With the Arizona Fall League's 'Fall Star' Game comes national attention, and the Rays had two representatives in 1B/OF Jake Bauers and SS Daniel Robertson.
Featured in the starting lineup, Bauers caught the eye of not just the scouts, but everyone watching the game with a bit of a stumbling slide attempt that he was able to laugh off in good fun.
Too bad the invisible dirt monster won't show up on camera https://t.co/Oj8GZ8FazN— Jake Bauers (@JakeBauers11) November 8, 2015
Tearing up the minors at a young age, Bauers is in the AFL to develop his outfield game after years of developing at first base in order to improve his ability to find playing time at the major league level.
Jake Bauers consistently finds barrel. Impressive this year in FSL. Simple swing, strong contact skills #AFL15 #Rays pic.twitter.com/j3WNg1p9Q3— Jeff Moore (@jeffmoore_5) November 6, 2015
Bauers, fresh off a promotion to Double-A, is the youngest player in the AFL this off-season, and is quickly adjusting to the outfield. He might even need to slow down those wheels.
Twice now that Bauers has nearly overrun a flyball down the RF line— Jason Collette (@jasoncollette) November 8, 2015
Also trying out two positions is Daniel Robertson, splitting his time between second and short. Master interviewer David Laurila sat down with Robertson and specifically dialed in to the prospect's propensity for hit-by-pitches, noting "Toughness isn't an issue."
Robertson values OBP, and he's more than willing to get drilled to reach first base. In 359 plate appearances this year, he was hit by a pitch 12 times. Last year he was hit 16 times.
"I wouldn't say I crowd the plate," responded Robertson, when I asked about his proclivity to get plunked. "I don't totally hug it. People ask, ‘Why do you keep getting hit?' but it's just one of those things. I like to see the ball middle-away and drive it to the right-center field gap, and because I have that mindset, maybe I lean over a little bit. They'll come inside, knowing my approach, and they end up clipping me. But that's OK. I'll take my base any way I can."
Robertson also talked with MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, in a discussion available on the Rays Baseball podcast. The young short stop speaks quite admirably of Kevin Cash for bringing him to big league camp last year, and of Evan Longoria for fielding Robertson's questions and for investing in young players.
Robertson also discussed the difficulty in getting back to swinging the bat after a hamate bone injury, which might be the more compelling part of the interview. As is evidenced above, Robertson is a tough guy.
Not featured in the Fall Star game but aso in the AFL is Rays first base prospect Casey Gillaspie, who talked with Mayo as well. In the interview Gillaspie notes he is more there to get time in the weight room otherwise not available during the season, although he did lost some time to injury during the season, making those additional at bats valuable.
Gillaspie's draft class of collegiate players is starting to show dividends for some teams in the majors, with Kyle Schwarber and Kyle Conforto getting time on the national stage. Adding strength for the coming season will hopefully improve his chances of doing the same.
Of course, a fast rise is not a requirement. The Rays previously drafted the best overall college bat before in 3B Richie Shaffer, and his debut in 2015 showed some necessary muscle. Even when teammates (like the recently acquired Brad Miller) were already in the Show, it's better to get the timing right, and that's what the Arizona Fall League is for.
Here are the counting stats for all three position players, as of publishing:
There are two weeks left in the AFL season.
For more AFL coverage, check out these videos:
- Neil Solondz Prospect Spotlight: Rays in the Arizona Fall League