The Surprise Rafters wrapped up the Arizona Fall League season with a 17-12-3 mark and a second-place finish in the AFL West division. During the course of the season, 10 Rangers prospects appeared in at least one game for the Rafters. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at their performances.
Engel Beltre, CF: Beltre's biggest issue during his 12-game AFL stretch was consistency. In three of the games, he was 9-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. He was 4-for-37 without an extra-base knock in the other nine contests. The total was a .245/.333/.377 line with six walks, eight strikeouts, and six stolen bases in 61 trips to the plate. Beltre's improved plate discipline may have been a mirage––he has just one free pass in his first 66 plate appearances in Dominican winterball. But overall, Beltre's raw talent shined in stretches and he continued to play plus defense in center.
Jared Bolden, LF: The versatile outfielder/first baseman joined the taxi squad after Beltre left to play in the Dominican Winter League. Bolden went 2-for-6 with a triple and two walks in his first two contests but struggled in his final four outings. Overall, he was 3-for-21 (.143) with a triple, three walks, and seven strikeouts. While the left-hander has struggled offensively, his athleticism and coordination make him a solid defender at first base and all three outfield positions. Bolden played all six of his Fall League games in left field.
Joey Butler, RF: Starting 12 games in right field and two at designated hitter, Butler showed some pop but struggled with his batting average. He posted a .228/.286/.404 slash line with a pair of home runs in 63 plate appearances. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound corner outfielder has some strength but little else stands out among his across-the-board average tools. Butler's biggest issue during the last two regular seasons has been his incredibly streaky nature from month to month.
Fabio Castillo, RHP: One of the newest members of the Rangers' 40-man roster, Castillo became a no-brainer addition as his stuff and results improved down the stretch in 2010. The hard-throwing righty joined the Rafters' roster after Tim Murphy underwent Tommy John surgery. Castillo allowed three runs on seven hits in 9.2 innings, walking three and fanning six. The stuff was even a bit more impressive than the results, as he flashed a 93-97 mph fastball with late ride to go along with a solid-average upper-80s slider and a changeup.
Jose Felix, C: Felix profiles as a potential defensive-minded backup catcher in the big leagues, and he stood out behind the plate this fall, gunning down 7-of-10 attempted base stealers. Though not generally known for his bat, Felix also held his own offensively. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound Mexico native was 17-for-49 (.347) with four doubles in 13 contests. He drew only one walk and must learn to become a bit more selective. Felix had just one free pass in 107 plate appearances with Frisco this season.
Adalberto Flores, RHP: The 6-foot-7 reliever had a rough stint with the Rafters, finishing with a 6.97 ERA in nine appearances. Though Flores only walked 20 batters in 60.1 innings at Double-A Frisco this season, he issued 12 free passes in 10.1 frames during the Fall League. Flores also allowed 15 hits. The righty threw his fastball in the upper-80s, low-90s (touching 92-93 mph on occasion) to go along with a curveball and a changeup.
Daniel Gutierrez, RHP: Gutierrez appeared in only one game, tossing a scoreless inning on 21 pitches. He gave up a hit, walked a batter, and recorded a strikeout. But it was Gutierrez's 82-85 mph fastball velocity––as reported by Keith Law and Jason Grey of ESPN.com––that sent up red flags. Scouts in attendance noted that the 23-year-old appeared to be babying his delivery and favoring his shoulder. Surprise pitching coach Brad Holman recently said Gutierrez was pulled off the roster in order to rehab and rest some soreness issues.
Eric Hurley, RHP: Hurley, 25, produced encouraging results after sitting out two full seasons with shoulder and wrist injuries. The hurler scuffled in his first two outings but tossed five scoreless innings in each of his last four starts. Hurley and pitching coach Brad Holman made some mechanical adjustments that spurred the success and improved his stuff. In the final four starts, the righty's fastball was sitting at 90-93 mph (with the occasional 94 mph heater) and his mid-80s slider was much more sharp. He also showed a low-80s changeup and toyed with an upper-80s splitter. Hurley finished third in the circuit with a 1.82 ERA in 24.2 innings. He gave up 16 hits, walked nine, and struck out 14.
Davis Stoneburner, IF: The 25-year-old earned a Fall League assignment as a reward for a strong regular season, which mostly came at High-A Bakersfield but eventually reached Triple-A Oklahoma City. Despite hitting well in the early going, Stoneburner finished in a 1-for-17 slump and had a .231/.293/.404 line in 58 plate appearances. At 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, Stoneburner has some surprising pop for his size but is more of a solid organizational soldier than a prospect. The middle infielder saw action at all four infield spots with Surprise and even got a pair of starts at first base.
Corey Young, LHP: The reliever was yet another mid-season addition to the Surprise roster, filling in for the injured Gutierrez. Young's stuff has been consistent since he joined the system as a 12th-round pick in '08––an 88-90 mph fastball with some sink, a late-breaking slurve, and the occasional changeup. The primary inconsistency has been his ability to command the fastball down in the strike zone. The left-hander pitched well overall in the Fall League, yielding two runs on eight hits over 8.2 innings, walking two and striking out three.
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