Arizona Fall League Preview: 2016 Mesa Solar Sox

In his Arizona Fall League preview, Joshua Schwager covers the top prospects to track on the AFL's Mesa Solar Sox.

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The Mesa Solar Sox are currently ranked as the second strongest team in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL is loaded with talent as teams typically want an extra look at future major leaguers.

Mesa has twelve players I am currently touting, five of which are in my top fifty overall. The disadvantage is that all of them are in the field.

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Team Rankings

  1. Glendale Desert Dogs
  2. Mesa Solar Sox
  3. Surprise Saguaros
  4. Peoria Javelinas
  5. Salt River Rafters
  6. Scottsdale Scorpions

 

Four Players To Watch

Franklin Barreto – SS – Oakland Athletics

Franklin Barreto is a sensational athlete with a significant upside at the plate. He has above average contact skills but still really struggles with striking out. At 20 years old, Barreto is almost big league ready. In 2016, he hit .282 with 10 home runs and 30 stolen bases while striking out 90 times in 462 at bats.

It is to no surprise that people are beginning to question his long-term success at shortstop and are thinking he is becoming suited for the job. I think Barreto can still gain better reaction time and first step quickness through the gym and with that quicker step I think you will see a large leap forward in his error rate. I truly believe the future is bright for Barreto as I have him higher than any other prospect list at my 14th overall. In nearly every other poll Barreto has taken a substantial slide back in the rankings as scouts question his defense. Barreto can use the AFL to prove a lot of people wrong… one of which could end up being me.

Ian Happ – 2B – Chicago Cubs

Ian Happ is someone who has stuck out to me all year. He has a Kinsler type demeanor with above average power and speed tools to his name. In his first full season in the minors, Happ hit .277 with 13 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He is a switch hitter with excellent bat speed and fantastic balance at the plate. He tracked the ball about average and demonstrated that he is learning to read the strike zone better.

Though the numbers don’t jump out as uber-prospect material, Happ looks that way to me in film. I currently have him as my 19th overall prospect but expect him to land inside my top 10 by midseason in 2017 if not come preseason. If he continues seeing the development he did this year, I see something very special in Happ's future. Though part of what he has to prove is that he can be a game-changer on the defensive side. Currently, his glove is rather inconsistent.

Eloy Jimenez – OF – Chicago Cubs

Eloy Jimenez was the crown jewel of the 2013 international prospect class and in many ways was the turning point of the Cubs organization. Not because he alone could be the future of the team but because it meant the Cubs were changing the way they went about producing results on the field. It came during a stretch where they simply couldn’t get out of bad contracts so watching them spend a large sum of money on an international prospect showed a lot of change was coming.

Jimenez is unlike most top flight international prospects in that he is living up to the expectations set before him when he entered the league. Now sitting inside my top 25 prospects, Jimenez has a true five-tool skill set that he utilizes in almost every aspect of the game. His above average speed lets him track well in the outfield, and his power transfers to a big arm in the outfield. Though sometimes he completely misses his target, it is one of the few things Eloy needs to refine.

Jimenez finished his 2016 campaign hitting .331 with 14 home runs and eight stolen bases. Similar to Barreto, Jimenez needs to cut down on his K rate and improve his BB rate as he struck out nearly four times as often as he took a walk.

Bradley Zimmer – OF – Cleveland Indians

Bradley Zimmer is having a rough year in 2016 despite a high, well-rounded ceiling. Zimmer hit to the tune of .253 with 14 home runs and 33 steals while striking out an alarming 115 times and taking in 56 walks in 340 at bats. There is a lot to troubleshoot here for Bradley, and his results have been a bit inconsistent and scattered throughout the season. He's had bursts of stardom level success and week long slumps that make you question his future.

Zimmer has an excellent tool set at his disposal. The AFL should do Zimmer a world of good as it’s a chance to put the 2016 campaign behind him and live into the giftings he clearly has. Zimmer has the aptitude to be advanced at the plate and could be a considerate threat to go 290/20/30 if all things went right for him. The strikeouts need to come down though for Zimmer to ever hold up in the big leagues. It seems far more mental than physical at this point in his development.

He currently sits at number 35 on my overall rankings but continued struggles may drop him below names like Anthony Alford who have a world of potential that they are just now utilizing.

 

Eight More to Watch

Anthony Alford – OF – Toronto Blue Jays

Frankie Montas – RP – Oakland Athletics

Duane Underwood – SP – Chicago Cubs

Yu-Cheng Chang – SS – Cleveland Indians

Greg Allen – SP – Cleveland Indians

Matt Chapman – 3B – Oakland Athletics

Austin Nola – C – Toronto Blue Jays

Conner Greene – SP – Toronto Blue Jays

 

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