Kunz's woes; top stars from AFL

November, 20, 2008

Thursday is the final day of the regular season for the Arizona Fall League, and it can't end soon enough for the Mets' Eddie Kunz.

Eddie KunzRich Pilling/Getty ImagesEddie Kunz had been considered a closer candidate for the Mets in the past, but hasn't done enough to convince the team not to pay for an established name.
Kunz failed to hold a one-run lead in a game that could have put his club into Saturday's championship game by giving up a pinch-hit grand slam to the Phillies' Jeremy Slayden in the eighth inning. The blast closed a rough fall campaign for the reliever. He posted a 15.30 ERA, allowing 21 hits and eight walks in just 10 innings of work. Comparing Kunz's delivery to the one he displayed last season in the AFL, it appears the team has adjusted him to stand taller in his delivery, presumably to help his command, handle lefties better or both. However, it hasn't been working well here. The raw stuff is still there, including the heavy sink on his ball, but he needs to improve his command to stick in the big leagues.

Another New York pitcher who has struggled with inconsistent command at times over the past couple of months has been Phil Hughes. However, the Yankees right-hander closed on a high note with his best outing of the Fall League on Wednesday night, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits over five innings. He hurled 10 straight scoreless frames to close out his AFL campaign, showing much better location with his fastball and locating his curve on both sides of the plate. He mixed in a couple of rough outings, but overall the results were positive.

Some final quick observations from the Valley of the Sun:

• Catcher Josh Donaldson struggled in the Midwest League with the Cubs this season, but turned things around after being dealt to the A's organization in the Rich Harden trade. He's been playing first base here because his AFL team had enough catchers, but his bat will play behind the plate. He hasn't put up huge numbers at the AFL, but he's worth watching as a sleeper backstop.

Daniel Murphy looked like he could handle second base well enough, given his offensive ability. Whether that's enough for the Mets remains to be seen. He has limitations, but he didn't embarrass himself.

• Names to keep an eye on that I haven't already mentioned in previous updates: Carlos Triunfel, SS/3B, Mariners; Drew Sutton, IF/OF, Astros; Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers; Andrew Carignan, RP, Athletics; Jason Donald, SS, Phillies; Aaron Poreda, SP, White Sox.

Most impressive hitters:
1. Tyler Flowers, C, Braves
2. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles (still the best prospect in baseball)
3. Logan Morrison, 1B, Marlins
Honorable mention: Brett Wallace, 3B, Cardinals

Most impressive pitchers:
1. Tommy Hanson, Braves
2. Brian Matusz, Orioles
3. Sean West, Marlins
Honorable mention: Bud Norris, Astros



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