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This Week in the AFL

This Week in the AFL
November 11, 2009
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The biggest news out of Peoria this week is the announcement that outfielder Nick Weglarz has been shut down for the remainder of the AFL after having surgery on a leg that he injured last summer. Wegz had a metal rod surgically implanted in his leg, which will work to stabilize the fracture and allow it to heal in a much shorter time period that if the surgery had not occurred. We're not sure exactly when the injury occurred, but it helps explain the downright bizarre splits Weglarz put up in Akron this year.

After a white-hot month of June that saw Wegz put up an OPS over 1.000 and a batting average of .281, he cooled off too .821/.227 in July and fell off a cliff to .434/.103 in August. Looking deeper into those numbers (see graph below), the Big Canadian's ground ball % almost doubled between June and July, going from 36% to 62%, then rising again in August to 64%. His career average over almost 1300 AB's is 42.3%. A 63% average over two months was strange, to say the least. It appears likely that Wegz's leg was bothering him around July of this year, and likely accounts for why he was unable to maintain the high level of production that saw him win the Tony award for the Tribe minor league player of the month back in June of this year. Swinging on an injured leg helps explain the lack of power and the dramatic increase in ground balls. I fully expect Wegz to report to Goodyear healthy and turn in a full year of production at a high level in 2010. Outfielder Tim Fedroff will take the place of Weglarz on the Sags roster for the remainder of the AFL.

Now on to the players who remain on the field for the 11-12 Saguaros:
  • Catcher Matt McBride is some kind of hot down in the desert. His .420 batting average is good for 2nd in the league, and his OPS remains over 1.000 thanks to his league-leading .554 OBP and .780(!) SLG. McBride was a late addition to the AFL Rising Stars Showcase, and that addition proved wise as McBride drilled a 2-run HR off of Nationals prospect Drew Stanton (the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft) that proved to be the difference in the 8-7 victory for the West squad. Counting the Showcase, McBride has homered in 3 of his past 4 games and has reached base in 16 straight. The AFL is a hitters league, but the numbers that the 2006 2nd round draft pick is putting up for Peoria are impressive no matter what league they are posted in.

  • McBride wasn't the only Indians prospect in the Showcase, as SS turned 3B Carlos Rivero flied out to left in his only AB. Rivero is at .333/.415/.421 on the season for Peoria, and has at least one hit in 8 of his last 10 games. Rivero has yet to homer in Arizona, but does have 5 doubles.

  • Josh Rodriguez has hit in three straight games to pull his average up to the Mendoza Line. Rodriguez continues to move around the diamond defensively, as he has been back in the infield lately after playing CF for a few games for the Sags. He added four strikeouts in the past two games to his season total of 17.

  • As previously mentioned, Tim Fedroff was tapped to replace the injured Nick Weglarz on the Peoria roster. Fedroff is off to a slow start in Arizona, with just one hit and one RBI in his first 13 AB's.

  • Reliever Josh Judy continues to pitch well for Peoria, and after his most recent scoreless appearance saw his ERA drop to a minuscule 0.71. That is good enough to place him in the top 5 in the league in that category. Judy has given up just one run in 12 2/3's innings of work for the Sags, and has struck out more than a batter per inning (14).

  • Connor Graham's last outing was a rough one, as he gave up 2 ER in 1 2/3's innings of work. Graham continued to struggle with his control, as he walked 2 batters in addition to giving up 3 hits. Graham did strike out 3 batters in the outing to give him 10 on the season, but his ERA now stands at 6.97.

  • Zach Putnam has had just one start since the last AFL Update, and it was a rough one. Putnam gave up 3 earned runs in two innings of work, striking out four and not walking a batter. Putnam's ERA is still just 3.86 even after the bad start, and the Ann Arbor native has struck out 8 in his 7 innings of work.

  • Vinny Pestano has made two more appearances in his return from injury for the Sags. Pestano was tagged with the loss in his Nov. 5 appearance after giving up 3 ER in an inning of work, but rebounded with a scoreless inning on Nov. 9 where he struck out the side. It is great to see Pestano back on the mound and throwing again, and hopefully he can carry over whatever success he has in the AFL to spring training in Goodyear.

  • Reliever Carlton Smith has pitched two scoreless innings since the last AFL Update, allowing just one hit and two walks. He has yet to factor in a decision for the Sags.

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