The Arizona Fall League is ongoing, and the Red Sox have players there, just like everyone else. Today is the first of our check-ins on the progress (well, hopefully progress, anyway) of the Boston farmhands extending their minor-league season against fall league competition.
Bryce Brentz: The AFL season isn't very long, and teams are just a handful of games into it. So it's hard to be too excited about Brentz's .333/.364/.571, since it's come in five games and 21 at-bats. But you have to work with what you've got here.
The other thing to remember is that the AFL is a hitter's league: the pitchers who tend to come here are not future stars, but arms in need of more work, or ones that organizations want to see more of. The environment, like much of the minors in that segment of the country, is pro-offense as well. It's an ugly place for pitching, so with that in mind, it's not about being excited to see Brentz hitting well. It's about being happy that he's not hitting poorly, since everything is stacked in his favor. It is, however, good to see that the long season -- Brentz played with Portland, then Pawtucket, then through the Triple-A championship game already -- hasn't diminished him yet.
Brentz finished the year at Pawtucket, and will likely spend all of 2012 there. He was drafted in 2010, so there's no rush to put him on the 40-man roster just yet, and it might take him time to be able to consistently produce at Triple-A anyway.
Ryan Pressly: Pressly switched to relief after a promotion to Double-A Portland. He posted a 6.28 ERA with High-A Salem, then shaved about three hits per nine (and half a homer per nine) off of his numbers in his 27 innings of work with the Sea Dogs. He's appeared in three games for the Surprise Saguaros, racking up five strikeouts against one walk while being responsible for one run.
Take the lack of excitement surrounding hitters in the AFL and flip that around for the pitchers who are at a clear disadvantage. Anytime someone like Pressly can survive the AFL, it's worth finding out why. He's all of three innings in, so he hasn't exactly survived anything yet, aside from those three innings. But when the fall season is over, it will be worth it to see if he did anything differently, or continued to progress in his role as a reliever. For now, just be pleased he's logged more punch outs than innings, and has kept walks out of the picture so far.
Christian Vazquez: Seeing a bit more of what Christian Vazquez can do is a positive for the Red Sox, as he's eligible for the Rule 5 draft this fall, and had an odd season. A slow start hampered his overall numbers, but he more than made up for it with impressive June and July lines. Vazquez finished the year with Portland, and scuffled once more, but that was expected given how High-A worked out until he adjusted.
With the Saguaros, Vazquez hasn't played a whole lot yet, but the backstop has appeared in three games. In that time, he's tallied three hits -- one of them a double -- and drawn four walks against two strikeouts. Again, hitter's numbers aren't the primary concern in the AFL. It's a chance for scouts to get to see more of one of their players, and given the questions surrounding Vazquez, that's necessary. This is a good start, if nothing else.