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The Arizona Fall League — and the minor league season as a whole — came to a close on Saturday, with the Salt River Rafters taking the title over the Surprise Saguaros.
The Glendale Desert Dogs never really factored into the standings, although they won their last three to finish with a respectable 14-15 record. The White Sox portion of Glendale’s didn’t contribute all that much.
A quick review of seasons that failed to distinguish themselves:
Gavin Sheets: Hit .250/.321/.319 with five doubles, with eight walks and 21 strikeouts over 81 plate appearances. The strikeouts bunched up on him at times, without home runs to compensate.
Blake Rutherford: Hit an un-Rutherfordian .179/.281/.385, which is a departure in all three columns. The bad news? The batting average, obviously, along with 21 strikeouts in 21 games. Then again, nine of his 14 hits went for extra bases, including two homers and three triples, and he drew 11 walks on top of that.
Micker Adolfo: He had modest objectives for a successful AFL season after losing most of the regular season to elbow issues, and he met them by making it through the entire schedule while playing some right field. At the plate, he resembled his old self, hitting .167/.262/.389 with too little contact (27 strikeouts to five walks over 15 games), but some strength when it happened (nine hits, four homers). Good thing he has a fourth option year.
Tyler Johnson: The highly regarded relief prospect had the best AFL of any Sox participant in terms of runs, with a 3.12 ERA over nine outings. The peripherals leave a lot to be desired, because he issued seven walks against three strikeouts while giving up a pair of homers. He went seven consecutive outings without a strikeout until recording a pair of punchouts (along with a pair of walks) in his last one.
James Fegan says Johnson is working on reshaping his delivery to redirect the stress on his body:
Far more alluring is Johnson’s ability to handle multi-inning outings and his above-average vertical carry on a mid-90s fastball. Neither of those abilities — nor a major-league bullpen workload full of back-to-back days — are compatible with a delivery that strains his shoulder and back. So Teaford and Johnson have been at work straightening him out this month. The strikeouts haven’t been there so far, but Johnson already feels like he’s physically bouncing back quicker and diverting the physical strain onto his legs, where he trains for it to be.
He did get up to 31 appearances and 40 innings on the season, so he avoided what could’ve been a lost year.
Bernardo Flores: He got rocked in his first outing and never quite recovered, finishing the year with a 7.97 ERA over six starts and 20⅓ innings. The strikeout-to-walk ratio is decent (19 to 5), but the rates are less impressive because he gave up 32 hits, including three homers.
Vince Arobio: After giving up a homer and two walks in each of his first two appearances, Arobio also marred his numbers beyond the point of correction. He posted a 6.75 ERA with more walks (eight) than strikeouts (seven) over 10⅔ innings.
Bennett Sousa: Divide his nine outings into thirds, and he’d be happy with two of them. He bookended his AFL season with three scoreless appearances apiece, but in the middle were his three worst outings of the year. He walks away with the best peripherals of the bunch, with 12 strikeouts to one walk, but he’ll have to show he’s more than a LOOGY in the levels ahead.