What to watch for in the Arizona Fall League Doug Gray October 9, 2018 The Arizona Fall League kicks off today. The Cincinnati Reds will be sending eight players to join the Scottsdale Scorpions to play for the next six weeks. They will play their first game tonight at 6:35pm MST. The top prospect that the Reds are sending is Taylor Trammell. The outfielder spent his entire 2018 season with the Daytona Tortugas. He’ll be joined by another top 10 prospect in the organization, second baseman Shed Long. Added to the 40-man roster last offseason, Long spent his entire season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Rounding out the position players is shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, who spent a majority of the year on the disabled list with two different wrist injuries, and catcher Mark Kolozsvary. The Reds are also sending four pitchers. None of the pitchers are going to be top 25 prospects within the organization. Left handed reliever Ty Boyles made the transition to the bullpen near the end of the first half with Daytona and pitched very well the rest of the way in 2018. Alex Powers was dominant in Double-A Pensacola’s bullpen all year long. Austin Orewiler did a little bit of relieving and starting with Daytona during the 2018 season. Wyatt Strahan started 23 games and had 4 relief appearances, but struggled while with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Quick breakdown on each player Taylor Trammell Taylor Trammell was only on the disabled list once during the season. He suffered a concussion late in the year and missed just over a week of time. But, he did play through several nagging issues throughout the season. He hit .277/.375/.406 on the year for Daytona in 110 games played. Could be looking to work on: He slugged .491 in April and May with 29 walks and 37 strikeouts. Between June, July, and August he slugged .349 with 29 walks and 68 strikeouts. The Florida State League is known to sap power, particularly once the summer arrives. Trammell could look to take advantage of the Arizona climate where the ball tends to fly and start showing some of the early season power he flashed in 2018. Shed Long The 22-year-old played in 126 games for Double-A Pensacola on the season. He hit .261/.353/.412 with 19 steals. While he is a guy who uses the entire field, the ballpark in Pensacola was not one designed to help left handed hitters out in the slightest and it almost undoubtedly hurt his power output in 2018. Could be looking to work on: Consistency was a bit of an issue for Shed Long in 2018. He hit .351 in April and .304 in August. In May it was .219, .259 in June, and then .198 in July. While six weeks isn’t a ton of time, working on his swing to try and improve what it was that led to the struggles in the middle of the season could be something he’s looking to work on. Alfredo Rodriguez The 24-year-old shortstop from Cuba has struggled to hit since signing with the Reds. In his three seasons he’s hit a combined .241/.294/.298 in 186 games with four home runs. He was never known for his bat, but he’s struggled more than even the biggest critics would have expected. And in 2018 he dealt with two different wrist injuries – injuries that tend to hamper hitting. Could be looking to work on: With what should be two healthy wrists, and what is usually a hitter friendly environment, he should be looking to get the bat going. The larger thing for Alfredo Rodriguez, though, might simply be getting time on the field. Injuries this season limited him to just 46 games. Mark Kolozsvary When the rosters came out, Mark Kolozsvary was an entirely unexpected name. It’s rare to see Low-A players on the roster, but even more so when it’s not a truly top end prospect in baseball. He spent the entire year with the Dayton Dragons and played in 82 games – 74 of which came at the catchers position. He struggled at the plate, hitting just .225/.310/.324 in 310 plate appearances. Could be looking to work on: Behind the plate, Mark Kolozsvary gets high grades. He’s a strong defender with a good arm. At the plate, though, he had some struggles. As a player on the ‘taxi squad’, he can only play twice a week. That’s going to limit the chances he’ll have to get at-bats. But, he can use the entire time to gain experience and work on stuff even if it’s not on the field every day. Ty Boyles The overall numbers that Ty Boyles put up don’t tell the whole story of his season. He started in the rotation, and struggled for the first eight weeks. At that point he was moved to the bullpen, and from there, everything changed. As a reliever he posted an ERA of 2.75 – more than six full runs better than his ERA as a starter. His strikeout rate increased and his home run rate dropped significantly. His hit rate was almost cut in half. Could be looking to work on: While the transition to the bullpen largely resulted in better numbers across the board, it didn’t in one area. Boyles walked 17 batters in 39.1 innings as a reliever. His walk rate jumped up from 5.4% as a starter to 10.2% as a reliever. August was particularly tough with the control, walking 17.5% of the hitters he faced on the month. Alex Powers Alex Powers isn’t a young guy. He’ll be 27 when the 2019 season begins. The Reds signed him out of indy ball prior to the 2016 season. Last year the 26-year-old reliever posted a 2.34 ERA for Pensacola, racking up 18 saves along the way. He struck out 55 batters and had just 11 walks in 42.1 innings. He was dominant in just about any way you want to look at it. Could be looking to work on: Statistically, it’s tough to find somewhere that Alex Powers needs to improve. Right handers hit him much better than lefties, but even that isn’t saying much as they had a .638 OPS against him on the season (lefties had a .443 OPS against him). He missed bats, didn’t walk anyone, and kept the ball in the yard (3 home runs). Powers, however, will be Rule 5 eligible this year. He’s not exactly the type of guy who often is selected, but he’s got some stuff to work with and he dominated Double-A. A strong showing in the AFL could earn him a spot on the Reds 40-man roster, or perhaps line him up to be taken in the Rule-5 draft by someone else if the Reds don’t protect him. Austin Orewiler Much like Alex Powers, Austin Orewiler isn’t on the young side. And much like Mark Kolozsvary, Orewiler was a surprise name on the roster when it was released. He was a 25-year-old pitcher in Low-A, repeating a level that he pitched at in 2016. His season was split between the rotation and bullpen. He made two starts in the first half, but from July 6th through the end of the year saw all 11 of his appearances in the rotation, posting a 3.36 ERA in 64.1 innings. That came with a strong walk rate, giving up just 13 free passes. But he only struck out 32 batters in that span, too. Could be looking to work on: The numbers were solid when looking at ERA, WHIP, walks, and innings. But his strikeout rate was very low, and that’s before taking into account that he was 25 and in Low-A. He struck out just 13.3% of opposing hitters on the year. This is the area in which he’ll need to improve moving forward, and could be an area of focus out in Arizona. Wyatt Strahan Wyatt Strahan had never posted an ERA higher than 3.84 in his four year professional career before the 2018 season. When the season was over in Pensacola his ERA was almost twice that, sitting at 6.38 over his 120.0 innings pitched. His walk rate was by far the worst of his career. His home run rate was more than twice as high as it’s ever been before. The strikeout rate was also the lowest it had ever been, too. Could be looking to work on: While the other players listed above had something a bit more specific to work on, for Wyatt Strahan and how his 2018 season went, finding some success in any area would be a step in the right direction. He struggled in just about every area compared to what he had done in the past. A solid showing in Arizona could help put that behind him and let him push forward to 2019 with a better feeling about things.