Scottsdale Scorpions – Arizona Fall League Preview

(Photo credit to Daniel Siegel)

The Scottsdale Scorpions’ roster consists of players from the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Cincinnati Reds.

This year’s Scorpions team has a roster that could very well win the West Division and compete for the Arizona Fall League championship.

Yankees outfielder Estevan Florial is the main name to watch for once the Fall League season kicks off. Florial (third ranked Yankees prospect, 78th overall on MLB.com Pipeline) is a five-tool player that hails from the Dominican Republic.

The Yankees signed Florial in March of 2015 as an international free agent, and the 19-year-old has not disappointed since coming to the United States. In his most recent season between Single-A Charleston and Advanced-A Tampa, he carried a slash line of .298/.372/.479 with 13 home runs, 57 RBI and 23 stolen bases.

Florial’s teammates and coaches all loved him and constantly talk about how he has a legitimate shot at being a superstar in the MLB. Not only is his gap-to-gap approach at the plate tremendous, but he also excels as a center fielder. MLB.com’s scouting grades on Florial give him grades of over 60 on all three of his defensive metrics, which include: Run (60), Field (60) and Arm (65).

He is hard on himself at times, but there is definitely a learning curve that he will have to adjust with. Florial is still learning what pitches to take, and which pitches he needs to exploit and drive into the outfield. As he progresses up the minor league ranks, it’ll be important for him to stay composed and take what the pitchers at the respective ranks give him.

Joining Florial from the Yankees is left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield (fourth ranked Yankees prospect, 79th overall on MLB.com Pipeline).

Sheffield was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft to the Cleveland Indians out of Tullahomma High School. In his senior season he had a 0.34 ERA and struck out 131 batters in 61 ⅔ innings.

The Yankees acquired the southpaw from the Indians during the 2016 season in the Andrew Miller trade. Typically Sheffield’s fastball sits between 92-93 mph, but when he’s feeling good he can hit 95-96 MPH. He complements his fastball with two above average off-speed pitches with his slider and curveball. Although Sheffield is undersized at 5-foot-10, he still projects to be a middle-of-rotation starter in the MLB with upside if he can improve his command.

Sheffield will make up for missed time during the 2017 season with a strained right oblique by playing in the Arizona Fall League. He pitched well for Double-A Trenton when he was healthy, as he finished the year with a 7-6 record, a 3.18 ERA, while striking out 82 batters in 93 ⅓ innings.

Another pitcher representing the Scorpions is highly touted San Francisco Giants prospect Tyler Beede (Third ranked Giants prospect on MLB.com Pipeline). Beede was the Giants first round selection (14th overall) in the 2014 draft after he spent three years at Vanderbilt University.

His fastball typically sits around 94 mph due to the length of the professional season, but has hit 97 mph on the radar gun before. He mixes his fastball in with his two above average breaking pitches in his sinker and cutter.

Beede has alternated good years and bad years since becoming a professional in 2014. He struggles each time he reaches a new level in the minor leagues, but is able to adjust and excel in the ensuing season.

He is coming off of a season where he made 19 starts for Triple-A Sacramento, going 6-7 with a 4.79 ERA. The Pacific Coast League is a tough league to pitch in however, and the friendly confines of AT&T Park would be much kinder to Beede than Raley Field in Sacramento.

Beede looks like he has the ability to become a back-end starter in the majors. His performance at the Arizona Fall League and at Spring Training could very well determine whether he spends another season in Triple-A or if he will be on the big league club when the MLB season kicks off again. If baseball does not work out for young Beede, he does have the potential for a rap career.

Chris Shaw, who was a Triple-A Sacramento teammate of Beede, will also join Scottsdale. Shaw (Fourth ranked Giants prospect on MLB.com Pipeline) is a power-hitting left fielder who could make an instant impact for the San Francisco Giants once his name is called to the major leagues. Shaw was drafted in the first round (31st overall) of the 2015 draft after he played his college ball at Boston College.

When Shaw was growing up in the Northeast he stayed away from playing video games, and spent every day outside with his neighbors playing various sports. His two best sports ended up being baseball and hockey. At Lexington High School, Shaw played four varsity seasons of hockey as a starting defenseman. The hand-eye coordination that is required in hockey helped him by leaps and bounds with his approach at the plate in baseball.

Shaw has homered 57 times in 303 professional games and shapes up to be the power-hitting bat that the Giants lineup is in dire need of. He was not called up this September as he was not on the 40-man roster, which allowed the Giants to protect another prospect from the Rule 5 Draft, while Shaw was automatically protected.

He will need to work on his progress of transitioning from first base, which is the position the Giants drafted him for, to left field. His performance at the Arizona Fall League could force the Giants to count on him to be their every day left fielder next season, rather than looking for help outside of the organization to fill their power void.

The Scottsdale Scorpions will begin their 2017 Arizona Fall League schedule with a night game on Oct. 10th.

Brendan Kennealy

Staff Writer with CBBSN. ASU Cronkite School of Journalism Graduate.

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