AFL position wrap: Outfielders 

November, 16, 2009
The key names here at the Arizona Fall League:

Grant Desme, Oakland Athletics: I first wrote about Desme here. Yes, I am fully aware the headline of that piece says that Desme was "struggling." He did not get off to a good start to the AFL, looking very bad the first few games. It was interesting enough to write about because he had a reputation for killing fastballs then did nothing but swing through every single one he saw for the first few games, and there were a lot of them. The piece was posted the morning that Desme started to go off, hitting 10 homers in his next 10 contests. However, read past the headline and you'll see that I also wrote I wasn't reading too much into the slow beginning and cited Gordon Beckham's slow start at the AFL the year before as an example. I updated the story on Desme a couple of days later.

The fact is many scouts are having problems getting "dialed in" and figuring what to make of Desme. There are times when he's looked amazing, and there are times you're wondering how he missed that pitch down the middle. There are also some still skeptical of his ability to handle quality breaking stuff, which has been in short supply down here (the league ERA is 5.22, and the league is batting .281.) I polled a number of other scouts, and on the 20-80 scouting scale I heard numbers everywhere from 45 to 60. A 15-point spread is actually not as common as you might think. That's the difference between a big league backup and a player who makes several All-Star teams. (For the record, I gave him a 50, which is a starting outfielder in the big leagues.)

It's also worth noting that he has just average speed. He's not a burner, so the 40 steals in Class A this year are probably not going to translate well as he moves up the ladder despite his good instincts, and he'll become more of a situational stealer .

Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: He's the best hitting prospect in the game, and has a very good chance to open next year as the starting right fielder in Atlanta. His propensity for nagging injuries (including a leg issue that sent him home early from the AFL) is the only concern at this juncture. I'd be careful about expecting too much of him too soon. He could merely just hold his own next year before breaking out in Year 2. He's a future middle-of-the-order threat who will contribute across the board.

Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners: A more thorough Ackley profile is available here.