The Arizona Fall League has wrapped up play, and while Tim Tebow got the most attention, his .194 batting average won’t impress many scouts. Much more impressive were the performance of some Royals players, who played on the first place Surprise Saguaros.
The Surprise Saguaros won the Western Division and faced the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL Championship game, falling 6-1 in the finale. Royals left-hander Eric Stout pitched the championship game, giving up three runs on three hits in two innings of work. Stout finished the league with a 2.77 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. The 23-year old walked six and could be a dark horse candidate for the Royals bullpen after a decent year in AA Northwest Arkansas.
The highlight of the league for Royals fans however, was right-hander Josh Staumont. Recently named the top prospect in the organization by Baseball America, Staumont brought a fastball that can hit triple digits, but has shown little control in his professional career, walking 7.5 hitters-per-nine-innings in his career. A mechanical adjustment has supposedly led to better results in the Arizona Fall League, where he impressed scouts with 30 strikeouts in 24 innings with 16 walks and 15 hits allowed. Former scout Bernie Pleskoff was glowing in his review of Staumont’s performance.
Staumont can throw his arsenal with a massive 15 miles per hour velocity differential between his 80 miles per hour curve, 84 miles per hour changeup and his 98 miles per hour fastball. Wild with little command and control until this year, he has changed his delivery and is a start in the making in my opinion.
Royals first baseman Ryan O’Hearn was a walk machine in Arizona, finishing seventh in the league with 13 free passes. His power was a bit absent however, as he just hit just one home run and four doubles in 23 games, finishing with a line of .291/.384/.372. Teammates Corey Toups and Mauricio Ramos were able to double that home run total, although their offensive numbers were much lower. Toups, a second baseman who finished the season in AA Northwest Arkansas, hit .238/.273/.381 with 19 strikeouts in 15 games. Ramos, a third baseman for the Naturals, hit .228/.279/.404 with just three walks. Outfielder Alfredo Escalera particularly struggled, batting .179/.210/.192 with 24 strikeouts in 20 games and just one extra-base hit.
Royals pitchers fared much better, led by Stout and Staumont. Right-hander Evan Beal had a solid performance, with a 3.86 ERA, although he walked 10 in 14 2⁄3 innings. The 23-year old spent most of the season as a reliever in AA, and he tossed 1 1⁄3 shutout relief innings in the AFL championship game. Right-hander Todd Eaton struggled a bit more, allowing five runs in seven innings, including two home runs. Right-hander Jake Newberry was sent home after tossing two shutout innings with four strikeouts.