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Eduardo Escobar received a bonus for his fine performance in Arizona Fall League on Friday: a spot on the 40-man roster.
Along with Escobar, reliever Anthony Carter (who also had a nice AFL season) and Nathan Jones earned protection from the Rule 5 draft. The 40-man roster now has six open spots remaining.
*Escobar the only no-brainer of the group, leading a thin group of middle infielders with the system’s best defense. He also showed a surprising amount of pop in the AFL, hitting .300/.353/.536, although he ended the season with just four hits in his last 33 at-bats.
*Carter built upon his decent season at Birmingham with startling success as a Saguaro. Most notably, he struck out 16 hitters without a single walk over 10 innings. Three of the four runs he allowed came in one rough outing. There are reasons to suppress enthusiasm — he just reached Double-A as a 24-year-old, he mostly pumps fastballs, and he’s an extreme flyball pitcher — but he did everything he could in Hitting Heaven.
*Jones is an interesting case, as he was said to have great reliever stuff (fastball-slider), but made the jump to starting in 2010 with mediocre results. His strikeout rate dropped (7.84/9IP in 2009 to 6.43), walk rate increased (2.91 to 3.30), and he became far more hittable (.244 BAA to .296).
On the plus side, he threw 152 1/3 innings, which was more than double his career high (68 in 2009), and allowed just 10 homers. I’m guessing he’ll end up in relief, but I doubt it hurt anything to give starting a shot. If nothing else, he gained a ton of experience.
Wrapping up the seasons for the two other notable AFLers:
*Jared Mitchell singled in his final at-bat of the fall season, so he avoided finishing the season with an 0-for-13 slump. He hit just .163/.239/.200 over 80 at-bats, but that was to be expected. He hadn’t played any competitive baseball since the second week of spring training, and was facing a level of competition brand new to him. He just needed to stay healthy, so mission accomplished.
*Charles Leesman didn’t have much fun in Arizona, posting the kind of line that makes Carter’s performance all the more impressive. He allowed 23 hits and nine walks over 10 2/3 innings (a 3.10 WHIP!), good for an 11.81 ERA. He did strike out 12.
As always, it’s worth noting that AFL performances aren’t terribly predictive. Brent Morel won last year’s batting title and followed up with a terrific minor-league season in 2010, but Jordan Danks hit .343/.458/.505 and didn’t come close to matching that in Charlotte. Let’s not even talk about C.J. Retherford.
Arizona Fall League (final game):
- Thursday: Peoria 3, Mesa 1
- Jared Mitchell went 1-for-3.
- Eduardo Escobar went 0-for-2 with a walk.