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Arizona Fall League roundup

The Arizona Fall League completed its annual slate of games last week.

Minor League Baseball: Charolette Stone Crabs at Port St. Lucie Mets
Whether Burch Smith is on the Rays’ 40-man roster by the end of Monday is something to watch
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Last Thursday, the Rays participating in the Arizona Fall League wrapped up their offseason campaign with the Surprise Saguaros. Here is how each player fared and what could come next in their careers:

RHP Spencer Jones (8.03 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 11:5 K:BB in 12 13 IP)

In 101 23 professional innings to date, Jones hadn’t had a problem throwing strikes. I would imagine this won’t impact him moving to Double-A Montgomery for his second full pro season in 2018.

2B Brandon Lowe (.224 BA/.348 OBP/.414 SLG, 6 XBH in 58 AB)

I’m inclined to believe Lowe had some bad luck on balls in play. His strikeout and walk rates were both better than they were with Montgomery when he batted .253 with a .659 OPS in 101 plate appearances, and he must’ve made some decent contact with the extra-base hits he had.

I would expect him to return to the Biscuits to start 2018.

RHP Benton Moss (3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7:1 K:BB in 11 13 IP)

Moss had a late start to the season, so making up a handful of those innings was a nice way to cap his season. With Montgomery, he allowed 10 home runs in 70 1/3 innings, but in the offense-happy environment of the AFL, he only allowed one dinger.

The North Carolina native could be back in his home state with Durham in 2018.

3B Kevin Padlo (.259/.323/.341, 5 XBH in 85 AB)

Padlo has been known for his power potential, but I wonder if he’s still not recovered from the hamate injury that cost him time with Class A-Advanced Charlotte in 2017. He has never batted over .232 in a full-season assignment. I’m not sure if his improved average was a genuine change in approach or simple variance.

He could be back with the Stone Crabs to start 2018. He’s probably not receiving pressure to move up a level from Adrian Rondon a level below him.

RHP Roel Ramirez (10.24 ERA, 2.38 WHIP, 7:4 K:BB in 9 23 IP)

Ramirez replaced Dalton Moats from the initial list of AFL assignments. Working mostly in relief in 2017, his strikeout rate did improve, but he was still generally ineffective for Charlotte.

RHP Burch Smith (3.98 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 29:11 K:BB in 20 13 IP)

With the 40-man roster decisions looming Monday, Smith provides a difficult choice for the Rays. As one of the older players in the AFL this season, he was extremely effective and was second in the league in strikeouts behind fellow former Padre Max Fried, who threw 5 2/3 more innings.

On his rehab assignment with several different affiliates in 2017, he also pitched effectively in 56 1/3 innings. The team faces a serious roster crunch, and that could leave him vulnerable in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

C Brett Sullivan (.313/.375/.458, 5 XBH in 48 PA)

Sullivan posted just a .628 OPS in 96 plate appearances with Montgomery to finish 2017, but in the AFL, he was his typical self — making good contact and laughably difficult to strike out. Only one player who struck out less than he did had more at-bats.

I’d expect a return to Montgomery to split time with David Rodriguez is in his immediate future.