Royals: Looking back on the 2019 Arizona Fall League

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images /

The Kansas City Royals had eight players participate in the Arizona Fall League. Let’s break down how each one performed.

Although the 2019-20 MLB offseason is upon us, teams and their front office staffs are far from finished doing their jobs. The same can be said for every player, more specifically the eight members of the Kansas City Royals organization who participated in the Arizona Fall League. This October, four pitchers and four position players took the field for either the Surprise Saguaros or Salt River Rafters.

While AFL stats don’t carry a ton of weight, they can provide a barometer of how some of the Royals’ top prospects are doing. Now that we’re a couple of weeks removed from the conclusion of this year’s action, let’s assess how each prospect did.

Daniel LynchP

Lynch made four starts for Surprise, tossing 14 innings and allowing a half-dozen earned runs in the process. He was able to strike out quite a few batters (16) while walking very few (4). A 4:1 strikeout/walk ratio is definitely something the Royals can get on board with. Lynch wasn’t as dominant as many had hoped, but he also was plenty fine enough to call his fall a solid one.

Kyle IsbelOF

After struggling in Advanced-A ball with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2019, an impressive AFL performance was exactly what Isbel needed. In 21 games, the left-handed-hitting outfielder posted a .315/.429/.438 line and finished sixth in the league in RBIs. Overall, this small sample size bodes well and serves as a welcomed confidence boost for one of the Royals’ best young prospects.

Brewer HicklenOF

The Royals’ 2017 seventh-round pick struggled immensely last month. In 13 games, the 6-foot-2 outfielder hit for a line of .149/.322/.234. He also averaged two strikeouts per game, fueling the narrative that he’s a high-strikeout hitter. Overall, it wasn’t the breakthrough the organization was hoping for.

Gabriel Cancel2B

Cancel struggled quite a bit in his nine games, posting a .094/.147/.188 line over 32 at-bats. He split time between first base and second base during his time in the AFL, which is a testament to his versatility in the infield. After showing some serious pop at NWA in 2019 (18 home runs), Cancel will look to get back to that next season and put this fall behind him.

Daniel TilloP

Tillo made 10 appearances in the AFL, all in relief. In 11.2 innings of relief, the 6-foot-5 southpaw spun a 6.94 ERA. He struck out 11 batters, though, so it wasn’t all negative. As he returns to AA Northwest Arkansas in 2020, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a potential split or decision between making starts or coming out of the bullpen.

Trevor OaksP

Oaks was less than stellar this October, posting a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings. He appears to finally be healthy and was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants, so perhaps a change of scenery and a fresh start will spark something. At 26 years old, Oaks’ best baseball is hopefully ahead of him. Unfortunately, it won’t be as a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Tad RatliffP

23-year-old Ratliff was phenomenal in the AFL, tossing 8.1 innings of one-run ball. He spent time in A and Advanced-A in 2019, posting impressive numbers in relief at both stops. He’ll likely see a promotion to AA next season.

Freddy FerminC

Fermin appeared in just four games for Salt River, recording 16 plate appearances. He didn’t leave much of a mark over that short span, hitting .188 and driving in just one run. The 24-year-old split time between the Royals’ A and AA affiliates in 2019 and is running out of time to make his mark. With plenty of talent already ahead of him in the organization, this season will be the biggest of Fermin’s career.

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Overall, it was a mixed bag of a fall for guys who could be future Kansas City Royals. While some showed up and performed well, others did little to boost the organization’s confidence in them. With that said, there’s plenty of time left for each player to get (or stay) on track and create some more positive momentum.