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Entirely Premature Statistical Report on the Arizona Fall League

It is “factually” “true” both that (a) the Arizona Fall League only just commenced yesterday and also that (b) AFL performances, even after having been regressed and adjusted for environment, are of questionable utility so far as evaluating prospects is concerned. (See, for example, Mike Trout‘s performance there in 2011.)

That said, for those of us not currently present in the Greater Phoenix area — a state of affairs that might most appropriately be called “the best of times and the worst of times” — one of the few ways to participate in that very compelling league is by dwelling for too long on very small statistical samples.

Which, that’s the impetus for this post.

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Premature SCOUT Leaderboard: Arizona Fall League Hitters
Below is the current SCOUT batting leaderboard for all Arizona Fall League hitters. SCOUT+ combines regressed home-run, walk, and strikeout rates in a FIP-like equation to produce a result not unlike wRC+, where 100 is league average and above 100 is above average. Note that xHR%, xBB%, and xK% stand for expected home run, walk, and strikeout rate, respectively.

Rank Player MLB Age PA HR BB K xHR% xBB% xK% SCOUT+
1 Kyle Parker Rockies 23 4 1 1 0 1.9% 10.8% 21.6% 106
2 Ryan Brett Rays 21 4 0 3 0 1.5% 11.8% 21.6% 105
3 Matt Skole Nationals 23 5 1 1 1 1.9% 10.7% 22.1% 105
4 Addison Russell Athletics 19 6 0 2 0 1.5% 11.2% 21.3% 103
5 Mitchell Haniger Brewers 22 4 1 0 1 1.9% 10.3% 22.3% 103
6 Cheslor Cuthbert Royals 20 4 1 0 1 1.9% 10.3% 22.3% 103
7 Colin Moran Marlins 20 6 0 1 0 1.5% 10.7% 21.3% 102
8 Thomas La Stella Braves 24 5 0 1 0 1.5% 10.7% 21.4% 102
9 Aaron Altherr Phillies 22 4 0 1 0 1.5% 10.8% 21.6% 102
10 Christopher Austin Yankees 21 4 0 1 0 1.5% 10.8% 21.6% 102

Premature SCOUT Leaderboard: Arizona Fall League Pitchers
Below is the current SCOUT pitching leaderboard for the AFL. SCOUT- combines regressed strikeout and walk rates in a kwERA-like equation to produce a number not unlike ERA-, where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than average. Note that xK% and xBB% stand for expected strikeout and walk rate, respectively.

Rank Player MLB Age GS% IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
1 Armando Rivero Cubs 25 0% 1.0 4 3 0 23.6% 10.4% 97
2 Bo Schultz D-backs 27 100% 3.1 16 6 3 23.8% 10.7% 97
3 Kyle Hunter Mariners 24 0% 2.0 7 3 0 23.1% 10.4% 98
4 Merrill Kelly Rays 24 0% 0.2 2 2 0 23.2% 10.5% 98
5 Drew Hayes Reds 25 0% 1.0 3 2 0 23.1% 10.4% 98
6 Zachary Thornton Pirates 25 0% 1.0 3 2 0 23.1% 10.4% 98
7 Ken Giles Phillies 22 0% 1.0 4 2 0 22.9% 10.4% 98
8 Jameson Taillon Pirates 21 100% 2.0 8 3 1 23.0% 10.5% 98
9 Shawn Armstrong Indians 22 0% 1.0 6 2 0 22.6% 10.4% 99
10 Nick Wittgren Marlins 22 0% 1.1 6 2 0 22.6% 10.4% 99

Notes and Observations
• After making a late-season appearance among the Fringe Five this year, Tampa Bay second-base prospect Ryan Brett exhibited his main tool on the first day of AFL play — namely, his control of the strike zone — by walking three times. He recorded walk and strikeout rates of about 7% and 12%, respectively, as a 21-year-old between High- and Double-A.

• Oakland’s Addison Russell is the only teenager to appear among the top hitters after the first day — nor would it be surprising were he to appear on the final iteration of the AFL batting leaderboard, either. One of just three qualified 19-year-olds in all of High-A this year, the shortstop has demonstrated compelling power, speed, and strike-zone control relative to his age.

• According to Bob Wirz of Seamheads, 27-year-old Bo Schultz has a fastball that tops out at ca. 95 mph and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. He also struck out more than a third of the batters he faced in his AFL debut.