The Arizona Fall League’s all-star game, called The Rising Stars Classic, was played last night… after an off-day today, the second half of the AFL season will get underway tomorrow.
The Red Sox have eight players who are assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox for the 2009 AFL season, two of whom were named to the Rising Stars Classic.
Here’s a look at how each of the eight prospects are faring thus far in the first of the MLB winter leagues.
Starter Randor Bierd was a revelation this past season after having been moved from the bullpen into the starting rotation. He has struggled a bit in Mesa. Although he is third in the AFL in innings pitched (17 2/3 IP), he is third in the league in walks issued (9). Overall, he is 2-1, 5.60, with a 1.19 WHIP.
Relief pitcher Richie Lentz is continuing a solid 2009 campaign with an excellent performance thus far in the AFL, though (surprisingly) he was left off the Rising Stars roster. He is 1-0, 0.77, in seven games, with 13 K and only 2 BB in 11 2/3 IP. The 0.77 ERA is second-best in the league.
Reliever Chris Province is also performing nicely in Mesa—while he is 0-1 he has compiled a 3.12 ERA in seven games while allowing only five hits and striking out eight batters in 8 2/3 IP.
Southpaw reliever Dustin Richardson made the all-star team despite his 0-1, 5.19 mark thus far—he may have gotten everyone’s attention by striking out 13 in just 8 2/3 IP.
C Luis Exposito has served as the primary backup for all-star Hank Conger (LAA). He has hit .286, with 1 HR and 3 RBI in just 35 at bats after a monster 2009 season.
SS Jose Iglesias also made the all-star team despite carrying only a .222 batting average into the mid-season break—but his calling card is his glove, not his bat. Most scouts think he is major-league-ready in the field right now—but he’s going to have to hit something in the order of David Ortiz’ weight if he wants to play in the big leagues at some point in the near future.
Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year Ryan Kalish is having a solid AFL campaign—he is hitting .292, without a home run, but is second on the team with 11 RBI.
Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year Casey Kelly has spent the AFL season playing shortstop as he—and the Red Sox—continue to determine whether his future is on the mound or in the field. It seems the answer is becoming clear. After a brilliant first half of the 2009 campaign as a pitcher, which saw him named to the MLB Futures Game (as a pitcher), Kelly struggled during the second half of the season after being transitioned to shortstop. Those struggles have continued in Arizona (.200, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 7 K in 20 AB).