This is the fifth edition of my Arizona Fall League Notebook.
Mark Montgomery, RHRP, Yankees - 11th-round draft pick in 2011
In my view, Montgomery and the Padres' Kevin Quackenbush are by far, the best two relievers in the Arizona Fall League. Only 22 years old, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Montgomery has college experience, having pitched for Longwood University.
Montgomery has dominated hitters in the ninth inning. He has electric stuff (especially his slider) combined with good command and control. That combination bodes well for a future as a closer.
Montgomery has competed at three levels in two seasons for the Yankees. He began with rookie ball in 2011 where he threw four innings before moving to Low-A Charleston. At that stop, Montgomery threw 24.1 innings, gave up 17 hits and walked 11 while striking out 41. He earned 14 saves.
This past season, he pitched at High-A Tampa and at Double-A Trenton. He saved a combined 15 games while throwing 64.1 innings. I see Montgomery in the Yankees' plans quicker than even they had once believed. He is zooming up the organizational ladder and could see action in New York by the end of 2013.
I really like Montgomery and feel he is a player to watch carefully in spring training.
Chris Martin, RHP, Red Sox - 21st-round draft pick by Rockies in 2005
Very quietly, Martin has pitched well in games I have watched. He doesn't get much publicity. Few people speak about him. Martin pitched at three classifications for Boston in 2011. He threw 74 innings, with most of those out of the bullpen. He started one game. His combined ERA in 2011 was 2.55 and he had a WHIP of 0.946. That's what I've seen. Few hits against and few walks.
In 2012, Martin threw 76.1 innings at Double-A Portland. His ERA jumped to 4.48 and his WHIP went to 1.323. The difference? He started this past season, but is being used exclusively in relief in the AFL. The results have been good. He has a 3.38 ERA and a WHIP of 0.84.
If the Red Sox leave him in the bullpen, I think he has a future.
Justin Marks, LHSP, Royals - 3rd-round pick in 2009
Marks is a pitcher under the radar. He has thrown extremely well in the AFL. I have seen many of his starts and I've liked what I've seen. Thus far, Marks has won five of his six starts while carrying a 2.59 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 22:5 K:BB.
He finished the season at Triple-A Omaha, but he only threw 1.2 innings. I think Marks is a guy to watch for the future. His Fall League has placed him within the Royals' universe. I want to see what he does in spring training.
Kyle Gibson, RHSP, Twins - 1st-round pick in 2009
I'd like to get this out of the way early. I'm not a fan of Kyle Gibson. He's a huge presence on the mound at 6-foot-6, but he also is only 210 pounds. Why am I not on Gibson? I have never seen him repeat his delivery. I have not witnessed any consistency from start to start. That's an issue for me.
The Twins are desperate for starting pitching. They may break camp with Gibson in the rotation, but more than likely he will have to wait. Gibson started the Rising Stars Game in the AFL two weeks ago. He wasn't sharp in that game.
At Triple-A this past season, Gibson was 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in two starts. Batters hit .367 against him. This fall he is 3-1 with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP.
Slade Heathcott, OF, Yankees - 1st-round pick in 2009
Heathcott is an interesting guy. A former first-rounder, he has moments when he looks like an All-Star and others when he looks very raw.
At High-A Tampa this past season he hit .307 in 215 at-bats along with five homers, 27 RBI and 17 stolen bases. He has been named a Player of the Week this season in the AFL.H e is hitting .371 with a homer and 14 RBI with five steals (caught three times) in 62 at-bats..
The Yankees don't have depth in their minor league system. Their roster is aging. I see Heathcott playing at Double-A at some point this season. Then, he has to show he is worthy of his No. 1 selection.
Kellin Deglan, C, Rangers - 1st-round pick in 2010
The Rangers don't miss very often on their scouting analysis, but I think Deglan may be an exception. I see him as a defense-first catcher with little help for fantasy owners. His bat is very shallow. And very slow.
This past season, Deglan hit .234 at Low-A Hickory. He did hit 12 homers and he drove in 41 runs. Those are impressive numbers and they may translate to his future home park in Texas, but I think he will struggle against quality pitching.
His scuffles from his regular season are continuing in the AFL. He's hitting .188 with a homer and three RBI. He's played nine games and has 32 at-bats, but catchers share games in the AFL.
George Springer, OF, Astros - 1st-round pick in 2011
I think Springer is one of few Astros with outstanding upside. He has awesome power to all parts of the field, but he's especially dangerous taking the ball to the middle of the diamond. Springer may be only a season away from a big league job, even after only two seasons as a professional.
He didn't have a great year at Double-A Corpus Christi where he hit only .219 in 81 plate appearances. Prior to that, however, he spent most of the season at High-A Lancaster where he hit .326 with 22 homers and 82 RBI while stealing 32 bases.
Springer is hitting only .288 with four homers and 14 RBI in the AFL, but he really has come on in the past two weeks. He will strike out a bunch and he has work to do on making contact as well as on taking breaking balls out of the zone.
Because the Astros have to get back on track, they may jump-start some prospects. For that reason, I think he has a chance to show up in Houston as early as late 2013 with 2014 the latest.
Jake Marisnick, OF, Marlins - 3rd-round pick by Toronto Blue Jays in 2009
Marisnick was a major component of the Blue Jays-Marlins deal. I wonder what all the fuss is about. He has a very slow bat and I certainly didn't see the five tools he supposedly has. In the AFL, Marisnick is hitting .314 with a homer and eight RBI going into the final two games.
During the season, he played at High-A and Double-A, where he hit a combined .249 with eight homers, 50 RBI and 24 stolen bases. However, at Double-A he hit only .233 with two homers and 15 RBI.
Marisnick has a complicated swing with lots of moving parts. I'm not sure he will be able to get the bat head through the ball quick enough against high velocity pitching. I'm going to wait and see on Marisnick before making any conclusions about my own fantasy intentions with him, but as of now, I'm not sold.
Rafael Ynoa, 2B, Dodgers - International free agent signing from the Dominican Republic in 2006
Ynoa is the best-looking Dodgers prospect in the AFL.That isn't saying that much. At age 25, he is older than most players in the league. His bat and defense are both quality. He hit .278 at Double-A Chattanooga this past season. For a middle infielder, that's respectable.
Ynoa showed some pop in the AFL. He is hitting .376 with two homers, 20 RBI and seven stolen bases. He centers the ball well and can drive the pitch to the gaps. Defensively, he stumbles over his feet at times and isn't always fluid.I've also seen some bad throws. His minor league defense may have been an issue for the Dodgers, as he had 18 total errors between playing shortstop and third base this past season.
Next Week: My final Arizona Fall League profiles and my AFL All-Star Team.
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