Fall League wrapup
The Arizona Fall League's regular season came to an end yesterday. The team featuring the Reds' prospects, the Mesa Solar Sox, finished 15-17, two games behind Surprise in their division. Surprise will play Phoenix for the championship tomorrow.
Though the Reds' representatives had their ups and downs, it's fair to say no one's stock improved as much as Kevin Howard's. The infielder from the University of Miami hit .409 (tops in the AFL by 26 points) with a 1.032 OPS in 25 games while striking out only nine times in 98 plate appearances. Howard can play second or third base and should have worked his way into legitimate contention for a roster spot in spring training.
Among the other Reds, Chris Denorfia hit .333 (.991 OPS) with seven doubles, three triples, three homers and 24 RBIs in 23 games, putting a perfect cap on a breakout season. I'd be stunned if he isn't with the major league team on Opening Day as a backup outfielder.
The other two Reds position players, first baseman Joey Votto and catcher Ryan Hanigan, didn't get nearly as much playing time or have nearly as much success. Votto hit .250 in 10 games and Hanigan hit .216 with one RBI in 13 games.
Among the pitchers, reliever Allan Simpson led the way. He went 4-1 with a 0.63 ERA in seven outings, allowing nine hits and one earned run in 14 1/3 innings. His counterparts on the mound had considerably more trouble. Bubba Nelson posted a 6.59 ERA in nine games and Luke Hudson went 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in six starts. One encouraging sign for Hudson: he walked only six batters while striking out 20 in 25 1/3 innings.