The Arizona Fall League wrapped up with the Championship Game on November 17th and I thought it was time to do a complete review of those players who represented the Royals organization this fall for the Surprise Saguaros. There were eight players (with one addition coming in midseason due to injury) who laced it up this fall to get some more playing time and more exposure to the games elite minor league talent. There were four hitters and four pitchers including Justin Marks, who really did some eyebrow raising with his performance.
Brian Fletcher was the Royals “priority player”, ensuring he would be granted maximum playing time. Unfortunately, Fletcher did not do too much with this time. He hit .203 with only one home run and 9 runs batted in. He struck out 24 times which was the second highest total on the team. Shortstop Orlando Calixte was the designated member of the “taxi squad”, which meant he was only eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In his limited time he hit .275 in 40 at bats to go along with one home run and 14 strike outs.
Whit Merrifield, who had a pretty good year at Wilmington followed up that showing with a decent showing in the AFL. His average wasn’t solid, at .250, but he did have a home run to go along with nine stolen bases and 15 runs scored. While some of his numbers were below average, it is nice to see a guy have more walks than strike outs, with ten and eight. Alex McClure completes the list of position players the Royals placed on the roster and he did not have the best showing either. In 37 at bats he tallied four RBI to go along with a .216 average 11 strike outs compared to only two walks.
The big story for the Royals comes from Justin Marks, who led the league with five wins. He was the only Royals representative selected to the AFL’s Top Prospects Team. He finished the fall with a 2.59 ERA in seven starts while fanning 22 in 24 1/3 innings of work. On top of those gaudy numbers he walked only five batters. Edwin Carl also had a strong fall. In 13 innings he allowed nine hits and four earned runs, good for a 2.77 ERA. He also struck out eight while walking only three and recorded a WHIP of .92. The other three pitchers did not fair as well as Marks and Carl. Jon Keck threw 9 2/3 innings and allowed 15 hits and five walks which equates to a 2.07 WHIP. J.C. Sulbaran left due to an arm injury and in his brief time he allowed two earned runs in 3 innings. He was replaced by Malcom Culver midseason, who was able to throw in five games and collect a loss and a 6.35 ERA.
While the Royals, collectively, didn’t have a great showing in Arizona, they did have a few good performances. It’s nice to see one of your own be observed as one of the two best starting pitchers in the league. Marks will be 25 as we head into the spring and does have one Triple-A start under his belt, although it’s a very forgettable one. Maybe he can carry over his AFL success into the spring and summer just like Wil Myers did this past season after his strong AFL stint.