The AFL is in full gear, and actually, the season is almost over, with the final game being scheduled for the 18th. I haven't taken a look at how the Braves prospects out there are doing either here or on my former site, so I guess I should take a look at how things are going, right?
The Braves initially sent 7 players out, and those 7 were Freddie Freeman, Tyler Pastornicky, Cory Harrilchak, Cory Gearrin, Erik Cordier, Kyle Cofield, and Michael Broadway. Since the season began, Freeman hurt his thumb and went home, while Cordier, Cofield, and Broadway are also no longer on the team's roster. Whether its due to injury or just plain ineffectiveness, I have no idea. But regardless, Benino Pruneda was sent out to replace the departed Braves on the roster. We're down to 4 guys to be looked at: Pastornicky, Harrilchak, Gearrin, and Pruneda. Let's take a look at the guys who aren't with the team anymore first.
Freddie Freeman, who will be the Braves starting first baseman in 2011 barring injury or him getting traded to fill a bigger hole with the team, only played in 5 games with the Phoenix Desert Dogs, and went 2/16 with a double and a triple, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts in those 16 at bats. Obviously, the sample is way too small to draw conclusions about his performance, but he reached base 4 times in his final 10 plate appearances in the league. That counts for something, right? His thumb should be fully healed by the time camp opens up in February.
Erik Cordier is thought of rather highly in some circles. I am not part of one of those circles, because I think a guy who walks a batter every other inning and strikes out less than a batter per inning is a pretty sad excuse for a prospect, but it is what it is. He'll be 25 when camp opens up, and will probably spend the season in Gwinnett. Just thinking of him being one call away from Atlanta is enough to give me chills. His performance in the AFL was pretty bad. He only threw 5 innings over 2 appearances, and was bad: 7 hits, 5 earned (all in the first appearance), 6 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Well, he struck out a batter per inning...and walked a batter per inning too. Well done, Erik.
Kyle Cofield is a guy I tend to mentall group with Cordier a lot, and I'm really not sure why. He was actually added to the Braves 40-man roster this week along with Juan Abreu, as both players are 6 year minor league veterans and could possibly explore free agency if they weren't put on the roster. Cofield really isn't too exciting of a guy: walks a decent bit of guys, doesn't strike out a ton. He'll be a reliever in the long run. He made one appearance in the AFL, and allowed a solo homer in his inning of work. At least he got a trip to Arizona out of the deal.
Michael Broadway is a guy that makes me wonder how they choose the players to send out to Arizona. He's worked his way up the organizational ladder pretty quickly, splitting last season between Mississippi and Gwinnett at the age of 23. Problem is, there isn't much to see here: his lowest career ERA is 3.90, and he didn't strike out a batter per inning until this season. He has two of the same characteristics as the other two pitchers I've talked about so far: he keeps the ball in the park, and will walk his share of hitters. He managed to allow a run in each of his 4 AFL appearances despite allowing only one homer and one walk, to go along with 5 strikeouts. Mr Broadway, welcome to BABIP hell.
And now, the guys that are still out there. Since we're talking about pitching, we'll start with Benino Pruneda. This guy is an absolutely nasty pitcher, striking out 93 in 64 2/3 innings for Myrtle Beach and Mississippi this year. He also walked 37, so there are some flaws there too. His brief AFL tenure has been pretty bad so far. Pruneda has thrown 4 innings, allowed 8 hits and 5 earned, and also walked 4 while striking out 6. Since he came to the league late, I'm not sure if he was just in bad shape or what, but it's really not like him to get hammered like this. As for his 2011 prospects, he'll either be in Mississippi or Gwinnett. He held his own in Mississippi, so a promotion to Gwinnett could be in the cards.
Staying with the pitching theme, Cory Gearrin is the most advanced of the Braves group out in Phoenix, spending all of 2010 in Gwinnett. He's thrown 12 1/3 innings, most of any non-starting pitcher on the Phoenix squad. Results have been good, as he didn't allow a run until his last appearance, where he allowed 4 to cross the plate. Gearrin has allowed 2 walks (both in the same game) and struck out 9, while allowing 11 hits (9 in his last 2 appearances). Gearrin is a ground ball machine, and could actually make a play for a spot in the Braves bullpen depending who the team decides to tender contracts. He could be an effective replacement for Peter Moylan if the Braves decide to part ways with the Aussie.
Finally, its time to take a look at the two hitters the Braves sent to Arizona. First, we'll look at 20 year old shortstop Tyler Pastornicky, who was tabbed to play in last night's All-Star game. After coming over midseason from the Blue Jays in the Alex Gonzalez trade, Pastornicky was assigned to Mississippi, where he was playing at a level most guys his age aren't. He kept his head above water, with a .699 OPS down in Pearl. His performance this fall has been much less impressive. The usually surehanded Pastornicky has 6 errors in only 13 games, and is posting a dire .632 OPS. He's not going to hit for a lot of power, but his .063 ISO is worse than the .102 mark he posted with Mississippi. He also hasn't walked in those 13 games, a little strange for someone who walked 55 times in 115 games in 2010.
And the final Brave in the AFL has been the one producing the best so far: outfielder Cory Harrilchak. He's leading the Desert Dogs in OPS with a .992 mark, and has slugged 3 homers...which is as many as he hit in 453 at bats for Rome and Myrtle Beach this season. Cory has walked 7 times in 16 games, but has also struck out 12 times. His trademark speed hasn't been on display as much as maybe we'd all like to see, as he's only 2/4 on the basepaths. Harrilchak turned 23 a week and a half ago, and after an impressive first full professional season, is looking to put his stamp on the world a little more. This performance in the AFL is going to probably attract more eyes to his play. He'll hopefully be ready for it, and I assume he'll begin the year in Mississippi, ready to make a move. Did I mention he has a fantastic blog?
That does it for today's look at the AFL. I'll be back in a week and a half when the league ends with a full wrap. I'm also going to start taking looks at the various Caribbean winter leaagues. They're a pain to recap, because something like 60 players are listed on each team's roster, including players who actually aren't on the team. But we'll get to that next week!