Arizona Fall League Report - Week 2

La Stella continues to shine, while other Braves’ farmhands are getting going.

Frankly, this league wouldn’t be that interesting to Braves’ fans this year without the job Tommy La Stella is doing so far, but there are some others that are likely starting to get some attention as well.

  • Robby Hefflinger had a great week – finally getting on track after a pretty awful start.  One week ago, he was sitting at 2 for 12 with an even uglier 7 strikeouts.  This week?  5 for 14 (7 of 26 overall) to raise his average 100 points to .269.  He’s added a double, homer and four RBI in the process while reducing the K-rate… 11 overall now.
  • I want to highlight Elmer Reyes as well.  The MLB media has been all about SS Alen Hanson, the Pirates #2 overall prospect (now that Gerrit Cole has ‘graduated’) and #61 in Baseball America’s 2013 Top 100.  But though the first two weeks, Reyes has easily out-played Hanson, at least according to the stat lines:
    • Hanson:  28 AB, .286/.333/.357/.690 with 11K, 1 walk, 3 steals, 2 caught stealing, and 5 errors in just 7 games (most on the team – easily).
    • Reyes:  16 AB, .313/.353/.500/.853 with 3K, 1BB, and no errors at shortstop.  This includes a 4-for-6 game on Saturday.  Of course the ‘star’ gets most of the ‘reps’, but so far he isn’t using them as well.  Both were in High-A leagues this year, by the way.  Though listed at 3B, Reyes is starting to share duties at second with La Stella.
  • Kyle Kubitza:  a quite respectable .273/.385/.318/.703 at third base.  9K, 4BB, 1 2B, 1 RBI.  No errors.


  • Okay, then there’s La Stella.  3 words:  Video Game Numbers.
    • .444/.643/.667/1.310 slash line.  Those are not typos.  Yes, that’s a .643 On-base percentage.
    • Six games, 28 plate appearance.  No strikeouts.  Six game hit streak.
    • Ten walks
    • 6 RBI, 4 doubles.  A typical Tommy game is starting to look like what he did last Thursday:  2 for 2 (both doubles) with 3 walks.  Crazy.
    • Stole a base, caught once (oh, the humanity!), no errors in the field.
    • Okay, yeah:  “he’s due for a regression.”  Well, duh… but the point here is that he’s hitting better pitching than he’s used to seeing, hitting it well, hitting against unfamiliar foes, and doing so only every other day or so (he’s played just 6 games; the 4-6 Scottsdale Scorpions have played 10 to this point).


…and the Pitch

Well, things could be better here:

  • Juan Jaime had a much better week:  now sitting at 1.93 ERA in 4 games (4.2 innings):  3 walks, 1 earned run (a homer) and 4 hits allowed against 4 K.  Control is important to him – it was better this week.
  • Shae Simmons:  5.40 ERA in 1.2 innings (only pitched 1 inning this week – 1 K, 1 walk, no damage).

Other than that…

  • Aaron Northcraft:  9.00 ERA in 5.0 innings (2 starts).  2.60 WHIP.  5 walks, 6K, 8 hits.
  • John Cornely:  9.82 ERA in 3.2 innings (4 appearances), 2.18 WHIP, 3 walks, 6 K, 5 hits.  But giving up two earned runs (out of 4) while getting only 1 out will inflate those numbers quickly.


League play continues until the middle of November.


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Tags: Arizona Fall League Atlanta Braves

  • Chris Headrick

    If the Braves cared a great deal about defense at 2nd, they wouldn’t have withstood Uggla numbers for this long (despite the potential plate power). With that said, I continue in my belief that going for BP for 2nd, in light of the fact you have a young LaStella showing such prowess with the bat, should not be done! LaStella’s D has been iffy at times, but his range will improve in the majors. BP? One word…
    M i s t a k e.

    • carpengui

      Honestly, as much as I’m a fan of TLS, I gotta believe his range is what it is. I can’t expect any real improvements there. I do think he’s nonetheless fundamentally sound and should roughly be an average defender. He doesn’t have ‘happy feet’ (Pastornicky) and doesn’t ‘scramble’ after balls like they’re gonna scurry away (Uggla). That reduces mistakes and errors. So that said, I think his D is certainly good enough to play at the Major League level.

      The bat is the thing – and he’s hit with crazy consistency at all minor league levels… with very high OBP. I think of him as a 2-hole hitter who can definitely get on, move runners over, hit-n-run — whatever you need.

      On balance, I think I’d probably endure Uggla for another year – at most – then dump the rest in favor of TLS… this dance with Cincy over BP would likely be okay, but it is also kinda like spending good money after bad (committing to $50m vs. $26.4m). You’d better be sure you want him for a full 4 years.

      • Chris Headrick

        Yeah I think I agree. I might even want to bring up TLS a touch sooner, so as not to have to endure Uggs, but then you still have to offload him, and that’s a tough sell. I’ve been toying with an article about this sorta thing.. why I think they should probably keep Uggs. I might try and write something up tonight. We’ll see.

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