What an Arizona Fall League season it was for the Peoria Javelinas. The Milwaukee Brewers shared the Javelinas squad with prospects from the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays. Together, the team put up the best record in the AFL, then won a 10 inning battle for the league championship. Top Milwaukee Brewers prospect Keston Hiura was named MVP of the Fall League season.
Hiura grabbed a lot of headlines during the Arizona Fall League. He finished first in RBI with 33, first in total bases, second in homers with five, sixth in OPS, and I could keep going. All of that in just 23 games. A great enough performance to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
While Hiura continued to impress with his bat, he was also manageable in the field. The only truly measurable stat we get from the Arizona Fall League are errors, and Hiura was charged for just two of them. The few reports seen from the AFL were positive too.
It wasn’t just Hiura putting on a show for the Brewers. Weston Wilson was one of a couple of other standouts. Wilson slashed .375/.455/.583 over 13 games in the AFL coming off a strong performance in 2018 with the Carolina Mudcats and Biloxi Shuckers, two places where hitting is anything but easy. He plays third, first and, on rare occasion, second. He’s an offensive prospect to watch, even if he is a smidge old for his level.
Other, less notable offensive performances came from the Brewers’ #19 prospect Trent Grisham and #23 Mario Feliciano. Grisham played in 17 games, hitting just .150/.301/.233. Despite continuing his tendency to walk a ton, he did strike out 23 times in 60 at-bats.
Feliciano gets a pass for his bad performance. The Brewers’ catching prospect played in just two games before leaving with an injured shoulder. He then underwent surgery to repair it and, by all reports, he should be back by the start of next season. It puts an end to a season marred by injuries and performance issues for Feliciano, who was one of the top catching prospects in the system headed into the 2018 season.
Milwaukee’s pitching prospects were led by Jon Olczak. The Rule 5 eligible reliever threw 12 innings and allowed just two runs while striking out 13. Olczak also managed to do a good job of limiting base runners, throwing to a 1.08 WHIP.
Olczak was matched in innings by his peer Daniel Brown. Brown allowed a few more runs than Olczak, ending with a 3.00 ERA. He still had a good AFL season, striking out 17 to just four walks.
The lone starter for the Brewers was Bubba Derby, the righty led the Javelinas in innings pitched with 26.1 but allowed 14 runs. Derby also occasionally struggled with allowing base runners, as show by his 1.56 WHIP.
Finally, Miguel Sanchez pitched admirably in his a six appearances. Sanchez covered 10 innings and struck out eight batters to three walks with a 3.60 ERA.
Aaron Wilkerson was a late addition to the Fall League, so late in fact that he wound up pitching for an entirely different squad altogether. He made three appearances for the Mesa Solar Sox, tossing four scoreless innings with three walks and three punchouts. The org wanted Wilkerson to use the Fall League as a springboard to pitching in the Dominican Winter League, where they hope to continue building up his innings base after a truncated 2018.
Overall, it’s hard to be disappointed in this group’s performance. Grisham struggled and continued to lose his stock, but other than him, Milwaukee’s prospects performed admirably. Hiura, of course, was the most remarkable. He stood out in a league dominated by huge named like Vladimir Guerroro Jr., Peter Alonso, Carter Kieboom and Luis Robert.