Friday marked the end of the Arizona Fall League’s opening week. If you aren’t familiar with the AFL, it’s an off-season league made up of prospects from every major league team. A quick primer of the Cardinals prospects heading to the desert can be found here.
The league opened on Tuesday. The Surprise Suguaros, the Cardinals affiliate for this go-around, played four games and came out 3-1. That puts the Saguaros one game ahead of the Peoria Javelinas in the AFL West. Here’s how the Cards prospects fared in their first taste of the action.
It was a good opening week for infielders Andy Young and Tommy Edman, but a much rougher go of things for outfielder Lane Thomas and catcher Jeremy Martinez.
Edman only appeared in one game, manning second base for the Saguaros against Glendale. He impressed in the leadoff spot, driving the Suguaro offense to an extra-inning win. Overall he went 2-4 with three walks and an RBI. He swiped two bags, too.
Young found his way into games on Tuesday and Friday, appearing at second base in both. In all he’s slashing .375/.750/1.125 with a double, a triple, and two RBI on his card. He does have one fielding error to his name so far, however. Overall its a nice start to the final-play of his breakout season.
Lane Thomas experienced a mini-breakout of his own in 2018. The outfielders been a little slow to start in the desert, but there are promising signs. He’s gotten into three games, amassing only two hits in eleven at-bats. There are four walks to his name, however, and two stolen bases as well. Meanwhile, there’s nothing to highlight from Jeremy Martinez’s line. The catcher is 1-8 with two strikeouts, along with a passed ball on the defensive side of the ledger.
This years pitching contingent consists of Evan Kruczynski, Connor Jones, Conner Greene and Will Latcham. All four made their first - and only - appearance of the week on Wednesday against the Salt River Rafters. The big lefty Kruczysnki took the mound for the Saguaros.
Kruczynski turned in a odd card - 2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s. The bottom of the first turned ugly quick. Kruczysnki got the leadoff batter swinging, but the ball was in the dirt and Ranger’s catcher Josh Morgan botched the throw to first. From that point on the errors compounded. Three singles, a double, two more errors, a walk and a hit batter added up to five unearned runs.
Jones was the first Cardinal arm to appear out of the bullpen on Wednesday, taking over for Arnaldo Hernandez of the Royals to start the fifth. He worked in quintessential Jones fashion. The Rafters struggled to lift his wicked sinker, pounding four balls into the ground for easy outs. His outing ended after he caught Jaylin Davis of the Twins looking to end the sixth.
Things didn’t go quite so well for Will Latcham and Conner Greene. Latcham replaced Jones to in the bottom of the seventh inning. He put down the Rafters in short order in the seventh, recording two fly outs and a groundout. Command struggles undid his outing in the eighth. Latcham walked the first two batters before putting down the next two. Instead of finishing out, Latcham was pulled in favor of teammate Conner Greene. Greene’s day was a unmitigated disaster. The first batter he faced singled to score on of Jones’ runners. Greene then walked the next four (yes you read that right) batters he faced. In case you were curious, his ERA sits at a cool 54.00.
That’s the long and the short of it. Overall it was a mixed bag for the Cardinals farmhands, some getting off to hot starts while others stalled out of the gate. The sample sizes are also ridiculously small, so take most of these numbers with a grain of salt.