourth inning. Paul’s first single of the game was part of four consecutive hits that led off the inning, and before it was over the Saguaros had extended their lead to 4-0 and ended Shore’s game. In the top of the sixth Paul led off the inning with his second single, and he scored on a sac fly that made it 5-1 Surprise. He finished this one 2-5 with two runs scored and two K’s.

Overall on the AFL season, Paul led Twins hitters with a .773 OPS. In 18 games he racked up 21 hits including three doubles, a triple, and two home runs. He scored fifteen runs which tied for the Saguaros team lead, and drove in 10. He’s ticketed for AA in 2018.

Andrew Vasquez: 1 appearances, 1.0IP, 2 H’s, ER, BB, K; 0.77 ERA (overall).

Vasquez made just one appearance in the season’s final week, and it came on Wednesday in their 5-2 loss to the Mesa Solar Sox. He came on for the ninth inning, finishing the game for the Saguaros but not in the way he might have hoped to end his AFL campaign.

He got a quick ground out for the first out, but went a little downhill from there. A double, passed ball, walk, and single to the next three hitters made the score 5-2, and was just his second earned run allowed on the season. He recovered and struck out the next batter before getting a line out for the third out. In the outing, eight of his eighteen pitches went for strikes.

Vasquez finished his off-season season with 12.2 innings pitched, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and five walks. He struck out 14, which was good for a 9.9K/9IP rate which while dwarfed by his 13.2K/9IP during the regular season, is a solid number to build on considering he was coming to the AFL from A-ball. Due to that success and his showing here, I would expect he starts the 2018 season in Chattanooga.

Ryan Eades: 1 appearance, 2.0 IP, 2 H’s, 3 K’s; 0.66 ERA (overall).

Like Vasquez, Eades saw action in just one game during the season’s final week and it was in the 6-5 win over Scottsdale on Tuesday. He was the first reliever summoned in the game for the fifth inning with the score 5-0 in favor of the Scorpions at the time.

He was again effective in the outing, with 23 of his 29 total pitches going for strikes, though he did hit one batter with a pitch. In his first inning, he got two outs before giving up a single, but promptly picked that runner off first base for the final out. In the sixth, he got all three of his outs on strikeouts, working around another single and the hit batter with swing and miss stuff. All the K’s were of the swinging variety, and three other pitches resulted in whiffs in the frame.

Eades performance in the AFL was perhaps the best surprise among the Twins prospects. In 10 games and 13.2 innings, he allowed just one earned run (on a home run) on fourteen hits and three walks while striking out 13. He also picked up two wins and led Twins prospects with a 0.66 ERA.

The right-hander has always had stuff that didn’t quite match the results, but he may yet still find a home in a bullpen in the future. After two years in AA, it’s time for him to perform in AAA in 2018 and see if he can jump over the final hurdle.

Tom Hackimer: 2 appearances, 2.0IP, H, K; 2.31 ERA (overall).

Hackimer got in on two games during the week, and finished on a high note.

In Monday’s 2-0 loss he came on for the bottom of the eighth inning to finish the game for Surprise. He set the opposition down in order, including a strikeout for the final out. Of his 13 pitches, eight went for strikes.

In Thursday’s season finale win for Surprise, he again came on for the bottom of the eighth, this time with his team up 10-4. He was greeted with a leadoff double, but that runner only made it to third as he retired the next three in order. In this outing 11 of his 19 pitches went for strikes.

The sidewinder finished the AFL season with an 0-1 record in 10 appearances, totaling 11.2 innings pitched. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits and seven walks, while striking out 10. I would expect he begins his 2018 season back in Fort Myers, but if he can limit walks as he did in Cedar Rapids during the 2017 season, it may be only a few months before he’s with Chattanooga.

Sean Miller: 3 games, 1-10, K; .255/.293/.273 (overall).

Miller made the start in three games during the week, playing both middle infield positions in two games and DH-ing in the season finale.

In Monday’s contest Miller played short and batted ninth, finishing 0-3 in the 2-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions. He grounded out in the second, reached first on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, and flew out to right in the seventh.

On Wednesday against the Mesa Solar Sox, he again finished 0-3 in the 5-2 loss to Mesa, batting eighth and manning second base. He struck out in the second inning, grounded into a double play in the fourth, and popped out in the seventh.

In the season finale 10-5 win over Mesa, Miller batted ninth as the DH. He finished this one 1-4, with a single in the fifth inning. He also lined out once and flew out twice in the game.

Miller finished the season with a .255 average in fifteen games. He collected 14 hits including a double, scored and drove in seven runs, and stole two bases. While he’s strictly a singles hitter, he had a hot stretch in weeks 2 through 4 of the season where he hit .379 in eight games and there’s plenty to like about his glove in the middle-infield. After playing 122 games with Fort Myers this season, it’s likely he takes another step up the rung to Chattanooga in 2018.

Other AFL/Minor League Links:

- David Schoenfield of ESPN.com examines several young pitchers who have the potential to become the next “superace” in the mold of Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, and Max Scherzer. Appearing on the list, is the Twins own Jose Berrios.

- MiLB.com has started looking at organizational all-stars, and Stephen Gonsalves and John Curtiss are brought up as those closest to helping the Minnesota Twins in 2018. It’s also fun to compare their list with our at Twins Daily (hint: it’s basically the same).

Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the performances during the AFL season!

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  • Carole Keller and ashbury like this

Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)

#2 Tom Froemming

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 08:21 AM

These are great, thanks Steve. Encouraging to see Paul, Vasquez and Hackimer all hold their own despite having never reached Double-A yet.

  • Steve Lein and MN_ExPat like this

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