The Arizona Fall League is well underway and there are just over two weeks remaining before the Championship Game concludes the short season for Major League Baseball's top prospects. With the upcoming AFL All-Star game on Saturday, some players' numbers have dropped off while others remain hot.
Among them is Steven Moya, who has not relented his power at the plate, slugging his way to another All-Star selection in 2014. Moya started out strong with the Glendale Desert Dogs before he tapered off for a few games. Since a couple of nights where he came up empty early on, Moya has reached base consistently and rarely has he had an 0-for-anything night.
The right fielder's latest nomination to an All-Star game is his fourth of the year. Following his selection, Moya played what could be considered his best AFL game Monday afternoon in Surprise against the Saguaros. Moya finished 3-for-4 with two home runs and a sacrifice fly, one of the home runs being a line-drive opposite field homer.
Moya's batting average sits at .321 and he retains a whopping .585 slugging percentage, coupled with a .362 on-base percentage. He is tied for second on the team with the most strikeouts (16), but the remainder of his at-bats have resulted in good production. Moya's last zero-strikeout game was a multi-hit game on October 18.
After the AFL concludes, Moya is set to go play winter ball, which will give him further opportunities to tear the cover off the baseball while getting some more plate discipline. As for Monday, Moya's multi-hit game helped propel his team to a 6-5 win in 11 innings.
The 6' 7" slugger leads Glendale in total bases (31), RBI (11), and runs scored (12). He is tied for first in hits (17), stolen bases (4), and is in a three-way tie for first in home runs (3). Moya is also tied for second in doubles (3) and triples (1), and has been caught stealing just once.
While Moya has been mashing in Arizona, things haven't gone so pleasantly for center fielder, Daniel Fields, or second baseman, Domingo Leyba. Both have tapered off significantly and are struggling in the AFL.
Fields is hitting just .229 with one home run and he finished 0-for-4 and 0-for-5 in two of his last three games, including a bases-loaded inning-ending double play on Monday. In five stolen base attempts, Fields has been caught twice and he has struck out 12 times.
He has managed to draw six walks to help give him a .386 on-base percentage, but he's slugging just .314. Fields hasn't hit for much power since he hit his home run back on October 9 and he also has just two multi-hit games since then.
As much as Fields has struggled, Leyba is even more at a disadvantage. He has just five hits in 24 at-bats with no extra-base knocks and is batting just .208. His on-base percentage is .321, having walked three times, but he hasn't stolen a base (he was caught in his only attempt) and has a mere .530 OPS.
Perhaps the most difficult part for Glendale manager Lance Parrish (and Tigers' Double-A manager) is that he has been trying to get Leyba time at shortstop, so far without success. Leyba did well during the regular season in splits between Connecticut and West Michigan, but that hasn't materialized in Arizona.
Leyba batted .264 with 11 doubles, a triple, one home run and 17 RBIs in 37 games with the Connecticut Tigers. He went on to hit .397 with seven doubles, one home run and seven RBIs in 30 games for Single-A West Michigan. Defensively Leyba has done well at second base, but he still needs to make contact at a higher pace than he's done in a month's time.
On the pitching side of things, the results are split. Left-handed starter Robbie Ray has done well in his nine innings of work, giving up just one run on five hits. He has walked four but Ray has also struck out 12 batters in 3 starts and he hasn't given up a home run or hit a batter. Ray hasn't pitched since October 22 so he will likely get another start soon.
Left-hander Joe Mantiply has a 2.25 ERA through eight innings of relief. He has given up just two runs and didn't allow a home run until Monday's game against Surprise in the ninth inning. The home run send the game into extra innings, though Glendale eventually rallied in the 11th inning to take the win. Mantiply has struck out seven batters in six games and has walked just two, giving up five hits in all.
The two relievers who have struggled the most have been Zac Reininger and Chad Smith, holding a 10.50 ERA and 9.00 ERA respectively. Reininger has allowed seven runs on seven hits in six innings of work, giving up two home runs and four walks. He has struck out six and has one hold. Smith hasn't fared much better, he's given up five runs (four earned) on six hits and has walked four. He's struck out just three and is charged with a loss.