Cleveland's Aguilar Opening Eyes
Cleveland Indians first base prospect Jesus Aguilar is making a strong impression during the early days of the Fall League. The 21-year-old native of Venezuela has three homers and a .407 average over his first seven games. He has also walked four times and has collected three doubles. Aguilar wasn't on the Phoenix Desert Dogs' initial roster, but was added to the team as a fill-in for Chad Huffman. Huffman was activated on Friday, but Aguilar remains on the Desert Dogs' active roster for now. Phoenix manager Todd Steverson is hopeful Aguilar will be able to extend his stay with the Desert Dogs awhile longer.
"Jesus Aguilar has some legitimate power. Right-handed power, which you don't really find a lot in the game these days. Everyone is searching for it. He's been a nice addition," Steverson said.
"I like him. Not a bad defender at all and he has a lot of upside to him."
Choice To Return Next Week For Phoenix
Oakland A's 2010 first-round draft pick Michael Choice has been away from the Phoenix squad for the past week as he attends to a personal matter. Choice was the AFL's Co-Player of the Week for the AFL's first week of games after he homered three times in four games. He is expected to return to the Phoenix line-up next week.
Steverson, who is the Oakland A's Triple-A hitting coach and outfield instructor, has liked what he has seen from Choice thus far this AFL season.
"Choice has done really well. He hit some homeruns, collected some hits using the whole field and is playing good defense. He's a nice treat to watch."
Steverson has worked with Choice some on his approach towards each at-bat, but is leaving Choice's unconventional hitting mechanics alone.
"He is in a good place right now [with his swing mechanics]. We talk a little bit about mindset and what he is trying to do. He is a different animal when it comes to his wrists. He has very quick wrists and good bat speed. Sometimes that is a hindrance to you n this game, to have that tool. You need to learn to harness it and control it. He understands that."
Hechavarria Growing As A Hitter, Smooth In The Field
Phoenix shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria came into the AFL season with a reputation as being one of the top defensive shortstops in the minor leagues. The Toronto Blue Jays prospect spent most of the 2011 season at the Double-A level, but finished the year in Triple-A with the Las Vegas 51's. Hechavarria was charged with two errors in Phoenix's loss to Salt River on Friday afternoon, but he also made several nice plays, showing off his strong arm, in particular.
"You can see the upside with his glove and his arm. He does have plus tools on defense," Steverson said.
Although Hechavarria hit .389 in 25 games with the 51's during the final month of the regular season, he is still considered a work-in-progress at the plate. He hit .235 in 111 Double-A games this year and is two-for-his-first-24 at the AFL. One of those hits came on Friday. He also walked in the game.
"I think he's still growing into his own as a hitter," Steverson said before Friday's game. "His swing – he's still trying to figure out exactly what he wants to do. You see him take batting practice and you see that he has some pop in that bat, and he also has some good hands and wrists. The type of player that is ultimately going to be is probably yet to be determined. But if he can spray the ball around the field, he's got some speed and he can become a viable shortstop at the next level."
Gose's Tools Standout
Toronto outfield prospect Anthony Gose is known mostly for his speed. He swiped 70 bases in 85 chances this year for Double-A New Hampshire. However, he also hit 16 homeruns and that power ability has been on display early in the Fall League season. In nine games, he has five extra-base hits, including two homers.
Steverson has been impressed with Gose's defense more than anything thus far.
"He's a good outfielder. He has an absolute canon for an arm. It's a 7-8 arm [on the 2-8 scouting scale] in my opinion. For him, it's just about putting his tools together everyday out on the field."
Speed Set The Table For Star-Studded Scottsdale Line-up
Scouts have been buzzing about the top-prospect laden line-up for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who feature the game's top two position prospects in Angels' prospect Mike Trout and Nationals' prospect Bryce Harper. Steverson has been most impressed with the overall team speed for the Scorpions.
"They have Gary Brown from the Giants, Tyson Gillies from the Phillies and Mike Trout all back-to-back at the top of that line-up. That's like a track meet right there. You've got to be ready and on your feet with them because they can make it happen with their legs.
"Everyone wants to see the power, but the game is getting back to what it used to be a little bit with the stolen bases and guys being able to take the extra base and things like that. Guys like that are starting to become hot commodities."
As for Harper, it has been a bit of a slow start for the uber-prospect. The 18-year-old didn't collect a hit until his fourth AFL game and is only three-for-27. Harper did triple in his final at-bat on Friday night, slicing an outside pitch to the opposite field in a two-strike count. The ball looked to be a double off of his bat, but Harper hustled into third when Peoria outfielder Jaff Decker was slow to get the ball back to the infield. The triple drove home two runs in the 14-5 Peoria win.
Tovar and Gyorko Steal The Show For Peoria
New York Mets' second base prospect Wilfredo Tovar and San Diego Padres' third base prospect Jedd Gyorko had standout performances on Friday night for the Peoria Javelinas. Tovar made several outstanding plays at second base, flashing plus range. He was charged with an error on a play where he ranged far up the middle to field a ball, but threw wildly to first base. Tovar, a 20-year-old native of Venezuela, went three-for-five at the plate with a double and two RBIs.
Gyorko homered twice in the game and drove-in four runs. He also singled and walked and scored four times. The West Virginia alum is now batting .391 with a 1223 OPS in five games for Peoria. He hit .333 during the regular season for High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio.