AFL update.

A few Arizona Fall League notes:

Righthander Daniel Gutierrez was named co-pitcher of the week after firing 6.2 scoreless Surprise Rafters innings over two appearances, scattering two hits and four walks while fanning three.  Left-handed hitters are 0 for 17 (three walks and three strikeouts) off Gutierrez.

Gutierrez’s teammate Tanner Scheppers (five scoreless innings, one hit, one walk, six strikeouts) continues to be the talk of the league, pairing a fastball that sits 95-98 with a mid-80s power curve.  Very Verlander.

Scheppers gets some Baseball America love in the publication’s “Draft Report Card” for the Rangers’ 2009 crop, published yesterday for subscribers only.  

Lefthander Matt Harrison, coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome, threw a scoreless AFL inning on Friday, permitting a hit and setting one Phoenix Desert Dog down on strikes, hitting another.  

Outfielder Mitch Moreland, whose breakout season was cut short in mid-August when he fouled a ball off his right foot and broke a bone in it, has picked up where he left off in Arizona.  After hitting .341/.421/.594 for Bakersfield and .326/.373/.488 for Frisco (and leading all of minor league baseball with 156 hits at the time of his injury), the 24-year-old sits at .348/.444/.652 through 23 Surprise at-bats.  

Catcher Taylor Teagarden is reportedly headed to the AFL.  No word yet on when he’s expected to get into games.

There are various unofficial reports circulating that the cutoff for Super Two arbitration eligibility this winter will be two years and 141 days of big league service.  If true, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2.137) and Dustin Nippert (2.140) will have to wait until after the 2010 season to take advantage of the arbitration process.  As it stands, I believe the Rangers’ arbitration-eligibles are Scott Feldman, Josh Hamilton, Frankie Francisco, C.J. Wilson, Brandon McCarthy, and Esteban German.

T.R. Sullivan reported in an MLB.com mailbag feature that the Rangers met with Wilson at the end of the season to discuss the possibility of converting him back to a starting pitcher.

Toronto has hired Mel Didier to serve as senior advisor to new GM Alex Anthopoulos, a role not unlike the one that the 82-year-old Didier held in Texas the last seven years.

When the Nippon Ham Fighters took Game One of the best-of-seven Japanese Pacific League championship series on Wednesday from the Rakuten Eagles, 9-8, they did so on a walkoff grand slam by outfielder Terrmel Sledge, who was Texas Rangers property for a month in the 2005-2006 off-season (acquired in the Alfonso Soriano trade with Washington and sent to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade).  Sledge hit the bomb off of momentary Rangers reliever Kaz Fukumori.

Houston claimed utility player Jason Bourgeois off waivers from Milwaukee.  The Astros will be the sixth organization for Bourgeois, who was the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2000.  

Former Rangers farmhand Jeff Smith, who caught for Frisco in its inaugural 2003 season, was the Florida State League manager of the year this season, leading the Fort Myers Miracle to a 80-58 record in his second season at the helm of the club, and his third managing in the Twins system.  He’s been promoted to manage Minnesota’s AA affiliate at New Britain of the Eastern League.

Outfielder-second baseman Garrett Nash, who turned down above-slot money as the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in 2007 and instead enrolled at Oregon State, took the 2009 season off and will miss 2010 as well.  He’s in the midst of a two-year Mormon mission and plans to return to the Beavers in 2011.  

Nash, a Utah native, became the highest-drafted player in the history of the state when Texas selected him with the 140th pick in a draft that also produced Julio Borbon, Tommy Hunter, Blake Beavan, Michael Main, Moreland, Tim Smith (who was traded along with Manny Pina to get Gutierrez), Neil Ramirez, Evan Reed, and a number of other Rangers farmhands who have progressed.  That 2007 draft crop stands as one of the club’s strongest in years, and that’s without not only Nash but also righthander Anthony Ranaudo, lefthander Drew Pomeranz, and outfielder Kevin Keyes, the first two of whom in particular are likely first-rounders next summer.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

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