We've become accustomed to seeing Rudy Darrow as a lights out late inning reliever, but in his first two AFL outings, he's been anything but. Darrow has allowed three hits and two walks while giving up two runs in the process. The bright spot here is that Darrow is still missing some bats, striking out four batters; two in each one-inning appearance. Casey Fien is another hurler who we are accustomed to seeing dominate late innings, and he has lived up to that billing so far in Arizona. Despite giving up two hits in his first two-inning game of the fall, he didn't allow a run and whiffed four Peoria hitters en route to picking up the win. In his second outing, Fien struck out another hitter as he worked perfectly against Surprise.
Two guys who have not been on their game thus far in the AFL, are Luis Marte and Zach Simons. The lack of performance in one outing from Marte is of particular concern, as there's still some question surrounding the health of his elbow. Luis walked one, gave up three hits, and yielded three runs in just one inning of work. After blowing fastballs by Florida State League hitters in the season's second half, Simons is finding the competition a little stiffer out west. In his first outing of the fall he allowed four runs on four hits in just two innings. Zach's second appearance was much better, as he worked a scoreless inning with a walk and a strikeout. Early word has him pumping big time fastballs despite the long season he has already endured.
The inconsistency continues on the offensive side of things, with Jeff Larish, Will Rhymes, and Casper Wells all struggling some at the plate. Wells hit a two-run bomb in the AFL opener for Mesa, but he hasn't been able to do much since; collecting only one hit in his next six at-bats spanning three games. Larish has also had his struggles with just four hits in twenty trips to the plate, while also striking out six times and only walking once. Will Rhymes may have the best average of the trio so far, but he's only managed a few singles en route to a .278 mark that matches his on-base and slugging percentage as well.
Further west in the Hawaii Winter Baseball league, Andrew Hess is continuing a late season surge and making a push to be considered a serious prospect. In four outings that have totaled 10 2/3 innings, Hess has walked only one hitter and impressively struck out eleven. Andrew has a 2.53 ERA thus far with one save to his credit, and as he continues to keep the ball down, he might become one of the CaneFires most critical relievers.
While Hess chucks it from the mound, James Skelton has arrived in Hawaii and continues to do what he does best; hit for average and walk. With a .321 average and four walks, Skelton is sporting a robust .441 OBP. James still isn't slugging the ball, knocking just two doubles and posting a .393 slugging percentage. As impressive as Skelton's early performance has been, outfielder Kyle Peter has been even better. Peter has ripped ten hits, including a double and a triple, in 28 at-bats, along with two steals in two attempts. Peter's line so far has been a sparkling .357/.400/.464, and if he can maintain this progress, he could excel next season at Lakeland.
Bloop Hits: Several 2008 first round picks are tearing up Hawaii, as Jason Castro, Yonder Alonzo are pounding the ball with no regard for human life….Kyle Martin and Kala Ka'aihue are leading HWB with three bombs apiece….Former Tiger prospect Chris Cody is sporting a 4.73 ERA in four games (three starts) for West Oahu….Matt Weiters assault on minor league pitchers continues with a .538/.647/.846 line in four games….