Bernie on the Scene: First Scouting Profiles From the Arizona Fall League

Bernie on the Scene: First Scouting Profiles From the Arizona Fall League

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

The Arizona Fall League is open for business.

After being shut down last year due to the pandemic, the Fall League is back. I am there every day, and I will bring you first-hand analysis/scouting profiles of some of the players. Obviously, I can't profile them all, but I will choose those I think are of interest to my readers. Fall League players are important, as many of them find their way to the big leagues, which is why I feel it is important for us to know the scouting profiles of many as possible.

Justin Foscue, 2B, Texas Rangers
6-0, 205 
Bats: Right
Age: 22
Foscue was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers out of Mississippi State in 2020.

The Rangers got a bargain with Foscue, signing him for $3.25M, or $725,000 below the slot for the position. Foscue was the 14th player taken in the draft.

Foscue played at three classifications this year. He was in the Rookie League, Class-A Advanced and double-A. He hit a combined .275/.371/.590 in his 267 plate appearances. Foscue hit 17 home runs, drove in 51 runs and was successful in two of his four stolen base attempts. The Rangers drafted Foscue for his offense. He has some pop in his bat with the potential to hit double-digit home runs. He also projects to hit for average.

When I saw Foscue in the AFL, he showed a good eye at the plate and an ability to select pitches. I think he'll make

The Arizona Fall League is open for business.

After being shut down last year due to the pandemic, the Fall League is back. I am there every day, and I will bring you first-hand analysis/scouting profiles of some of the players. Obviously, I can't profile them all, but I will choose those I think are of interest to my readers. Fall League players are important, as many of them find their way to the big leagues, which is why I feel it is important for us to know the scouting profiles of many as possible.

Justin Foscue, 2B, Texas Rangers
6-0, 205 
Bats: Right
Age: 22
Foscue was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers out of Mississippi State in 2020.

The Rangers got a bargain with Foscue, signing him for $3.25M, or $725,000 below the slot for the position. Foscue was the 14th player taken in the draft.

Foscue played at three classifications this year. He was in the Rookie League, Class-A Advanced and double-A. He hit a combined .275/.371/.590 in his 267 plate appearances. Foscue hit 17 home runs, drove in 51 runs and was successful in two of his four stolen base attempts. The Rangers drafted Foscue for his offense. He has some pop in his bat with the potential to hit double-digit home runs. He also projects to hit for average.

When I saw Foscue in the AFL, he showed a good eye at the plate and an ability to select pitches. I think he'll make contact, without getting fooled. What I liked about Foscue is his ability to use the entire field with a measured swing. He has a good knowledge of how the pitcher wants to try to get him out. I see him as an average defender at second base. He won't win a gold glove, and he likely won't kick the ball away either. His footwork is average, at best, giving him average range. But the Rangers drafted him for his bat, not his glove.

I don't see much speed at all from Foscue, but if he can hit for average and power, that will be welcome on a Rangers club that really needs some offense. Scouting Grade: 55

Fantasy Relevance: Foscue has the type of bat that can help a fantasy team. He has a nice combination of a good hitting tool with some power. Anytime a second baseman can hit the ball out of the park, it bodes well in fantasy. I like his future. But you will likely have to wait until 2023.

Kyle Stowers, OF/1B, Baltimore Orioles
6-3, 200
Bats: Left
Age: 23
Stowers was a second-round pick out of Stanford University in 2019. He signed for $884,200.

Stowers played at Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A this season. He hit a combined .278/383/.514 in 530 plate appearances. Most of those (276) came at Double-A Bowie. Stowers has a powerful frame. He hit 27 homers and drove in 85 runs. He also stole eight bases in 12 attempts. But Stowers struck out a whopping 171 times.

That's the problem I saw in the Fall League. He has a big swing, and he comes up empty far too often. He really goes up to the plate with one thing on his mind — hitting the ball out of the park, and that's a problem. While Stowers is athletic, he may be far too dependent upon the home run. But the Orioles may well be content to have a guy with a high home run total and high strikeouts hitting in the middle of the order. But I'm also seeing a potential rally killer.

I wouldn't look to Stowers to give me a batting average. Think home runs and possibly RBIs if you draft him, and sit back and wait for the long ball. 

An average defensive player, I see his future more in the Orioles outfield than at first base due to a strong arm. He does profile as an all-or-nothing right fielder when he graduates to Baltimore.  Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: If you are looking for power, he could be a guy. But I think he'll be frustrating until he cuts that big swing down a bit and stops chasing pitches.

James Outman, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
6-3, 215 
Bats: Left
Age: 24
Outman was a seventh-round pick out of California State, Sacramento in 2018. He signed for $157,500. That was a savings below slot of $26,700

I have to admit right away that I really like what I have seen from Outman. I think I like him more than most scouts and analysts. I've seen a very sweet left-handed swing. He doesn't try to do too much with the pitch, being content to take the ball where it is thrown. He does have a knack for finding the barrel from the left side of the plate. But, I'll admit, he could scuffle against left-handed pitching. But against righties, I'm all in.

Outman played this season at Class-A Advanced and Double-A. He hit a combined .266/.379/.490 with 18 homers and 54 RBIs. He stole 23 of 27 bases, showing he is a legitimate stolen-base threat. And that's what we want to see. He has speed and some power. 

I saw him hit a long home run in the Fall League. It was high and well struck. He also flashed a good eye at the plate, choosing to pass on some borderline pitches that a less disciplined hitter would have offered to hit.

Outman has a good, right-field type arm on defense. He can chase down fly balls if they choose to play him in center or left. So he's a versatile outfielder.

I'm not sure we'll see a great batting average from him. It might be something like he accomplished this year in his development — meaning around .265. But if he hits 20 homers and steals some bases, he may be a solid utility guy on my team. I'm not sure he'll hit enough to start in Los Angeles. Maybe for the Angels but not for the Dodgers. Scouting Grade: 45

Fantasy Relevance: I'm not sure he gives us enough to trust with a draft pick. I'd say watch his career and determine if he gets playing time. He's the type of guy who might just end up in a post-Fall League trade. If he shows throughout October what I have seen so far.

Ji-hwan Bae, 2b/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
6-1, 185
Bats: Left
Age: 22
The Pirates signed Bae out of South Korea for $1.25M in 2018. The Braves had signed him earlier for $300,000, but they were penalized for an international signing scandal, and the deal was negated.

Bae has played stateside in parts of three seasons. This year, playing in Rookie ball and at Double-A, he hit a combined .297/.416/.469 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in his 372 plate appearances. He stole 20 bases in 28 attempts.

I saw Bae hit a long home run in the first week of the Fall League, and he is really hitting well in the desert. Bae has very quick hands at the plate, and his reaction times on defense are superb. He's really a very accomplished athlete, even at his young age. In the Fall League, he is playing both second base and outfield. He's fast enough and agile enough to play almost anywhere on the field.

Bae has superb eye-hand coordination, and he knows how pitchers will try to get him out. I look for him to drive the ball to the gaps and stretch a single to a double and a double to a triple with his well-above-average speed. Bae is a pure, disciplined contact hitter. He knows how to find the barrel and uses all parts of the field. He's a very tough out, as Fall League pitchers are finding.

Fundamentally strong, Bae will always find a place on the field. He just knows how to play the game, and he plays it properly. That's why I'm bullish on his future. Scouting Grade: 50

Fantasy Relevance: I view Bae as an under-the-radar-fantasy gem. He is a capable hitter with speed. He should be able to get on base with good plate discipline and high contact rates. The power may not be great, but he will help with a solid batting average and stolen bases.

Simon Muzziotti, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
6-1, 175 
Bat: Left
Age: 22
Muzziotti was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Red Sox. However, the Red Sox were punished for violating bonus rules, and the Phillies were ultimately allowed to sign Muzziotti in 2016 for $750,000. 

Muzziotti played all over in 2021, including Rookie ball, Class-A, Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A. In all those classifications, he got only 83 plate appearances and hit .296//375/.380. He hit no home runs and drove in 12 runs. He stole two bases and was caught stealing once.

Muzziotti is a "small ball" type player. He doesn't have power, but he can make contact, spray the ball, bunt and run a bit. He uses all fields, but he doesn't have much power. I see him more as a defensive gem in center field. 

I haven't seen offense from him yet in the Fall League, but I've seen defensive gems and a strong arm. None of that helps in fantasy. He is here in Arizona this fall because he is an outstanding defender, and that plays in the big leagues. I am not ruling Muzziotti out totally in fantasy, as he makes contact, can get on base and probably score runs. But I am being cautious about his offensive profile. That's why I include him here. Just because a player is in the Fall League doesn't automatically mean he can rake. 

It is very, very possible Muzziotti will hit for average in the big leagues. That matters. And if he can hit well, he can steal and score. He just won't hit homers or be prolific as an extra-base hitting machine. Good player. Not anything special. Scouting Grade: 45

Fantasy Relevance: I view Muzziotti as a spare part, defensive replacement outfielder. If he can refine his hitting and find even a little power, that may be too conservative. But for now, I'll pass on him in fantasy.

HEADING HOME:  

The Swing-and-Miss Call against Flores:

I contacted my friend Mike Port regarding the swing-and-miss third strike on Flores in Game 5 between the Dodgers and Giants.

Mike Port was in charge of Major League umpires for years with MLB. He was also the general manger of the Red Sox and Angels. He knows baseball inside and out. He graded umpires. He knows the rules. He knows expectations. Here is what Mike told me about the Flores call: "The umpire's understanding [as it is not a rule] is whether or not a hitter 'made an attempt' and is thus purely a judgment matter."

Some years ago a video "study" was undertaken looking at checked swings from dugout camera positions and with the same swings recorded from the umpire positions at first and third base.  When shown swings from the dugout position, umpires reflected unanimity that, "No! He didn't go." But, when shown the same swings from the baseline positions (without knowing they were looking at the same swings) umpires were close to unanimous, "Yes! He went."

My interpretation of Mike's comments? It is totally up to the umpire. If, in fact, the hitter made an effort to swing, it can be called a swing.

Personally, I think Flores would have been toast in one more Max Scherzer pitch. But no, I don't think he "swung" at the pitch. Did he make an effort, yes? If that is the standard, as Port explained, he's out. Case closed? No. This "swing" will be discussed for a long, long time. Will they replay swings in the future? It makes sense, but not if "did he make an attempt" is the standard.

———

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

I'll be writing about Fall League prospects until the end of November. If you have questions about a Fall League player, let me know below. I will try to address that question.

Have a great week. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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