Early Arizona Fall League Check-In

Marquis Fleming has brought his change-up to the desert (credit: Jim Donten / clawdigest.com)

The Rays season came to a close last week, but the Arizona Fall League means that not everybody in the organization is done just yet. Seven players were sent to the desert to play with the Surprise Saguaros, who started the season 4-1. Here's a look at how the players have done in the oh-so-important tiny sample (keep in mind the AFL is always a hitter's league, and I'm focusing more on the pitchers since Pitch-f/x data for pitchers is a lot more valuable than 5-15 ABs for a hitter):

RHP Marquis Fleming - He's made one appearance spanning two innings, and it came at home so we have some data. If you've read any scouting reports on Fleming, this won't surprise you: A fastball in the 88-90 mph range a lot of change-ups. A *lot* of change-ups. The velocity difference is a very healthy 12-13 mph (75-78 mph) but he's basically a one-trick pony as his fastball is fringe-average and I'm not sure he throws a third pitch (pitch-f/x identified one or two as a slider).

His strikeout numbers in the minors have been excellent even as he's reached double-A: he fanned 105 in 82.2 innings in 2011. But it may be tough to translate that into major-league results as more advanced hitters can perhaps do a better job of identifying the pitch and not being fooled by it. Fleming's walks remain a touch on the high side, with 4.2 per 9 innings in his career.

RHP Kirby Yates - He's similar to Fleming in that he's posted some nice strikeout numbers thus far in his career, though the younger brother of Tyler Yates hasn't reached double-A yet. He missed time in 2011 with injury, limited to just 40 innings after topping 90 in 2010. He took over for Fleming in the only appearance for each, but Yates couldn't get through an inning as he struggled with his control. He allowed a hit and two walks while recording only one out, and all three runners eventually scored.

His fastball was firmer than Flemings's, coming in at 92-93 mph and bumping 94. He threw less than half his pitches for strikes this appearance, so he was unable to set up his secondary pitches, primarily a curveball in the 75-77 area. He also threw a slider and change-up according to pitch-f/x, but he could scrap one of those since he's a reliever (if he indeed throws four pitches).

RHP Shane Dyer - He got the ball on opening night for the Saguaros, and thanks to a rainout has already made two starts. He pitched three scoreless innings his first time out, but was extremely wild last night issuing five walks in three innings. All told, he's allowed two runs on five hits with five walks and just one strikeout in six innings. Those numbers are pretty ugly, but during the regular season with Montgomery, Dyer struck out 66 in 145 innings.

Pitch-f/x shows a wide array of pitches for Dyer: a fastball in the 89-92 range, a cutter slightly slower than that (mis-identified sometimes as a slider by the system, I think. He may throw a slider as well but certainly not one at 87-89 mph), a curveball in the 79-81 range, and a change-up in the mid-80s. None of these pitches rate as above-average offerings, however (his curveball is probably his best pitch, and it's average), which was his strikeout rate was absurdly low.

LHP Adam Liberatore - Big lefty (6-3/239) has made only one appearance in Arizona, and it came in a park without Pitch-f/x. He allowed two hits but erased both baserunners with a double play, something he did a lot during the season with Charlotte (2.67 GO/AO). His SO-BB of 70-31 in 90.1 innings wasn't anything special for a 24-year-old in high-A, so it'll be interesting to see what sort of stuff he's throwing when he gets in a few more games.

SS Tim Beckham - He showed good power after his promotion to Durham with five home runs in 24 games, and he's hit two already for the Saguaros. He also has a double, two walks, and two steals though he's struck out five times in 18 ABs.

OF Mikie Mahtook - The second Rays pick of the 2011 draftpickapalooza, Mahtook has two hits (both singles) and a walk in 12 ABs so far. He's stolen a base and has struck out only twice, so he's been putting the ball in play for the most part. The fact that he's in Arizona facing advanced pitching likely means he won't get the Derek Dietrich treatment and should start out with the Stone Crabs.

2B Tyler Bortnick - He's 1-6 with a walk and a strikeout in two games so far.

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