Teams can use the AFL for a number of reasons including as: finishing school for top prospects, preparation for the transition to a higher level, either AA or AAA, as extra-playing time for a guy who was injured during the season or as an extra audition for a spot on the team’s 40-man roster.
I covered the position players in some depth here when the rosters were announced, but seem to have skipped the pitchers. Anyway, the four pitchers are RHP Ryan Fraser, LHP Chase Huchingson, LHP Adam Kolarek and RHP Greg Peavey. None of the quartet made my Mets' preseason Top 41 Prospects list, and all are longshots to make this year's list.
RHP Ryan FraserWhat he is: The Mets' 16th round pick in 2010, Fraser made the transition to reliever this year. He has nice size at a solidly built 6'3" and sits in the low 90s, touching 93. When he was in Savannah, he had a slurvy breaking ball. He's a sneaky bullpen prospect who needs to improve his breaking ball to transition to intriguing. 2012: He made the transition to the bullpen and reached the double-A bullpen. He survived in Binghamton, but his walk rate jumped from 5.6% in the FSL to 9.0% in AA dragging his ERA from 2.08 (7 ER/30.1 IP) to 3.52 (13 ER/33.2 IP).
Why He’s Going: Auditioning for a spot in the AAA Las Vegas bullpen to start 2013.
LHP Chase Huchingson (pictured at right)
What he is: A non-drafted free-agent out of Central Arkansas University, Huchingson is a 6'5" lean lefty who put up very good numbers in the SAL in 2011 before struggling with his control this year in the Florida State League. To be fair, out of high school, Huchingson had planned to play ball at Arizona State, and he was drafted by both the Rangers (out of high school) and Astros (out of Junior College) before the Mets swooped him up after a rough junior year in college. 2012: 24 G, 22 GS, 4.10 ERA, 120.2 IP, 120 H, 55 BB, 102 K. Huchingson has an extremely deceptive delivery in which it looks as though both of his arms and legs are flying at the hitter, and then releases the ball from a low arm slot. All of that would suggest a LOOGY future, but lefties actually hada higher OPS (.729) than righties this year (.689). I explain this fact simply: his changeup is his best off-speed pitch, while he often has trouble throwing his breaking ball for a strike.
Why He’s Going: Trying to prove he deserves a spot in the AA Binghamton rotation to open 2013.
LHP Adam KolarekWhat he is: The Mets' 11th round pick out of Maryland in 2010, Kolarek has put up strong numbers in a-ball the last two years with a fastball/curveball combo where his heater is 89-92. 2012: Kolarek was dominant most of the year for advanced-A St. Lucie but was more hittable in August, when he allowed seven of his 18 total FSL runs. Lefties hit .197/.265/.211 against him in 86 PA in the FSL, while righties hit him at a more forceful .256/.329/.383 line in 153 PA. He made six appearances in AA that did not go well.
Why He’s Going: To get in a few more innings to prepare himself for the AA bullpen.
Greg Peavey What he is: The Mets' 6th round pick in 2010 out of Oregon State, Peavey is a polished college right-hander without the pure stuff to be an impact MLB pitcher. 2012: Peavey, who is now 24, spent the entire year in the double-A rotation where he ran a 5.06 ERA in 25 games with just 84 strikeouts in 144 innings, with a 5.2 K/9 or a strikeout rate of 13%. He coupled that with a walk rate of 8% and allowed over a hit an inning.
Why He’s Going: The Arizona environment will be a decent preparation for Las Vegas, if he makes it that far.