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Arizona Fall League Roundup: Week 1

Of the Giants’ group of AFL prospects, only Melvin Adon really announced his presence with authority in week 1.

For most MLB fans, October means playoff baseball, the season of (usually) high drama, heroes, and goats that can change reputations forever.

But over in our baseball prospect niché, October means Arizona Fall League action is cranking up — that annual showcase that brings together the best near-major league ready prospects in baseball (well, the best position player prospects anyway) to show their wares against each other. It also brings together the entire industry’s scouting apparatus and a host of prospect writers and bloggers to give us all up to the minute scouting reports, and, of course hot takes.

Well, they’re not gonna get any hotter than that one!

As befits an organization with one of the weaker farm systems, the Giants representatives aren’t exactly creating Vladdy Jr.-level “Must View” buzz among the gathered scouts, but they have sent a solid group of seven interesting prospects, all of whom have legitimate paths to big league careers. The seven Giants’ representatives are:

  • C.J. Hinojosa, 2b/SS
  • Matt Winn, C
  • Heath Quinn, OF
  • Garrett Williams, LHP
  • Melvin Adon, RHP
  • Chase Johnson, RHP
  • Sam Wolff, RHP

Winn was the only late change among the Giants’ representatives, as they determined that Aramis Garcia, who was originally slated to participate, had gotten enough major league action in September to warrant a rest. Winn was a finalist in 2015 for the Johnny Bench Award winner, given to the best defensive Catcher in NCAA, and has just enough pop to go with his defensive chops that one could imagine him Eli Whitesiding his way into a big league career. Hinojosa seems a decent bet to take over the Kelby Tomlinson role when Specs runs out of options, while Quinn is one of the better corner OF bats in the upper levels of the system. The pitchers are all by and large stuff over command guys, who likely all profile as relievers, ultimately, though the Giants still maintain some starter hopes for Williams, Adon, and Johnson.

What does it mean to be an AFL representative? Well let’s let the league’s website tell us exactly how meaningful participation in this annual rite of passage is.

How good are the players in the Arizona Fall League? The 2014 All-Star Game in Minneapolis featured 36 AFL alums. Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with an incredible 212 All-Stars, 12 MVPs, four Cy Young Award Winners, three World Series MVPs, 66 Silver Sluggers, 58 Golden Gloves, and 25 Rookies of the Year.

A little housekeeping — the AFL sleeps on Sundays, so I’ll plan to do a weekly update at the end of each week on the seventh day [Editor’s note: if there’s a playoff game on a Sunday, then we’ll post these updates Monday morning to make sure people see it]. The league will play for the next month, with the championship game taking place on November 17. There is also a televised All Star showcase game on November 3. So, with that out of the way: on to week one results!

The Hitters

C.J. Hinojosa: 2 G, 2 for 11, 0 walks, 3 K, 0 XBH. Season totals: .182/.182/.182
Matt Winn: 2 G, 1 for 6, 2 walks, 4 Ks, 0 XBH. Season totals: .167/.375/.167
Heath Quinn: 2 G, 1 for 10, 1 walk, 6 Ks, 0 XBH, 2 RBI. Season totals: .100/.182/.100

Not exactly a banner week for the position players. CJ Hinojosa had a 2 hit game in the opener, accounting for half of the trio’s hits (and total bases) for the week. Both Winn and Quinn had 4-strikeout nights this week, and together K’d in 55% of their PA. Even Hinjosa’s 3 Ks were a tad eye-opening, as he’s maintained a K% below 10% over the last two seasons in AA. But that is an indication of the advanced level of competition in the AFL.

Not particularly AFL-related, but as long as we’re talking Heath Quinn, I had a question on him answered recently in the Baseball America Cal League Top 20 chat:

The Pitchers

Garrett Williams: 1 GS, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 K. Season Totals: 4.50 ERA
Melvin Adon: 2 G, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HR allowed, 0 BB, 6 Ks. Season Total: 3.86 ERA
Chase Johnson: 1 G, 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 HR allowed, 0 BB, 2 Ks. Season Totals: 27.00 ERA
Sam Wolff: 1 G, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 Ks. Season Totals: 0.00 ERA

Garrett Williams opened 2018 as the Giants #7 prospect according to Baseball America, but ran into a buzz saw in AA. He saw a particular regression in is ability to throw strikes and to miss bats. He spent the second half of the year in the bullpen trying to find mechanical consistency — a consistency for which he’s still searching.

Sam Wolff had a bumpy re-entry to AA this summer coming back from surgery on his flexor tendon. But he’s a high octane arm who could easily play a role in the Giants 2019 bullpen mix. The more ho-hum 3 batters/2 Ks innings he has like this, the more he’ll begin to put himself in contention for a job.

But the guy who really made an impression in Week 1 was Melvin Adon. Adon’s been a conundrum the past couple of years, as he’s combined high 90s to triple digit velocity — which he can maintain for 5-7 innings at a stretch — with a decided propensity for getting squared up. At his best Adon can flash a power slider the helps the repertoire play up and give tantalizing glimpses of dominance, but that slider can also turn MIA for long stretches of time, and the change is far too firm. Adon displayed both versions of himself in his two appearances this week: the puzzling one and the dominating one:

But on the second night, the slider showed up and the result was a 4 out/4 K save.

There’s no other arm in the system, quite like the 24-year old Adon’s. He should be added to the 40 man roster next month and report to Richmond next April. The Giants have to figure out a way to develop this guy into a major league contributor over the next few years. There’s just too much here to let waste.

So until next week, enjoy a little Melvin: