Top Ten Prospects in the AFL

This is a little late, but myworld is in San Diego enjoying the sunshine. We had hoped on spending a week in Arizona watching the AFL prospects but other issues came up. This top ten list is based on a combination of performance in the AFL and prospect status. If a player did not perform to expectations in the AFL he does not appear on this list.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr 3B (Blue Jays/Surprise) - He did not hit for power but still managed a .351 average. The minor league player of the year gapped seven doubles, which were his only extra base hits in the AFL. He made consistent contact, only striking out six times in 77 at bats while walking 8 times. His comfort level at third base is improving but there is still a chance a move to first could be in his future, depending on how his body transforms as he ages. Batting titles could also be in his future. With Josh Donaldson gone expect Vladimir to compete for the Blue Jays third base opening next season.

2. Keston Hiura 2B (Brewers/Peoria) - A .563 slugging percentage and five homeruns shows his ability to hit for average and power. His .323 batting average is evidence that he will be competing for batting titles in the National League while Guerrero does so in the American League. Elbow injuries prevented him from playing second base during the minor league season, but he saw some time there in the AFL. If second base does not pan out there is always a move to left field. Keston delivered the game tying RBI single in the AFL championship game which got him voted the MVP of the game. He also delivered an AFL high 33 RBIs on the season.

3. Forrest Whitley RHP (Astros/Scottsdale) - Easily the top pitcher in the AFL based on stuff alone. The only reason he was in the AFL is drug suspensions and injuries limited him to eight starts during the 2018 minor league season. The AFL was an opportunity for him to eat more innings. He feasted on AFL hitters, striking out 36 in 26 innings and finishing 1-2 with a 2.42 ERA in six starts. AFL hitters could manage only a .189 average. The 6′7″ righthander easily blazes a fastball across the plate in the mid-90s, hitting triple digits on occasion. A good spring and a fast start to his minor league season could see him compete for a starting spot in the major league rotation by midseason.

4. Luis Robert OF (White Sox/Glen Desert) - As a teenager he was dominating the Naccional Series in Cuba, vying for their triple crown. He left for the states halfway through the season. That shows you how far the Naccional Series has dropped because of defections. Luis is battling in A ball in the minor leagues, though thumb injuries at the start of the season impacted his flight up the minor league ladder. In the AFL he continued to show his tools, hitting .324 with two homeruns and a perfect 5 for 5 in stolen bases. His power should develop as he matures and he has the speed to play centerfield with an arm suited for right. Don’t expect to see him in the major leagues until 2020 but with Eloy Jimenez and Roberts in the same outfield the Sox could be scary.

5. Peter Alonso 1B (Mets/Scottsdale) - Myworld is drawn by his power. We witnessed it in the Future’s Game. In the AFL he did not hit for average (.255) but he put his power on display. His six homeruns tied for the AFL lead with two other players. His 27 RBIs was second to Huira. Driving in runs will be his forte. While he was 4 for 4 in stolen bases in the AFL he failed to steal a base in his 132 minor league games. Expect him to compete for the Mets first base job next season. If he does not win it by spring he should have it by mid-season if the power stays. The Mets need someone to draw in fans.

6. Jazz Chisholm SS (Diamondbacks/Salt Lake) - He was one of two shortstops from the Bahamas starting in the AFL championship game (Lucius Fox was the other). He did not get enough at bats to qualify for the batting title but his .442 average opened some eyes. He also hit three homeruns and contributed a 1.257 OPS. In 10 games he stole seven bases in nine attempts, scoring 12 runs. Jazz should see time in AA next season and vie for a starting shortstop job by 2020. The tools are there for him to play shortstop in the major leagues.

7. Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks/Salt River) - Last year was not the same eye popping season as 2017 when he was putting up video game numbers. Health concerns haunt Duplantier. In the minor league season shoulder problems limited him to 16 starts, making him available in the AFL. He stepped on the mound for six starts in the AFL, finishing 1-1, 3.32 with 32 whiffs in 21.2 innings. He was a little more hittable in the AFL, coughing up 23 hits. His stuff is good but if he continues to have health problems a move to the bullpen could be in his future. Another season in AA will define his role.

8. Darwinzon Hernandez LHP (Red Sox/Mesa) - He was virtually unhittable in the AFL, striking out 24 in just 11.1 innings. That put him tied for seventh in the AFL, but the six others were all starters. The lefthander did pick up one save but appears to be primarily used to get lefthanded hitters out. They only hit .118 against him with 13 whiffs in five innings. If he wants to work himself into the closer role he will need to do a better job of retiring righthanded hitters. He also needs to improve his command and conditioning if he hopes to stick in the majors.

9. Tyler Nevin 1B (Rockies/Salt River) - The son of Phil won the AFL betting title with a .426 batting average. He failed to carry a ball over the fence but still slugged .593 with his three doubles and three triples. Tyler plays third base but a average arm could make him better suited for first base. If he moves there the power will have to come. Last year he hit 13 homeruns in the California League, a career high for him. Next year he will jump to AA.

10. Jordan Yamamoto RHP (Marlins/Salt Lake) - One of the more consistent pitchers in the AFL, going 3-0, 2.08 with the opposition hitting him at a .172 clip. He also struck out 27 in 26 innings despite not having an over powering fastball. His fastball sits in the low 90s but has good spin and command of the corners. His curveball and change are good complementary pitches. The small 6′0″ frame could see him move to the bullpen, but he could also see the back end of a starting rotation.

Just missing the top ten. They would have made it based on performance.

Garrett Williams LHP (Giants/Scottsdale) - Last year in the minors his ERA was 6.06. His winter league performance was exceptional (3-0, 1.88) with the opposition hitting him at a .184 clip. He needs to be less Jekyl and Hyde. Next year he could repeat AA or based on his AFL performance move up to AAA.

Melvin Adon RHP (Giants/Scottsdale) - Perhaps the hardest thrower in the AFL. His 21 whiffs in 12.1 innings fell just short of Hernandez in the K department. His 2.92 ERA left him off the top ten. The fastball can light the radar in triple digits.

Ryan McKenna OF (Orioles/Glendale) - His .344 average put him in the top ten in batting average, but not on this list. His defense in center is also exceptional. Myworld saw too much of his performance in AA, which mark him as a fourth outfielder type. If he keeps on putting up these numbers that match what he put up in Frederick he will find himself as a starting outfielder.

Daniel Woodrow OF (Tigers/Mesa) - His .371 average was second in the AFL as was his 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts. Power is lacking as evidence of his one extra base hit in 62 at bats and his three minor league homeruns in three years, all last year in AA. The AFL performance may have opened up some eyes, but it has not yet put him on the prospect map.

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