2004 Arizona Fall League

Cuzittt, a Sox message board poster, chimes in to recap the AFL…
A few weeks ago, Evan asked me if I would like to write a report on the soon-to-end season of the Arizona Fall League. For reasons that I cannot at this time fathom, I said yes. Not knowing exactly what to say about the AFL, I shall go to the old reliable method of asking myself questions… and then answering them.
What is the Arizona Fall League?
The Arizona Fall League (aka the AFL) is a Major League run Fall instructional league held in Arizona (duh!). Each team is required to send 6 minor league players to the league, 5 of whom must have been playing at either the AA or AAA level prior to August 1st. The remaining player could have played anywhere within the minor league system. In order to keep this a Minor League, no player with more than one full year of Major League service time is eligible (with the exception of 2004 Rule 5 Draftees, who are eligible).
Why should I care?
Other than the fact that seven (yes, 7) Red Sox farm hands participated… I’m not sure you should.
The truth is, instructional leagues are often difficult to “judge” based upon just the final statistics. The Arizona Fall League only lasts one month, so the usual small sample size conundrum is a large problem. There is also the problem of skill level. There are players (such as former Red Sox farmhand Freddy Sanchez) who are playing in the league who are AAA, possible fringe Major League players. On the other hand, there are players (such as current Red Sox farmhand Dustin Pedroia) who were just drafted this year. And finally, there are the problems associated with fatigue and/or injury.
What I suggest when looking at the numbers for the Red Sox farmhands in the AFL this year is to neither get too high nor too low when looking at these stats. A more complete picture can be gained by looking at the numbers for the entire season.
OK then… who are the 7? And… why do the Sox have one more player than they should?
I’ll tackle the last question first. I don’t know. Dustin Pedroia was added to the roster of the Scottsdale Scorpions… which is not the team generally assigned to the Red Sox. The other 6 players for the Sox were assigned to the Peoria Sequaros.
As for the 7… here they are with a little blurb on what I think:
Stefan Bailie
Stats: 19 Games (13 at 1st Base), 78 PAs, .176/.218/.311
Comments: Stefan did not have a good AFL campaign. However, this was Stefan’s first full season of playing in years. Adding another month of games on top of his A/AA campaign may have been pushing the envelope. I think fatigue got to Stefan in the AFL… and his stats suffered. The other possibility, of course, is that he was not as good this year as his stats indicated.
Alberto Concepcion
Stats: 14 Games (1 at 3rd, 13 at Catcher), 54 PAs, .279/.396/.488
Comments: Alberto had an excellent AFL campaign. 5 of his dozen hits went for extra bases. He walked seven times (which equaled the number of strikeouts he had). More important to his immediate future, he played almost all of the games played at catcher. Given the standing question of where he will play next year (He split time nearly equally between 3rd Base and Catcher this year), this may indicate that the Sox see him as a Catcher.
Kenny Perez
Stats: 2 Games (1 at 3rd, 1 at SS), 5 PAs, .400/.400/.600
Comments: Kenny Perez was injured for most of the second half of the AA system. Given that he only played in 2 games, it seems obvious to me that he was not healthy in Arizona either. Hopefully he will be back to 100% health in the spring.
Sheldon Fulse
Stats: 28 games (25 in the OF), 104 PAs, .256/.346/.344
Comments: Sheldon was injured in the midpart of the year in AA, so seeing him play in nearly all of Peoria’s games is a good sign for health. His numbers are about what you would expect, decent BA, good walking skills (13 walks) and a healthy amount of “speed” (7 steals vs. 1 CS). The power numbers were a bit dissapointing… but nothing to worry about over 90 ABs.
Manny Delcarmen
Stats: 12 games (all in relief), 22 Innings, 3-2, 3.68 ERA, 19Ks/13BBs
Comments: The stats, in and of themselves, are nothing that scream out GREAT! The Ks are nice but not when coupled with the walks. Coupled with the 18 hits he gave up, Manny’s WHIP was close to 1.50. But, the stats are not all that important here. What is important is that Manny played 12 games. Considering his injury history, THAT is the important thing. Manny, usually a starter, came out of the bullpen in Arizona. I believe this was in order to give him the maximum amount of in-game work in Arizona.
Kason Gabbard
Stats: 5 games (2 starts), 11 1/3 innings, 1-1, 3.18 ERA, 8Ks/6BBs
Comments: Kason’s ERA was very good. His peripheral stats, however, were not so good (with 14 hits… his WHIP was near 2.00). But, how much can be said about 11 innings of work anyway? It is nothing to get too excited about… but also nothing to get worried about either.
Dustin Pedroia
Stats: 16 games (5 at 2B. 13 at SS), 65 PAs, .278/.375/.370
Comments: First, I realize that 5+13 does not equal 16. However, BaseballAmerica does not distinguish between a full game played and a partial game played at a position. So, there were a couple of games where Dustin switched positions in the game. Dustin had a useful AFL campaign, especially considering that he started the year in Arizona… in college. Dustin had a decent average, walked 7 times and only struck out 4 times. Much like Sheldon Fulse, he did not hit for much power… but that is something that will come. After all, he is only a year out of college. I would say that this fall campaign indicates that Dustin is ready for a challenge greater than A Ball… but I would caution that it does not indicate that he is ready to jump to the Majors. Not yet at least.
One note in closing: Other than Kenny Perez, every player the Sox sent to the AFL this year played games in A-Ball this year. In fact, other than Kenny and Sheldon Fulse (whose time in A-Ball was injury rehab), very player spent half or more of the year in A-Ball. One should keep that in mind when looking at these stats… the Red Sox sent people who should be challenged by the league. In that light, only Stefan Bailie was dissapointing.
Thanks, Cuzittt!