AFL Players, Xavier Hernandez, and Other Minor Notes

*Per Stacy Long, the first Rays invites to the Arizona Fall League were extended to Henry Wrigley, Jeremy Hall, and the Cuban trio of Leslie Anderson, Jose Ruiz, and Sergio Espinosa.

  • *I profiled the late-blooming Wrigley earlier this season in The Cautionary Tale of the Talented Mr. Wrigley. After a quick start upon his mid-season promotion to AA Montgomery, Wrigley slowed down and has posted a line of .243/.280/.406 with the Biscuits. Wrigley belted 12 home runs in Class A+, and has added 7 more since the promotion. Wrigley seems like a good candidate to be this year's Nevin Ashley, another late offensive bloomer with a solid defensive reputation who hit his stride in the offensive climate of the AFL.
  • *Leslie Anderson is likely to be in the running for a major league job next year. The 28-year-old 1B/COF has put up a slash of .329/.365/.400 in 74 plate appearances since being promoted to AAA Durham. Wrigley and Anderson seem to have hacker mentalitys with low strikeout and walk rates.
  • *Jose Ruiz tore up the Dominican Summer League before being promoted to Montgomery. 25-year-old first-baseman profiles as a true slugger, but has had a rough start to his adjustment to more advanced pitching. In 51 plate appearances he has a slash of .156/.235/.178 but has only struck out 17.6% of the time. With a 21.6% line drive rate, it seems has had some BABIP-infused bad luck.
  • *Sergio Espinosa is a 24-year-old southpaw reliever who spent much of the season with the Buscuits. Espinosa has an uninspiring FIP of 4.34, but has posted a 2.61 vs. LHB. His groundball rate is just south of 50% but he strikes out less than 6 per nine innings. His K:BB ratio vs right-handed bats is less than two.
  • *Jeremy Hall turns 26 in September. A flyball starting pitcher, Hall won 14 games last season for the Stone Crabs. He didn't share the same fortune with the Biscuits in 2010, and also has K:BB less than 2. Hall's season highlight was setting a new team consecutive scoreless inning streak with 35 shutout frames in a row.
    Follow the jump for more:

*Sad news as Durham pitching coach Xavier Hernandez announced he is leaving the organization after a six-year run. David Price, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, and Mitch Talbot are some of the names Hernandez has helped develop during his time in the organization. Hernandez spent two years with the Biscuits, followed by four with Durham. He accepted a position as assistant coach at Houston Baptist which is closer to home.

*21 year-old right-hander Jake Thompson was promoted from Hudson Valley to Class A+ Charlotte. The 2010 2nd round pick of the Rays out of Long Beach State struck out 33 while walking just 6 in 40 innings for the Renegades.

*26 year old ground-baller Richard De Los Santos set a Durham team record for wins with 14.

*One Durham Bull who quietly has had an excellent season is the "Lord of the Springs" Elliot Johnson. The switch-hitting utility man now 26 and out of options, did not make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training leading to him clearing waivers. Johnson decided to stick around with Durham on a minor lague deal. Now in his fourth AAA season with the club, the athletic Johnson has shown real improvements at the plate.

BB%

K%

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

wOBA

2007

8.2%

30.0%

     0.207

0.285

0.341

0.134

0.288

2008

7.7%

26.9%

     0.261

0.322

0.424

0.163

0.336

2009

6.5%

24.0%

     0.262

0.319

0.451

0.189

0.345

2010

8.2%

21.7%

     0.315

0.376

0.476

0.160

0.384

The walk and strikeouts numbers jump out as a real sign of improvement this season. His slash lines also represent career highs. Johnson stole 26 bases, good for fifth in the International League while only being thrown out four times. As far as his wOBA, its good for fourth in the IL behind three slugging first basemen. Not too shabby for a guy who can play middle infield and switch-hit. Joe Maddon has raved about Elliot's athleticism in the past.  It would be great to see Johnson have the chance to be a reserve infielder on the Rays next season.

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