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Notes from Arizona Fall League

10/10/2008

I'll file a more complete writeup of what I saw in the Arizona Fall League after the trip is done, but here are some quick hits from the first three-plus days:

&#8226; By now you've probably heard that Colorado reliever Casey Weathers exited Thursday night's game, holding his elbow and in obvious pain. There was no update on his condition as of about noon Arizona time Friday, but at the very least, he is not expected to return to action in the AFL.

&#8226; Milwaukee right-hander Jeremy Jeffress has the best pure arm of any pitcher I've seen so far, sitting at 94-97 mph and touching 98 in his three innings of work. He flashed a plus curveball, but "inconsistent" would be kind, as the majority of the breaking balls he threw were below average and he is clearly trying to find a feel for the pitch. His changeup was also below-average and very straight. That kind of easy velocity, with a relatively benign delivery, is very hard to find, and he has a long history of showing he can throw at that level for 90 or 100 pitches; if the curveball becomes more consistent with time, and he can stay on the field, he could be at the top of the Brewers' rotation in fairly short order.

&#8226; Florida lefty Sean West and Kansas City righty Daniel Cortes matched up on Friday afternoon; West was impressive, Cortes was awful. West, who missed 2007 with a SLAP lesion in his shoulder, sat 90-94 with a solid-average slider and a hard changeup (87-88 mph) with as much tail as I've seen on a change at that speed. Someone who has had arm trouble is probably at higher risk for future arm trouble, but West has a big, strong build and good pitcher's frame. Cortes' fastball was flat and up in the zone, and he gave up a couple of home runs before an early exit. He had one of the odder stat lines you'll see: 12 batters faced, five strikeouts, two home runs, and five balls in play that all fell in for hits. When hitters made contact, it was hard.

&#8226; Colorado infielder Chris Nelson had an awful season marred by a broken hamate bone, but I wouldn't give up on him. He had one of the most impressive BPs I've seen down here, showing great bat speed and more raw power than I expected of him, hitting the light tower in left-center field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. On the downside, he has struggled with the shift to second base, even on routine plays.

&#8226; Seattle outfielder Greg Halman hit a ball over the Mesa batter's eye in BP, and he can hit a fastball in the game. Sliders low and away ... not so much.

&#8226; Houston reliever Bud Norris would seem to be a lock to make their 'pen at some point next year, working 94-98 mph in his first inning and 92-96 in his second inning with a hard, short-breaking 90 mph slider. His command is not great, and will probably never be better than average, but he'll miss a lot of bats in a relief role.

&#8226; Florida first baseman Logan Morrison is not far behind Lars Anderson as the best first-base prospect in the minors. Morrison doesn't have Anderson's patience, but he has more power, especially to the opposite field. He doesn't square the ball up often enough, but when he does, it takes off. He'll be in the top 40 prospects when I make my offseason list, and that's a conservative guess.

&#8226; Add Andrew Carignan to the list of Oakland pitching prospects who'll show up in the majors in the next 18 months. Carignan, the closer at North Carolina behind starters Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard, was 93-95 the other night with a hard 12-to-6 curveball around 80 mph, and -- key for him -- threw strikes. Jared Lansford showed a good arm, 92-94, but was getting around the ball instead of on top of it.

&#8226; It would be really nice if Dodgers shortstop Ivan DeJesus would run out a groundball every now and then, say, when he's grounding into a potential 6-4-3. You're not a big leaguer yet, Ivan.

&#8226; Best line of the week, regarding Kansas City pitcher Rowdy Hardy and his 81 mph fastball: "You could catch this guy with your teeth."