RHP Griffin Jax, Age 23
Jax was a third-round choice in the 2016 draft. The 6´2″, 195-pound right-hander has had development time curtailed by his military commitment. He only pitched 39.2 innings over his first two seasons. At Fort Myers A (ADV) this season, Jax worked 87.2 innings, with a 3.70 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.23.
Jax had a 1-1 record, with a 3.86 ERA over 21 AFL innings. He gave up 21 hits, walking 11 and striking out 14, with a 1.52 WHIP.
A+ or AA? Jax is a great story The Air Force second lieutenant is officially training for the 2020 Olympic Games. As an active-duty member of the Air Force, the Twins only pay for expenses. After some early complications, He is now free to concentrate on baseball full-time during the season. His assignment to the AFL was a nice bonus that also pushed his development. I think he will be starting next season in AA Pensacola.
RHP Adam Bray, Age 25
Bray was drafted by the Dodgers in the 33rd round of the 2015 draft. Born in Minneapolis and a graduate of Eden Prairie High School, the 6′ 3″, 210-pound right-hander struggled with injuries at A (ADV) Fort Myers. In 38.1 innings, he posted 2-0 record, with two saves, a 1.88 ERA, giving up 35 hits, 40 strikeouts, seven walks, and a 0.80 WHIP.
He pitched 13.2 innings, with a 2.63 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.10. He had a 1-0 record, with one save.
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A+ or AA? Going into his age 26 season, Bray will have to advance if he is to stay in the organization. He was two years older than the competition in Fort Myers. More than any of the other players, I think Bray was in Arizona to prove his future value as a prospect. He did well enough to stay on the radar.
RHP Hector Lujan, Age 24
Lujan was taken in the 35th round of the 2015 draft. The 6’3″, 220-pound right-hander spent the season at A+ Fort Myers where he went 5-5, with a 2.64 ERA, 71.2 innings, 68 strikeouts, 22 walks, and a 1.26 WHIP.
Lujan had a 1-1 record over 9.2 innings, a 5.59 ERA, 13 hits, 10 strikeouts, five walks, and a 1.86 WHIP.
A+ or AA? Lujan is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. If it was a question mark before, his AFL performance will leave him unprotected. His season at Fort Myers was strong enough that he should be a good bet to advance. While not a top prospect, Lujan does have some upside.
LHP Devin Smeltzer, AGE 23
Smeltzer was taken by the Dodgers in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The 6’3, 190-pound lefty compiled a 5-5 record, with a 4.45 ERA in 95.2 innings of work. He gave up 108 hits, striking out 83 and walking 21, with a 1.35 WHIP.
Smeltzer earned a selection to the AFL East Division All-Star team. In the game, he pitched 0.2 of an inning, struck out a pair, and walked a batter that came round to score. For the total AFL season, he did not put up All-Star numbers. Over 7.2 innings, he posted a 5.87 ERA, 14 hits, seven strikeouts, four walks, and a 2.35 WHIP. He posted a 1.50 ERA through the first three weeks, then fell apart the final three weeks, albeit less than eight innings total.
AA or AAA? The question about Smeltzer had been whether he projects as a back-end starter or a reliever. All of his ten appearances for Chattanooga following his acquisition from the Dodgers were in relief, as were his eight AFL outings. He may be best suited for a return to AA in order to work on his transition to the bullpen.