The Arizona Fall League came to an end yesterday for Mets prospects as the Scottsdale Scorpions tied the Mesa Solar Sox at 6 and failed to make the playoffs.
Leading into the AFL season the big story was former NFL player Tim Tebow being a late add to the Scorpions roster as a Mets representative. Tebow’s fall league career got off to a rough start, going 4 for 32 with 12 strikeouts in his first nine games. He reached base safely in 9 of his last 11 games though to show some improvement.
Overall, the 29-year old Tebow, slashed .194/.296/.242 in 62 at-bats that was spread out over 19 games. He had three doubles, six runs scored, two RBI, one stolen base, eight walks and struck out 20 times. He played 12 games in left field and two in right field.
As the Arizona Fall League came to a close, Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke with ESPN on what was gained by having Tebow compete with the game’s top prospects.
“Look, there was a downside in the fact that everything gets graded in the Fall League,” Alderson said. “The upside is he needs game competition in order to develop those kind of baseball instincts and peripheral skills that are so important. We actually thought he could hold his own in the batter’s box. And I think he’s largely done that. His strikeout rate is not horrendous. He’s making decent contact and he’s getting better.”
The most intriguing storyline in the AFL, when it comes to Mets prospects, was how much time would Gavin Cecchini spend at second base and how would he look? Cecchini, 22, ended up playing just one game out of 16 at second. He made six errors in 12 games at shortstop and one in his lone game at second.
At the plate, Cecchini hit .295/.357/.459 in 61 at-bats over 16 games. He had 12 runs scored, five doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI and seven walks compared to only eight strikeouts.
MLB Prospect analyst Jim Callis spoke to Gavin Cecchini about what his goal was in the AFL.
“The more baseball you play, the more reps you get, the better you’re going to be,” Cecchini said. “Any time you get to play baseball, you get to work on the things you need to work on, and that’s all that matters.”
“I’m trying to work on everything. Whenever you start working on a certain aspect and think there’s no more room for improvement, that’s when the game bites you in the butt. You have to stay focused on what you need to work on. I’ve been happy with how the AFL has gone. I’ve made adjustments throughout.”
Mets prospect Champ Stuart lived up to his 80 grade speed hype with 12 stolen bases in the AFL, tying him for the league lead and was caught just once. Unfortunately, the other thing the 24-year old Stuart is known for is striking out and he did so 22 times in 70 fall league at-bats.
The right-handed hitting Stuart slashed .300/.329/.400 with 12 runs scored, four doubles, one home run, five RBI and only three walks. Stuart is first time eligible for the Rule 5 draft and would need to be added to the 40-man roster today to protect him from being taken.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline loves Champ Stuart‘s speed.
“Stuart has one tool that cannot be taught, speed, and his is top of the scale. He swiped 40 bases and reached Double-A for the first time this past season. Stuart is continuing to work on refining his approach — he struck out 168 times in 2016 — and needs to show he can get on base more consistently to use that speed. He, too, is Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason, and was performing well over the first few weeks of the AFL.”
Lefty reliever David Roseboom had a great season as the Binghamton Mets closer in 2016 and that carried over into the fall league where he had a 0.79 ERA in 11.1 innings. In that span, he allowed one earned run on only four hits, walked eight and struck out 15. Left-handed hitters went 1 for 12 with seven strikeouts against the 24-year old.
David Roseboom caught the eye of MLB prospect guru Jonathan Mayo who scouted him last week in Scottsdale.
“Over the past two seasons, Roseboom has been one of the more effective relievers in the Mets’ system. In 2016, he saved 14 games and finished with a 1.87 ERA and a .170 batting average against. Roseboom has continued to throw well out of Scottsdale’s bullpen. The southpaw isn’t likely to be a closer in the future, but his splits (lefties hit just .141 against him in 2016) suggest the potential to at least be a lefty specialist.”
One of the best signs for the Mets was that right-handed prospect Marcos Molina was able to return to the mound after having Tommy John surgery in 2015. Molina, 21, pitched in seven games (two starts) and had a 3.78 ERA in 16.2 innings. He gave up seven earned runs on 16 hits, seven walks, and eight strikeouts.
The most important part is that Molina came out of the fall league healthy and was hitting 93/94 MPH with his fastball. He also made some changes to his mechanics, including lengthening his stride and improving his arm path, which should help prevent further injuries to his arm. Molina also has to be added to the 40-man roster today if the Mets choose to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Right-handed starter Corey Oswalt went to the AFL to log more innings after missing time during the regular season because of an injury. He pitched fairly well, going 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He allowed ten earned runs on 25 hits, 11 walks, and 21 strikeouts in 27 innings. In one of his starts I was able to follow the 23-year old was consistently hitting 94 MPH with his fastball.
Matt Oberste was the MVP of the Eastern League All-Star game for the Binghamton Mets in 2016 but he wasn’t able to produce as well in the AFL. He went without a hit in his first seven starts (0 for 25), but was able to rebound to finish with a six-game hitting streak to end the season. In those final six games, he went 8 for 24 with four extra base hits and seven RBI.
The 25-year old Oberste finished the AFL season hitting .184/.208/.206 with three doubles, home run, eight RBI, and two walks compared to nine strikeouts. He played nine games at first base, played one in left field (first pro experience) and never played third where he finished the season for the B-Mets.
Last but certainly not least, is 23-year old reliever Corey Taylor who was the Mets lone representative who made the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game. The right-hander was impressive for the Scorpions with a 1.93 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 14 innings. He picked up one save (had 20 in regular season for St. Lucie) and walked just one batter while striking out 17.
The 17 strikeouts are what sticks out for Taylor because he had only 45 in 53 innings for St. Lucie during the 2016 season. Part of the reason for the uptick in strikeouts could be an improvement with his slider in which Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser called a “bonafide out pitch“. Mix that in with a fastball that was hitting 96 MPH during the fall league and you have the makings of a very intriguing relief prospect.