Jeff Moore is a former college player and Division I college coach who’s now based in Florida, where he scouts and writes about baseball full-time.
The Arizona Fall League continues to be one of the most interesting scouting opportunities each season, with a wide variance in player skill, age and development across the league. Additionally, the many variables that affect players this time of year – fatigue and injury, for example – make context vital to any evaluation.
Still, each team sends a contingent of players of their choosing to the league, typically to work on something specific, make up for time lost due to injury, or perhaps simply for additional experience. The Toronto Blue Jays’ ensemble suited up for the Salt River Rafters, and a week in the unseasonably cool desert allowed for a look at seven potential future Jays…
Rowdy Tellez, 1B
The most talented among the Jays contingent, Tellez is using his time in Arizona to continue the tremendous progress he made during the season. Once a bad-bodied, pull-happy future DH, Tellez has gotten himself into better shape, worked hard to become a competent first baseman, and is developing into a better all-around hitter.
I noted this progress earlier in the year, and his progress has continued with Tellez showing an even more balanced approach in the AFL. He can still drive the ball with authority, but his ability to use the entire field will keep his power from being exploited. He also looks more comfortable at first base with each look.
Emilio Guerrero, 3B
If Tellez’s progress has been steadily rising, Guerrero’s development looks like a seismometer reading. There are times that Guerrero looks like the most talented player on the field, showing off plus raw power, good athleticism for a 6’5” frame, and a plus arm. More often than not, however, the end product is a mess. With no approach at the plate and poor game instincts, Guerrero continues to fall short of the sum of his parts while still offering enticing glimpses of what could be. At this point, it’s probably too late to expect much out of his bat, but he has taken quite well to third base after playing primarily shortstop before 2015.
Roemon Fields, CF
Fields is a great example of a team using the AFL to give a player with limited experience additional plate appearances, though anyone would be hard pressed to find a story more bizarre than Fields’. He’s understandably raw, but with plus speed and some natural instincts, there are major league tools in tact. He’s also a high-energy player and plus overall athlete who has taken well to centre field.
It will be an uphill battle for Fields’ bat to approach major-league adequacy, but he does enough things well that can help a big league ball club, mainly with his legs, that his progress will be worth following. He’s already handling himself remarkably well given his background.
Jeremy Gabryszwski, RHP
Gabryszwski continued to show more of what was on display in Dunedin this season – a body that looks like it should be eating innings in the middle of a big league rotation with stuff that falls way short of that destination. His 6’4” frame looks the part and his mechanics are clean, but at 88-91 mph from the right side with limited movement and below average secondary pitches, Gabryszwski doesn’t offer the most exciting profile.
Chad Girodo, LHP
Girodo may not have the most exciting profile either, but he has a chance to be successful in his niche thanks to a big, sweeping curveball. He comes at left-handed hitters with a low, almost sidearm slot, making them very uncomfortable despite his mid-80’s fastball. The development of his curveball will determine his success, but he could be a usable piece.
Brady Dragmire, RHP
Dragmire fits the middle reliever profile perfectly, with a mid-80’s slider with above-average movement. So far consistency with the slider and fastball command has limited him. He’s missing more bats than in the past, and that trend will need to continue in order for him to have success, as he’s not exceptionally tall and 93-94 mph is no longer above-average for a reliever.
Justin Shafer, RHP
Schafer is a former eighth rounder out of the University of Florida who has failed to miss bats as a professional, a trend that continued in the desert. With a low-90’s fastball and a slider that flashes average at best, there’s not a ton of room for growth. His best bet is near the back of a bullpen, but even that will require significant improvement.