The Twins sent seven prospects to participate in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) this year as members of the Surprise Saguaros. Although they made it to the AFL Championship Game on Saturday, the Saguaros lost, and hence took second place out of the six teams in the league.
How did the Twins prospects do individually his year? Let's take a look.
Nick Gordon, SS
Nick Gordon had darn good AFL showing, being named to the AFL All-Star Team and hitting .346--fourth highest in the league among qualifying candidates. His .418 OBP was also good enough for sixth in the league. He clearly did the best of all the Twins' prospects.
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
Unfortunately, Gonsalves missed three weeks of AFL action due to strained shoulder, so he wasn't able to accomplish that much. Gonslaves threw a career-high 140 innings during the regular season and did quite well, posting a 2.06 ERA in 24 combined starts between Class A Fort Myers and the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts. His recent shoulder strain was apparently the first time he's suffered such an injury in his career, so he took time off during the AFL as an extra precaution.
Stephen did have an encouraging final outing, however, striking out six batters over 3 innings last Tuesday.
John Curtiss, RHP
Curtiss started off his AFL season a bit iffy, allowing three runs in his first two AFL outings. Thankfully, he settled down after that and allowed only one more run over his remaining nine outings. He was also named one of the top performers in the AFL Championship Game, having pitched two scoreless innings.
If all continues to go well, we could see Curtiss in a Twins uniform at some point in 2017.
Mason Melotakis, LHP
In our initial AFL preview post, I said Melotakis needed to show that he can be a reliable and consistent arm out of the pen, and he appears to have done just that. Although 11 innings isn't the biggest sample size, Melotakis was fairly dominant in those 11 innings, walking only one batter all fall.
The bad news is in his last outing during the AFL Championship Game (statistics from which don't count in players' overall AFL statistics), Melotakis gave one of two home runs hit by Ian Happ. So much for ending on a high note.
Like Curtiss, there's a good chance we could see Melotakis in Minnesota at some point in 2017.
Randy Rosario, LHP
Rosario, who missed most of 2014 and half of 2015 recovering from Tommy John's surgery, wasn't able to find the consistency we had hoped for in this year's AFL. Although his 11 strikeouts isn't bad, he struggled with command in many of his outings this fall.
Hopefully Randy can find more consistency in the minors next year, which he will likely spend in Chattanooga.
Mitch Garver, C/1B
With the Twins in need of a catcher, there's been a lot of watch about prospect Mitch Garver and if he could be the one for the job. His performance in the AFL didn't really support the cause one way or the other. While his four home runs put him in a four-way tie for second most in the league (only Brian Anderson hit more), his.229 batting average and .299 OBP were both pretty eh.
It's also unclear how much defensive work Garver got in at catcher while in the AFL. He served often as a DH or pinch-hitter, especially towards the end of the league's short season.
Also, if you haven't read Joe Lanek's long piece on Mitch Garver, you should do that.
Tanner English, OF
Tanner got a lot of time in, playing in 22 of the Saguros 32 games, and made a couple great defensive plays in the AFL Championship Game. Unfortunately, English wasn't really able to show any improvement at the plate.
At least he had fun and tried his best.