Yesterday was Opening Day for the Arizona Fall League, which as always is littered with top minor league talent. This year’s notables include Byron Buxton, Addison Russell and Jameson Taillon, among others. The Giants sent 7 players to the Scottsdale squad this year, many that I’d consider top 25 prospects in the system. Kyle Crick, Adalberto Mejia and Andrew Susac are the headliners, and all are in the organization’s top 10 in my book. The Giants also sent Cody Hall and Derek Law as stout right-handed bullpen reps, and Angel Villalona and Jarrett Parker as power bats. To me, this is one of the more exciting groups the Giants have sent to the AFL in recent years. With a nice mixture of positions represented, I’m guessing you’ll see at least one of them in the box score nearly every day.
Susac started behind the dish in the opener for Scottsdale last night, and had a pretty eventful game. He hit 1-3 at the plate, with a walk, a strikeout, and an RBI single. On the other side, he played all 9 innings and caught 7 different pitchers in the process. He nailed a runner attempting to steal 3rd with an impressive throw (according to Bernie Pleskoff, who was at the game). He also made a throwing error. I’d say that’s a pretty full 9 innings, for sure. There are two other catchers on the Scottsdale roster, but I think Susac could see the majority of the starts.
Susac also caught Pirates’ phenom Taillon – who should join Gerrit Cole to make an even stronger Bucco rotation next year – for the first two innings. Taillon was followed by Mejia, who had a rocky AFL debut in his relief appearance. He couldn’t find the strike zone in the 3rd, walking two and allowing a hit before serving up a 3-run bomb to Kyle Parker of the Rockies. I wasn’t sure if the young lefty would even make it out of the inning, but he did, and even pitched a 1-2-3 4th before being pulled. Not the best start for the kid, obviously, but with Mejia, you have to keep in mind that he was the youngest player in the Cal League on Opening Day in April. The AFL is also a great hitter’s environment, so the fact that he settled down and breezed through the next inning was a good sign. He’ll be just fine, and I’d guess that he’ll be a part of the rotation at some point… you generally don’t see starters throw many innings in the winter leagues anyway.
I had heard Crick was supposed to start tonight, but it looks like Aaron Northcraft of the Braves got the nod. If Crick goes tomorrow, I’ll definitely try to get a short write-up done the next morning. If you want a direct link to the AFL homepage, try mlbfallball.com.