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Collette Calls: Fall League Musings

Jason Collette

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at theprocessreport.net. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

So this is what Florida looks like? After spending a long weekend in Arizona with Jeff, Derek, Bernie, and many others, I had to re-route to New Jersey for some other work and finally made it home late last night to Florida. Ironically, Phoenix had the worst weather of all three states I have been in since last Friday. All of us went to a game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium Friday night and drove over through one of the infamous Phoenix dust storms and sat through a game where the rain eventually came and delayed the game long enough to deter most of us to the nearest bar in the seventh inning rather than sit through the wet and dusty mess. That was just the start of a crazy Friday night. Apparently, the dust got into the fire alarm systems at the hotel we were all staying at because our entire complex was startled awake by the noise at 4 am and its repetitive warnings every 10 minutes thereafter. Despite the craziness, I would do it all over again because the AFL Rising Stars game, the First Pitch Forums hosted by Ron Shandler, and the company kept over the weekend always makes the long flight across country well worth it. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:

-- Sammy Solis: We were treated to Solis pitching on Friday night and he was incredibly impressive. He located his fastball, breaking ball, and change-up for strikes and touched 95 a few times according to the radar gun we were sitting behind in the stands. He struck out nine in four innings while walking three batters and giving up three hits.

-- Matt Purke: Was 90-92 mph in a hitless inning inducing three groundball outs to the bottom half of the lineup.

-- Tyson Gillies: Very, very fast down the baselines but his swing looks like Luis Castillo's at the plate - during the bad Mets years. With his speed and cannon of an arm, he could be a defensive replacement right now, but the bat was very unimpressive.

-- Mike Trout: Looks tired. I got to interview him with Joel Henard before the Rising Stars game and he was a great kid to talk to and is open-minded about learning how to be better and tapping into the knowledge that guys like Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, and Vernon Wells can offer him but I have no idea why he is still out there playing right now.

-- Derek Norris: He is coming off a bad season but his swings and the sound of the ball off his bat looked better than a guy with his slash line this season. He hit several hard shots in both games that I saw him and looked good behind the plate.

-- Bryce Harper: His swing no longer looks like he is coming out of his shoes with every hack but he saw a heavy dose of left-handed pitching in both games and went 1 -for the weekend. His bat speed is so crazy my friend who was snapping pictures with his digital camera was only able to pick up a blur with Harper's swings.

-- Joe Panik: Once he turns 32, Brian Sabean will be more interested in him. All kidding aside, nice approach at the plate and should be able to move up quickly through the Giants' organizational ladder.

-- Tyson Ross: They were working him out there as a starter but that delivery is so painful to watch. His body comes to a quick dead stop rather than any kind of followthrough and I can't imagine he holds up over the course of a full season. I think he would be better served working in relief but the A's already have a lot of bullpen depth.

-- Junior Lake: Very athletic looking player but even with all of the eyes on him, he didn't appear to be giving maximum effort. He also nearly had his hand torn off his body by a scorching line drive by…

-- Wil Myers: The numbers didn't justify high rankings of Myers by some but just watching him play in the game should have made it very clear to anyone why the Royals laughed off any Jurrjens for Myers trade rumors. Myers is extremely athletic in the field and on the bases and the aforementioned line drive never got eight feet off the ground and yet three-hopped a very deep left-center field wall.

-- Jean Segura: He looks like every other middle-infield prospect that the Angels have called up in recent years in physical stature and at the plate. Honestly, I thought it was Erick Aybar out there. He is short, but has some deceiving pop in his bat.

-- Nolan Arenado: I was late to the event this weekend, but everyone I talked with was quite complimentary of Arenado and his swing.

-- Joe Terdoslavich: Joe Turd has had a nice AFL season and had a nice game on Saturday, but he's also 23 years old and has yet to have a plate appearance above A-ball. Oh yeah, he's older than Freddie Freeman.

-- Christian Bethancourt: Hat tip to Bernie who made it a point to single this kid out as a guy to watch in our pre-game chat on the field. A 1:15 walk to strikeout rate is a problem for the AFL, but we know how catchers take longer to develop and he just turned 20 years old after a full season of ball at both levels of A-ball.

-- Gerrit Cole: Bad results, but a good learning experience. Velocity and location were both there at times, but the batters won the matchups. The talent is there, but the complete package has not yet arrived.

-- Danny Hultzen: He had the better results of the starting matchup, but not the better stuff. He pitched a spotless two innings with good velocity and command and it is tough not to be excited about a future in Seattle with the likes of Pineda, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Hultzen and that's discounting any potential extension for King Felix.

-- Jeremy Jeffress: Not a new name, but the Jeffress we saw Saturday was hitting 97, throwing strikes, and showing a good breaking ball in the zone. The relief role suits him well.

-- Jed Bradley: I really like what I saw from him and his experience pitching at a high-level program like Georgia Tech shows.

-- Nick Franklin: He was one of the five players that Joel Henard from Baseball Prospectus Radio and I interviewed before the game. It was obvious he was still underweight from his illness and jaw injury in the season, but he was a great kid to talk to. He clearly has confidence in his abilities, but also is aware he has shortcomings besides the 15 pounds he needs to put back on. He had four extra-base hits in the contest and looked good in the field as well.

-- Anthony Gose: The most impressive thing that stood out with him in his interview was his self-deprecation with last year's awful 45-for-71 effort on the basepaths. He put an emphasis on that part of the game this year and drastically cut down on his caught stealing as he worked on his technique as well as getting better reads on pitchers. He also talked about tinkering his swing within the season and at the AFL as pitchers found his holes. The overall willingness to learn and take instruction was impressive.

-- Jason Castro: He said the knee feels well and that he took full advantage of his time with the Astros before going to Florida to start the rehab process by doing the same video work and scouting report discussions with the team as if he was going out on the field to play that night. It was refreshing to see a young kid like that take the extra steps when he could not be on the field and for a team that was losing on a nightly basis most of the season.

The top-100 update will be forthcoming next week and if you're one of the readers I met out in Arizona this weekend, thanks for introducing yourself and for your continued patronage.