Arizona Fall League Update: Matthes, Woods Fighting For Fringe Chance at 40 Man

Doug Pensinger

The Salt River Rafters have the lead in the AFL's East Division with a 9-7 record, good for one game over the Scottsdale Scorpions. Contributions from Rockies players, however, seem to be minimal. Let's break down our AFL attendees one by one, shall we?

Outfielder Kent Matthes is headed for his first year of Rule 5 eligibility, and with spaces for Tim Wheeler, Joe Gardner and Cristhian Adames already in demand, Matthes is fighting for just a sliver of a chance at a 40 man roster spot at the Reserves Deadline. Thus far, the news is good for Matthes as he is the Rockies best offensive contributor to the Rafters. A down week was capped off with a 3-4 game on Friday that included two doubles, and Matthes is hitting .302 with two home runs, and has only struck out five times in 43 at bats.

Another Rockies outfielder, Corey Dickerson, isn't fairing as well. Dickerson has had less playing time than Matthes, but hasn't performed as well offensively regardless. Though he's not striking out frequently either, he is making a lot of outs off the bat, and in particular is struggling to take the free pass. Dickerson is hitting .235 with one home run and six strikeouts in 34 at bats. That home run is one of just two extra base hits in the AFL so far. Dickerson's play of late has improved, and he is riding a five game hitting streak.

The final two Rockies position players are catchers Lars Davis and Jose Gonzalez, neither of whom is putting up a great showing so far. Davis has caught six games for the Rafters, and after going hitless in his first three, has put up one hit in each of the following three. He is hitting .167 in 18 at bats. Gonzalez, who was re-signed by the Rockies this offseason before heading for MiLB Free Agency a second year in a row, was an interesting choice for the AFL, but with the Rafters short on catchers and the Rockies short on traditional position player prospects to send, especially with Kyle Parker unable to make his appearance, the team volunteering to send an extra catcher made sense. Gonzalez has caught five Rafters games, and only just recorded his first hit in the most recent affair on Saturday. He is hitting .059, 1 for 17.

The Rockies also have four pitchers on the Rafters this year. Tyler Chatwood represents the only MLB player representing the Rockies. MLB level players must be granted special permission to play in the AFL, and Chatwood's age, in spite of his experience, makes him an excellent candidate for the AFL. A member of the Rafters' rotation, Chatwood has put up excellent strikeout numbers thus far, but alongside disastrous walk numbers. Worse yet, Chatwood's hit numbers are also high, suggesting that he's pitching in some sort of uncomfortable middle ground between the triangle of effectively wild, ineffectively wild and not wild enough. He leads the team in innings pitched.

Isaiah Froneberger, Cory Riordan and Coty Woods have been throwing out of the Rafters bullpen, with Woods leading the pack. The reliever's solid season at Tulsa was forgotten by many after his struggles with a promotion to AAA, but in six and a third innings pitched in the AFL thus far, he has allowed only one baserunner, and it was via the base on balls. He remains free of allowing a hit moving into this week. Woods is also a fringe candidate for a roster spot this offseason.

Riordan has not demonstrated especially clean command nor stuff in the past three weeks, but has avoided punishment in the form of hard hits scoring runs, and is therefore pitching cleanly enough to be having a successful AFL sting. Froneberger, on the other hand, who has a fantastic 2012 season bouncing back from an injury plagued 2011, is struggling mightily. His ten hits and two walks in seven innings pitched has not been kind, and he has allowed runs in three of his six appearances. The left handed reliever has struck out only three batters so far.

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