The Arizona Fall League is a developmental league for prospects that either A) Need a bit of fine-tuning before reaching the Majors, B) Need extra work after missing a chunk of the ‘09 season due to injury, and/or C) Are being considered for inclusion on the 40-man roster this winter.
Scott Mathieson, RHP, Philadelphia
Following in the tradition of talented, but injury-prone Canadian pitchers, this right-hander is back on track after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery (’06, ’08). The top team in the National League is certainly hoping this one will take. Mathieson posted a 0.84 ERA in 32.1 innings – over three minor-league levels – this past year while working out of the bullpen (He was previously a starter). The 25 year old allowed just 17 hits and he showed reasonable control despite his layoff in ’08 and he struck out 34 batters. Mathieson made 13 appearances in double-A and posted a 3.20 FIP, while allowing a batting-average-against of just .155. So far in the AFL, he has yet to allow a run in five innings (four appearances). If his health sticks, Mathieson could be helping out in the bullpen in Philly by mid-to-late 2010.
Danny Gutierrez, RHP, Texas
Obtained late in the season from Kansas City after wearing out his welcome in the organization (health, attitude), Gutierrez has been impressive and an organization can never have enough pitching depth. The right-hander made just nine appearances in the regular season but he’s made three already in the AFL (including two starts). In 8.2 innings, Gutierrez has allowed five hits, five walks and seven Ks. In 2008 in low-A ball, the right-hander showed a solid ground-ball rate while also posting a strikeout rate of 10.40 K/9 in 90 low-A innings. He’s a sleeper worth keeping an eye on, although he likely won’t surface in Texas until 2011.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, New York (AL)
No longer a rookie, thanks to a total of 59.2 MLB innings over three seasons, Kennedy is looking to finally establish himself as a big-league pitchers. After missing a good portion of ’09 due to injury, he’s making up for lost time in the AFL. In three starts, Kennedy has allowed 10 hits and just one walk in 11.1 innings of work. He’s also struck out 13 batters, but he remains a fly-ball pitcher, which is dangerous for a hurler with average-at-best velocity on his fastball. Kennedy does not have a huge ceiling but he does have a track record of success in the minors and he has exceptional control. A trade out of New York this off-season will probably be the best thing for his career, but the club may not want to sell low on him. If he does end up in the National League, though, he could thrive.
Jenrry Mejia, RHP, New York (NL)
Things have not gone so well for Mejia in the AFL. After making 10 double-A starts as a 19-year-old pitcher in ’09, the right-hander has struggled in fall ball. Mejia has a 10.50 ERA and has allowed 10 hits and seven walks in 6.0 innings (three starts). The Dominican native did recover in his third start to allow just one run in three innings and he showed improved command. He is definitely talented and there is no reason to rush him to New York so he’ll likely open 2010 in double-A and will probably surface in Majors in 2011, if all goes well. Don’t worry… he’s just a young pitcher going through growing pains.
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