The Arizona Fall League is where a lot of top prospects are sent to get some experience, but it also is a place where guys who have struggled can try and regain some confidence.  Only a handful of games have been played, but let’s take a look at two hitters who have already begun to rebuild their value for 2011:

Michael Taylor – Outfielder – Oakland Athletics

Taylor was acquired from the Blue Jays (who acquired him as part of the Roy Halladay deal) in exchange for Brett Wallace in December of 2009.  He was solid in ‘09 having hit .320 with 20 HR and 84 RBI between Double and Triple-A. 

His first year in the Oakland system, playing in the Pacific Coast League no less, was an absolute disaster (.272, 6 HR, 78 RBI in 464 AB).  In a league that routinely sees big home run totals, he might as well have hit none.

Prior to the trade, Baseball America had ranked him as the Phillies third best prospect saying, “He has excellent raw power, average speed and good baserunning instincts.”

Maybe he put too much pressure on himself, being traded twice in the offseason.  Maybe there was something else at work.  Whatever the problem, Taylor may have finally put it behind him.  He homered in his first two games in the AFL, as well as adding a double, showing flashes of the potential we’ve heard so much about.  Throw in a stolen base and just one strikeout in his first three games, and you get a great start.

Obviously it’s too early to say that he’s rediscovered himself, but the A’s are in need of power in their lineup and easily could have a hole in the outfield and at DH (depending on the moves they make).  We’ll continue following him in the AFL to see if he can continue his development.

Brandon Wood – Third Baseman – Los Angeles Angels

How long have we heard about Wood as a potential star for the Angels?  First at shortstop then at third base, he has continually failed to live up to expectations.

He was handed the starting third base job early in the season, but he completely fell on his face.  In 226 AB on the season he hit .146 with 4 HR and 14 RBI.  Strikeouts have always been the biggest concern for Wood and he did little to ease that, posting a 31.4 percent strikeout rate.

In his first three games in the AFL, however, he’s gone 7-for-15 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and no strikeouts.  It’s certainly a step, but it’s an incredibly small sample size and impossible to draw conclusions from.

As it is, it’s nearly impossible to see the Angels give him any type of real shot to earn a starting job, no matter how he produces.  The best-case scenario is that he impresses someone else and they can get something of value for him, because right now his value is virtually nil.

While he does have power, unless he can make better contact it is virtually impossible for him to hit for a decent average.  Maybe a change of scenery would help, so we will watch him closely this fall and see what type of production he has.

What are your thoughts on these two players?  Any chance they develop into something of value in 2011?

Make sure to check out our 2011 projections:

Freese, David
Jaso, John
Morrow, Brandon


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