Stateside baseball is officially over. The Arizona Fall League played its championship game over the weekend, which means the next time professionals take the field in Arizona will be for Spring Training.
The Glendale Desert Dogs, which was home to eight Los Angeles Dodgers prospects, just missed playing for the title. The crème of the crop was the Dodgers’ top hitting prospect, Cody Bellinger.
The 21-year-old first baseman batted .314/.424/.557 with eight doubles and three home runs in 20 games. He also drew 14 walks and struck out 18 times. The lefty slugger showed off his power in the Fall Stars game, hitting a towering home run off a lefty reliever.
While a month’s worth of games isn’t enough to make or break a prospect, Bellinger’s production certainly seemed to reinforce his top prospect status.
Two more of the Dodgers’ top hitting prospects didn’t fare quite as well but showed encouraging glimpses. Second baseman Willie Calhoun homered on his way to being named MVP of the Fall Stars Game, but struggled to produce with sporadic playing time for Glendale.
Calhoun hit .255/.300/.340 with a double and a home run in 14 games. Alex Verdugo struggled down the stretch of the regular season as fatigue appeared to set in, then was surprisingly sent to the AFL where he struggled even more.
Although he attempted to make the best of his experience, Verdugo admitted to exhaustion. He ended the 2016 AFL campaign with just a .445 on-base plus slugging percentage in 13 games.
The remaining Dodgers’ hitting prospect playing for the Desert Dogs was Tim Locastro, a 24-year-old utility man acquired last year (along with Chase De Jong) for international slot money. In the AFL, Locastro batted .303 with a .351 on-base percentage, but didn’t collect any extra-base hits.
On the mound, relievers led the way for the Dodgers’ contingent. Joe Broussard, who broke out during the 2016 regular season, posted a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings and struck out nine batters without allowing a walk.
Corey Copping and Ralston Cash also had solid showings. Copping, a 31st-round pick one year ago, compiled a 3.48 ERA in nine games, while striking out 11 and walking five in 10.1 innings pitched.
Cash, who was drafted in 2010, posted a 4.32 ERA in eight games but walked more batters (seven) than he struck out (four).
And then there’s Chris Anderson. The 2013 first-rounder has seen his stock plummet over the past few years. After finding a modicum of hope in the bullpen during the regular season, he went back to starting in the AFL and struggled mightily, yielding an 11.88 ERA in six games.
Again, don’t put too much stock into these stats. The Arizona Fall League has seen plenty quality prospects struggle and non-prospects succeed. Nonetheless, it was encouraging, if not exciting, to see Bellinger and Calhoun go yard when the spotlight was on them.
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