I’m back from my six-night, 12-game run through the Arizona Fall League, so I’m clearing out the notebook to finish what I started in last week’s post. I’ve seen each team at least three times, so I’ve got notes from almost everyone on the rosters except for a few starting pitchers, although in some cases I didn’t see enough of a prospect to include him in both posts. The competition is very offensive this year, with only a few good starting pitchers and a lot of reliever-at-best guys throwing hard and either not knowing where it’s going or not having a great second pitch. As a result, the offensive stats are comical – I watched a game where the final score was 20-4, and that wasn’t the worst game I’ve seen all week – and teams chug through pitchers so quickly that many games, including all three for Saturday’s triple header at Chase Field, were shortened to seven innings.
• As if things weren’t going well enough for the Padres right now, they’ve got a new star on the rise in shortstop Jackson Merrill, their 2021 first-choice high school in Maryland. Merrill was excellent on both sides of the ball in Arizona, with greater reach, especially on his right side, plus speed out of the box and a solid plan on the plate, including – gasp! – a true two-strike approach, which I must admit warmed the cockles of this old man’s heart. He stays on the ball extremely well and has the swing for at least gap power, although I think if he gets stronger he will throw 15-18 balls over the fence.