Arizona Fall League Wrap-Up: Marrero and Scott turn heads
The Surprise Saguaros lost on the last day of the Arizona Fall League regular season to the Peoria Javelinas which eliminated them from the championship game. In that game, the Salt River Rafters defeated the Javelinas 14-7 behind seven runs in the seventh inning to take the AFL championship. This year’s AFL MVP was the Scottsdale Scorpions’ Greg Bird who slugged six homers. Bird will likely become familiar to Red Sox in an unpleasant way, as he is a left-handed hitting first baseman in the Yankees system.
Let’s take a look at the Red Sox players that played for the Saguaros and what the future might hold for them
Rusney Castillo‘s (.278/.333/.361) AFL season ended prematurely with a bruised thumb on October 20. After recent clearance by the Red Sox medical staff, Castillo will begin playing in Puerto Rico on November 26.
Sean Coyle (.209/.303/.343) salvaged his season to some extent, going six for 16 over his last four games with two doubles and a homer. By no means, though, did he have a great Arizona Fall League season, posting a .209/.303/.343 batting line over 19 games with one homer and seven runs batted in. Since Coyle has had no experience beyond AA, it is unlikely he will see a 40 man roster spot this offseason, since a Rule 5 selection by a team requires that team keep him on their 40 man for the entire season or would have to return him to his old team.
Deven Marrero (.328./.447/.414) had a tremendous AFL season, tying for third in batting average and leading the league in on-base percentage. Marrero concluded the year with an 11 game hitting streak. The only blemish on Marrero’s performance in some eyes is that he struck out 19 times in 69 plate appearances. This would mean he hit in an abundance of good luck with a BABIP of .478 (19 for 39), when generally that average is around .300. These great stats, as well as Marrero’s elite defensive skills at shortstop, have made Marrero a subject of trade rumors, but since he only has 50 games of AAA under his belt, the Red Sox probably want to see how he develops next year starting at AAA before unloading him.
Mike Miller (.000/.154/.154) was only in the Arizona Fall League for the last two weeks of their season and after Castillo had left the team. Miller only managed to get into three games going hitless in 11 at bats. Miller drew two walks and struck out three times. Considering Miller was nearly two months between games before arriving in Arizona, fans shouldn’t take too much from his performance. Miller logged two starts in left field for the Saguaros which might be a sign how the Red Sox might try to develop his skills for the major league level.
Keith Couch would have been the best pitcher in the league if you counted only his first two and last starts of the AFL season (2 runs in 13 innings). They all count though, and Couch’s 5.59 ERA in 29 innings wasn’t what the Red Sox hoped to see. Couch had 143.1 innings for the season which shows the Red Sox are looking for him to increase his arm strength to reach 30 start/180 innings for his development through the minor league system. Though Couch is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, the fact that he has only one start above AA means the Red Sox do not need to protect him on the 40 man roster this season.
Aaron Kurcz had a typical season in Arizona. The 24 year old righty continued his positive career trends such as striking out a lot of people (15 in 14 innings) and allowing a .231 batting average, and the negative trend of walking too many people (9 in 14 innings). Kurcz, part of Theo Epstein deal with the Cubs, strikes out batters in excess of one per inning (265 in 202 career innings) and has never allowed a batting average over .222 for a season (.209 career), so he could garner Rule 5 interest. On the negative side, Kurcz hasn’t pitched above AA and is a year removed from Tommy John surgery. My guess is that for the last two reasons, no team will select him.
Madison Younginer was something of a forgotten man in Arizona. After allowing only a run in his first three appearances for the Saguaros, he gave up runs in his next two outings then was not seen for 16 days. Whether this was by design or due to injury is not known. The layoff did not help him as he allowed runs in his last two games after the layoffs giving him a 7.36 ERA in 7.1 Arizona innings. Since Younginer has only one season in the minors below four in ERA, he is closer to being released than being protected in the Rule 5 draft.
Robby Scott excelled in his time in the Arizona Fall League, resulting in his selection to the AFL Western Division All-Star team. Scott allowed runs only twice in ten appearances over 13 innings, both when he pitched more than an inning. The lefty struck out 14 in 13 innings and allowed a batting average of just .229. Scott’s left handed success could also garner some interest, but once again Scott has not pitched above AA which should prevent his selection in the Rule 5 draft.
Stay tuned to BoSox Injection for continuing coverage of Rusney Castillo and other Red Sox prospects playing in Winter Leagues this offseason.